January 2020 Google Webmaster Recap

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - Digital Marketing

A Look Back on Everything Google Dropped in The Month of January

We’re only one month into 2020, but at the rate Google’s moving, you’d think we were more than halfway through. Between the January 2020 Core Update and the introduction of favicons to desktop search results, it’s been a pretty hectic month for Google. At this rate, one can only imagine what Google has in store for the rest of the decade. So, with that being said, let’s take a look back on all the big steps taken by Google this past month.

January 2020 Core Update

First up was a bit of a doozy. Google’s latest core update started rolling out January 13 and was expected to affect search results on a worldwide scale and boy did it not disappoint. Initial ranking fluctuations were reported as dramatic but steadied in the following days until the update finished rolling out four days later. Rank Ranger January Core Update Impact Chart Source: RankRanger

Desktop Search Results Makeover

If the core update wasn’t enough, Google also rolled out some pretty significant changes to desktop search results midway through the month. Among the changes included:

  • Swapping the old green ‘Ad’ label for a bolded black one
  • Shifting the URL above the headline text and styling it in black (paid)
  • Shifting the URL in organic results above the page name
  • Adding favicons next to URLs

These changes had already been implemented for mobile search months ago, but regardless, still caused a stir within the digital community. The main feedback provided was that the changes made it difficult to differentiate between paid ads and organic results. After receiving backlash regarding the new design, Google decided to go back to the drawing board and announced that it would continue to experiment with the favicon placement. https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1220768239212326912

Google Search Console Removals

By the end of the month, Google announced it was releasing a new Removals report in Google Search Console that would allow site owners to temporarily remove website pages from Google search results. The report would also allow site owners to track pages that had been removed due to third-party requests or filtered through the adult SafeSearch function.

Featured Snippets

Another change that came our way this month was the removal of snippets in search results for pages with content included in the Featured Snippets section. “If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results,” said Google’s Public Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, on Twitter. “This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.”

What’s Next for February?

If you thought Google would start slowing down in February, you’d be sadly mistaken. Between the results of the continued favicons experiment and the yet to be confirmed February Google Search Algorithm Ranking Update, it’s bound to be yet another busy month. But until then, we’ll just have to wait it out and see what happens.

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

Core Update: More FAQ Rich Results Showing!


A new core update was released a few days ago and the SEO community has been on their toes ever since, monitoring and analyzing every little change. As it always is with Google releasing a major update, a lot of people noticed some changes in their ranking. But this time one thing is getting more noticed by Google – FAQs.

According to Search Engine Land, both RankRanger’s tracking tool and some SEOs are seeing an increase in the number of times a site is showing FAQ rich results. Rank Ranger says that Google is now showing FAQ rich results five percent more often than before, and SEOs like Brodie Clark and Glenn Gabe are here to confirm it.

Read more: Google Updates Its Rich Results Content Guidelines

What are rich result FAQs?

Websites often have a list of frequently asked questions that pertain to a certain topic. If those FAQs are properly marked up, they can be eligible to have a rich result on Search and Action on Google Assistant. Both can help your site reach its users.

Keep in mind that Google recently removed the option to see more than two links within an FAQ rich result.

Source: Google Search Central

Why Is This Important?

More FAQ results showing up in Google Search might mean more benefits for your site. Usually, rich results lead to a higher click-through rate, but that is not always the case. For example, in this case – a person can get their question answered from the FAQ rich results and not click over to your site.


Update: On June 9th, the update finished rolling out. Read more about it here.

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New Google Core Update Rolling Out


Six months after the last core update, Google is rolling out a new one and, as usual, it will take 1-2 weeks for it to fully roll out. So, take out your glasses, roll up your sleeves and get to monitoring because the next two weeks are critical! (Too soon??)

Core updates are changes Google makes in order to improve Search and keep in touch with the ever-so-changing web. They’re supposed to make search results more useful and relevant to users overall.

Google released this update on May 25, 2022,  at about 11:30 AM ET, and will notify us when it’s done rolling out.

Keep in mind that broad core updates are often very volatile and produce significant changes. However, don’t rush into fixing things immediately if you were to notice a negative impact of the update. Instead, wait for it to fully roll out.

Some sites may note drops or gains during them (the updates). We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all. – stands in the announcement.

What To Do If You Notice Negative Changes?

You might experience negative effects during the rollout of this update. But, that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your site.

(..) there’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better. – said Danny Sullivan in the announcement.

Read More: May 2022 Core Update: More FAQ Rick Results Showing 

Google did give some advice on how to handle a negative impact of the update. True, they’ve never been particular about it or specified the exact actions we can take to recover. But, Google has given a list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update:

  • Is the content trustworthy and clear? Does it provide original information?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content? Is it clickbait?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

Ask yourself these questions and think about how you can improve your content in the future. Because, every time Google releases a new search ranking algorithm, your site gets vulnerable.

Knowing when Google makes these updates and when they’re finished rolling out, as well as monitoring your analytics is crucial for your website to succeed. But remember – patience is key! Especially when it comes to core updates.


Update: On June 9th, the update finished rolling out. Take a look at its impact here.

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