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How Google Core Update In December 2020 Affected My Sites? Here’s My Analysis

I bet that youโ€™ve heard and even noticed a core update that Google rolled out starting on December 3, 2020 ๐Ÿคฃ

Many niche webmasters are trying to guess what was changed and what kind of websites were affected. It seems to be one of the most puzzling updates among the recent ones and that Google had a massive outage on Dec 14 only made it more intriguing ๐Ÿ”ฎ

I decided to share the results of how the update affected my sites ๐Ÿšตโ€โ™‚๏ธ

How I analyzed the traffic ๐Ÿ”

Before we dive into details of how my sites were affected, hereโ€™s the methodology I used to understand the impact:

  • Only organic traffic was analyzed
  • Periods compared: December 4 – 15 (post-update) and November 6 – 17 (pre-Black Friday)
  • The weekdays of the periods are matched; it means that I compare Monday with Monday and so on
  • I have looked at the number of users

I only analyzed my niche websites where I follow a particular content strategy. I decided to not analyze this blog since I run it for mostly fun (though it does bring money.)

I am not trying to drive any conclusions here. Four websites is a tinsy-tiny sample that is totally meaningless for any global analysis. I merely try to see what happened with my websites (four of them) and what I plan to do about it in a hope that this info might be useful for you.

So, having this in mind, letโ€™s see where I am now ๐Ÿ‘€ (the last one is the most interesting!)

Mother Elephant ๐Ÿ˜ Website ๐Ÿ‘

The website is in the Home & Landscaping niche.

This is the absolute winner ๐Ÿฅ‡ Its traffic went up by 44% ๐Ÿคฏ

The site used to be seasonal with the high season in summer. However, after a very gloomy winter a year ago, I put a lot of effort into not having it again ๐Ÿ˜‚ For the whole year, I worked hard in order to turn it around and to get some winter traffic. 

Now, in December 2020, my efforts were rewarded ๐Ÿฅฐ The winter-related traffic already went up in November, and in December, it sky-rocketed ๐Ÿš€

Rankings for the other content have improved as well. 

Mother elephant traffic

Website highlights:

  • DR is 26 ๐Ÿ˜Ž
  • The website is 7 yo and I bought it 5 years ago. Since that, I have been trying to pivot it away from the original niche ๐Ÿ˜…
  • In Feb 2020, the site was migrated to a brand-new domain that greatly helped with the pivot ๐Ÿ‘
  • It got some social media traffic and email traffic
  • Pinterest traffic was robust in Q1-Q2 of 2020, but later, the account got hit by the Pinterest update in May and has not yet recovered ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • 1500 – 2500-word posts are published approximately twice a week mostly for the keywords that the site is already ranking for (but does not have content for)
  • During the year, I added a lot of winter-related content โ›„
  • Backlinks are built sporadically, maybe, one link every one-two months
  • The site was hit by a blackhat attack with spammy backlinks in May 2020 ๐Ÿ˜ซ I cleaned them in July-August
  • In September, I migrated the site to Cloudways (read my review) and it immediately improved the ranks due to better speed ๐Ÿš€
  • The site is monetized with Ezoic (read my review), Amazon, and non-Amazon affiliate programs 

My plans for the site:

  • Keep publishing content ๐Ÿคฉ
  • Build more backlinks ๐Ÿ–‡
  • Improve the speed even more by optimizing Ezoic ๐Ÿ’จ

Baby Elephant ๐Ÿ˜ Website ๐Ÿ‘Œ

The website is in the Home niche. Its rankings usually fluctuate +/-2 positions for the top keywords and its biggest traffic comes in summer.

The website was almost not affected; its traffic went up by a mere 1%.

Baby elephant traffic

Website highlights:

  • DR is 1.8 ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜œ
  • Itโ€™s about 3 years old
  • No social media or email traffic
  • Pinterest traffic presents 1% of the overall traffic
  • Only about 12 articles were published on the site during the year, the word count per article was 900-3500
  • In September, I migrated the site to Cloudways (read my review)
  • The site is monetized with Ezoic (read my review) and Amazon

My plans for the site:

  • Do nothing ๐Ÿ™ƒ Itโ€™s a very hands-off site that brings in passive income without any baby-sitting ๐Ÿค— dream came true! It’s living proof that for earning decent money, a site does not have to be very big nor have a high DR ๐Ÿ˜‰

Baby Elephant ๐Ÿ˜2 Website ๐Ÿ‘Ž

The website is in the Home niche and targets a subset of the topics covered in Elephant ๐Ÿ˜2 Website. Itโ€™s an attempt to scale horizontally and dominate the space.

The website was first negatively affected and then, the traffic bounced back

Baby elephant 2 traffic

However, its traffic was already declining way before the updateโ€ฆ if we look at the last 30 days, it becomes obvious:

Baby elephant 2 traffic 30 days

Website highlights:

  • DR is 0.7 ๐Ÿฃ
  • The website is as old as Elephant ๐Ÿ˜1 Website ๐Ÿคฏ because I bought them together. But I started filling it up with content only in March 2020 (before, it had one post with 1000 words ๐Ÿ™ˆ)
  • Iโ€™ve published 5 posts with a total word count of 14,000 ๐Ÿ™„
  • The goal for this site was to replicate the success of Elephant ๐Ÿ˜2 Website and to be a passive bread-winner
  • No social media traffic, or email traffic, or Pinterest traffic
  • In September, I migrated the site to Cloudways (read my review)
  • The site is monetized with Ezoic (read my review) and Amazon

My plans for the site:

  • I clearly need to publish more content ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
  • And nothing else ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ the site should pick up more organic traffic thanks to the niche it is in

Unicorn ๐Ÿฆ„ Website ๐Ÿ‘Ž

This is the website I bought in April and itโ€™s in the Informational & Virtual Goods niche.

It got affected negatively with a traffic drop of 7 %.

However, only certain pages lost a lot of rankings ๐Ÿค” The upsetting part is that it touched the money pages ๐Ÿ˜ญ

It looks like Google has re-thought what the site is about and decided to re-rank it based on this new understanding ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Also, the website was under a massive blackhat attack in November when spammy backlinks from 500+ domains were deployed ๐Ÿคฏ I have just finished cleaning it up. Hopefully, it will help to regain some rankings back.

Unicorn traffic

Hereโ€™s an example of one page that got hit badly by the algo update. Apparently, Google thinks that this post is no longer relevant enough to the main โ€œthemeโ€ of the website:

Unicorn - page down

And hereโ€™s an example of another page that suddenly got a lot of love from Google:

Unicorn - page up

Website highlights:

  • Itโ€™s a high-authority site with DR 45 ๐Ÿ˜
  • Itโ€™s about 4 years old
  • I publish 2-3 posts a week with an average word count of 1000
  • The site has social media and referral traffic but no email traffic
  • I have started reviving its Youtube channel and using the newly created videos in the posts to give an SEO boost
  • Link-building was very sporadic, about 1 backlink every 2 months ๐Ÿ˜’
  • Since I bought it in April 2020, it got hit by two blackhat attacks with tons of spammy backlinks ๐Ÿ˜ญ
  • The site is monetized with Ezoic (read my review), other ad platforms, Amazon, and non-Amazon affiliate programs

My plans for the site:

  • Work on speed and bounce rate, which I have been postponing for a while ๐Ÿ˜’ 
  • Push the authoritativeness of the site even higher โคด
  • Post more content on a regular basis
  • Start email marketing
  • Start building more backlinks
  • Resume active social media posting  of my content with 2-3 publications a day

Want to join the fun? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Human Proof Designs are having a winter sale called Growth Special. Itโ€™s a unique deal that will be missed once itโ€™s gone ๐Ÿ˜ญ 

If you buy an Aged or Revenue-Generating site from them and they will grow it for you for free for the next 12 months ๐Ÿคฏ

Whatโ€™s included in the deal:

  • A 1,000-word post per month including keyword research, writing, editing, images, SEO optimization, and post formatting.
  • They’ll also build one backlink per month during 2021 by doing guest posting in their blogging network.

This is a great time to become an online business owner since this deal makes it very easy to enter the playfield. And the prices are very affordable: from $1,797 up to $6,995 per website.

Check it out here:

Check out their December Specials on websites ๐ŸŽ‰

Whatโ€™s up on your sideโ“

So, this is how things are going on my side! Pretty stable if you ask me.

But I know that many of the others were having a less smooth experience with traffic dropping and restoring! Pure Russian Hills ๐Ÿ˜‚

Even if I was not affected that much, I still appreciate that Google waited until the end of Black Friday to update its algorithm ๐Ÿ˜…

Did December Update affect you? Share your story in the comments!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. I will receive a small fee if you choose to buy after clicking on any of these links. Thank you if you do! ๐Ÿค—


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