February 11, 2020

Has Your Business Been Bumped Down the List on Google? There’s a Reason


A new year is here and Google has announced the first major changes to its search algorithm of 2020. Google began to roll out their Core Update on January 13th and it is being implemented in Google data centers over the coming days. There are some sweeping changes that you need to be aware of if your clients or customers find you through the Google search engine.

Here is a quick timeline of changes to the search engine:

Summary: Google Core Update January 2020

  • On 13th of January 2020, Google announces the roll-out of its first broad core algorithm update of 2020.
  • Over the coming days, the Google January 2020 Core Update is rolled out to Google’s data centers.
  • Impact of the January 2020 Core Update is not yet established.
  • Google continues to pursue its transparent communication policy for core updates, which started in 2019.
  • Google also releases another update to its SERP layout, which sees company icons (favicons) displayed in desktop search results.


But with these wide sweeping changes, there tends to be some changes that are overlooked, or under-explained… and some of them can have major impacts on people finding your business and your advertising dollars.

So What Changed?

It appears that Google is back to favoring large directory/review sites. If this continues it’s going to, in a lot of ways, eliminate our ability to rank in the top 4 spots. But what does this mean?

Do me a favour. 

Using an Incognito browser, go onto Google and search “attorney atlanta.” What do you see?
You will see that the main top level keyword Attorney Atlanta (not a sub/related keyword such as Car Accident Attorney Atlanta) is being dominated by the large directory brands in the industry (the legal the big boys in Atlanta, Georgia are Justia, Super Lawyers, findLaw etc.) 

If you look at this change from a user perspective, it makes sense that Google would prefer to have those sites dominate because they are nationally recognized/trusted (not a small business nobody has heard of), and these are the type of sites users want to visit as most people want to see reviews and different business options in a single convenient place.

Then because these directory sites are getting all the Click-Through-Rate, Traffic, and User Engagement (which is exactly what Google is looking for) it's making the first page search results a battle of the directory titans in every industry. 

Don’t believe me? Pick a competitive industry and a major city. Google it and see what comes up. A couple ads, some maps, and a whole pile of lists. 

So what happens to all of that SEO equity you’ve been building up over the years? You still have it, but now it’s on page 2 or 3 or 7. Users don’t like looking for things. All those years on page 1 of Google and now you have to search to find yourself in the interior pages…

So what do you do?

You need to adapt and adapt quickly. If directories are the current trend, you need to get your business represented in directories. This means that you need positive customer reviews to boost your rating. You need to have a Google map on your site that places you within your target market area. Local businesses with storefronts should also have a Google My Business page to ensure they get on the map results.

Will this trend toward directories continue? Will Google change the algorithm again? Hard to say. But for now, you need to play within the confines of what Search Engines are looking for. 

Need some help? Give us a call.

A huge thanks to Kevin Stortz, our SEO Specialist at Crosstown SEO for his input and in-depth knowledge in this area.

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