As the name of the update suggests, this Google core algorithm was rolled out in January 2020. Initial observations showed that YMYL (your money, your life) industries got hit the hardest, with a lot of health and finances websites showing massive volatility.
Why did Google create the update?
Google clarified a lot of speculation on the update by providing the following statement:
“Some have asked if we had an update to Google Search last week. We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis. In this thread, a reminder of when and why we give specific guidance about particular updates. Sometimes, a particular update might be broadly noticeable. We share about those when we feel there is actionable guidance for content owners.
For example, when our Speed Update happened, we gave months of advanced notice and advice. Broad core updates are often broadly noticeable. That’s why we have shared about them since last year and even preannounce them, plus provide the actionable guidance that there’s often nothing to “fix” and emphasize instead having great content. Again, we have updates that happen all the time in Google Search. If we don’t share about them, there is no particular actionable guidance to follow nor changes to make other than to keep focused on great content as we’ve advised generally.”
The Jan 2020 Algorithm
The algorithm seems to have increased how strict it is for websites in industries that relate to consumer health and well-being. Google is highly protective of its reputation of providing accurate and helpful answers to searchers and subsequently need to ensure that any results that give medical, legal or financial advice to searchers are correct and in no way look to misinform or capitalise for ill-gotten financial gain.