Last year was a roller coaster of ups and downs for everyone either it be one’s professional life or personal life. SEO industry was also not left behind in it.

Right from Google’s new year organic shopping listings to how SEOs railed for gender equality and diversity to the upcoming page experience update, here is a detailed blog of the most impactful SEO news of 2020.

The Google algorithm update of 2020

There was some suspicion within the search community that major algorithm updates would be on hold because of pandemic, but that actually not happened. Here is a summary of what rolled out.

The core updates

Launching the core update, Google started early within two weeks into the year 2020. Although it naturally takes about two weeks for any update to completely roll out, the company said it was finished four days later on 16th Jan.

Four months later the May 2020 core update hit the market again, with some calling it an “absolute monster.”

Again, Google rolled out the December Core update, right between the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping season and the end-of-the-year holidays. According to some reports, this was the most impactful core update of the year.

BERT update

In December 2019, Google announced the BERT update, calling it the biggest challenge in the SEO in the past 5 years. Later in 2020, Google uses BERT models from 10% to a00% to better understand search queries.

Announced in May, the Page experience update is not expected to roll out before May 2021. This update includes a mix of existing search factors, such as the Mobile-Friendly Update, Page Speed Update, the HTTPS ranking boost, safe browsing penalty, along with new metrics for speed and usability, known as the Core web vitals.

Passing indexing was announced in October and stated to begin this year, but Google has confirmed that it is not yet live. To be clear, Google does not index pages separately, it is more “passage ranking” than “passage indexing.”

COVID- related updates

People turned to search engines as the Coronavirus went from being a foreign issue to surging throughout the country. Google’s coronavirus result pages received a drastic overhaul between the end of February and March, giving us a preview of how search result pages might look one day.

Bing introduced a Coronavirus tracker page right on the search result page and to keep users informed, Google surfaced more local COVID news.

One more major highlight from this devastating period was the reaction from search marketers, who volunteered their services to help small businesses navigate the pandemic in a myriad of ways.

Reporting and analytics

Google search console received several updates in 2020, beginning with the launch of a new removal tool. This tool let site owners temporarily hide URLs from showing in search, as well as showing them which URLs were filtered by SafeSearch and what content is displaying in search results.

In August, Google search console insights were launched by the company specially tailored for content creators and publishers. this new updated helps content creators identify how well their content is performing, how people discover it across the web, what their site’s top and trending queries are, and what other sites and articles link to theirs.


Right about the time, the January 2020 core update was rolling out, Google also announced the Mobile popular product section for apparel, shoes, and similar searches, signifying the first in a series of eCommerce strategies shifts for the company. The section is organic and powered by product schema and product feeds submitted via Google Merchant Center.

Also, on mobile, Google extended the functionality of its related activity cards, concerning shopping, job and even recipe-related searches.


Google maps turned 15 this year, and the company celebrated this with a refreshed version of this mobile app. The 2020 iteration expanded the bottom tabs to five sections including Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute and Updates. Along with this, the company also announced as the expansion of live view augmented reality walking directions.

The Maps updates continued through to December, when businesses using Google My Business gained access to improved performance metrics, showing whether customers found them on maps or through search, as well as expanded messaging via their business profile in maps. Web search results also began showing in the Google Map search results for individual businesses.

Google My Business

In February, there was a lot of chatter over Twitter about a new section on Google My Business which helped and encouraged the business owners to include relevant keywords in their GMB descriptions.

Google quickly backtracked on that guidance after local SEOs brought it to the company’s attention, and the messaging disappeared shortly after. For every location listed on GMB, the platform tracks users’ interactions on Google Maps, Google search, or Google assistant.

For example, GMB tracks when users interact with information published by the restaurant staff like opening hours, menu highlights and accessibility features but also content posted by influencers, customers and local guides that is reviews, pictures, and Q&A.

As “buy online, pickup in-store” usage surged, Google announced it would be making nearby product inventory more discoverable using a more prominent “nearby” filter under the shopping tab.


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