Looking Back on a Few of the 4,500 Google Search Updates From 2020

Google just revealed there were 4,500 updates and improvements made to Search throughout the year 2020. This is over 1,000 more updates than Google implemented in 2019. Of course, these changes range from minuscule to major, and many were influenced by circumstance and the necessity for more digital-forward solutions. Let’s take a look back at some of the notable changes that occurred in Search over the past year.

Notable Search Changes in 2020

Page Experience Signals Announced as a Search Ranking Factor (Nov. 2020)

Near the close of 2020, Google announced that Page Experience Signals would be a factor in Google Search rankings. These signals include Core Web Vitals, as well as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS (website security), and no intrusive interstitials (pop-ups that disrupt the usability of a website). In their first announcement, Google said that these ranking factors would go into effect in May of 2021. Since then, there have been several amendments:

  • On June 15th, 2021, Google announced the slightly delayed global rollout, which should be complete by the end of August 2021.
  • On August 4th, 2021, Google amended that Safe Browsing (previously announced as a Page Experience Signal) would no longer be used as a ranking factor. Google realized that this issue is often out of a site owner’s control, and they didn’t want it to have an unfair, negative impact on websites. Safe Browsing flags will still be indicated in Search Console, outside of the Page Experience report.

Advancements in AI Improve Search (Oct. 2020)

Thanks to AI technology, Google can now better understand misspelled words. One out of every ten queries is spelled incorrectly every day, so it makes sense that Google puts an emphasis on deciphering these errors to provide a better Search experience.

Google has also made improvements when it comes to providing the specific answers people are searching for. Google can now understand the relevancy of a passage related to a specific long tail Search query. AI advancements allow Google to pull a passage of information from a page and place it at the top of the SERPs.

Video Appointments and Online Classes for Google My Business Profiles (Sept. 2020)

In September, video setup became available in select Google My Business dashboards. This was an extension of services announced in May as a part of Google’s tools to help small businesses during COVID-19. To access this feature, a Reserve with Google relationship is required. In Search, there’s no change to the display of a Google My Business profile, rather more functionality behind the scenes to help business owners get started with the affiliated video conferencing providers. This is still a relevant feature and one that should be utilized if it fits with your business model and you haven’t already taken advantage of it.

Google Released Three Broad Core Updates (Jan., May, Dec. 2020)

Bookended by the first and last month of the year, 2020 saw three broad core updates from Google. As we know, if your website is negatively impacted by a broad core update, there’s not a specific list of actions for you to take. If your website is suffering following a broad core update, take a look at the bigger picture; see where you can make improvements to your copy, site speed, UX, etc. Crafting a well-rounded, quality website is the best way to ensure its performance isn’t negatively impacted when a new update rolls out. There have already been several core updates in 2021, as we’re more than halfway through the year. Here’s some documentation that breaks down what you should know about core updates and some questions you can answer about your site that will help you evaluate its content.


Of course, mentioned above are just a few of the thousands of changes Google made in one calendar year! To learn more about the updates to Search, check out Google’s newly launched website How Search Works, as well as their new How Search Works video series. Looking to better optimize your website for Google Search? Contact the marketing experts at Hall for organic gains and website optimizations.

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