Google lives by the philosophy that no search is a perfect search and as such it keeps on rolling its “broad core updates” several times a year, wherein broad changes are made to Google’s search algorithms to ensure that the searchers discover more relevant and authoritative pieces of content with respect to the searches they perform.
The latest addition to the series of Google’s core algorithmic updates, following the January 2020 core update, is the May 2020 core update that was rolled out on May 4th around 3:50 pm ET on Monday.
May 4th being the International Star Wars Day, the rolling of Google’s May 2020 core update on the day was followed by the phrases such as “May the Force – or Fourth – be With You”, and the good rankings, of course!
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic crisis, several businesses have also expressed anguish over the update, stating it by names such as “Forced Update“, “Corona Update” and “Pandemic Update“.
Nonetheless, people who have understood Google’s core updates closely know that this one is no different, though several experts are already talking of its impact being way more powerful than the January 2020 core update in many aspects.
Starting 4/5/2020, Google’s May 2020 core update will take almost 2 weeks to be completely rolled out when it starts to show a full-fledged on the SERPs, with an aim to incrementally improve the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the pieces of content and ultimately the quality of content being served to the users on the SERPs.
However, having been rolled out in drastically unprecedented times, since the January 2020 update, Google’s May 2020 core update has already led to SERP volatility and influenced the impressions for many businesses. In that way, Google’s May 2020 core update seems to be a vital one, bigger than ever, and more impactful in many aspects.
Understanding Google’s May 2020 core update thoroughly and accordingly upgrading your content strategy to be a best-fit for the algorithm, in the long run, will determine the trajectory of business sustainability and growth – both during the times of the pandemic crisis and possibly as we inch closer to a post-pandemic era of business, with new resiliency frameworks and entirely new guidelines for normalcy in business proceedings and operations.
According to several experts, these core updates are meant for you to be better prepared to meet the evolving search intensions and relevancy parameters for the users online and make your business achieve substantial and sustainable growth in the toughest of times, instead of panicking.
What does Google’s 2020 Core Update Mean for Your Business
Just like the other core algorithm updates, Google’s May 2020 core algorithm update has been designed to bring about noticeable changes within the SERPs and is universal for all the geographies and languages across the globe.
Concentrate conclusions about how the update will impact the rankings should be derived only once the algorithm is fully rolled out.
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the categories such as travel, tourism, live events, etc. will be less searched terms and therefore, volatility in these segments comes as no surprise.
However, Google’s May 2020 core update is likely to impact many vulnerable industries, many of which have been adversely affected because of the coronavirus crisis.
What the Initial Observations and Feedback Analysis from several Sources Reveal
It has been almost a week since Google’s May 2020 core update has been rolled out and we have already witnessed some profound observations and feedback from some of the well-renowned SEO houses and online market research businesses.
Here’s a gist of what the web has assessed and observed the Google’s May 2020 core update and provided some valuable feedback:
According to SEMrush, Google’s May 2020 core update is going to be bigger than the January 2020 update. The experts at SEMrush quoted, “the May update is stronger and influencers more SERPs and positions.”
According to SEMrush Sensor, the sensor tracking tool from SEMrush, while January 2020 core update led to average volatility of 8 points, on May 6, post-Google’s May 2020 core update, every category showed peaking volatility rates from 9 to 9.4 points.
Thus, the initial signals point that Google’s May 2020 core update will have a stronger and lasting impact on business sustainability, as it will continue to influence the more rankings on SERPs, thereby making a greater impact than its preceding counterpart.
The data from SEMrush showed that the top-five most impacted industries post the roll-out of Google’s May 2020 core algorithmic update were travel, real estate, health, pets and animals, and people and society respectively.
According to the data from SEMrush, the websites that benefited from the update were local.com, yellowpages.com, superpages.com, businesswire.com, prnewswire.com, globenewswire.com, xe.com, mapquest.com, and gamekidgame.com, whereas Google’s May 2020 core update had an adverse impact on some of the websites.
Amongst some of the prime SERP losers were manta.com, allmusic.com, idaily.com, nypost.com, discogs.com, afiavillage.com, eventbrite.com, peoplepill.com, and owler.com.
According to Mordy Oberstein of RankRanger, Google’s May 2020 core update is what he calls “an absolute monster.” He further aggravated the criticality of the situation adding that “The January update was a very big update yet this one slightly edges it out…”
The rank volatility chart by RankRanger, encompassing the various volatility parameters that it measures, revealed that Google’s May 2020 core update shuffled Google’s search results more than the January 2020 update.
Oberstein concludes that Google’s May 2020 core update is different from the previous core updates as it is far more uniform across diverse niches than the typical core updates.
Moz has an in- house Mozcast tool, to track updates by temperature. On May 4th and 5th, the heat-levels shown by the Mozcast tool were insanely high at 103 degrees and 112 degrees respectively.
Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz told Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land that Google’s May 2020 core update showed the second-highest impact amongst all the core updates, as evidenced by the Mozcast parameters, only behind the Google’s Medic Update, a core algorithmic update rolled out in August 2018.
According to Marcus Tober from Search Metrics, the May 2020 core update seems to be broader than its former counterparts.
He also added that this update is less-focused on typical E.A.T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) parameters. He concluded that while the former core updates had a large number of medical websites amongst the winners, including the WebMDs or Mayoclinics; that wasn’t the case with Google’s May 2020 core algorithmic update.
According to Marcus, the initial analysis reveals that Google has been working to improve the usefulness of the pieces of content alongside brand factors that might include the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) or user data.
He expressed bewilderment over Spotify being affected by Google’s May 2020 core update. Marcus told that Spotify.com had been primarily growing from years; however, the pages ranking from open.spotify.com have thin content and the login wall.
Thus, they probably have a higher bounce rate, as compared to their counterparts such as YouTube and that is a prime reason for them to rank lower despite having a strong brand. However, music.apple.com was a consistent performer and didn’t win or lost in terms of the rankings on SERPs.
5. Responses gathered on WebmasterWorld Forum from the Webmasters and SEOs on Websites of diverse Niches
Sofie77 stated via the WebmasterWorld Forum that the May 2020 core update was worst for people in the health business that she has witnessed during her several years of SEO experience. She stated that the health businesses were also hit hard post the Google Medic core update of August 2018; though the May 2020 core update was worst and the health businesses were hit harder than in 2018.
ChokenBako via the WebmasterWorld Forum stated that the current situation is looking tough for technology and allied websites and that the technology websites got only 40% of the total traffic they got a week before the core algorithmic roll out.
- Finance & Health
HereWeGo123 via the WebmasterWorld Forum stated of having witnessed crazy swings in the websites belonging to the finance and health sectors. HereWeGo123 added that monitoring mapping keywords across several verticals of finance and health websites signals massive volatility.
Observations imply a big impact of Google’s 2020 core update so far and some major national brands ranking on top for competitive financial keywords have deteriorated their rankings on SERPs by as much as 10+.
Dantes100 via the WebmasterWorld Forum signaled that the relationship advice websites are likely to witness a decline in traffic over the week.
Several webmasters are arguing that content related to pandemic might be prioritized by Google to rank higher on SERPs. Under such circumstances assimilating insights on how the pandemic is impacting your business strategy and allied interdisciplinary aspects of the crisis and business, might be a good idea for the content strategists.
How the Webmasters, SEOs and Content Strategists can Gear Up for the Google’s May 2020 core update to ensure Business Sustainability and Substantial Growth
The basic guidelines updated by Google in the summer of 2019 to combat the adverse effect of Google’s core algorithmic changes remain unchanged even after the roll out Google’s May 2020 core update.
Google states that along with standing at par the guidelines of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) the quality of content is also accessed by other automated systems leveraging a mix of different signals to rank great content on the SERPs. The humane perception of great content also influences the rankings on the SERPs even as humans access it according to E-A-T criteria.
Nevertheless, E-A-T can be a great starting point for content marketers looking forward to conceptualizing their content on the grounds of E-A-T so that it be discovered by the targeted group of prospects across search engines and can then be further assessed for overall quality.
Google tests any core algorithm before it goes live for discovering it’s improving the overall search experience of the prospects and customers. Google keeps on rolling out core updates to improve search results though it doesn’t announce all of them. Most of the updates aren’t noticeable and keep on improving incrementally.
The core updates announced, like Google’s May 2020 core update produce some profound and apparent changes and widely noticeable impact. Several websites can gain rankings on SERPs while others can lose.
So if your website is down in the organic rankings, you will obviously seek ways to restore the damages done. However, Google advises that there’s nothing to fix in such circumstances. Your content is still good and viable. It just lost rank to other pieces of content with higher quality and greater relevance for audience groups researching on the web.
For sustaining their business amidst any core update, including Google’s May 2020 core update, Google advises content strategy to review its content by asking the following types of questions:
a. Content & Quality Questions
Introspect whether the content created by you:
- Provides original information, analysis, and reporting
- Provides a comprehensive and substantial description of the topic covered
- Provides interesting information and delves into details to derive conclusions beyond the obvious
- If content referenced from other sources provides a considerable amount of original value and keeps the originality intact and simply rewriting everything
- Provides the readers with a descriptive summary of content in the form of headlines or page titles
- Has a headline that hasn’t simply been exaggerated or is overly shocking in origin
- Is convincingly impactful for you to bookmark, recommend and share
- Is of high-quality to be referred to and referenced by printed magazines, books, and encyclopedia
b. Expertise Questions
Ask yourself whether the content created by you:
- Is presenting trustworthy information, in terms of having clear referencing, author’s or website’s bio with a link leading to author’s page or website’s ‘About Us’ page and thus, showcases enough evidence of the expertise involved
- Has been researched from highly-authoritative websites, which are well recognized for certain topics or niche-specific knowledge publicized in your content
- Has been written by a subject-matter-expert or enthusiast well-acquainted with the topic
- Is free from the easily-verified factual errors
- Inspires trust for matters relating to money or life
c. Presentation and Production Questions
These questions need to be brainstorming for marketers to analyze if the pieces of content created by them:
- Are free from any spelling or formatting and styling errors
- Have been written with ease, in a comprehensive way or do they appear to be sloppy and bi-products of haste
- Have been mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or simply have been superfluous across networking websites for driving the attention away from the individual pages or websites
- Have been studded with an excess of advertising that interfaces with the main content
- Have been optimized for accelerated mobile pages (AMPs)
d. Comparative Questions
The content marketers need to scrutinize whether the pieces of content created by them:
- Provide substantial value when compared to the other SERPs
- Appear to be addressing the genuine interests of the visitors on the website or has just been haphazardly created for the heck of it
Apart from asking themselves the above set of questions you can also take the feedback from authoritative and trustworthy sources to improve the quality of your content.
If you experience any drop in rankings due to Google’s May 2020 core update, consider running audits of the drops.
Introspect which pages have been most adversely impacted and for what types of searches.
Wrapping Things Up
If your website has witnessed a drop in the rankings on the SERPs, you can start performing audits for improvement assessing your content to stand true to the guidelines of E-A-T and the set of categorical questions described above.
Your website rankings may improve post the audits or they may not improve at all until the next core algorithmic update by Google is rolled out.
The webmasters should understand that improvements made in the websites don’t guarantee recovery of the organic rankings on SERPs.
No webpages or websites can have a guaranteed position on the SERPs and that’s a fact. If a piece of content is more deserving and relevant it will undeniably rank higher on the SERPs.
Google collects several signals and co-relates human’s perception of relevance with the signals of relevance amassed through the machine learning algorithms to establish the ultimate relevancy for the pieces of content. For example, linking of pages to each other is a well-known signal for Google to check the relevancy of pieces of content. Likewise, there are many more. However, Google doesn’t disclose all the signals to protect the integrity of the results published on SERPs.
In conclusion, Google’s formula for core algorithmic updates clearly states that there is nothing more you can do about the changes in rankings brought about by the updates, except for improving the quality of your content.
In a statement made on the core algorithmic updates Google states, “They’re designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.”
So, if your website has been adversely impacted by Google’s May 2020 core update, consider reviewing the authority of your content – whether it is helpful for your users, nicely formatted to optimize the experience of users, and help the search engines discover it and is free from SEO mistakes.
In the current situation, marketers should avoid making any drastic changes to their websites, unless Google’s core algorithmic update has been completely rolled out. You can, however, make changes to your website if you figure out that there’s something that violates Google’s guidelines and it needs to be fixed.
Industry benchmarking and following the best trends for creating, publishing, and promoting the pieces of content will always make your content less vulnerable to all the core algorithmic updates, presently, as well as in the future.
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