On May 4th, 2020, Google announced it is rolling out a new core update, many SEO professionals were left a bit confused about exactly what changed. The update will officially be known as the “May 2020 Core Update.” It has vast implications as it is notorious for shuffling organic results and causing fluctuations in the organic rankings of websites. Google has always been one step ahead of the SEO community, and the goal behind updates like these is to try and improve the quality of results that users get when they enter a search query.
Why you might notice drops
This is the second core update of the 2020 year. Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes per year. The reason for the decline some sites are seeing in organic ranking is not because your website has serious SEO issues, but it is the result of Google finding better results for the search query. Sites will inevitably notice drops or gains in search rankings when a core update rolls out. Many sites may see their performance fluctuate as a result of the core update. As we will discuss throughout the article, there are many possible reasons for this. The most likely, we believe, is that content which may not have been as relevant previously is now more relevant due to our current circumstances. Read on to learn more.
Purpose of core updates
Many of the algorithm updates are implemented to address specific faults or issues in Google’s algorithms. The purpose of the broad core update is to improve the quality of the content and its authority. Changes in search rankings are generally a reflection of content relevancy. Google doesn’t give out the details of its routine updates to avoid its results being manipulated, encouraging content creators to focus on quality content.
Continue to focus on quality content
There’s newly published content that didn’t exist at the time of the last update. This content may now be ranking and pushing your content down. Or your content could see the opposite occur and it could receive a boost. To ensure your content shows up next time or maintains its position, make sure to provide relevant original information, reporting, research, or analysis along with a comprehensive description of the topic. It is also recommended to have a descriptive but not exaggerated or sensationalist headline for your content. Create content that provides insights that are useful considering our current situation as it relates to your target audience. This can help your content jump higher in search.
Not a lot of clarity
As with any update made by Google, there is always a level of mystery. There are a whole bunch of other factors that Google can’t talk about without giving away the algorithm.
Google isn’t telling you how to “recover” because it’s likely a different answer for every website and query. Google has made several steps to ensure that no fake news goes out to the public through their SERP as coronavirus is on everyone’s radar, and some are going to try to take advantage of it.
If you are negatively impacted by a core update in the past, Google hasn’t issued any specific actions to take to recover for this update to this point. We are not sure whether this is due to the change in global trends after the global pandemic or not. You could see a rise instead of a drop. In these cases, perhaps your content has gained relevancy since the last update and moved higher up in rankings.
Due to the lack of clarity, the best advice for conquering core updates is to focus on Google’s guidelines – User intent, Quality content, and Clean architecture.
The impact of the coronavirus on search
The world quickly changed when coronavirus was declared a pandemic. It’s very likely that this algorithm update didn’t “penalize” you for something at all, but that you were more likely impacted by other content receiving a boost.
These changes can potentially be deciphered as the result of the change in search behavior as COVID-19 has changed what people need from Google’s search results. Don’t stop improving your site, there is a high fluctuation almost every day, and things are still settling. Whether it’s seeking information about the coronavirus itself or anything else, try to create relevant content for your users to fit their situation today.
There are many things gaining relevancy that weren’t as relevant to searchers before (think the popularity of content about working from home, for example). What we are now going through is unforeseen circumstances, categories that were once highly relevant aren’t being searched for as much. Such a scenario has never occurred in the internet era, and Google is faced with the unique challenge of catching up with how the world is searching, with the May 2020 Core Update.
Hopefully this info gives you a bit of background to help you understand how this latest update may have boosted or hurt your site’s rankings. It’s still a developing topic, so there’s much more to follow. We recommend staying on top of new info as it comes out to ensure you make adjustments quickly – if necessary.
Enjoyed reading the blog? Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter to receive marketing news and advice.