Analyzing Google’s May 2020 Core Quality

Google's May 2020 Core

Choosing International Star Wars Day, Google launched a controversial update that sparked debate in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

Webmasters and SEOs weren’t exactly feeling the “May the Fourth Be With You” spirit this year. Instead, the recent Google update left many feeling like they’d just witnessed “Order 66.”

Google regularly refines its search algorithm, with updates occurring several times a year.

Last year’s June 2019 Core Update, dubbed the “Diversity Update,” was welcomed by many for preventing single domains from dominating search results.

So, while updates can cause some turbulence, they don’t always spell doom and gloom.

Let’s dive into the specifics of the latest May 2020 Core Update and see what it means for webmasters and SEOs.

What Is A Core Update?

Google has implemented a series of core updates in recent years, significantly impacting search results. Google’s Danny Sullivan has confirmed that a core algorithm update is released – May 4, 2020.

The update will now be officially known as the “May 2020 Core Update.”0 This is also Google’s second Core Update in the year 2020. The last core update was launched in the second week of January 2020.

What Happened With The May 2020 Core Updates?

While January’s core update only had an average volatility of 8 points, the May 6 update affected almost every category and showed peaking volatility rates from 9 to 9.4 points.

So, the May core update appears to be much stronger and influencing more SERPs and positions.

Preliminary May 2020 Google Update Observations:

  1. Thin content powered by external factors losing
  2. Local SERPs in Major Flux
  3. Aggregators and Directories Winning
  4. SERP Features May Be in Flux

Large SERP Volatility

Initial observations suggest this latest update caused more significant SERP volatility than previous ones. As stated by RankRanger, its impact surpasses the January update.

Certain Niches Had Higher Volatility

RankRanger also highlights how this update impacts a diverse range of niches, demonstrating its widespread reach and potential significance.

Volatility in key sectors has surged in the wake of recent events, with Travel and Real Estate experiencing the most dramatic shifts.

The average volatility in these sectors, for instance, jumped from 1.9 at the end of April to a staggering 9.3 on May 6th.

While Google remains tight-lipped on the precise reasons behind this volatility, it’s likely a combination of algorithmic adjustments and the global impact of quarantine measures.

As these industries were already anticipated to be heavily impacted, the current volatility further highlights their vulnerability in the current climate.

There Were Some Winners

SEMrush, a leading SEO and digital marketing platform, has analysed the impact of the Google May 2020 Core Update, identifying websites that experienced significant ranking improvements.

The update, which rolled out on May 4, 2020, resulted in noticeable fluctuations in search results across various industries and languages.

While winners and losers emerged, SEMrush’s data sheds light on those who benefitted from the algorithm change.

While the specific details of the update remain undisclosed by Google, SEMrush’s insights offer valuable information for SEO professionals.

This knowledge can be used to optimise websites for future updates and improve overall search visibility.

So What Industries Were Affected?

Shake Ups Are Happening In Local

With everyone’s constant gaze at the news in the last few months, many media outlets are gaining unmatched user attention, but it appears that whatever they are doing has worked well, and they are being rewarded in this update. 

What Should You Do If You Were Hit

Importantly, Google clarifies that these updates don’t aim to penalise websites. In many cases, there might be minimal actions required to ‘fix’ any potential issues.

A drop in traffic doesn’t always spell doom and gloom. Consider the concept of search intent.

Perhaps you were ranking for keywords that didn’t align with user search queries. While you attracted traffic, visitors quickly abandoned your site.

This scenario highlights the importance of attracting relevant traffic, not just maximising traffic volume.

By prioritising quality over quantity, you’ll ensure your website attracts users who are genuinely interested in your offerings, leading to better engagement and higher conversion rates.

What’s Google’s Advice for the Core Update?

While Google keeps a tight lid on the specifics of their core updates, directing inquiries to their August 2019 “What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates” blog post, one thing remains clear: content quality is king.

Google emphasises the importance of delivering the best possible content to your audience, content that is:

  • Original and substantial: Offers fresh insights and goes beyond the expected.
  • Authoritative and trustworthy: Worthy of citation by credible sources.
  • Well-researched and error-free: Demonstrates expertise and meticulous attention to detail.
  • Valuable and reader-focused: Provides genuine benefit to your target audience.

To ensure your content meets these criteria, consider engaging unbiased peers to audit your website and familiarise yourself with Google’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) standards.

What Should I Do If I Saw A Ranking Drop?

Don’t panic! Google updates are notorious for causing initial volatility, with rankings fluctuating for weeks.

Instead of making hasty changes, monitor the situation until the update fully rolls out.

As Moz recently noted, early data and assumptions often don’t hold up, as the update introduces too much initial fluctuation.

Another key observation: recent core updates tend to be reversals of the previous one.

What worked before might not be optimal now, and vice versa. This dynamic underscores the importance of adaptability and continuous optimization.

For in-depth analysis and recovery strategies following a ranking drop, check out our comprehensive guide.

Final Thoughts

Even if you do everything to change your website, there is no guarantee that you will be impacted by an algorithm update. Each one is different, and Google’s goal is to create the best experience for searchers.

If you look at the issues on the website, you’ll notice that fixing them should create a better user experience and that should always be your goal.

It isn’t about winning on Google. SEO is about providing a better experience than your competition. If that’s your core focus, in the long run, you’ll find that you’ll do better than your competition when it comes to algorithm updates.

If you’ve experienced a significant drop in ranking and traffic since May 4th, don’t panic. It’s time to adapt your content and SEO strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Our team of digital marketing experts is here to help!

We’ll collaborate with you to develop a personalised game plan, propelling your website back to the top of search results.

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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