Google’s May 2020 Core Update and Why it Matters

10 Jun 2020 | Sukhesh Vadavil
Google’s May 2020 Core Update and Why it Matters

Every now and then Google rolls out an update for their search algorithm. This could be minor changes, that may only apply to certain regions. But the latest update which rolled out on May 7th, 2020 was one of their biggest in a long time. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest changes that have been observed so far.

Oh and if you’re worried about your website’s rank on any SERP, talk to our SEO experts. We’d love to help!

The recent core update was not specific to any region, language or category of websites. It is one of Google’s “broad core upgrades” that rolls out every few months. It took around 2 weeks to complete, during which there was high volatility observed on search engine result page rankings especially between May 4 to 6th.

After Google search liaison tweeted that the update has been completed, many people complained that the new update was flawed. Many users reported results being clogged by different pages from the same website like Pinterest. Users even complained that the new update somehow favoured social websites like Pinterest, Reddit and others, causing them to outrank other websites with better content. A lot of these claims were tweeted with screenshots of proof. 

It has also been reported that websites like Amazon have received a huge boost in rankings. Gym related websites have taken a fall into lower rankings.

By now, you must have noticed something. These changes in rankings feel like they’re somehow related to the fact that a lot of people around the world are stuck at home in quarantine. Google’s SERP is shown to favour social sites and online shopping sites. So did Google adjust rankings to favour quarantine? 

You could say that the drastic changes in the online customer behaviour might have resulted in Google changing their algorithm in order to respond better to the changes. People’s online purchase behaviour has been drastically changed. This might be Google’s way of keeping its algorithm running fine through these changes. Nobody is really sure what exactly they’ve changed. It would, however, be a good idea to check if your website rankings have been affected or not. 

To see if the update has affected your ranking, check your Google Analytics account. The traffic stats can give you a clue. If there’s lesser organic traffic than before, your site may have been adversely affected.

According to a report by SEMRush, the websites that were positively affected belonged to travel, health, real estate, pet, and the food and drink industry.

How do you ensure that your website isn’t affected adversely by such updates?

Well, Google considers user experience the top priority. The content on your website must be top-notch. But you could go way beyond just writing and posting new articles on your website. Here are some practices that have shown to really help with rankings even when Google brings about a change in their algorithm.

Keep on improving old content

Make it a point to go back to your older pages, and to revise and update them. Conduct fact checks, and verify if the content is still accurate. If you feel like changing anything, go ahead. 

You should also consider adding graphics if you think it will help people understand your content better. Anything from infographics, bar graphs, to illustrations can amplify the user experience of your website visitors. It goes without saying that Google’s algorithm has always loved lists, both ordered and unordered. You may even find your page appearing as a featured snippet if you’ve got lists on your pages.

Be relevant

Articles on your website that aren’t relevant anymore can suffer whenever such core updates roll out. Make sure your content stays relevant. You also want to avoid words and phrases like “last week”, “in the previous month” etc. These phrases will get outdated fast. You want your articles to be evergreen. Either mention the date or rewrite them.

Add more content!

No, we’re not talking about posting new content. It’s a great idea to go back to your old articles and to add more to the content. Make them more detailed and rich with information. 

Here’s something that can really help you rank higher. Search for the keywords you’re trying to rank for and find out what the first 10 results are doing better than you, and then beat them at their own game. We know this is easier said than done but worry not, our content team is always here to help. 

Brush up on your SEO practices

If your site has been affected by the core update, you must definitely start to take your SEO very seriously. Google themselves have mentioned that if your site has been affected by the core update, it might take another few months for your site to regain its old rank whenever another update rolls out. But this is only possible if you’ve been busy optimising your page for better rankings. So get working! Talk to our SEO team if you need any help.

This also means that if you like testing out changes for a short time, and then revert back if you’re not showing any short term results, you should consider giving yourself more time. At least till the next update rolls out. You may be doing the right things, but you’ll only see a major change after the next update happens.

Thin content is big no!

Having pages with very little content gives you a better probability of losing ranks. I mean if you have the time and resource, you can fill your pages like Neil Patel does, with pages and pages of overflowing content. As long as the content is good, this is a good strategy. But if you can’t do that, at least aim for a decent word count. Many of the sites that were affected during the recent core update had multiple pages with thin content.

Focus on off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is often overlooked. Having reputed websites linking back to your website is a sure way of securing your ranks even when Google rolls out these big algorithm changes. This can only be done by talking to the people who run those sites. Form connections, talk about your work. If your content is good and if you play your cards right, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t link to it.

We also suggest giving our article on Technical SEO a quick read.

With many more updates to Google’s algorithm on its way, make sure that your rankings are not affected by investing in SEO. Our experienced SEO team can help you with this. Talk to our SEO experts and let’s get your website on the front page!

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