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Google Algorithm's May 2020 Core Update: What's Changed?

June 5, 2020
Michelle Alese
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We know the drill: Google occasionally makes major changes to its search-engine algorithm, also known as core updates, that send shockwaves to the organic rankings of websites.

The latest Google search update began in the first week of May 2020 and was completed in the middle of the month.

It was the first Google core algorithm update since January. As always, the community saw massive changes in the search landscape.

Let’s learn more about the scope of the May 2020 core update thus far, which sites or niches gain and lost traffic and what you need to do moving forward.

The Effects of the May 2020 Core Update

First off, let’s remember this latest Google algorithm update took place during a global pandemic.

Google, acknowledging the situation, hints that its core update is a byproduct of the “new normal” during these unusual times.

Here are some of the striking effects caused by major changes to Google’s algorithm:

Information Sites Are Up

Covid-19 created the need for people to stay updated about the pandemic and to keep safe at all times.

Indeed, they sought the best and most reliable news possible to deliver content to help guide them in turbulent times.

It isn’t a surprise that the news industry is the biggest winner of the Google core algorithm update 2020, according to SEMrush.

Entertainment Sites Are Down

For the same reason, the keyword rankings of websites in the entertainment industry dropped a couple of places down organic searches after the algorithm change. If they were ranking on the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) before, they aren’t anymore.

Just as people from all walks of life are taking the necessary precautions to stay safe during the pandemic, so are artists and celebrities.

While most have taken their art online using video and web conferencing, it’s not the same as seeing them live and in the flesh.

In relation, sites that offer meetups and offline activities suffered as well. Aside from Eventbrite, Meetup saw a decrease in organic traffic while it was peaking before the Google algorithm update in May.

Big Brands Getting Even Bigger is one of the world’s largest online marketplace with a market capitalization of $932.29 billion for July 2019. It also holds an Alexa Ranking at #14 and an average organic search traffic of about 981 million visitors according to SEMrush. It's no question that the site is showing up on numerous positions on the first page of SERPs.

Even Etsy is getting in the act.

Search Engine Journal speculates that Google is rewarding websites with content that people want to see during the pandemic.

Instead of showing gym sites for fitness-related terms, Google shows Etsy and even eBay as sites where you can get gym equipment.

Bigger brands benefit the most as they have the pages and products that meet the intent of search queries.

What to Do Next?

The latest Google update 2020 comes across as a reiteration that websites should stick to Google’s rules. Here are some crucial tactics worth employing based on the algorithm changes.

1. Diagnose Affected Pages

Assuming that you’ve already audited your website, you’ll need to monitor pages that suffered the most following the core update.

Refer to their organic rankings and see how far they’ve dropped. At the same time, look at pages that rose to prominence and weren’t there before the algorithm change.

Compare your pages with the new ranking ones and review the differences. Refer to content quality as a barometer when pitting your website pages against others.

Also, look at how much they observe the various on-page SEO factors and see if you fare comparably with the others that are ranking.

From here, you should have a better idea of how to make your pages more compliant to the algorithm changes so you can restore your rankings.

2. Brush Up on Google Search Quality Guidelines

According to Google, core updates have more to do about a website’s content:

That said, you need to ensure that your site’s content is up to Google’s standard. And if you can only do that if you know what the search engine wants based on its Google Search Quality Raters Guideline e-book.

This 168-page document should give you pretty much everything you need to know about how Google treats content.

In particular, the guide focuses on content and the different qualities of each. Your goal is to strive for your pages to be high-quality pages. And one way of determining this is by analyzing pages according to E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Keep in mind that E-A-T isn’t a ranking factor. Rather, it’s a set of characteristics that of the highest-ranking pages on SERPs share with each other.

It’s probably the reason why big brands have a stranglehold on organic search. They possess these 3 qualities that make them less susceptible to algorithm changes.

Ultimately, you must achieve E-A-T so you can enjoy the same benefits that the titans do.

You can attain this if you hold influence in your niche.

To cut through the noise, you’ll need to share content that stands out from the pack. That means sharing insights that your competitors haven’t. Think of it as an opportunity to show potential customers that you know your niche like the back of your hand.

By developing yourself as a subject matter expert (SME), you can discuss your niche on a deeper level, thus providing visitors with valuable and useful information.

3. Leverage the Authority of Others

If you can’t muster enough influence as the site owner or if you have no interest in establishing yourself as a SME, you can always rely on someone else to be the face of your brand.

Say you’re running a website about weight loss and create articles about the topic. Even if you do observe the best on-page SEO practices, your site might still get hit with a Google SEO update if nobody in your market considers it as an authority.

One way around this is hiring people who are renowned dietitians and fitness experts to produce content for you.

Imagine if the content on WebMD was written by content writers as opposed to actual doctors and medical practitioners.

Would you still trust the content the same way you did before? (I won’t fault you if you don’t.)Since SMEs are acknowledged in their respective fields, their content gives your site legitimacy compared to competitors who keep churning out content written by unknown talking heads.

On the downside, hiring them to write pieces on your site may cost a fortune. There’s the rub: It may be the price you have to pay if you want to rise to the top.

Another way around building authority to your website is through user-generated content (UGC).The idea behind letting your audience take control of your site’s authority is to help everybody involved to find a solution towards a problem related to your topic.

Think of Stack Overflow, for example. The site has a public and private question-and-answer section where people can talk about web development.

The great thing about this site is how it pools like-minded people working together toward answering a user query.

It’s no wonder that the site increased its organic ranking and traffic after the May 2020 core update.

Core Update Conclusion

As with most algorithm changes, the May 2020 Google core update reminds site owners to always put search users at the forefront. Google has a record of rewarding websites that continuously provide high-level content for their visitors.

It’s in your best interest to strive for authority with your website to further increase your organic rankings and traffic. Following the advice above, you should be able to plan ahead before the next Google search algorithm update hits.


Michelle Alese

Michelle is an SEO maven whose greatest skill is performing off-page, on-page competitor analysis. She spends her days conducting online research and overseeing SEO projects that drive organic search traffic to digital content. When she's not boosting awareness of client websites, Michelle enjoys fiction writing, photography and spending time with her rescue beagle, Tommy.

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