A week ago, Google rolled out its May 2020 Core update. Although the effects of the algorithm have yet to work their way through the system, we already know quite a bit about it.
One SEO professional described the fallout using a single word: “carnage.”
Another said it’s “an absolute monster.”
Some strategists complained because Google rolled out the change in the middle of a pandemic. That’s exactly when businesses don’t need to fight another battle.
And yet here we are. Keywords bounce all over the results pages, websites record significant drops in traffic, and plenty of digital marketers wonder about the future.
So what should we do? Let’s start by learning about the specifics of this update.
It’s a Broad Update
This wasn’t an algorithm change that targeted a specific niche or particular black hat tactic. Instead, it was sweeping in scope.
Mordy Oberstein over at RankRanger said it’s even bigger and broader than the January update. According to his research, the algorithm generated a 93% increase in rank volatility for the top 10 results compared with an 88% increase in January.
Oberstein also noted the following increases in top 10 rank volatility by industry:
- Health – 94% increase
- Finance – 97% increase
- Retail – 88% increase
- Travel – 91% increase
Yulia Ibragimova at SEMRush confirms that the current update generated more volatility than the January change. The SEMRush sensor tracking tool currently shows a score of 9.4 whereas the January update generated a reading closer to 8.
SEMRush also confirms that the Travel, Real Estate, and Health sectors were among those hardest hit.
Pete Meyers over at Moz says that the update was the “second-highest Core Update on MozCast since August 2018.” That was the so-called “Medic” update.
Marcus Tober from Search Metrics says the May algorithm change doesn’t seem to focus on EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) areas. Instead, it’s much broader.
“From my just a few hour analysis it seems that Google was working again on content factors combined with brand factors (maybe including CTR/user data),” he says. “Spotify seems to be affected by the update, which is unexpected. Spotify.com was primarily growing for years. But the pages that ranked from open.spotify.com are thin content and have the login wall. Probably they have higher bounces than peers like Youtube and despite their strong brand get lower rankings. Music.apple.com was not winning nor losing,”
Winners and Losers
SEMRush shared winners and losers from the latest update.
Note that LinkedIn was temporarily de-indexed from Google. So that might account for its presence in the “Losers” list.
Search Metrics pointed out that music-oriented sites like last.fm, and rateyourmusic.com took a dive alongside Spotify. Additionally, some finance-related sites like the balance.com and thesimpledollar.com saw significant drops as well.
Other finance-related sites, such as moneyunder30.com and CNBC, saw growth.
Several gaming-related sites took a big hit. Search Metrics recorded noticeable drops on the following domains:
Some people claim that the new algorithm might account for the local search fluctuations that we’ve seen lately.
That’s possible, but others have pointed out that local search results have bounced around significantly since late April. The May 2020 Core update rolled out on May 4.
Others speculate that the COVID-19 outbreak had some influence on the recent changes. That too is possible but Google hasn’t officially commented on it.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the update is affecting websites around the world. It’s not just unique to English search terms.
Wrapping It Up
Buckle up. The worst may not be over.
The answer to this update is the same as the answer to every other update: produce quality content that people in your target market absolutely love. You may find that some of your keywords still do the Google Dance, but you’ll weather the storm better than people who take shortcuts just to get a good rank.