Google's May 2020 Core Algorithm Update
Google announced that it began rolling out a core algorithm update on May 4th, expecting it to take “about one to two weeks to fully roll out.” Google provided a heads up surrounding its second core algorithm update of 2020, as core updates often result in notable changes, aimed at presenting the most relevant and authoritative content to searchers; Google has not yet released guidance on which categories or content types will be impacted by this update.
What was the last update?
Google’s first core algorithm update of 2020, known as the January 2020 Core Algorithm update, began rolling out on January 13th and had the greatest impact on “Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) industries. YMYL is how Google references websites providing information that could significantly impact a user’s quality of life. Pages with breaking news, health, financial, or legal advice, and shopping pages are considered YMYL content and are held to the highest standards because of the implications they can have on someone’s well-being. Google’s standards for determining the quality of content across YMYL sites are “Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness” (E-A-T), based on the reliability of the source and the amount of information provided. Following the January 2020 Core Algorithm update, volatility in search visibility spiked, with volatility levels on par with Google’s core algorithm updates over the prior year.
What is the impact of this update?
Initial data provided by top search aggregators shows several trends:
- Google continues to emphasize the prioritization of pages and sites with higher user engagement than their peers. Examples of such include penalizing pages with thin content and rewarding sites with CTRs and bounce rates better than their industry average.
- The May update has been one of the most disruptive core algorithm updates over the past three years, with greater volatility in rankings for top 3, top 5, and top 10 search results than the January 2020 Core Algorithm update.
- While core updates typically impact two or three specific categories, this update has affected visibility across a wider range, likely due to broadly shifting search trends amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Categories most notably impacted include those hit hardest by the pandemic, such as Travel and Real Estate, as well as those that have received a surge in search volume, like Health and Finance. Other categories experiencing volatility in visibility include Pets & Animals and People & Society.
How does this update affect you?
This update impacts keyword rankings and visibility across Google SERPs, which can result in a change in the amount of organic traffic driven to your website. While the categories above with the highest volatility in rankings will be most impacted by this update, it is likely that websites across a wider variety of categories will also see changes in rankings and traffic.
What should you consider moving forward?
As the update rolls out and Google addresses potential overcorrections, continue to monitor changes in keyword rankings and traffic across your website. If you observe a negative shift in rankings or traffic, it is important to assess the quality of content across your website by asking these questions:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Please reach out to Rise to learn how to best create, manage, and optimize the content across your website to maximize organic visibility following this update.