May 14

Google May 2020 Core Update: What You Need to Know

Online marketing


The Google May 2020 core update is here and has already won a few nicknames from marketers. “Pandemic Update” (from less optimistic people) or “May the Fourth Update” (from Star Wars fans) are the most popular. But behind these attempts at forced humour, one thing stands out: this update is big and has already caused significant changes in rankings, traffic statistics and SEO efforts.

What Do We Know about the Google May 2020 Core Update?

While the world was reeling under the effects of the global pandemic, Google continued with its planned updates to searching and ranking algorithms. However, one last minute tweak appears to take into consideration the current events.

As the first analytics data post update became available, marketers did not mince words. Some called the effects to traffic and SEO efforts “carnage”, others complained that this was the worst moment possible to roll out such an update, especially as they appear to affect:

  • Local searches
  • Healthcare related websites
  • Websites in multiple languages.

The Silver Lining: Websites that Experienced Traffic Boost after the Update

A large scale statistical report compiled by SEMRush from companies using their SEO tool shows some interesting results. It appears that certain business categories actually benefitted from the Google May 2020 core update.

The website categories that saw a peak in traffic recently are:

  • News
  • Business & Industrial
  • Online Communities
  • Arts & Entertainment,

Of course, this sudden increase may also be determined by the fact that a huge number of people are quarantined at home and need to work remotely or find ways to spend their time if they are furloughed. In this respect, it is significant to note that the winners’ list also includes categories such as Games, Beauty & Fitness and Pets & Animals.

Who Lost Traffic after the Google May 2020 Core Updates

Another set of statistical data prepared by SearchEngineLand identified the types of businesses that experienced the negative effects of the Google update. Ironically, they are also the categories most impacted by the Coronavirus lockdown, as well:

  • Travel
  • Real estate
  • Health.

What is worth noting is that the update caused a massive drop in traffic even to websites with excellent domain authority, such as Spotify, Legoland, LinkedIn and The New York Post.

So What Exactly Does the New Google Update Target?

Right now, it is too early to know what types of websites Google is trying to weed out from search results with the new core update. However, marketers managed to put together a few criteria, based on empirical evidence.

It appears that the Google May 2020 core update is trying to remove pages with thin and old content from the search results. Thin content does not refer to the quantity of text on page, but to quality. It defines website pages and blog posts that do not provide any useful information to the reader and do not match their intent.

A classic example in this respect would be when someone is looking for “washing machines” and they reach a page where they find an article about who invented the washing machine, without any links pointing them to other website pages where they can actually browse and buy washing machines.

How to Survive the Latest Google Update

According to Neil Patel, one of the strategies for websites that want to maintain their ranking and traffic is to go over old content and update it. This should be an ongoing, sustained effort and target all website content – not just blog posts.

So, if you are still under lockdown and with more spare time than usual, here is a smart way of spending it: refresh your website and blog content. Delete obsolete information, add updates and later edits and improve your keyword strategy where necessary.

In this way you may prevent the drop in traffic due to Google May 2020 core update, if you haven’t experienced its effects so far.

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