Google has confirmed that a broad core update has rolled out – words that often strike fear into the heart of every webmaster and SEO due to the wave of ranking changes that typically follow. This update is officially titled ‘May 2020 Core Update’ and began impacting search results earlier this month.

The Google Search Liaison Team confirmed the change would be going ahead on 04 May with a Tweet but in typical fashion gave little away saying only, “Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before.”

The team later shared that the Core Update would “…take about one to two weeks to fully roll out.” This means we likely haven’t yet felt the full impact of the algorithm but, we are now starting to see some of the initial changes taking effect.

What do we know about the May 2020 Core Update?

Google refuses to say what, specifically, the core update has been designed to do, though of course this hasn’t stopped the speculation. As has become the search engine’s habit, it simply refers webmasters to this  advice posted last year which explains that core updates are intended to keep Google search results relevant.

Was now the right time for a major update?

The last core update took place back in January, making this the first major search engine development since the COVID-19 pandemic appeared. Many business owners have voiced concern about the timing, arguing that many businesses are closed and global economies have all but ground to a halt, making search visibility critical to those still operating.

Google itself says it has seen unprecedented changes in user behaviour since the spread of coronavirus. Interestingly, on the same day it confirmed the May 2020 Core Update, the Search Liaison Team also reported, “Google Search has never seen as many searches for a single topic continue over a sustained period as is happening now with COVID-19. Many searches are for news about what’s happening in local areas, such as sheltering updates or the latest on testing.”

It is therefore possible the May 2020 Core Update addresses some of those new patterns of behaviour.

So, what impacthas the May 2020 Core Update had so far?

As we mentioned, it’s likely that the algorithm hasn’t fully rolled out yet but, there is a general consensus amongst digital marketers that the update was “big and broad”.

  • The rank tracking tool, RankRanger describes it as a “monster”, saying it has recorded a large amount of ranking volatility across many industries.
  • SEM Rush is of a similar opinion and says the update has been more impactful than January’s core update, influencing more search terms and more search positions.
  • SEM Rush’s research suggests that the industries most affected by the May update are: travel, real estate, health, pets and animals and people and society.
  • Search Metrics has also been studying the fallout from the update and believes that Google has tried to target thin content.
  • There’s some speculation that brand factors like bounce rate and click through rate have been incorporated into the algorithm.

It’s important that you don’t react too hastily if your site traffic and rankings have fluctuated in the wake of the May 2020 Core Update. Making sweeping changes to your site in order to try and second-guess the algorithm can be dangerous because it’s not uncommon to see the initial changes reversed a few weeks later. If you are concerned about your search engine visibility, claim your free SEO review with Adrac today.

Author Rebecca

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