This is Google’s second update of 2020 so far, with the first one launching in January. Google releases various changes to their algorithms to improve search results that in most cases aren’t too noticeable. Although when there are major changes made that are significant to search algorithms and systems, they call them “core updates.” There are normally one or two of these a year and then can produce notable effects with some websites seeing drops and others getting gains in rankings or search volume.
Is it biggest algorithm change in 12 months?
Below you can see a snapshot report from SEMrush Sensor that monitors the volatility of changes and as you can see the May Core Update has resulted in some of the biggest changes in the last 12 months.
Why does Google make Core Update Changes?
As always Google is trying to focus on content and delivering the best results based on quality information from trusted sources and their algorithms will reward those that do this well. They focus on their raters that are trained to understand if content has what they call strong E-A-T;
– Authoritativeness and
They are also making changes that correlate to changing Consumer search behaviour. So for example global search traffic on Mobile phones recently overtook Desktop for the first time. Last year Google began indexing websites based on their mobile set ups and by September this year that will be how all websites are measured.
What businesses or industries can it effect?
This will really depend on what changes are being made for each Core Update. In 2019 lots of sites that were in the classification of ‘Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) were impacted as part of a push to improve the quality of information being found on the internet so sites related to money, finance, health etc were impacted. For this update it has been reported that that the travel, real estate, health, pets and people/society website categories were the most effected as you can see in the table below.
It has also been reported that some massive global brands have been affected such as Spotify, LinkedIn and Legoland.
What could it mean for your business, eCommerce store or blog?
It may mean nothing at all, it could mean huge increases or massive decreases, there is no definitive answer as everything is dependant on how things are adjusted in relation to your website. So therefore what becomes an important consideration for your business is whether you have the ability to know if you are affected or not. The first step is at least auditing your SEO efforts to provide the information you need to make changes if required or spot opportunities. You may consider it isn’t necessary, but what if your competitors make moves and you don’t?
Is this a real thing or just some smoke and mirror trick?
The best part about all of this is you can be very objective about it by looking at your data. Here are a couple of examples below that I found in discussion groups or forums, real live examples from people wondering what they can do next. So yes the changes are real and without the right knowledge or tools in place you won’t even know if you have been affected or not.
Here are the areas to consider in relation to the Google May 2020 Core Update;
1. How good is the quality of the content you have on your website?
Does your website just state the obvious or provide basic industry definitions without adding any real value?
In the release notes of the Google May 2020 Core Update they have provided the following questions as a framework to score and review the content you have on your website. In a lot of cases a business might simply state what they do, define the industry and service they offer but then provide little real value beyond that to a visitor.
When was the last time your content was updated?
One of the biggest things Google is looking for is fresh, updated content. So even old pages you might think are displaying the right information need to have a refresh. Not a word or sentence but a re-think based on 2020 Consumer search insights and what is relevant now to people. If your site was built a long time ago and nothing has been changed for a while then more than likely you’ll see your rankings fall. Here are some tips to follow when reviewing your content;
- Is the content still relevant today? You can either update it, delete it or redirect it to another page that is relevant.
- Can you re-write the information to be more actionable with things like infographics, FAQ’s, How To Guides or even videos?
- Do you have broken links on your pages, in your menus or even from your other online profiles to your site?
- For your top pages what are the search terms that are getting you traffic? If you do your own Google for them what can you see your competitors doing really well and can that apply to you?
- Is any of your content too long, technical or repetitive where it was maybe written by someone trying to keyword stuff a page?
- Do you have pages that talk about months or time periods in a particular Year, if so, can they be re-purposed to be more generic so that they are more of an evergreen piece of website content that people can read?
- If you are writing content that talks about solving problems or gives educational information have the questions people are asking now changed or are there more relevant things people want to know about?
- Do you have content pages that talk about similar topics, maybe they can be merged to create a more thorough, single content piece with deeper levels of information.
- Do you have pages on your site that have little or no information on them? Google looks at every page and those that have little to no value are flagged as having ‘thin content’ and in some cases won’t even be indexed. Although if your site has lots of those pages and your competitors dont, well, you get the picture.
What Google will reward is a deeper, richer experience for visitors where they can get quality information.
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of a topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the most obvious things or simple definitions?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid copying or rewriting from those and therefore provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
2. Is your business positioned as an expert in your field or industry?
Google will evaluate the level of expertise that is provided through the content on the site.
What lots of website owners are guilty of doing is simply putting the basics on their website hoping that people will see a few pretty photos, a logo then want to buy or engage with their brand. Far from it and Google will also apply their own analysis to understand how credible the information is that is being displayed on the site.
Imagine a competitive industry like Plumbing where 70% of websites have the same information, it will be the ones that demonstrate a high level of expertise that will gain traction during searches vs those that don’t. Google provides this guidance as an assessment;
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognised as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
3. What other things does Google look at when trying to rank your website?
There are over 200 factors that come into play when your website is being ranked vs others, presentation is one of them.
You can try and stuff as many words as you like onto a page or spin paragraphs of text different ways or even have the most incredible photos on the planet. Although if basics like spelling haven’t been looked at then you reduce the chances of being found online. Google provides these topics as examples of what to focus on
- Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
4. How do you know if the Google May 2020 Core Update has affected your website?
Data, data, data – Google Analytics & Google Search Console will give you the information you need.
You don’t have to guess or have a gut instinct about whether the changes have made an impact on your business. The data is available 24/7 to show you by keyword, by page or even by Country what has changed and you can compare this week, this month or a whole year to see what is changing and how.
Google Analytics together with Google Search Console provides hundreds of data points that can be reviewed to understand what is changing on your website and which areas may need to be addressed.
We can do a complete audit of your data to give you the insights and information about how your website is performing and what is changing.
5. What do you do if the Google May 2020 Core Update drops your website rankings?
If your website rankings change and you lose search results you have to build an action plan to address the problem areas.
So maybe you know how to analyse your data but then what? What do you do if you have found your site is losing traffic? The reasons could be wide and varied with each situation being unique. Although the key is going back to the questions raised above as they are the reasons something has changed.
It simply means that your site vs lots of others may not be seen to have a strong enough E-A-T score vs your competitors hence it is time for an update which could be related to your content, page structure, URL naming and more.
We can help conduct an audit to determine your course of action, take a look at a few examples of our work below;