It was on May 4th that Google announced that they were rolling out another broad core algorithm update, imaginatively titled 'May 2020 Core Update'. This broad update was applied worldwide, and finished rolling out on 18th May. As always, these updates are done to deliver on Google's goal of refining search quality by providing better search results to the users.
Google released their first core update of 2020 back in January, which had some pretty significant impacts on search rankings. And it looks like May's update has caused a shake up too.
Now that the latest rollout is complete, we wanted to take a look and see what the early impact of the update has been in the SEO sphere and what options you have if you've noticed a drop in rankings.
But before we begin, let's take a quick refresher...What is a Google Core Update?
Google continuously updates their search function. In 2018 they made over a staggering 3,200 changes to their search system alone! These changes are subtle and nuanced and as a result, most go unnoticed. However their core updates are more significant and tend to make headlines.
A Broad Core Update is an algorithm update that can impact the search and ranking position of the majority of websites, designed to achieve the goal of returning more relevant and useful search results to the searcher. These updates happen a few times a year, with Google often pre-warning users before rolling them out.
During the first few weeks after an update has been released, it is common to see volatility within the SERP's that lead to ranking changes for websites. Some sites will improve, some sites will drop their positions, while some be left unaffected.
When a website ranking drops following an update, many people make an immediate assumption that their website now has an SEO problem and Google is now looking at the site 'unfavourably'. But that's not the case - it just means Google is finding better results for the search query.
If another site has content that is perceived as more relevant than yours, their ranking could go up and as a result, your ranking drops. But that doesn't mean your site has been 'punished' by the update. Broadly speaking, ranking changes following an update could be attributed to three broad areas:
- Your competitors websites may be shifting position, impacting your ranking
- Your website may be shifting position, impacting your ranking
- The rollout of the update isn't completed yet, meaning only some search results have been affected
Google updates can take a couple of weeks to roll out fully, so rises and drops may be occurring because the rollout has only been partially applied (e.g it hasn't been applied to all regions).
it is generally agreed that websites that follow best practice when it comes to content will be less affected when updates roll around. If your site has been a drop in rankings following the latest update, don't worry! We'll provide you with a little refresher on good content practices a little bit later.