Google, over the years, has accustomed us to algorithm changes that brought massive changes in the SEO sphere. Some of these updates were anticipated, while others were unexpected. The May algorithm update was one of those rollouts that web admins expected, but which brought a particular uncertainty about the effect it would have in the SEO sphere.
First rolled out on the 4th of May, 2020, the effects brought about by the update were massive, with spikes in volatility being recorded on the market starting on the 5th of May, one day after the deployment of the algorithm change. The May core update was the second Google core update of the year, the previous one being released in January, and it had one of the most significant effects in the SEO sphere in recent years.
Broad core updates generally lead to increased volatility in the SEO sphere, and this one was no exception. The January core algorithm update had a maximum volatility score in SEMrush of 8, but the one released in May had a top score of 9.4, and many sectors maintained volatility above 9. What does high volatility mean? It means massive changes in the SEO space, with gains in the SERPs for some sites and losses for others. The update was global, and the volatility changes were felt from websites in the US, Canada, and Australia, to those in Europe and Japan.
One of the effects of the update was the purge of medical websites that were spreading harmful and unverified information about the COVID pandemic. But the update also had side effects, and the medical field experienced one of the highest volatility rates after the May 2020 core update. Another round of core updates was expected, as the pandemic led to a surge in medical searches. In fact, Google stated that never before have so many searches been recorded for a single topic as were recorded for the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is clear that the main sectors that were affected by volatility after the update were those that were already on a downward slope due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are also some interesting aspects that show the broad scope of the May 2020 core update. First, half of the rank changes in the United States were for sites with more than one million monthly visitors. The latest Google update has changed the dynamics of the SEO space a bit, and like the update released in August of 2019, there has been even more emphasis on content quality.
The sectors most affected by volatility were Travel, Real Estate, Health, Pets & Animals, and People & Society. Most of these sectors were already in a dire state due to the changes brought about by the COVID pandemic. Travel and In-person event websites were particularly affected by the pandemic, with their SEO visibility continuing to decline after the update deployment.
On the other hand, the biggest winners were companies operating in E-commerce, News, and Business. The surge in searches after the pandemic’s start meant that objective news sites benefited from a spike in the SERPs. Business-oriented websites also saw a significant increase, although less noticeable than news sites. And E-commerce websites registered a substantial increase in SEO visibility even before the update.
Interestingly some of the most affected sites after the implementation of the algorithm changes were those active in music streaming. Spotify, for example, lost over 10% of SEO visibility, although searches in Google Trends remained constant. Losses were also recorded for Last.fm or Pandora.
One of the main changes brought by the update was the demotion in the SERPs of pages with thin content. Weak landing pages were also affected, especially when it came to user queries that could have more than one meaning. The ranking of already poorly-ranked pages in the SERPs was further affected when Google started ranking paragraphs differently. On the other hand, there was a reported improvement in the SERPs of sites with a high proportion of link acquisition, while sites that appeared to contain unnatural links suffered rank demotions.
The algorithms affected by a Google core update can be pretty unpredictable, so for your peace of mind, it is best to leave your business in the hands of professionals like GAMIT, who can implement complex strategies to optimize your website processes according to the requirements or changes in the SEO market. Google insists that the changes in the SERPs experienced after its core algorithm updates are expected, and you only need to follow the same general guidelines detailed by them with the release of the 2019 August core update. But which elements are described in that post?
Firstly, the importance of well-researched content that is of the highest authority and quality is specified. The topic under discussion must be presented in detail, and the information must be up-to-date. The text must not show any stylistic or grammatical problems, and the headline must give an accurate and objective summary of the article’s content.
These are all pretty general terms, so if you see a drop in SEO visibility after a core update, a good idea might be to call in a professional SEO team, such as the one available on the GAMIT website, and start an SEO audit process of your site to check how optimized the content is, whether technical SEO optimization is needed and whether other types of content need to be implemented for your site to get a boost in the SERPs.
But what is important to remember, which has also been confirmed by Google, is that if your site has been negatively affected by a core algorithm update, then the technical or content changes you implement now will not have a significant effect until after the following core change, which is often deployed four months after the previous one.
Find out more about the experts in our team. You can contact them and request a free website SEO audit report together with our SEO proposal on how to increase your website’s traffic and sales.
I am the president and co-founder of GAMIT. My business administration background is important in understanding our client’s necessities, so my expertise includes building comprehensive and all-inclusive SEO strategies for lead results. Our advanced SEO solutions are developed through extensive analysis and complete SEO improvement audits.