What You Need to Know About Google’s May 2020 Core Update

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Google’s algorithm changes have been a source of headaches for those who just finished adjusting to the last algorithm changes for as long as it’s been around. The so-called May Core Update just rolled out on May 4 and has finally finished being implemented. The changes to the search engine’s algorithm in are ostensibly in response to the constant stream of searches relating to the Covid-19 outbreak.

What is the May 2020 Google Core Update?

Core updates roll out a few times a year, but it seems this one has been specifically adjusted to information Google has learned in regards to user search behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the update has continued to build on previous updates that have aimed at better understanding user intent but with more emphasis on optimizing local search: Google has taken note of the fact that people want to know coronavirus information related to where they live.

This well-intentioned update, however, may have wreaked havoc on your site’s rankings – many experts have recognized that this update is even more substantial than the January 2020 Core Update and is causing bigger waves. If you find yourself affect, you’re most likely wondering how to recover.

How Do I Recover My Ranking?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: if you’re still using old techniques to try and “fool” Google’s algorithm, you’ll need to get with the times. Optimal user experience, and making sure people get the information they’re looking for is the way forward.

Keyword stuffing, for example, may have worked in the past, but it’s not going to work anymore, so just give up on that kind of thing! This will be the first, most important step in ensuring recovery from the update.

How are you supposed to get Google to understand what your site is about without using keywords? Well, you still do want to use keywords, but use them naturally. They need to fit into the text, fit with the surrounding text and ideas so it’s not obvious to people (and therefore Google) that you’re trying to rank. Your goal needs to be to provide unique, high-value content that matches up with searchers’ intentions.

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But I’ve Been Following Google’s Guidelines!

Just because you’ve dropped in ranking does not mean you haven’t been compliant with Google’s guidelines. Unfortunately, it just means that the almighty Google algorithm has determined that your site is not as “helpful” as other websites related to the keyword(s) and user intent of those keyword(s).

If you have fallen in ranking and have been following Google’s guidelines, doing your best to produce quality content, it’s a good idea to look at the websites within your niche that rank above you. Try and determine what kind of information they’ve provided that you haven’t.

Obviously we’re not encouraging plagiarism here: Google heavily penalizes duplicate content. Looking at higher-ranking sites, though, can give you a better idea of what the algorithm is “looking for.”

One of the best pieces of advice we can give when it comes to creating content is to keep it fresh: just as Google penalizes duplicate content, it rewards content that adds something unique to the table. Don’t be afraid to voice your own opinion where appropriate or throw a unique take on something into the mix

Other than that, be sure to check for any grammar or spelling mistakes. Figure out if you can say something in fewer words – people want the information they’re looking for fast, and a low staying time on the page is a negative signal for Google’s algorithm.

Update Your Content Frequently

Not only do you need to be publishing unique, quality content on your site – you need to be posting on your site frequently, certainly at least once a week. Multiple times a week would be better, if it’s possible! You don’t want to produce content just for content’s sake, since churning out constant but poor quality content is not going to help you.

Beyond making new posts, it’s also a good idea to update your old posts. Whatever industry you’re involved in, we’re willing to bet things are changing constantly. In order to make sure your site as a whole remains relevant, you want to make sure even older posts are providing current information.

This can be as complex as changing the information to reflect current trends, or deleting a mention of a specific time of year so that the content remains evergreen.

Wrapping Up

It’s possible your site has only benefited from the recent Core Update, in which case, keep doing what you’re doing! If it dropped off a bit, perhaps the only traffic you lost were people led to your site because of a matching keyword but not one that matched their intent. If that’s the case you’ve lost nothing and in fact can expect a smaller bounce rate, which also looks great to Google.

If you’ve taken a substantial hit, it’s time to fall in line with Google’s aim of providing the highest-value, highest-quality content possible. If you put in the work, you can definitely make a comeback by the time Google’s next Core Update rolls around.

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