It took about two weeks, as expected and announced: the May 2020 Core Update has completed its roll-out and is therefore fully operational and working. The official news was announced as usual by the Twitter account @searchliaision on the evening of May 18 and it is therefore time to take a general look at what has changed in the SERPs after this Google update.

Google annuncia la fine del rollout dell'aggiornamento

May 2020 Core Update, severe impacts in SERP

In these two weeks the Google Serps have experienced great fluctuations, as we noted in our preliminary analysis of the update: all signals indicate that it was a major update, with a significant and transversal impact on many sectors and vertical sites.

Big sites and socials rewarded?

There have been controversies, another typical consequence of the updates, and many have complained because big brands and social networks seem to have been privileged; in particular, among the pages of Google results now emerge with even greater frequency sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Reddit, Quora, Amazon, eBay and others that have little contents and many images.

Even more in detail, Roger Montti on Searchenginejournal reports an example of SERP dominated by a single site (even in spite of the promise of diversification and diversity change…): it is Etsy, which somehow seems associated with the handmade queries (handcrafted, handmade), to the point that Google US now places Etsy for almost all queries that contain the term handmade.

“It is as if the entity of Etsy was closely associated with the word handmade”, says the expert, who then reports some of these occurrences: handmade fishing flies, handmade socks and handmade bongos. This last query, in particular, has a SERP consisting of two Etsy results, two results from eBay and one each from Pinterest and Amazon.com.

Potential connection with the pandemic trends

Even Google Trends shows that Etsy has received an increase in researches in this time of pandemic, and so Montti wonders if the leap forward in SERP can be somehow related to changes in user behaviour during quarantine and Etsy’s ability to meet new needs and the post-Coronavirus search intent.

As the well-known eCommerce portal dedicated to handicrafts, in fact, Amazon too is receiving a lot of traffic related to quarantine, close to the peaks that are recorded in periods of very high sales such as the Christmas season and before the summer holidays.

So, again reflects Montti, could the improvement in post-update rankings be a recognition for sites demanded by consumers, who expect to see these results in SERP?

This consideration assumes even more weight looking at the success that are having the sites that deal with issues related to physical activity: at a time when the pandemic has led to the closure of training centers, users do not want to find in SERP gyms sites but to rather get information related to fitness, maybe to do at home.

An unusual update

In conclusion, for the SEO Expert there is something unusual in this “update” and many people have the perception that there is something wrong with the new SERPs.

As mentioned, the most noticeable changes in the United States are the predominance of big brands in the top results for many queries, followed by the massive presence of social media for other keywords.

Other evaluations on SERPs fluctuations

Neil Patel, as well, analyzed the impact of the May update of Google from the pages of his blog, also providing some details on the most affected sectors (we are still talking about Google US).

In particular, the major fluctuations in positions concerned the areas of travel, real estate, health, pets & animals and people & society, but all categories and industries are affected, even news (which however have suffered minor impacts). Again, they all seem to be linked in some way to the effects of the pandemic, for better or for worse.

According to Patel, there was also a scrambling of local SEO results, but it started before the main update.

Compared to the information found on Searchenginejournal, the blog data of the expert from London also report the decline of large brands, such as Spotify.com, Linkedin.com, Legoland.com, Nypost.com and Ny.gov.

The importance of updating contents

There are some aspects of on page SEO optimization that Neil Patel invites to consider, based on his experience and consulting activities for about 700 sites: contents and errors management.

In particular, those who have frequently updated contents seem to be more protected from algorithmic declines. We are not talking about superficial updates, but about more substantial interventions, such as the addition of some new paragraphs, deletion of irrelevant information or even rewriting of entire articles.

This operation, which is very useful to keep articles up to date and useful for readers, produces concrete effects: of the 641 followed by his company, only a percentage lower than 6 percent (just 38) has in fact lost ranking. And, exactly in the opposite direction, as many as 187 sites have seen their search traffic increase by 10 percent or higher.

Another trend that stands out from the observations is the downgrading of sites with thin content, that is, content that is not very elaborate and of poor quality: In general, sites with thin content have had a probability about 3 times higher than being negatively affected by the update compared to an improvement in ranking.

The last element highlighted concerns the presence of SEO errors on the site, such as duplication of meta description or title tags, which increase the risk of losing positions in the event of an update.

How to retrieve lost traffic

Ultimately, there seems to be a correlation between the effects of the update and the research trends related to quarantine (we also invite you to read the study on the Covid-19 impact on organic researches to deepen the variations of user behaviour) but, waiting for a possible public comment from Google, the only opportunity we have is to try to figure out how to fix the route and recover the lost traffic.

We know in fact that according to Google there are no miraculous interventions to be implemented if we lost traffic due to an update, as it is not a downgrading of the single site but a reshaping of the criteria of the algorithm, but it is still possible (if not necessary) to try and make some corrections.

The greatest difficulty is to isolate the problem that may have caused the algorithmic hit, because generally these core updates are wide and cover many issues of general quality of the operation of the search engine. So, what we can do is look at our project with unbiased eyes, try to have a broader view and understand which are the areas that require optimization.

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