Google’s May Core Update – Content Wins

Date: May 21, 2020

Yes, in the midst of COVID-19, Google has released yet another update!

  • Google released an update in the beginning ofMay that took approximately 14 days to roll out
  • Content seemed to be a key focus of this Core Update
  • Core Updates happen every several months while Google makes thousands of changes per year to their algorithm

On May 4th, as tweeted by Google Search Liaison, Google rolled out a Core Update which took 14 days to push live. Webmasters everywhere took to Search Console, Analytics, and other traffic and SEO tools to see what impact this Core Update

 was going to have on the internet world. This update, in typical Google fashion, came with little to no information or warning regarding what it had in store for us. Instead, a link to a 2019 article published on Google Webmaster Blog was provided which offered a “calming” explanation to what it meant if you saw a drop or change in ranking or traffic. Google makes Core Updates every several months and each seems to have it’s own focus.

Google search bar for core update, May 2020

What is a Google Core Update?

Google must maintain and update their algorithm every so often much like you change the oil in your car. If you don’t change the oil, it becomes dirty and sludge like which is not good for your car. Similarly, Google updates their algorithm for a plethora of reasons ranging from optimizing the way it crawls content to factors it considers when ranking websites. In some instances, Google will alert webmasters in advance of their intentions to make a change that could have massive implications, such as when they updated their site speed requirements or when they moved to mobile first indexing.

Why Does Google Release Core Updates?

Google makes thousands of changes per year to their algorithm. They do this in an effort to continue to be a resource for the public and to make sure that the information they display to their readers is of the highest quality and most relevant to what the searcher intended to find (a.k.a search intent). Core Updates allow Google to emphasize the importance of factors they feel will improve their algorithm. Some Core Updates have had greater impacts on ranking than others but each has clearly worked toward one consistent goal for Google, to be the leader. With well over the 85% of the US’s search traffic going through Google, they have clearly hit their mark.

What Was Unique About the May Core Update?

Before we go into this Core Update, let us disclaim that, though there have been some clear, substantial increases in impressions and clicks and some definitive movement in rankings, we can only speculate what kinds of changes Google made to their algorithm. Based on what we have see with our clients and what we have ascertained from fellow SEO’s, this is what we believe.

Now, the May update seems to have targeted sites that have thin content. Thin content is content (static pages, blogs, etc…) on a website that do not meet the best practices standards for content creation. Without a hard fast rule governing content length and depth, there are many techniques and strategies that SEOs employ, such as the Skyscraper Technique, that will allow a writer or webmaster to identify how long and how deep content must be in order to have a chance at ranking within the SERP. Thin content is not ideal for Google because searchers might have to seek out several sources to gather their information. Increasingly, it has become apparent that long-form content is winning in the rankings. If you are not trying to rank for your content but rather using it for marketing purposes, that is okay too, just understand the difference between the two types of content.


DID YOU KNOW? The average length of page 1 content on Google is 1,890 words


Content Creation Tips Post May Core Update

If you haven’t been doing so already, you must write in-depth articles on key topics in order to rank on Google. Google’s algorithm is very good at identifying quality content and there are plenty of ways that webmasters can help the crawlers to show favor to their content… more on that later.

When writing content, make sure that you stay on topic. Research what people are searching for by typing a query into Google and look for the “Searches related to” section on the page (either in a box within the search results or at the bottom of the screen). These questions are ones Google is relating to your original search which means that others who search for the same term you did will be seeing similar suggestions. These questions are likely to be answered in a similar article or page to the one you are considering writing. Prepping your content with the subheadings and questions you will answer before creating the content is always a time saver.

Also, consider all of the factors that go into “good content”. You can include images with your blog, add video summaries or other video content to your site, or even make sure your blogs are AMP friendly. There are many ways to optimize your content and get the most traction out of your time (and money) investment.

How To Identify If Your Site Was a “Winner” or “Loser” With The May Update.

Our team of SEO Experts has been reviewing our clients’ Search Console performance data every few days to see if there are patterns or trends forming. We are reviewing clicks and impressions data to see if there are any major dips or spikes, we then review the pages performance and compare them to a similar time frame just 30 days prior to see which pages have jumped up and which have slid. The data in Search Console paints a picture for each of our clients and allows us to identify factors that helped/hurt the content on the page in the rankings.

To give an example, one of our clients saw a major uptick in impressions just a few short days after the May Core Update. This uptick in impressions led us to research some keywords we knew to be associated with a few of the pages that saw the uptick in impressions. After a little digging, we found that our client’s blog we had written not even 12 months prior had not only hit the front page, but actually hit the top three positions! Data such as this allows us to understand the how and why behind changes in position and traffic.

Want Help Reading Your Data?

Our team of SEO Consultants would be happy to speak with any Law Firm seeking guidance on how to interpret the data from their search console. Give us a call to set-up a consultation!