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Google May 2020 Core Update: What Happened?

By piranha

27th May 2020

May 18th, 2020. The day that Google’s Danny Sullivan officially declared the “May 2020 Core Algorithm Update” as over. Overall, the feedback to this update from the search community has been negative.

Here at Piranha, we decided to take a look into the effects of the update and investigate what has been reported around the web about the latest of Google’s core algorithm updates.

Early Observations

According to Search Engine Journal, 4 things that have been noted early on after the completion of the roll out are that thin content appears to be losing while aggregator sites and directories are winning.

Local SERPs are seeing major flux and SERP features (rich snippets such as star ratings, featured snippets, news results and knowledge graph data) might be in flux.

Thin Content

Thin content on a website is a page that has a low-word count and according to Neil Patel, some of the studies him and his team have done, there has been a large number of sites negatively affected by this update.

They looked at 400 different sites in their system that were flagged as having thin content and 127 of these sites saw a decrease in search traffic by at least 10% while only 41 saw an increase in search traffic by 10%. That’s a 3x higher chance of being negatively affected rather than positively.

Of course, the majority of the 400 sites Neil and his team looked at saw no change at all but would you want to take a chance that you aren’t in that 31% of sites when you could just fix your pages that have thin content on them? Neil has a handy tool that can help you identify pages with thin content here.

SERPs with Multiple Search Intents

To be clear, a multi-intent search is when a single-word or a short query is being input to the search engine and for the most part, not much information is being given to indicate to the search engine exactly what the user wants.

There are four broad types of search intent:

  • Informational: The user is looking for information about a topic or an answer to a particular question, such as, “when are (insert favourite football team here) next playing
  • Transactional: The user knows exactly what they want to purchase and are looking specifically for a website that they can purchase what they are looking for. For example, “buy waterproof coat
  • Navigational: This is when the user is looking to be directed to a particular place, website, or webpage on the internet such as, “twitter
  • Commercial Investigation: In this instance, the user is doing some research and reviewing a number of different options before the make a purchase. For example, “what are the best cricket bats

Once upon a time, Google suggested that online marketers produce high-quality content that’s easy to read, consistent, well-structured and delivers the message that is promised to the reader in the title.

The May 2020 core update seems to have changed the way that Google perceives quality content. In a previous statement, Google said that recent updates have been about improving how the search algorithm evaluates the content to make search results more relevant to the user’s intent.

What we have seen from the May update is that in search results where there are multiple search intents or the ‘Google favoured’ intent in the SERP is not explicit, the cases where weaker landing pages lost ranking positions were quite high.

According to MarketMuse in Search Engine Journal: “This isn’t a new trend, but it is becoming more and more the phenomenon.”

Local Search

According to numerous places online, Local Search was quite heavily affected by this latest core algorithm update from Google. However, things weren’t as they first appeared.

Early observations, according to Search Engine Journal and MarketMuse were as follows:

  1. Sites with a high rate of link acquisitions have triumphed in the SERPS. Even if the link acquisition rate seemed very high.
  2. Low quality sites with an aggressive high rate of link acquisitions in less competitive areas saw wins.
  3. Aggregator sites and directories in the same competitive landscapes also saw wins.

However, according to Searchmetrics, there was a deterioration in the SEO visibility for local SEO around the time the update rolled out and since then, Google’s Danny Sullivan has confirmed on twitter that there was in fact a bug which has now, been fixed.

These are some of the main takeaways from the impact of the Google May 2020 Core Update. How have you found the performance of your site following the update?

If you find you have been affected by this update, our in-house digital marketing team here at Piranha can help you identify any potential issues and get a plan put in place to help you on your way to a recovery.

Give us a call today on – 01772 888331. You can also email us outlining your query on – – and one of our friendly team will get back to you to arrange a call.

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