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Google’s New May 2020 Core Algorithm Update: What Changes Your Content Needs

Google May 2020 core update

Google has continued its effort to keep its search results quality high even during the global pandemic. In May, Google introduced its latest core algorithm update and the iterations of the same are continuing.

As usual, any core update from the search giant have an impact on SEO masters, content developers, business owners and eCommerce setups. Whether you gain or lose from a Google update largely depends on the quality of content, your site’s overall performance and the number of authoritative backlinks.

Google May 2020 core update

Latest E-A-T update improves on past E-A-T algorithm changes

The latest update from Google is primarily an Expertise-Authority-Trust update. The E-A-T update is a major improvement on the following factors:

  1. Writer expertise
  2. Website and brand authority
  3. Trustworthiness of content

Simply put, Google E-A-T update entails some rewards for websites featuring:

Content by expert writers who showcase an unparallel knowledge of the topic. Websites with content from actual doctors, lawyers or finance experts are benefited in this regard.

Brand authority, this works for those websites that have an established name and are supported by high-quality backlinks

Websites with content that the reader trust because it is well-sourced and in-depth

If your website has content that is written by the experts in the field, is well researched with statistics and include quotes from peer-reviewed studies and link back to other high authority websites, this update will benefit your website’s ranking in the SERP’s.

However, the interesting thing about this Google E-A-T update is that it is giving small sites to achieve higher page rankings against the much-established brands that seem to rule the top SERP pages.

It is evident that due to global pandemic and nationwide lockdowns across nations, many small businesses have collectively lost their revenue streams, in such scenario, the Google May 2020 Core update will give such businesses the much-needed helping hand with online visibility.

It is clear that the May 2020 Core update has re-evaluated the definition of “authority,” and is now giving smaller brands with less well-known presence higher ranking for publishing high-quality, informative content.

How many websites are affected with the Google May 2020 core update? 

It often scares webmasters when they learn that Google has introduced a new core update. Most of this fear comes from the fact that earlier updates like Panda and Penguin have turned industries upside down. Google Panda update, in particular, forced companies to resort to high-quality content to rank higher in Google. Later updates penalized websites that did not have a mobile-friendly design.

Compared to those updates, the May 2020 core update is nothing earth-shattering but it definitely has shaken up some page rankings.

According to the SEO communities, the websites in the following four industries were most affected by this update:

  •     Travel
  •     Retail
  •     Finance
  •     Health

For each of these categories, the top three positions were shaken up considerably. There were double-digit rank changes reported in all these niches.

Speaking in terms of number, the volatility in the top 10 results were like this:

    91% for travel sites

    88% for retail sites

    97% for finance sites

    94% for health sites

It is not a surprise that the E-A-T algorithm change has most heavily affected finance and health sites. The whole aim of this update is to ensure that searchers are getting the most relevant, factual, accurate information on topics regarding their finance and health. In Google’s term, these sites are “Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) sites.

But what surprised most SEO services and webmasters is that the E-A-T update affected travel and retail websites as severely as health and finance ones. In another analysis by SEMRush it was found that the “most influenced categories” to be:

  1. Health
  2. Real Estate
  3. Travel
  4. Pets & Animals
  5. People & Society

Of these categories, only health and some of the real estate sites fall into the YMYL classification.

Problem is that the changes in the rankings for travel sites can also result from the drop in traffic due to quarantine enforced because of coronavirus. There has been a gradual decline in the number of people visiting such sites to plan trips.

Another goal of the 2020 May Core update is also aimed at Google’s attempt to share real news and reduce the spread of misinformation. This problem is prevalent on social media platforms as well. The problem of fake news and misinformation has been forever even before the pandemic, just now platforms have accelerated the efforts to curb their rise.

With the May 2020 core update, it can be deduced that people searching in the above-mentioned niches will find content that is authoritative, factual, and reliable. This will bring greater confidence and will provide an unhindered flow of important information.

Smaller sites are the real winners 

An anomaly noted about the May 2020 Google core update is that it seems to favour smaller websites. At a time when pandemic struck economies are struggling, particularly small businesses that rely on online sales to cover their operating costs can be devastated if there is a drop in their online rankings due to algorithm updates.

Half of the websites significantly affected by this update were the ones that had traffic of 1 million monthly visitors or more. In the past, most E-A-T updates have affected the websites with big brand value, which is why this update can be a course correction to uncover valuable lesser authority sites.

As there are specifics about the update shared by Google, it is hard for anyone to guess how exactly the changes affected smaller sites positively. But sites with quality traffic, enough domain age and linkbacks have seen their rankings soar.

Questions to ask about your website after this update 

Now the thing is what can you do if your website is adversely affected by the latest Google update? As experts suggest that it can take months for search results to stabilize after a major update, it is important that you must not panic if the traffic on your website has dropped.

This is a good time to do an SEO analysis to see where your website stands as compared to the competitors. It is important to know what you can do at the moment to improve the SEO and overall ranking of your website.

You can’t control certain factors like the domain age but you most certainly can control the technical aspects of your website and above all the quality of content that goes on to your site.

After running a competition analysis, ask yourself:

Is my site mobile-friendly?

How fast does my site load?

How secured it is?

Do I get links from high-quality websites?

Do I utilize the power of social media to gain high-quality backlinks and get more readers?

How informative is my content?

Do I link to studies and statistics?

Does my content satisfactorily answer the questions readers ask?

Are my writers expert in their field?

Do I use semantically related keywords?

How well is the on-page SEO on my site?

Do I optimize photos?

While it is true that in the past, the length of the content helped in ranking higher, but the latest update focuses on ranking content based on quality rather than length.

If the answers to the above questions are mostly negative, then your website needs a serious SEO overhaul.

Good Content is still king 

The effects of the new May 2020 Core update are still being accessed but all experts agree on one thing: Don’t panic.

If your site took a hit due to latest update, allow SERPs to sort themselves out. There is nothing definite like mobile optimization or page-load speed updates that can be done in this case.

That’s not a bad thing, all you need to focus on at the moment is to provide high-quality content based on facts, delivered with authority. This will help you overcome this update and your pages can climb the SERPs again.

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