Comprehensive Guide to May 2020 Core Update


Google made its second Core Update of 2020 in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic. On May 4th they announced the update, calling it the ‘May 2020 Core Update’. This update spanned a period of two weeks, with Google completing the update on May 18. 

Typically, updates occur within a 3 to 4-month schedule. Their last update occurred in January, and it followed a similar update in September 2019. 

Of course, there is always going to be a significant change in rankings and SEO factors after an update. During each update, there is significant volatility in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), but they are usually on a more reserved scale compared to the May 2020 Core Update. 

Truthfully, many providers of SEO services are fairly upset about the changes that have been made. There have been several calls to revert back or change the content of the update, including articles such as this and this

In particular, many users are frustrated with the timing of the update as it occurs during a difficult time amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic, and many businesses are still trying to return to “normal.” As well, each new update means that SEO services will need to be revamped and changed to optimize with the new requirements and trends.

Furthermore, many websites have been hit hard by the update, in terms of search ranking. Recipe website owners have posted significant losses as a result of rich snippets being removed from search results. Similarly, health, finance, and dating sites experienced significant losses in the early days of the update.


How Does This Update Affect SEO Users?

What People are Saying

There are many sites posting articles related to the May 2020 Core Update, and most of them are trying to assess the “winners” and “losers” of the update based on core metrics and timeline data. 

For instance, Google’s May 2020 Core Update: The Winners and Losers created by SEMrush shows changes across the web. These include several industries, including health, real estate, fitness, and recipe sites. This points to similar results posted by SearchEngineJournal

During the first day of the update, many people were concerned about LinkedIn. It appeared as though the site had completely dropped off the search results, and users were concerned about their backlinks and websites. However, the next day LinkedIn posted an update and noted they had accidentally de-indexed their site from Google’s web results.

What May be the Cause

However, it is important to keep in mind that we are, collectively, still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has a substantial impact on search rankings and user interest and this is reflected by websites in some of the hardest-hit industries. 

As an example, the SEMrush article shows us that one of the hardest-hit sites was Eventbrite, an aggregate site used to promote and sell tickets for live events. There is an obvious correlation here between quarantine and social distancing, and the loss of traffic to these sites.

Similarly, among the hardest-hit websites were fitness businesses, like popular gyms. In an analysis of the Sistrix US Visibility Index completed by PathInteractive, lost 42.74% and fared only slightly better at -31.31%. This index provides a value for the visibility of a domain in Google’s search results and is useful for tracking changes reliably and transparently. 

Yes, due to the timing of these changes, there is a reason to believe that the Core Update was responsible, and that is true to some extent. However, it is also equally important to note that the current global situation has seen users leave these sites and go looking for other options like home workouts and bodyweight fitness plans. 

Some Trends Can’t Be Ignored

In conclusion, there may be more to the Core update than a simple change in the SERPs. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the update, and several trends have been correlated among researchers. Here is a brief list of the industries that seem to have been hit the hardest by this update, for better or worse:

Industries that “Won”

  • Aggregation websites
  • Social Media websites (Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook, etc.)
  • News web pages
  • Public Relations websites (Newswire, Businesswire, etc.)
  • Arts and Entertainment websites

Industries that “Lost”

  • Health websites
  • Recipe web pages
  • Finance websites
  • Events web pages
  • Cryptocurrency results

How Can You Keep Your Search Rankings High?

It is important to note that Google has been fairly consistent with its advice to WebMasters and content creators. They encourage each of them to create interesting, factual content that provides unique and purposeful information for their specified goals and markets.

 Really, they want to reward websites that people find helpful enough to bookmark or share with their social circle. Furthermore, they offer helpful literature and guides to allow people to make the best content for their target market. 

As well, they wish to put additional scrutiny into place for Your Life or Your Money (YMYL) pages. YMYL pages are sites that may sell you products or provide advice on medical or personal issues. These sites deserve extra scrutiny because of the effect they can have on your finances or your personal life. If you operate a YMYL website you must create compelling, honest content that provides important information and does not mislead users. 

These changes mean that the best way to keep your search engine rankings high is the same as before. Create high-quality, unique content that provides a clear benefit or service to users who access the page. 

There are many studies and articles available to teach content creators the best ways to make content that performs well within Google’s search results. Combined with accessible tools to keep the length of your content competitive, and suggestions for where to find unique content, there is no reason you can’t craft great content consistently.

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