Googles May 2020 Core Update Brings Substantial Volatility Spikes in SERPs
On May 4th, Google started its first day of a several week rollout initiative for its new core algorithm update. There have now been two core updates since 2020, the first one being in January. Both updates have been substantial with significant moves in website search engine placement ranks (SERPs) in nearly all industry verticals.
While January's update only produced an average of 8 volatility points, a few days after the May 4th rollout, SERPs saw volatility rates from 9 to 9.4 points. Thus, the May 4th core update seems to be significantly more substantial and more influencing of SERPs and their positions. Broad core algorithm updates are designed to bring about noticeable changes within all search results across all countries and languages. We can only really know the full impact of the updates influence several weeks after the process has begun.
The coronavirus added another layer of intense SERP fluctuation as search volume was dramatically affected in nearly all industries due to the nationwide stay-at-home orders and mandated non-essential business shutdowns. We expected to see user queries related to travel, tourism, live events, restaurants, etc., to be significantly down. Not surprisingly, many of the category's volatility did just that.
Unfortunately, this update's highest impact has occurred across several industries that were already affected by the pandemic. The most influenced categories are Travel, Real Estate, Health, Pets & Animals, and People & Society – this is for both desktop and mobile searches. The top verticals with the best SERP performance are News, Business & Industrial, Online Communities, Arts & Entertainment, and Health. The biggest winner of these is the news industry. As everyone has been shut-in for quarantine and fixated on the latest pandemic updates, it's no surprise that news outlets have come out on top.
On the other end of the SERP coin, websites that services and orchestrate travel and events have dropped to the bottom of the search volume barrel. When you're locked in your home with limited options for essential services, your last thought is that vacation or trip you want to take.
What can you do if your site has been negatively affected?
May 18th marked the last day of completion for the update, and the following weeks will allow us to assess the full extent of the changes that have taken place. It's important to review your Google Analytics (website traffic), to see if there have been any significant changes to your site traffic in May.
Keep in mind that negative ranking does not always indicate that something is wrong with your website. However, in case it does, Google offers a list of questions to consider if the core update has adversely impacted your site. If you have seen a noticeable drop in traffic in the month of May, it is beneficial to read this article prior to making any website changes.
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