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Google’s May 2020 Update: Reasons and Recovery

Google’s May 2020 Update

Google rolled out one of its most controversial core algorithm updates on May 4, 2020. And it has caused a ruckus in the online community ever since. SERP volatility was on an all-time high, and there were very high fluctuations in rankings.

A few businesses did see an increase in traffic, but the majority saw a dip in their rankings, and this led to a massive hit on their revenue. The most severely hit industries were health, news, finance, recipe, travel, dating, and real estate.

This May core algorithm update was widely criticized. It was not received well because of its release during the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of crisis like these, when businesses are barely making any money, this update seemed very untimely and unethical to quite a few.

If you are one of these worst-hit businesses, you have landed at the right place at the right time. It’s time to take a step back and see what went wrong so that you can take action today to gain back all your lost traffic.

So, read on to get a step-by-step actionable plan to rise above mediocrity, get back on top of the SERPs, and stay there for a long time.

Why did Google release its May 2020 update?

There’s been no definite answer on this from Google. But speculations are that Google released its May 2020 update because of the drastic difference between pre-COVID and COVID era. 

The search volume of many keywords has significantly changed since the pandemic. For example, travel-related keyword searches have reduced drastically. While keywords related to finance and health have been on a significant rise.

Extreme variations in human behavior during the pandemic have disrupted the existing AI. And Google’s algorithm works on machine learning and AI, which is why it was probably time for an update.

The first step to recover from Google’s May 2020 update

Sadly, Google didn’t provide any official information on why some businesses were affected or what they should do to recover from it. However, Google certainly provides some general guidelines about all of its core updates.

The obvious first step towards getting back your rankings would be to conduct a site-wide analysis of your content and see where you are lacking. You need to figure out the gaps in your content by asking these questions in line with what Google suggests:

If you are not sure about any of these, then that’s probably why Google’s May update affected your site too. Now that you know what could have gone wrong, it’s time to make some amends for better!

Steps to Recover from Google’s May 2020 update

It’s interesting to note that time and again, Google validates its algorithm by appointing people to manually go through websites on the internet.

For this purpose, it provides us with quality rater guidelines that clearly state what exactly its algorithm is looking for.

Based on these quality rater guidelines, and Google’s general suggestions on any core update, here are a few things that can be a good starting point to recover from the May 2020 update:

1. Fix your About page

Google keeps stressing on the importance of disclosing crucial information about your website. And also about the people responsible for your site’s main content. So, the obvious place to start would be your “About” page.

Chalk out your About page content so that it demonstrates experience and expertise in your domain. A good example would be this About page by WebMD, a top-ranking site in the health niche. You will trust the website content just by taking one look at their About page.

2. Optimized your content for user intent

When a user types in a keyword in Google, the first thing that Google does is – it understands the intent of the user. After this, it uses “aggregated and anonymized interaction data” to check whether the search results are relevant. This data is then converted into signals which help the AI to check the relevancy of your page.

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing solely on SERP rankings. They end up ignoring the user’s thought process and actual intent behind the search term. This is a huge mistake that can hurt user experience and ultimately lead to a drop in revenue.

So, what can you do to match the relevancy of the query that any user is looking for? The best thing you can do is to optimize your content for user intent:

3. Analyze UX signals and optimize for them

Analyzing inputs from your analytics is as important as the production of good content. Your analytics can give you eye-opening insights about your user experience.

4. Get rid of low-quality content

You might already have a few top-ranking high-quality pages on your website. It is important to keep producing similar ones and updating these pages.

But, it’s also highly likely that a few pieces of low-quality or thin content might be responsible for pulling down your overall domain authority and SERP rankings.

Google clearly states what kind of content would they categorize as low-quality:

5. Outperform your competitors

Google’s main goal is to pull up the best possible source of information for its users. So it is obvious that you need to outperform your competitors in all possible ways to rank higher. 

And how do you do that?

6. Focus on quality backlinks over quantity

Backlinks are one of the top three ranking factors for Google and hence are very crucial if you want to play the long game. 

But, many people resort to using black hat and grey hat techniques to build links. These links end up being irrelevant, low-quality, and spammy, which can do more harm than good to your rankings.

7. Improve EAT of your site

EAT(Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) has become one of the most integral aspects of winning organic search. An EAT optimized site will always stand out amongst the sea of other websites. 

So, what can you do to improve EAT for your site?

8. Fix any technical SEO errors

Technical SEO is as important as your content. If your content has SEO errors, Google would not be able to crawl your website the right way, no matter how authoritative and high-quality your content is! And this might also be the reason why a few of your pages are not getting any traffic.

So, conduct an audit of your website and improve your site’s technical SEO.

To conclude

There is no sure-shot magical formula to bounce back from Google’s core algorithm updates. The best possible thing you can do is adhere to Google’s quality guidelines and consistently put out content relevant to your audience.

Instead of getting too caught up in the SEO race, take time to create and produce top-notch content and stress more on improving EAT of the overall site. By following these tips, you are likely to bounce back and also shield your business from similar Google updates in the future.


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