Google Second Core Update of 2020 Rolled Out in the Middle of the Corona Virus Pandemic Causes Resentment
Google’s second update in 2020, which was published in the middle of the Corona virus pandemic appears to have caused resentment among web experts and site owners. According to some webmasters and SEOs, the timing of this update was absolutely wrong. Many online businesses are struggling to sustain their bottom line in the middle of this pandemic given the restrictions and lockdowns imposed by most nations. It seems unfair that the search engine would publish an update that would affect businesses, which are currently facing uncertainty about their future. Furthermore, user searches have declined in many industries as more businesses are shutting down, the more reason to have postponed the update.
‘May 2020 Core Update’, ‘Pandemic Update’ or ‘Force Update’
On May 4th 2020, Google announced on Twitter that the update will be called May 2020 Core Update. However, webmasters and SEOs quickly renamed this to ‘Pandemic Update’ (given that the rollout was in the midst of the biggest pandemic and a looming financial crisis of our time) while others regarded it as a ‘Force Update’ in recognition of the International Star Wars Day.
The May 2020 Core Update is now rolling out live. As is typical with these updates, it will typically take about one to two weeks to fully roll out.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 4, 2020
What has Google Changed?
14 days later, on May 18th Google confirmed via Twitter that update rollout is complete. As is the norm, the search engine did not release detailed information regarding the search algorithm changes, industries, or topics affected by this update. They announced that the rollout will take place in phases but all changes should be complete in about two weeks. In the event of undesirable ranking results, Google usually makes tweaks along the way.
The May 2020 Core Update rollout is complete.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 18, 2020
Have there been any effects of this update? What have webmasters noticed?
According to some web experts, the update seems to have strongly impacted EAT signals again. This update seems to have affected several industries not only websites that cover sensitive topics related to health and finance. EAT, an acronym for Expertise, Authority and Trust represents very important signals that the search engine uses to rank websites. Websites with stronger expertise, authority and trust signals often appear on top of SERP pages.
Web experts speculate that the recent update may not result in any big winners but many small winners since it had a much larger scope where brand factors and user data like click through rates were given top priority. Google’s goal, in this update, appears to have been to create more diversity by upgrading the smaller sites. Many of the websites that were impacted may not have done anything wrong to deserve a slight drop in rankings because the search engine was simply aiming for more diversity. Most webmasters who run affiliate sites in the USA have reported massive changes in rankings especially in the travel, food and health segments.
As per dNOVO Group, we have noticed that most of our clients benefited from this update. Some of them significantly improved ranking positions and started to show up on the snack pack for local searches.
According to an article written by Forbes, sites that focus on cryptocurrency content may also have been hit hard by this update. It also appears that recipe websites may have been impacted. URLs disappeared from recipe carousels and recipe results are no longer showing rich snippets. It may have been that the algorithm update was mainly targeting this specific segment but it’s still unclear.
What is more important to local businesses, during this May update Google has announced that Google My Business reviews are back to full functionality. Businesses had to adapt to many changes in past couple of months due to COVID-19. In an attempt to ease damaging and unreasonable outcome from this situation, on March 20th, Google shut down all new reviews and Google Q&A.
It’s also expected that websites that focus on content related to the Corona virus pandemic will be given more attention. Webmasters continue to review the changes and discover new information as it becomes more available.
What can you do?
According to Google, whenever there’s a core update, websites that are affected may not have violated Google Webmaster Guidelines. However, the updates are often intended to improve the overall quality of search engine results and benefit the site owners in the long run. That’s why websites that may have ranked lower may begin ranking higher after a core update and vice versa. Therefore, the search engine recommends that webmasters and SEOs continue to focus on delivering the best possible content on their sites.