May has been an interesting time for Google updates. At the end of our April 2020 Google updates article we mentioned an important piece about the May Google Algorithm Core Update, this months article covers that update in a little more detail as well as a few other important bits from the world of Google and SEO during May.

4th May – May Core Google Algorithm Update

This update we believe was rolled out around the 4th May, well started to be rolled out around then and as a core update affects a lot of websites in the Google search index.

There’s a high chance you have been affected by this as lots of SEO experts believe this to be one of the biggest core algorithm updates for quite a while.

So how do you check?

Firstly, if you sue a tool such as AHREFS or Uber Suggest you can insert your keywords and track there, it will be very clear if you keywords have gone up or down by looking at the visual graphs that they provide.

If you don’t have one of those tools, and we highly recommend both, then take a look at your Google Analytics and check your traffic.
If there has been a big drop off, that you perhaps weren’t expecting, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, then it could be due to the May core algorithm update.

As mentioned in our April Google update post, we listed some sectors that had been affected and it seems now that more data is in that Travel, Property, Music and Health seem to be the ones most affected.
Spotify is also reportedly negatively affected by this update.

At the opposite side of the spectrum, sites such as news entertainment and sports seem to of done quite well out of the update and saw their traffic increase.

It is believed some of the sites that got affected were because:

  • They had “thin” content
  • They did not update old content regularly
  • And they had SEO errors such as duplicate title tags according to Search Engine Watch

As mentioned in the article what this does also remind us is that Google Updates aren’t necessarily penalties, they just ensure/confirm that websites that follow the Google best practice guidelines are rewarded.

Updating old content and improving thin content is something we have recommended throughout our SEO blog posts over the years.

Thin content is basically content that is light on substance and word count. Ensure your content is deep and is almost like an “ultimate guide to..” piece of content that covers everything about your subject.

When you write content this deep and valuable, it provides a great incentive for your website visitors to read on and improve your on-site SEO metrics.

This goes for when you translate content for other languages as well – As long as the translation is of the best possible quality, you will rank well.

It will also attract natural backlinks.

There is a free tool called Screaming Frog that you can use as part of your SEO efforts anyway, but it also has clever features that shows the length of your content pieces and also shows you how many pages have duplicate title tags and a low character length.

May 12: Negative SEO and the Google Disavow tool

John Mueller who always has busy months providing valuable SEO snippets and insights into SEO has reiterated that the Disavow tool was not created for the sole purpose of negative SEO.

Google already works hard to prevent negative SEO attacks and they are minimal, but instead the role of the Disavow tool to help clean up any bad SEO link building that you or your SEO agency may of done in the past.

May 14: John Mueller speaks on negative SEO

The idea behind negative SEO is that someone maliciously points low value, spammy backlinks to your website with the idea of getting you penalised by Google and/or to fall down the Google search engine rankings.

Whilst the disavow tool is available to report these type of links – If that does not work then the reason for a websites drop in rankings may not be due to spammy backlinks.

When asked about spammy backlinks John Mueller said:

“This [spammy backlinks] is certainly something that our systems work really hard on to make sure that any kind of negative SEO or any kind of irrelevant back links, unnatural backlinks that as much as possible we’re able to ignore them completely.”

May 28: Google core web vitals to become ranking signals

Google will be rolling out a change to the way it calculates ranking signals, likely to be next year, by adding in a page experience metric to help Google better understand a websites page experience.

Google already uses Core Web Vitals such as Loading, Interactivity and Visual Stability as part of its calculation.

The reason for this change and the value page experience brings?

“Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page. By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.”
To read more please visit: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2020/05/evaluating-page-experience.html

May 29: Google confirms they DO monitor link selling marketplaces

Google’s Gary Illyes was asked if he ever actions/reports sites for spam that get reported to him by users.

Whilst he said most of the time they go into his junk folder, he did also send the following tweet:
“Yeah because we wouldn’t ever go to Facebook groups and forums specializing on link selling. Ever!”

It may be a little tongue in cheek, but it does highlight that Google does have the capability to scan these type of forums and market places for people selling links and identify links being traded.

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