The May 2020 Google Core Update: What You Need to Know

Blog The May 2020 Google Core Update: What You Need to Know
27th May, 2020

Happy Google Core Update everyone! Yes, it's that time again, when Google slips out word that its algorithm has been tweaked, and website owners across the world start to worry about their traffic figures.

As usual, the changes are relatively minor, although there are some points that marketers definitely need to take on board. And, as usual, the Google Core Update is a great chance to renovate your approach to SEO. So let's dig deeper and take a quick run through the May 2020 Core Update, offering a few do's and don'ts along the way.

The May 2020 Google Core Update: do's and don'ts

To begin with, let's run through some key things that all website owners need to do if they want to upgrade their content to meet Google's requirements.

1. Do update your old content regularly

SEO expert Neil Patel tracks over 600 sites constantly, monitoring how often they update their content, and he has come up with some telling data following the recent Core update.

According to Patel, sites that regularly update old content and ensure that it remains relevant saw their traffic increase by an average of 10% after the update, compared with slight declines for sites which are lazy about updating.

Now could be a good time to freshen up older blogs or category pages and ensure that they deliver useful information. Fix dead links, double check which keywords they rank for, and delete anything that dates them too badly.

2. Do fatten up content to make it more effective

Social media monitors have also detected a pattern regarding the length of posts. Apparently, "thinner" content (pages with low word counts) have been impacted most severely by Google's recent tinkering.

The search engine has been shifting to prioritise relevant information for years now, and this is another step towards that goal. Where pertinent, site owners will need to go into more depth and provide more information - not just empty marketing speak.

However, beware. This isn't a call to pad out pages with meaningless text. It's a sign that well-written long from pages can do very well, so update wisely.

3. Do carry out an audit of basic SEO errors

The recent Core update also seems to have penalised pages with multiple errors such as duplicated meta descriptions or tags. Simple errors like this haven't always been fatal. But with this new update, they are causing genuine problems for many sites.

So take a look at your meta tags and try to minimise the number of duplicates. It's an easy win, and one that should be a no-brainer for most online businesses.

Major don'ts following May's update

On the other hand, here are some things to avoid when responding to May's update:

1. Don't go crazy with the word counts

As we stressed earlier, long form posting is becoming a goldmine if it's done well. "Thin" websites are being weeded out, and out-competed by sites which deliver comprehensive information. So by all means beef up your content.

However, since Panda arrived in 2011, keyword stuffing has been penalised by Google, something that's only become stricter recently. So focus on quality writing, not pumping out as much as possible.

2. Don't become too concerned about traffic changes

Google's tech team have assured site owners that "there might not be anything to fix at all" and that there may be "nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update." For them, the update has just refreshed the global list of popular sites, reflecting changing search habits. Nothing more.

We know a little different. Some sites have been penalised due to poor content or structure. But most sites won't suffer too badly, as long as they are well designed and useful. So panic isn't an option. Stay calm, and make subtle changes - don't go nuclear just yet.

3. Don't go overboard with linking

SEO analysts MHC have analysed the May Core Update and found that haphazard linking strategies can really damage a site's SEO prospects. This isn't a surprise, as Google are focusing closely on relevance. Any out of place links are going to attract attention, and they are becoming a major liability.

Relevant links are still a handy tool for SEO, but linking is risky. So be careful and keep the user experience in mind.

Quality content is at the core of Google's expectations

May 2020's Google Core Update is essentially more of the same as far as content marketers are concerned. Relevant, well-written, comprehensive content is winning out, and shoving aside pages stuffed with keywords or using outdated linking techniques.

In that context, now is a great time to invest in some informative content that grabs the attention of site visitors and Google's crawler alike. Get in touch with the greatcontent team, and we'll find a way to rise up the rankings.

Text: Sam Urquhart

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