What Are the Big Takeaways from Google’s May Algorithm Update?
Periodically, new major updates are released by Google that change how search results are indexed and ranked. The latest, Google’s second core update of 2020, deployed in May and has been having some big effects on numerous search results, brands and overall visibility for select websites.
As with any change in Google algorithms, there are clear winners and losers with regard to improved or reduced visibility. However, what exactly are the broader changes and takeaways we can determine after more than a month of the algorithmic effects.
Let’s take a look at the primary takeaways of Google’s second core update of 2020.
E-A-T Is Bigger Than Ever
Google has long been shifting toward a E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) policy in its search results: the May core update seems to be no different in this regard. However, there does appear to be some debate over just how much Google is pinging links and pages in regards to E-A-T factors.
At minimum, most seem to agree that E-A-T ranking factors are not heavily changed in this update, but that generalized (perhaps abstract) algorithmic changes have occurred to assess the true quality and trustworthiness of content. This means that just because your website has stronger signals related to E-A-T doesn’t mean it saw improvement in this core update.
Another way of looking at it is the age-old debate of quality over authority. Google’s core update seems to be doing a better job at finding relevant, high-quality results – even if they do not align with formal E-A-T factors and signals.
In short: E-A-T is still major, but the way it is being assessed is in flux.
Smaller Websites Are More Competitive
In the post-update analysis, there does appear to be a major shift in rankings for a plethora of websites. A majority of pages ranked on the first page of Google results pre-update have seen a decline in rankings, which indicates this core update was farther-reaching than many initially thought.
At the same time, some smaller and otherwise less-competitive websites and brands have seen improvements in rankings. While E-A-T remains invaluable in SEO, quality appears to be overtaking existing authority – at least to some degree – and allowing previously non-competitive entities to begin ranking prominently in select SERPs.
Link Signals Are Impacting Changes
Links have of course been important for years in SEO: with Google’s core update, your website’s link profiles are even more influential. A meaningful share of top-performing pages pre-update that saw drops in rankings were found to have insufficient numbers of inbound and outbound links, calling into question just how much of an impact changes to link signals are in this update.
As such, if you’re not pinging links to a meaningful number of credible entities (to cite your work, or to otherwise highlight in-depth content) and earning backlinks from others, the effects post-update have likely been even more harmful to your brand.
While there is no uniform playbook for what each algorithm change brings, preliminary data suggests small websites are being given more visibility if they’re of high quality, E-A-T factors still matter (albeit less directly) and links are more important than ever. With this information, you can prepare your website properly and either recover from or take advantage of this latest update.