Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance.
There was a time when Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms. Today, Google makes thousands of changes every year.
Core updates are designed to produce noticeable effects across search results in all countries and in all languages. Inevitably sites will have gains or declines in rankings after a core update rolls out.
SEO rankings can and do move around…a lot. Changes in search rankings are usually a reflection of the relevancy of your content. This means that if the content on your site has gained relevancy since the last update, it will be upped in search rankings. Unfortunately, the opposite applies as well.
For the second time in 2020, Google released a core update in May which was the first since the pandemic and will likely execute significant changes in search rankings. The first core update of 2020 launched during the second week of January.
Consider how much the world has changed between January and May. In January, coronavirus and COVID-19 were barely on anyone’s radar. Now those words are on the forefront of almost everything. Once the pandemic was declared, users search behavior dramatically shifted, worldwide.
Google reported that there has never been as many searches for an individual topic as there has been for COVID-19. The virus has changed what people need from Google.
This drastic change represents a lot of search words gaining relevancy that had little, if any activity in the past. It also means that search words that were once heavily used, such as travel or concert related searches, aren’t getting the traffic they enjoyed in the past.
The May 2020 Core Update must deal with the unique challenge of identifying the tremendous changes of how and what the world is searching online.
Over time, we will be able to identify the long-term effects of the update. In the interim, Google reminds us that there is nothing to “fix” if your rankings drop after a core update. Remember to routinely make your content the best it can be, keep your website refreshed, and study your activity.