Google’s May 2020 Core Update – Its Effects and What To Do About Them

On 4th May 2020, Google Announced A Core Algorithm Update

Whilst Google themselves say that it may be 2 weeks or more before the full impact of its ‘May 2020 Core Update’ is felt, initial evidence suggests that it is having a massive impact on the world of SEO.

Possibly this is the biggest Google core algorithm update we have seen for many years

It is claimed that Google release changes daily to make its ‘algorithm’ (the secret formula it uses to determine a website’s ranking for a particular search query) more relevant.

However, around 4 times a year, Google will release a much wider-reaching change to its core algorithm. These are sometimes referred to as ‘Core Algorithm Updates’, and modern SEO companies need to keep up to date with these to ensure their techniques are in line.

What We Know About Google’s May 2020 Core Update

Google doesn’t tend to give much information about what impacts an update will have, and what information they do give is often only part of the story, leaving SEO companies around the world to analyse the impacts and adapt their strategies accordingly.

On this occasion, Google’s information was simply this:

Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:

Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 4, 2020

According to Search Engine Journal, the main impacts of the latest SEO update are local businesses and health-related sites.

As well as keeping up with the online commentary, and examining the data coming out of big global tracking tools like SEM Rush, Moz, Neil Patel, etc, we also closely watch how a Google Update impacts our varied customers.

Seeing which client websites perform better than others often give vital clues about how to adapt our SEO strategy over the coming months until the next Google Core Update.

How The Google Update Has Affected SEO For Our Clients

May 2020 Core Algorithm Update - analysis

Bigger SEO agencies have a unique insight into Google Updates, as they can see the impact of the Google changes across many different kinds of websites – and the impacts are often different to the stated impacts that Google may have announced.

Here are the main ways that the latest May 2020 Google Core Update has impacted our own clients so far, analysed 1 factor at a time:

eCommerce Websites SEO

  • 62% of E-Commerce websites have shown Google ranking improvements
  • 25% have shown no change
  • 13% have shown ranking drops

Conclusion – e-commerce seems to be a good SEO strategy to rank well, following the May 2020 Core Update.

Local SEO in the UK

Some of our UK SEO customers target only specific areas of the UK, or else they have specific pages on their website that target specific areas (like our London SEO page, for example).

  • 60% of our local SEO clients have experienced ranking drops after the May 2020 Core Update
  • 40% have experienced ranking increases

Unique Content Helps SEO

It is common for e-commerce websites to use supplier product descriptions, however, this is traditionally thought to be bad practice for SEO, as Google regards this kind of content as ‘plagiarised’ – in simple English that means ‘copied’ or ‘stolen’. Copied content doesn’t really add much value to the information available on the internet, so it makes sense for Google to downgrade websites with mostly copied content.

With 1 of our clients in particular, we are mid-way through the process of re-writing their copied product descriptions to be unique and informative. For this client, it is interesting to see that since the May 2020 Core Update, the products with unique content have risen in the Google rankings, whilst the remaining duplicate content seems to have led to a drop in rankings for the related SEO keywords.

Quality and In Depth SEO Content

Possibly the strongest trend we have seen is that customers with plenty of long articles going into great depth in a unique manner are all ranking more highly with the exception of 1 client, whilst customers with shorter, simpler, less in-depth content have suffered ranking drops.

Whilst keeping content simple and uncluttered may be necessary at times, it seems that somewhere on your website at least, maybe in a ‘resources’ section or maybe in your blog, you need to cover your industry subjects in depth if you want to be regarded as an authority in your niche by Google and do well with your SEO in 2020.


We can’t see any significant trends relating to link building, domain authority, and backlink-related traditional SEO techniques.

How many links a website has, or what the Domain Authority score is on Moz, seems to have no correlation with whether or not Google rankings have gone up or down in recent days.

Image SEO

Google now seems to be noticing and placing a lot of emphasis on image captions. Previously image ‘alt text’ has been the main focus of SEO agencies, but maybe image captions are the new alt text for SEO? Customers with multiple large images seemed to have fared well following the latest core update as well, so whilst fast-loading images is always important (for user experience as well as SEO), maybe having small highly optimised images isn’t now such a big SEO factor as it used to be.

Time Will Tell

Before jumping to too many conclusions we will need to give the algorithm at least 2 weeks to settle down.

And we remain braced for further major adjustments by Google over the coming weeks, as they find that the search results are not quite as intended and reverse changes or tweak their search engine formula even more.


The above factors analysed are only a handful of the 1000s of factors that need to be considered for SEO strategy, so we will be doing further analysis over the coming weeks to ensure our SEO formula remains strong.

Google’s massive team of talented individuals refine their search engine daily, always working towards the key objective of making the search results as relevant and helpful as possible.

Most of these changes aren’t noticeable, and some are then reversed later if they don’t help to improve the relevance or quality of search results.

It is these continual incremental changes to the Google search engine that makes the job of SEO agencies interesting!

Only 1 website can rank in the number 1 position on Google for a particular search term, and the factors influencing this change daily, so the best SEO agencies are continually learning and adapting, within a fluid search engine marketing landscape.

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