If you’ve noticed changes in traffic to your website, Google’s May 4 update to its algorithm may be the cause. While Google frequently implements updates, the vast majority of them are not what’s considered “major”—but this one definitely is.
“Some sites may notice drops or gains”
In it’s announcement about the update on its Webmaster Central Blog, Google says that it confirms “broad core updates because they typically produce some widely notable effects. Some sites may note drops or gains during them. We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all (emphasis mine).”
At DAGMAR, we’re doing what we always do when a big update hits: Digging into all of our clients’ analytics to see how their sites may have been affected. But even before we finish that task, we’re sure of two things: Fluctuations in rankings are normal after any type of core update and Google will make tweaks to this one.
Early results show that sites related to travel, health, pets and animals, real estate, and people and society have seen the most volatility in their traffic since the update rolled out. Some of this can likely be attributed to the economic environment we’re in (thanks in no small part to the pandemic), but it also highlights just how broad the application of this new algorithm is. You can read more about how industry categories were affected in Neil Patel’s blog post on the May 2020 core update.
Quality content is still key
The Google Webmaster blog post devotes a section to the importance of high-quality content, saying “That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” We’ve continually increased our focus on content creation and content marketing as the best way to not only increase rankings for our clients, but to also offer some degree of immunity to the effects of algorithm updates. A bedrock of good, relevant content can go a long way toward keeping your rankings afloat in a storm.
What about a possible recent local update?
It may get a bit lost in the shadow of the major core update, but we’ve also seen an unusual frequency in changes to local search results since around the third week of April. There aren’t a lot of details available at the moment on the cause of the volatility in local search, but the SEO community is citing example after example of significant traffic drops on clients’ sites.
What we are doing
As usual, there isn’t much information available yet about what changes work better with the new core update algorithm. Neil Patel’s article references websites that regularly updated content and had unique meta tags on every page fared better than similar sites, but this is correlative at best. However, it does align with our philosophy that there is a website quality score that takes into account how well you maintain your site. It could be that these signals have been increased.
We do a technical analysis every month for our clients and clean up the most important issues, such as broken links, 404 errors, page speed, etc. We will, however, be looking deeper into these issues in case they have become more important.
It’s really early, and it’s highly likely Google is going to be tweaking this algorithm update for weeks to come. If your rankings have recently fluctuated, hang in there, because it’s just as likely they will rebound. Until then, we’ll keep our ear to the ground for more information and continue to focus on a long-term SEO strategy that mitigates events such as these.
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