Google is always releasing updates and every so often they make major changes to the algorithm, referred to as “Core Updates”.
On the 18th of May, Google confirmed that they have completed releasing the May 2020 Core Update, after taking a total of 2 weeks to roll out. Many SEOs and digital marketers analysed the impact of the latest core update to better understand how it has affected different industries and rankings.
The May 2020 Core Update rollout is complete.— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 18, 2020
Research conducted by RankRanger, SEMRush and Search Metrics suggested that this was a very big update.
Compared to January’s core update, they said it has impacted more sectors and created greater rank volatility. The data from SEMRush suggested that the industries most impacted were:
These core updates can severely impact your rankings so it’s key to monitor and track the performance of your website after each update is completely rolled out. Core updates take about 2 weeks before seeing a noticeable difference. Comparing current rankings and page traffic to data from before the core update can help you analyse the impact.
There are no specific tasks to complete if you are negatively impacted by a core update. However, Google has provided us with guidelines on what are the most important factors in their algorithm.
Content & Quality: Does the website offer informative and engaging content?
Expertise: Is your content trustworthy?
Presentation & Production: Does your website look like spam?
Competitive Comparison: Does the website offer value which your competitors don’t?
Google is always on a mission to ensure that users have the best experience possible and this has led to on-page experience becoming the most crucial factor in its ranking assessments.
Google is further emphasising this factor in an algorithm update which will be released in 2021. This update sees the introduction of the Web Core Vitals to a long list of other signals, which highlight the most important factors in providing users with a good page experience.
The Web Core Vitals takes into consideration:
While having a sound technical SEO strategy is essential for any website; this algorithm update further highlights the importance of the on-page experience and the content on your website. Websites will be rewarded if they have fast and engaging websites.
Google’s Discovery Campaigns rolled out last month but was not made official until the end of May. They’re now available across Youtube, Google Discovery and the Gmail app. The adverts can appear on the Youtube Home and Watch Next feeds, Discover feed on the Google Search app and in Gmail Promotion and Social tabs.
This can open new promotional avenues for advertisers and offers a great opportunity for advertisers to reach millions, if not billions of users through Google’s expansive network. According to Google, Discovery has more than 800 million users.
From the end of May, Google will begin the first phase of its ad credits plan which was announced in March to support small and medium businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Advertisers that are eligible will be notified automatically and will see a credit on their Google Ads accounts to be used in future advertising campaigns. The amount to be credited varies across different advertisers based on their historic spending, but you can receive up to the equivalent of $1,000 US dollars which have to be used by the end of the year.
Google has pre-identified the small or medium businesses that are eligible themselves. The main eligibility requirement for these SMEs is that they must have spent on Google Ads in 10 out of the last 12 months in 2019 AND in January or February of 2020. Therefore, if you haven’t spent at all in 2020 you will not be eligible for the credit.
Google is always looking to add and test new features on their SERPs and ads to see how users respond. The ‘In Store’ tab for mobile users has been live for a while now but they are also testing a ‘Curbside Pickup’ option on local shopping ads.
These are exciting new features which could provide new shopping options for customers and could make merchant’s ads more prominent.
Curbside Pickup badges have been recently appearing on eligible local inventory ads in Google Shopping. The badges appear on the top of ads on both mobile and desktop results, making the ads slightly more prominent by adding another tag on the listing.
Much like pickup options offered by many websites, this feature allows users to have a contactless pickup option on an order. To be eligible to have this option on your listing you have to meet some requirements:
This feature is currently live in 14 countries including the U.K, the U.S and Germany. You can join the beta program through your Google rep or by filling out this form.
Google has also been showing an ‘In Store’ tab and a ‘Shop Online’ tab during mobile searches when it determines that there is local intent.
This is a tab which shows the products available on a slider carousel which users can browse through. During a time of delayed deliveries and inventory restrictions, this allows users to have another option to explore.
In mid-March, Google temporarily disabled the publication of new reviews, business owner review replies and new Q&A posts due to having a reduced staff during the Coronavirus pandemic. Now new user reviews, new user photos, new short names and Q&As are starting to reappear on GMB profiles across the world in most categories.
Google confirmed this news and stated that they are expecting to “publish a growing number of user contributions as time progresses.” Users should resume or continue their review management/generating strategies as reviews received through their GMB profile as it can be used as a source of information for customers.
Google announced last month that its Shopping platform will become free for merchants to use. It also announced an integration with PayPal and the Google Merchant Centre, which is now live.
Retailers and brands using PayPal as a checkout option on their site can link their PayPal to their Merchant Centre accounts in order to onboard products for listings across Google. If you’re new to Google Merchant Centre, the PayPal connection can also speed up the merchant verification process.
Google’s webmaster trend analyst John Mueller revealed that Google does not differentiate between a page’s main content and user generated content.This means that any user generated content which Google can crawl is treated as part of your website’s content. User generated content includes:
As user generated content is treated as part of your content, it is essential to moderate the standard of this content. User generated content, not in line with your website’s quality can be blocked with a robots.txt tag and external links should have a UGC link attribute. This could be an opportunity to gain traffic through user conversations, but when in doubt, you can block all comments and only approve ones you’re happy with.
SEOs have started noticing that Google is suggesting search queries to users based on their recent search activity. Search suggestions appear as links below the search bar, with the modified item in the query bolded and italicised, much like the “did you mean” suggestions”.
These search query suggestions will appear only for users who are logged into their Google accounts. Google will suggest search queries based on searches made previously during that session. Below are a few examples of how these search suggestions work:
The previous search was “google home”
The previous search was “streaming services”
The previous search was “search engine news”
This new feature is designed to anticipate the user’s intent and make it as easy as possible for them. Google is always adding and removing features on their SERP, so it will be interesting to see if this new feature is here for the long term.