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Impact of Google's May 2020 CORE algorithm update

Profile image for Kherrin Wade

If you check your organic traffic and/or rankings frequently you may have noticed over the past week that things may have taken a turn for the better, or possibly the worse following Google’s latest core algorithm update?

Google initiates thousands of algorithm tweaks over the course of the year, and is known to release a core algorithm update every few months or so. Core updates are typically more noticeable by widespread ranking changes, and sometimes significant position alterations across single or multiple industries.

The last one this year was back in January, so May’s is perhaps a little slow to arrive. Nevertheless, it has been labelled as an “absolute monster” by RankRanger’s Mordy Oberstein, characterized by greater volatility in search results. He notes that the volatility is far more uniform across the niches, so the update has had a more universal effect on the Google search landscape.

At Adido, we are avid users of SEMRush, and their own sensor tracking tool shows a volatility score of 9.4, whereas January’s update was closer to 8 in terms of impact.

The graph below shows the volatility of search position changes over the past month - check out that spike!

How is the sensor tool calculated? SEMRush checks the search results for a fixed set of keywords on a daily basis and measure how much has changed at the end of the day. The exact method is a proprietary formula, but the total value reflects the total search volatility for the day.

SEMRush data shows that the industries most impacted appeared to be travel, real estate, health, pets and animals, and people and society. We have a few clients in some of these industries so we thought we’d share our own findings as well.

Industry: Real Estate

It was a welcome sight to see our average visibility percentage increase considerably following the May algorithm update. This client operates in the real estate industry and experienced 252 positive keyword movements from those we actively track on their behalf.

Our work has focused on optimising the on-page experience and relevance of search terms to landing pages. Creating new look landing pages to suit the user’s search intent and ensuring all the right signals are fully optimised like meta data, body content, schema and URLs.


Industry: Finance

This client probably saw one of the biggest jumps in ranking visibility and positive keyword movement.

We’ve been working with this client for 18 months and this was a fantastic moment in our history of working together. As a long term marketing tactic, SEO can often fall foul of not showing big leaps in performance often enough. Whilst all the hard work is put in to do the right thing, to appease search engines and to satisfy users, the reward can take a while to arrive. However, when algorithm updates like this occur, and all your hard work pays off in a whopper ranking increase, it’s evidence that whilst you’ve been slogging away in the background the reward will eventually come!

This client is now experiencing some of its best ranking positions on its priority terms, seeing completely new keywords appearing in the top position AND gaining featured snippets along the way.

A key focus of SEO work for this client centred on TF-IDF analysis to improve the keyword relevancy of pages. 

TF-IDF is an equation based analysis of your target page and other pages holding a place on page 1.

The free tool, available on SEObility, pulls out all the semantic vocabulary and related words being used frequently on the top-ranking pages. This gives you an idea of how you can adapt your content and push for a page 1 ranking. For more information read our blog on search engine optimisation 2020.

Industry: Healthcare

There were mixed results for our healthcare / wellbeing client which pre-algorithm had already seen some great jumps in rankings and visibility.

The biggest ranking gains were around ‘stop smoking’ terms; there were mixed results for ‘weight loss’ which had similar numbers of positive and negative shifts; whilst finally there were mainly positive movements for the ‘drink less’ keyword theme.

We’ve been working a lot with this client on fresh content and a FAQ hub section to improve internal linking and enhance the value of content that is more ’evergreen’ in nature (and thus shouldn’t be lost in the blog stream over time).


No-one knows exactly what May’s core algorithm focused on in order to cause this much re-organisation of the search results, but if you apply best practice principles and common sense hopefully every time there are small adjustments or even sizeable ones the effort put into doing the right thing pays off.

Overall our approach to SEO involving E-A-T, TF-IDF analysis, technical aspects like schema, page speed and architecture plus good copywriting and keyword selection is paying dividends for our clients. When announcements of algorithm updates spread through our agency the SEO team in particular are on tenterhooks as you never know if Google is going to be kind, make a “mistake” (which later gets reversed) or take drastic action, but it’s worth it when the positive results speak for themselves!

Hopefully, like us you are rejoicing with the latest ranking update, however if you have experienced ranking drops and are wondering why this may have occurred, why not get in touch and let’s see if we can get your rankings back on track? 

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