On May 4th, Google started rolling out the May 2020 Core Update. A core update is a large change to their algorithm and has the potential to impact a lot of sites. Google’s goal with these core updates is always to provide a better search experience to users by providing them with relevant content. These updates involve changes to the algorithm to help them better understand user search intent and also to gain a richer understanding of what a web page is about and how that page is relevant to search queries. I’ve talked before about how old school SEO is dead, and this core update is another example of that.
Analysts are saying that this update is bigger than the January core update and has a greater influence on search engine results and positions than previous core updates. There are two big takeaways that we’re seeing in the data so far:
Thin Content is Losing in the Rankings
Thin content pages are pages with low word counts. Certain pages typically have low word counts, such as Contact pages, but true thin content lacks quality and doesn’t provide the reader with any useful information. It may be duplicate content, lists of links, or content that is scraped from another website. Sites with thin content were 3 times more likely to be affected by the algorithm change, and approximately 32% of sites with thin content saw a decrease in rankings.
Duplicate Meta Tag Information Can Hurt Your Rankings
Sites with SEO errors were greatly affected by this core update. One type of SEO error that hurt sites more than others is duplicate meta tags, especially when a large number of your pages have duplicate title tags or meta descriptions. Approximately 42% of sites with duplicate meta tags saw a dip in their rankings.
What matters most to Google is whether a web page satisfies a user when they make a particular search query.
Google’s goal with these updates is always to create the best search experience for their users. Both thin content and SEO errors are indicators that the content on a specific page might not satisfy a user when they make a particular search query.
What does that mean for your website?
It means that Google is continuing to get smarter about understanding what your web pages are about and how the content on those pages is relevant to search queries.
Sites that were not as affected were already doing a good job of demonstrating that they offer relevant content. Here are some key things to put in place over the long term that can help improve the overall performance of your website:
Update Your Content Regularly
Your content should be up to date and provide value for your readers. Focus on creating unique insight-driven content that provides valuable information that is relevant to your audience. Go back and update out of date content to make it relevant and correct. By making your content valuable and actionable, and posting new content frequently, you’re making your website less vulnerable to these core updates.
What the data is showing us once again is that the most effective way to do well is to continue to create new useful insight-driven content and post it regularly on your website. This has always been a cornerstone of our marketing efforts and those of our clients. We then use that same insight-driven content to post to LinkedIn and send out to your audience via email.
Fix Thin Content
Pages with low word counts do a poor job of proving relevance to the Google algorithm, and 46% of websites have at least one page with thin content. While it may not make sense to add additional content to image-heavy pages or pages where a lot of content is typically not required, such as Contact Us pages, it does make sense to analyze the content on each page of your site. If a page would benefit from more in-depth content, you should fix it so that the page provides the user with a better experience and actionable information.
Fix SEO Errors
Sites with duplicate title tags and meta descriptions are being negatively affected by this update. Take a look at your metadata and fix any duplicate title tags or meta descriptions. This is also a great opportunity to look at your Google Analytics results and evaluate the effectiveness of your metadata as a whole. The keyword meta tag is essentially useless, delete those that are outdated and repetitive. Eliminate duplicate content, or use canonical tags to point to the primary source.
Google’s goal is always to produce a better experience for its searchers and the algorithms are designed to reward the best content. But even when you’re doing everything right, by regularly posting new insight-driven rich content and having the right SEO in place, you can still be impacted by an algorithm update as each one is different. The best way to insulate your website is to do everything you can to create the best user experience possible. It’s all part of our content-driven approach to marketing that drives SEO and helps keep you top of mind with prospects and clients.
Google has also posted some advice on what to know about core updates.
All the best,