Updated: May 13, 2020
Google announced this past Monday, May 4th, 2020, that they would be rolling out a core algorithm update, as they do several times per year.
As with the past several core updates, Google’s shared this document as its main point of reference about the goals of the algorithm update. This document, “What Webmasters Should Know About Core Updates,” provides context about the update, as well as questions webmasters can consider when addressing the quality of their website content, as well as considerations around E-A-T.
We used the Sistrix U.S. visibility index to analyze a list of 550 domains that have seen impacts from previous core algorithm updates. The visibility index provides a value for the visibility of a domain in Google’s U.S. search results. The data was pulled between Monday, May 4, 2020, and Monday, May 11, 2020.
This list of 550 sites is by no means a full list of all the websites on the internet, and there are many more websites affected by the update than the sites listed here. For that reason, this is not intended to be a list of the overall biggest winners and losers of the update. However, this sample of 550 sites can help illustrate which industries felt the biggest impact, giving us clues about the potential end goals of the May 2020 algorithm update.
What categories were impacted by this update?
As with other recent core updates, it appears that the May 2020 core algorithm update disproportionately affected YMYL (your money, your life) websites, which can directly impact users’ health, happiness, safety, well-being, or financial security.
Some examples of categories with significant changes in organic visibility:
- nutrition and recipes
- drugs, alcohol, and rehab
- science and medical news
- banking and finance
- music and entertainment
- natural medicine
Biggest Winners by % Change
Biggest Winners by Overall Visibility Increases
Biggest Losers by % Change
Biggest Losers by Overall Visibility Decreases
One of the most noticeable trends from the May 2020 core update is the reversal of sites that had seen big gains as the results of prior updates. Below are some examples:
Whfoods.com saw a big visibility drop during the January 2020 core update, but began to see a reversal during this week’s May update.
Similarly, addictionsandrecovery.com also saw a big uptick after declining during the January core update.
Another example of a site seeing a reversal is medicalxpress.com, which publishes health and medical news.
There are many more examples of similar reversals where these came from.
Something else to consider:
Analyzing the organic visibility of sites can be challenging in the context of all the changes to search behavior and search results we have seen as a result of the coronavirus.
For example, homedepot.com saw the biggest overall visibility increase this week, but it had already been surging in visibility due to the coronavirus.
This update only rolled out a few days ago, so we will continue to feel its impact for weeks to come. But so far, there are clear patterns that the May 2020 Core Update appears to have had a disproportionate impact on YMYL websites, and is showing big reversals in organic visibility from prior core updates across many domains.
Stay tuned for further analysis of the May 2020 core update, as well as our continued analysis of changes in search behavior due to coronavirus.
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