How Much Time Should You Be Spending on the Google Algorithm Update?

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On May 4, a day filled with nerdy Star Wars jokes, Google‘s public search liaison  made an important announcement via : “Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post here.

Predictably, online business owners everywhere began fretting about our page rankings and worrying about how our website content would fare. As it turns out, the word of the day…perhaps of the year…is “volatility.”

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Volatility is the best word to describe pretty much everything about 2020. Unemployment, stay-at-home orders, the health of our businesses, the stock markets, the news cycle, and yes…Google’s May 2020 Core Update. And as it turns out, all these things are wrapped up together, all mutually interdependent.

Later in the day he made the announcement, Danny Sullivan confirmed that the update was underway.

But the two-week rollout seems to be one of few qualities that make it typical of Google. What makes this particularly volatile?

First – and I’m counting on readers to let me know if I have this wrong – I don’t recall Google updates that take into account a specific event like a global health crisis. Although Google hasn’t specifically tied its 2020 Core Update to the current situation, Danny Sullivan did tweet earlier on May 4, 2020 that the search engine was seeing radically different user behavior and needs than it previously had. In April, Google started changing the way it displayed some crisis-related search results, so clearly it’s poised to quickly deliver the results users need and want. 

Second, anytime Google rolls out an algorithm update, there’s volatility in search results, partly because the rollout happens over a roughly two-week period, and partly because SEO professionals labor mightily to ensure their clients’ still get traffic.

Related: Google’s New Algorithm Update Means New SEO Best Practices For 2020

So wacky search results tend to be the norm for Google updates. The May 2020 Core Update, though? Epic volatility. In fact, SEMrush analyzed the volatility for the new update compared to the January 2020 one. Its conclusion: “While January’s core update only led to average volatility of 8 points, on May 6, almost every category showed peaking volatility rates — from 9 to 9.4 points. So, the May core update appears to be much stronger and influencing more SERPs and positions.” The SEMrush article goes on to list the industries most affected by the update, among them travel, real estate, news and health. 

Despite the ranking shakeup that’s happening, though, SEMrush has clear advice: “Something to keep in mind with these updates, you need to give this update time to complete before panicking.” 

So we know the world’s in flux, and the new normal seems to change as the wind blows. But what does that mean for your business, your website and the changes you need to make to ensure your company weathers the storm in the May 2020 Core Update’s wake?

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Well, for starters, you shouldn’t pull a “.”  Though there’s no direct comment from either Google or LinkedIn that definitively explains why the social media site didn’t appear in Google searcher for roughly 10 hours on May 6, Search Engine Journal speculates LinkedIn came to be de-indexed from Google either by blocking Google’s crawlers or by removing the HTTP version of the site. Don’t do that!

What you should do to make sure the update doesn’t negatively affect your page ranking? Follow the advice Danny Sullivan linked to in his Tweet announcing the update. The Google Webmaster blog explains: “We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” 

We may feel like life’s moving too quickly for us to keep up. Everything feels volatile, and that’s scary. But it may be helpful to realize that uncertainty isn’t a modern problem. After all, as Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “change is the only constant in life.”

What do you need to do to navigate the Google May 2020 Core Update? Exactly what you’ve been doing. Provide fresh, authentic, useful, relevant content that answers questions and gives vital information about your business.

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