Google’s Broad Core May Algorithm Update Is Complete. Here’s The Key Takeaways.

Another Broad Core Google Algorithm Update has completed its rollout and SEO agencies across the world breathed a sigh of relief as clients either remained unscathed or in a better position than before the update. I’ve put together my key findings on how the search results have been impacted.

It’s A Big One.

Based on the data coming from SEO tools which actively monitor changes in the organic search results, as well as results we’re seeing on client websites, this is arguably the biggest Google Algorithm Update we’ve seen in recent years. If we look at the data from the SEMRush Visibility Sensor, we saw a peak of 9.4 on 6th May. In comparison, we expect it to be around 5.0 for the daily ranking updates/changes, and the last core update saw it hit 8.0, so this update certainly reached heights we haven’t seen in a long time. SEMRush described the changes as “There’re constant and massive tremors on Google search results, suggesting a significant algorithm update.”

What Is A Broad Core Algorithm Update?

Google describes its broad core algorithm updates as “They’re designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.” They also note that “Broad core updates tend to happen every few months. Content that was impacted by one might not recover – assuming improvements have been made – until the next broad core update is released.”

This is interesting as it aligns the format with the updates of years ago including Penguin & Panda, where if your website did suffer, it could take as long as waiting for the next update to roll out before you saw any improvements based on changes you make.

I’m personally not sure of the accuracy of this statement simply because nowadays changes feed into the algorithms on an almost ‘live’ basis. If you make changes, you’re likely to see the impact pretty quickly.

Winners & Losers Of The May Broad Core Algorithm Update

We’re still seeing some changes despite the rollout being announced as complete, but in general, this is what I have seen over the last fortnight. Below you can find some winners and losers. All data is taken from the Sistrix UK database and is based on the visibility metric.


  • +10%
  • +7%
  • +20%
  • +103%
  • +89%
  • +100%
  • +57%
  • +91%


  • -49%
  • -47%
  • -40%
  • -36%
  • -50%
  • -39%
  • -35%
  • -15%

These are just a few examples where you can see how they’re connected and more importantly what they are connected to.

Core Update or COVID-19 Update?

A lot of the above websites are connected in a way that relates to how audience search intents have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon, eBay & Asos: Lots more people are looking to buy online and have things delivered because the high streets are shut down and/or they don’t want to or cannot leave the house.

Car Buyer & Auto Express: Public transport has been vastly reduced, and even when increased, it will be almost impossible to maintain social distancing on already overcrowded services. Time to put that driving license to use, even in a well-connected city. People are scrutinising their finances more currently as job security falls. They’re looking for easy to understand advice on financial assistance related to COVID-19, and they’re looking to save money on financial products such as insurance, credit cards and mortgages.

Pinterest & Delicious Magazine: People are cooking and baking again, properly. Both website well known for the vast amounts of easy to follow recipes and ideas.

Twitch & Spotify: Twitch is an anomaly here as more people are tuning into streams during the lockdown, however, they are losing traffic to YouTube Gaming and that increase in viewership relates to data in March. Spotify, despite increasing paid users to a whopping 130million in Q1 have seen drastic changes in the way people listen to music as more people are at home, not commuting, and streaming more video entertainment.

Eventbrite: Relatively self-explanatory with the vast majority of events this year being cancelled or postponed. Fewer people are searching for tickets etc.

Boohoo: This is an anomaly and is likely more related to something missing from the SEO strategy.

Preloved: We’re in lockdown and not mixing with anyone outside of our household which makes picking up second-hand goods almost impossible.

Buy Car Parts: We’re using our cars less frequently than before resulting in a decreased need for repairs.

Red Bubble: With such restrictions on where you can shop, when people are shopping online with delivery delays already an issue, websites like Red Bubble become less appealing as they delivery windows were already two weeks as everything is made to order. We’re an impatient species at the best of times.

Daily Mail: A fair few news websites saw decreases in visibility including The Guardian so it’s not political preference, but those that did all have one thing in common, and that is sensationalised headlines and what could be considered as “fake news”. Not my opinion, just the stand out correlation.

What To Do If Your Website Has Been Affected

Google wants to achieve a single thing with search results, and that is to provide the searcher with relevant results that match intent. It’s the intent which has changed in the last two months because the world has changed the way it operates. E-Commerce websites are performing better against physical store locations, news carousels are appearing in more searches because COVID-19 affects almost everything, people are spending time researching options because they can’t buy a service just yet, news websites providing inaccurate information are decreasing because users need the facts and not the headlines.

It’s very much a buy now or education for your target audience currently and until things return to some normality in the outside world, it’s going to be changed in the online world.

If you’ve seen decreases it may not be that you are doing anything wrong, and with core updates it rarely is. Core updates are designed to reward and not punish. Take a step back and look at how you can engage your audience with some amazing content they are going to engage with now. The conversions may come later than you anticipate, but if you don’t match the current search intent, then they won’t come at all. Remove Google from the equation altogether and you get to the heart of what your business should be doing online. Every single time someone searches on Google they are looking for a solution, are you providing it?

Need some help? Our SEO team are doing exactly as I described above for our clients. Adapting campaigns, finding the right opportunities to engage the audience, and still driving leads. Give us a call and see how we can help your business navigate COVID-19 and the marketing opportunities that exist within it.





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