What is the new Google algorithm update and how does it affect your businessBy Ankur Pramod
So, we have yet another Google algorithm update called the May 2020 Core Update, which to some could seem surprising considering that they just came out with one in January.
However, for those who really understand how Google functions, especially the folks heavily involved in the search engine optimization (SEO) domain, this is nothing new. They’re prepared to handle such ‘challenges’ on a regular basis and some of them even have responses ready.
To be fair, one can’t blame SEO strategists for coming with such responses considering that Google has a habit of updating its algorithms multiple times a year. In fact, according to this moz.com blog, Google rolled out 12 updates in 2019, out of which eight were confirmed.
Thus far, the May 2020 update is Google’s second core one this year and doesn’t seem as ‘controversial’ as some of its previous updates. For those of you who do not know, the last time Google rolled out an update in January, it led to quite a bit of chaos, confusion, and panic.
That was the time when it announced that featured snippet links would no longer be visible as a part of the traditional organic results, thereby leading to drastic click-through rate implications.
Add the power of Twitter to that and things went berserk to such a level that Google couldn’t stop responding to the endless queries it received. Furthermore, it led to a stage where now there’s nothing that scares SEO professionals more than a forthcoming core algorithm update.
So, what exactly is Google’s new May 2020 core algorithm update? Without further ado, let’s dig into what’s in store for us and outline a few key takeaways that can help you and your business.
What is the May 2020 update
That’s the million-dollar question that everyone has on their minds.
While there aren’t any specific words to explain this update, everytime that Google makes a core algorithm update, the overarching notion behind them remains the same.
On it’s Webmaster Central Blog the company states that:
“There’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
Nice job, Google!
However, we here at Vendasta were able to dig a bit deeper and come up with a few key takeaways from the May 2020 Google algorithm update that can help you in your content production.
Takeaway 1: Informative and long-form content
As the heading suggests, the first and foremost takeaway from Google’s May 2020 algorithm update is to write content that is long, informative, and answers as many questions as possible.
The idea behind this insight is to provide as much information as possible at one location so that Google doesn’t have to redirect its readers to other sources if they have any related questions.
For example, one of Vendasta’s most popular blogs - The Top 100 Online Business Directories, which was written in 2017 and updated in 2020 - is a 56-minute extensive read that consists of over 10,000 words.
Even though the blog enjoyed a healthy amount of traffic each month before, as you can see, after the May 2020 Google core algorithm update, we saw a sudden increase in organic traffic.
The major reason for the jump is that the blog is massive and has tons of credible information.
Furthermore, it’s starting to perform even better now as it has gained hundreds of new keywords after the update and has also started to show improvements in their Google organic positions.
Therefore, whenever you write a blog, ensure that it is long, contains a lot of information, answers a lot of questions, and lastly doesn’t leave anyone with their queries unaddressed.
However, this doesn’t mean that you head into writing every blog with the mindset of beating around the bush just to make it extensive and have more than 10,000 words. At the end of the day, the content you produce must also be on point to establish the credibility of your business.
Takeaway 2: Above the fold info
Speaking of beating around the bush, the second takeaway is that Google would now prefer to rank your content over others if it cuts to the chase early and goes straight to the information.
To explain this better, let’s look at two blogs and track their journeys, with respect to a specific keyword, before and after Google rolled out its May 2020 core algorithm update.
The keyword that we’ve chosen for this purpose is ‘best credit card’. The first blog is from the Forbes website where, as you can see in the screenshot below, they start providing the information right off the bat, thereby delivering more value to someone who’s landed there.
The second blog is from the Motley Fool website, where they begin by providing a lot of different options to the reader. While doing so is not necessarily a bad strategy, in this case it’s leaving the readers confused and makes them do more work to find the information they came in for.
Now one can argue that by providing the reader with a lot of information, Motley Fool is actually ahead of the game since it’s producing long and informative content by using the first takeaway.
That’s a great argument. So, how do we actually determine how much is too much?
That’s the golden question best left to your judgement. It’s about experimenting with different forms of content and ultimately finding your best combination between quality and quantity.
In the case of these two blogs, for instance, we were able to determine that Motley Fool’s long-form content strategy did not favor them, as their blog, which previously enjoyed a higher position in the organic rankings, lost that spot after the Google core algorithm update.
Furthermore, the Forbes blog saw a drastic jump in its positioning with regard to that keyword.
Therefore, in summary, the second takeaway states that Google really values the time of their readers. They want to make it so that if a reader searches for something online and then lands on a webpage, he/she gets the information that they searched for right away, without having to dig too deep.
Takeaway 3: Nofollow link value
Before we head into the third takeaway, for those of you reading this blog who are a little unclear on what exactly nofollow links are, here’s a quick refresher course from Ahrefs.
In short, nofollow links are URLs that consist of the rel=“nofollow” tag. The characteristic of such links is that the Googlebot (aka the Google spider) does not crawl these links and, therefore, these links do not influence the search engine rankings for any given webpage.
Originally when Google introduced the nofollow concept in 2005, it aimed towards combating the spam links that random people left in the comments of your blog, hoping to gain backlinks.
However, as time progressed and social media began to gain popularity, Google started considering all links from there as nofollow as well. This means that if you post the link of a blog you’ve written on your social channels, it will not contribute towards improving your search rank.
The company realized that issue, however, and now wants to crawl all social media platforms for information in order to initiate a better user experience for people searching for content.
And even though Google never directly tells us anything, with the May 2020 core update it hinted that it will start crawling social media platforms, and may start passing some percentage of the nofollow link juice from there towards improving the search engine rankings of your blogs.
Takeaway 4: Link to external sources
The fourth takeaway that we were able to decipher from the Google algorithm update was that while furnishing content for either your blog or your webpage, use references and external links.
The ideology behind this takeaway is that Google wants to crawl more and more web pages in order to build its database. And finding as many external links as possible in a single location helps reduce the work that the Googlebot would have to do when it comes to crawling.
While historically the ratio was 2-3 external links for 1,000-2,000 words, we recommend that using 4-5 external links for every 2,000 words would be most optimum for your business.
What does this mean for your business
While the nature of the Google algorithm update can lead to different people decoding it in different ways, it’s safe to say that the key takeaways we’ve outlined above cover the gist of it.
To start off, when it comes to creating content either in a blog or a webpage, it’s advisable to write informative and long-form content that answers as many questions as possible.
The key here is to help Google improve the user experience by providing readers with answers to every question that they might have in their minds, without having to leave the blog.
Secondly, while furnishing that piece of content, businesses must always ensure that they stay above the fold and cut to the chase while providing the information that people are looking for.
Beating around the bush and answering questions at the end of the post might not go down well with Google and it could hurt your organic ranking as it did with Motley Fool’s credit card blog.
Thirdly, since Google would now be crawling all the social media platforms and giving at least some weightage to the nofollow links, the time is now to double down on your social postings.
Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, increase your visibility on every channel as we’ll be soon witnessing a trend of social media posts boosting your blog’s search engine rankings.
And lastly, when you’re creating content, make sure that you link to external sources and use plenty of references from outside. This helps Google build its database by crawling more links.
How can Vendasta help you
We know that producing content in the form of blogs or webpages for your business can be a challenging task, especially if you're a one-person army managing a digital marketing agency.
Furthermore, we also know that it can be quite a challenge to find good quality writers in the market today that can help your business deliver valuable information to your customers.
However, we have the solution for you.
While you can easily take the content insights from our blog and tame the Google monster, you can also utilize Vendasta’s fully white-labeled marketing services and scale your business.
Here at Vendasta, our in-house content strategists not only are competent when it comes to understanding the local market and its trends, but are also highly skilled in creating blogs, webpages, and email marketing campaigns that consist of high grade industry-focused content.
So, forget all hassles about overhead costs, hiring, and training, and get started today!