Everything You Need to Know About Google's May 2020 Core Ranking Algorithm Update

Google began rolling out an update to its core ranking algorithm at the beginning of May, and by all metrics, it looks like a big one. Major updates like this often take several weeks to go fully into effect and can take even longer than that to make themselves truly felt. As the dust is now beginning to settle, we’re here to walk you through what’s changed, who’s affected, and what (if anything) you need to do about it.

The Details of Google’s May 2020 Core Algorithm Update

What’s become clear so far about this update to Google’s core algorithm is that it seems to reinforce what they've been saying they want for quite some time: robust, relevant, and quality content, and a focus on local searches.

Thin Content Took a Beating

Thin content in particular seems to have been significantly de-emphasized in this latest update. This should be no surprise; Google’s been touting the importance of quality content since the Panda update of 2011!

This fact is doubly important for topics that are complex or require the insight of an expert, like legal and medical content. Searchers who are looking for this type of information are seeking detailed, nuanced answers to their questions, and websites that have been merely providing lip-service to topics that warrant an in-depth examination may have seen their visibility plummet over the past month.

Not sure how to turn thin content into something that ranks? How Law Firms and Medical Practices Can Write Exceptional Web Content

Need quick tips on how to craft long-form articles? The Importance of Longer, More Informative Articles

Worried your detailed explanation may go over your reader’s head? How to Effectively Incorporate Jargon and Technical Language into Your Website

Local Search Continues to Drive Google’s Focus

In addition to thin content, Google’s latest algorithm update is doubling down on the importance of local search. Local and “Map Pack” rankings have been shaken up considerably across multiple industries as the search giant continues to find the best way to match searcher intent to the most relevant results.

For any business that deals with the local public, especially professional services such as medical practices and law firms, the importance of local search is hard to understate. Without visibility in local search results, new business is being lost, period.

Whether your local search presence has been affected by this recent change or not, it’s vital that you continue to focus on the two key pillars of local search visibility: review generation and local citation optimization.

Are your citations sending Google mixed messages? Consistency Is the Key to Local Search Visibility

Thinking about short-cutting your way to the top? Think again. The Importance of Generating Reviews Naturally

Looking to stand out from the crowded Map Pack? Incorporate Calls To Action into Your GMB Profile

Have Particular Industries Been Affected by This Update?

While this algorithm update has not targeted any industry specifically (though they’ve been known to do so), the particular focus on local search and content quality—particularly for complex professional industries—means that the legal and medical industries are positioned to potentially be affected significantly.

Any professional site that has been neglecting the need for robust and relevant content, or has been skating by on under-optimized local profiles and reviews may have seen their site visibility and traffic drop as a result of this latest change.

We’re pleased to report that amongst FWM clients and DSS users, the overall effect of this update seems to be positive. Organic traffic and organic conversions on DSS websites are up 15% since the beginning of this rollout.

DSS User traffic trend pre- and post- May 2020 Google algorithm update.

DSS User organic traffic an conversions pre- and post- May 2020 Google algorithm update.

How to Tell If Your Site Has Been Affected

Not sure how you’ve fared? Fortunately, there are a few key tells. Look at these metrics for indicators of your site’s recent performance since the algorithm rollout began on May 4.

A Drop in Leads

A significant drop in leads coming in through your website is one sign that something may have changed. While the global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted consumer behavior patterns over the past several months, your detailed lead tracking system should be able to tell you if a more recent change is significantly below your expected averages.

Utilize Google Analytics to investigate your leads and conversions from organic sources in particular. If you see a precipitous drop, you may have lost visibility from this update.

Not Tracking Your Leads? How to Classify Leads in DSS

A Drop in Organic Traffic

While you’re in Google Analytics, take a look at your site’s organic traffic from May 4, 2020 to now. Compare that traffic to the time period immediately prior, and also compare it to the same time period last year and the year before.

If you see a significant difference or notice a negative trend, that could be another indicator that your site was negatively affected.

What to Do If You’ve Been Affected

If your site has lost visibility as a result of these algorithm changes, then it’s in your best interest to act quickly to help rectify the problems. You may have an issue with your site content, your local search visibility, or both. Take a look at each to determine whether you have weaknesses that need addressed and take the necessary steps to correct them.

Audit Your Website for Thin Content

We advocate auditing your site content regularly for several reasons, but this type of deep-dive into your site can help you identify thin pages that may be harmful to your organic visibility. Check out our comprehensive guide to performing a website content audit to learn exactly what you need to do.

How Attorney Steve Richardson Reversed a Negative Traffic/Lead Trend With a Content Audit

Focus on Local SEO

As we’ve mentioned, visibility in Google’s local Map Pack hinges on two key components: the quality and quantity of your reviews (on Google and elsewhere), and the accuracy and consistency of your local citations.

If you have bad reviews (or even simply not enough!), or if you’re confusing Google with errors in your firm’s name, address, and other citation information, you will have a difficult time securing the local presence you need to generate new business.

How to Run Review Generation Campaigns through the DSS Reputation Management Tool

How the DSS Listing Sync Pro Tool Can Help With Citation Optimization

Our Marketing Automation Software and SEO Experts Can Help With Recovery

If your leads and traffic have nose-dived in this latest update, recovery is possible. DSS’s robust suite of marketing automation tools is designed specifically with legal and medical practices in mind. It can help you easily and efficiently make changes to your site content, manage your reviews and local citations, build and run email marketing campaigns, monitor traffic and keyword rankings, and more.

If you’re not sure where to begin or want an experienced professional to help guide you through the recovery process, our digital marketing experts are standing by and ready to help.

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