It all started on May 4, 2020, and according to Google, its new Core Update completed about two weeks later. Shortly thereafter businesses began raising concerns over this so-called “pandemic update” and how it impacted their customers’ ability to find them online. Indeed, the update has impacted a number of industries and many businesses are racing to figure out ways to rehabilitate their Google rankings.

What Is a Google Core Update?

A Google core update happens when Google makes significant changes to its search engine algorithms. One of Google’s goals is to ensure that users of its search engine are directed to the content for which they are searching. Google regularly updates its algorithm to Its aim to improve the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the content being served to users on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Its goal is to match what the user wants to find and the content that the search engine displays. Despite attempts in the public to link the May 2020 update with the COVID-19 pandemic, Google contends that the update is not specifically connected to the virus.

What This Particular Core Update Might Mean for Your Business

While the details of the update are not clear, search experts like SEMrush and Moz identified a high degree of volatility in SERP rankings after the update. According to SEMrush Sensor, industries significantly impacted by May’s 2020 Core Update include:

  • Travel
  • Real estate
  • Health
  • Pets
  • Animals
  • People
  • Society

 
If you’re in one of these industries and have been noticing a decline in leads since May 4, you may have been impacted by the update.

How To Know If You Were Impacted by the Core Update

Of course, to know if you were impacted by the Google Update, you need to be checking your website’s performance. You should regularly check your website’s performance using tools such as Google Analytics. When you do so, make sure you can answer the following questions:

  • Have the total number of users to your site decreased?
  • Looking closer, what pages are doing well and which are doing poorly?
  • If there has been a decline in users, is the decline across the board or from a particular source, like organic search?
  • What are the SERP rankings for the keywords that drive most converting users to my site and how have the number of impressions and clicks for these keywords changed over time?

 
Only by analyzing this information can you determine if your website’s performance in organic search has declined in May, the pages that have been impacted, and the extent of the impact.

Assessing—and Repairing—the Damage

While Google hasn’t provided specifics on how its altered its search algorithm, Google has laid out general guidelines to optimize your site for search. Now is the time to identify known deficiencies in your site and correct them.

If you haven’t done so recently, perform a content audit. The ultimate goal of the audit is to ensure that you your pages provide content relevant to your clients and prospective clients. Discard or update outdated information.

Focus on web pages that are not ranking well. For example, product and service pages should be reviewed to make sure they are up-to-date and descriptions are relevant. Given the radical disruption to the economy in the past few months, it is almost certain that your content needs to reflect new realities dictated by the COVID-19 epidemic. As another example, a blog post that is not ranking highly for desired search terms may need to be updated with new examples, tips, or details.

The bottom line is that when Google makes updates that can impact your website performance, you need to be proactive in figuring out the extent of the impact. If you need somebody with more expertise in websites to conduct this analysis and make needed improvements to your website, get the help you need now. The businesses most likely to be impacted most negatively by the Google update are those that don’t even know they’ve been impacted and therefore don’t take any steps to improve their site.