Google May Algorithm Update

Google’s May 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google recently rolled out a new core update, on 4 May (known to most of us resident geeks as Star Wars day “May the fourth be with you”). This core update was the second of 2020, with the first core update in January.

This particular update was significant, because ranking changes occurred at a level not seen since 2018. The update was big and broad, with the amount of impact this update had in search coming in just below the August 2018 “Medic” update.

Google’s exact words were:

“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 for more about that:

By now, we should have felt the full effects of the core update.

The Impact

To give you an idea of how big the update is, just look at the image above. It’s from SEMrush Sensor, which monitors the movement of results on Google.

The chart tracks Google on a daily basis and when it shows green or blue for the day, it means there isn’t much movement going on. But when things turn red, it means there is volatility in the rankings.

How should you react?

Google provides advice and guidance about reacting to any negative impact felt by core updates. There aren’t a tick-box set of things you can do, or hoops to jump through, to get some immediate improvement. It might not even be the case that there is anything particularly wrong with your website, or web pages.

We've written a detailed blog on how you should react, if you've got 10 minutes, we'd recommend giving it a read.

Winners and losers

A common question we sometimes get, is why did it affect me and why not them? Or why have we benefited so much and not this other website? Winners and losers. Our advice is that this analysis sometimes leads down a path that is not a good use of time. Whenever we compare two fixed points in time, we’re ignoring the natural volatility of search rankings, and the inherent differences between keywords. A better approach might incorporate more data, over longer periods.

Measuring website performance is made more problematic, compounded by both coronavirus and the algorithm update.

No single metric can ever tell the whole story. Too much information is missing in this scenario. A clear before/after difference doesn’t tell us what actually happened, only that there was a change correlated with the timing of Google’s May 2020 Core Update. That’s useful information, but it still begs further investigation before jumping to sweeping conclusions.

Do’s and Don’ts


1. Get a multi-day view over a significant amount of time.

2. Understand the historical trends and context of any wins.

3. Bear in mind coronavirus is affecting many industries across the UK, and globally so some volatility should come as no surprise.

4. Evaluate the content on your website, ensuring it’s authoritative, helpful to users, formatted in a way most beneficial to search engines and users, and to make sure SEO mistakes are fixed and avoided.

5. Backlinks are less important, when compared to quality content.


1. Over interpret short-term losses and fix the wrong things.

2. Overstate short-term wins and having the expectation that those gains are permanent.

3. Use one metric to paint the whole picture.

If you believe your website is in need of improvements but don’t know where to start, contact our professionals. At BarkWeb, we know a thing or two about increasing website performance, so much so that we created our very own uber-speedy CMS, Jolojo, designed to please the Google algorithm gods. 

Believe your website is in need of improvement?

To find out more about how our professionally managed SEO services can generate you enquiries, call our experts on 01323 735800, or email Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form and our experts will get back to you.

Get in touch