No Stopping Google Updates. No Pause for Search Algorithms in a Pandemic.

Date posted: 13 May 2020

Posted by: Sarah Coften

Post category: Insights

On 4 May 2020 Google announced they were releasing a broad core algorithm update, as they do several times a year. The ‘May 2020 Core Update’ as it was snappily named, was rolled out and is affecting our Google search rankings as we speak.

They estimate at least two weeks for the update to complete and any impact on search rankings to be more apparent.  

Google’s core algorithm updates are designed to make search engines more useful and usable for their end users. They are not designed to be punitive but to reward sites that have better content and usability and rank them higher in search engines as a result. Google’s mission is to deliver relevant and authoritative content to searchers. To do this it has to rank pages, which are discoverable in search in accordance with content changes across the web.

Core updates such as these happen several times a year and will continue to happen whether there is a pandemic or its business as usual. Google doesn’t always give advance notice of core updates or other updates, but when it does a good place to look for information is the Google Webmasters Blog, where you can often also find further information and actionable advice.

In summary if you are impacted by a core update and you see your rankings dip, this is due to a lack of investment of time and resources on your onsite content. Developing content that serves the user of your site so that they can better understand what you do or help them use and access your site in a less convoluted way will give you the advantage over your competitors and result in a higher share of voice (SOV) in search engines.

This is one of several updates Google has rolled out during the Coronavirus pandemic, as it has during previous pandemics. This shows simply that in order to remain at the top of rankings SEO needs to remain a key part of any marketing mix.

google search updates during a pandemic

SEMrush have started to analyse the impact of Google’s May 2020 Core Update and we can already see  obvious effects of increase in news consumption in the pandemic with News sites gaining the most and sites such as Legacy.com (an obituary site) gained 13+ positions on average which has led to greater SOV in search engine results pages (SERPS). The sectors worst hit by this update is the leisure and entertainment sector as users have turned away from their sites, as they stay home and no longer search for entertainment listings. These sectors will benefit immensely in investment in SEO as we return to ‘normal life’.

With the current economic uncertainty, companies are looking for tools which offer more efficiency whilst delivering results. SEO does exactly that, with its ability to help grow market share and deliver sales/leads over time this should be a core channel for any business.

In the current climate, investing in organic search makes more sense than ever before. As part of a marketing mix SEO gives the ability to be agile and take a SOV in the market that can position as well for terms around social distancing and other measures that businesses will need be known for in order to see customers return to their bricks and mortar businesses over time.  

There is now an opportunity to get ahead as there are less companies investing in marketing and search. There are less people looking to improve or maintain their organic search rankings, and so their share of voice will decay overtime (fairly quickly).

For companies willing to invest a little time and resources, this is a good chance to push on SEO and increase their share of voice within organic rankings and SERPs, and overtime increase their share of market too.

 Here are some ways SEO can help your company today:

  • Staying ahead of your competitors in organic search rankings
  • Implement technical SEO strategies planned for the future / refresh content
  • Prevent SEO issues mounting up on your site, costing more in the future
  • Prepare your website for the future (post-lockdown launch)

SEO contributes to both short term and long term business goals. If you would like us to review your position among your competitors in paid or organic search get in touch today: Sarahc@smithfieldagency.co.uk

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