The Google May update hit hard and fast. While some people benefitted, a lot of sites were completely obliterated.
In this post, we’ll be going over what happened in the update, who was impacted and how to recover if you were negatively affected.
From May 25 to June 9 Google rolled out a core update to help give the search engine giant a better user experience. It’s the type of update we haven’t seen in years, and many people were negatively impacted by it.
What was different about this one? Google typically tells you what’s changing in their updates. They tell you what improvements you need to make in order to avoid being negatively impacted and benefitting from the update. But with this update, Google gave absolutely no clue to what was being changed.
They just said they were rolling out another update. That’s it.
Here’s what Google said on the Google Search Central:
As you can see, Google has rolled out its monstrous update and did not inform us on what to do.
Who was impacted?
There were no specific targets, Google did not go after a particular type of website which had a specific type of problem. For example, in the core web vitals update, Google was targeting websites with slow loading speeds. In the product review update, Google targeted sites with low quality reviews as well as listing out what’s specifically qualified as ‘low quality’.
Luckily, we were not massively impacted by this update. We had a handful of clients which had a maximum of 15% traffic lost but nothing major.
But one of our personal niche test sites was impacted, it suddenly lost 84% of its traffic.
As you can see, this site fell off a cliff and is barely clinging to life. It went from 250 clicks a day to 40.
The site went from experiencing explosive growth to falling off a mountain. After comparing this site to our sites that didn’t get hit, here are our key takeaways…
Key takeaways from the update & how to recover
Update content (use GS)
First thing’s first, make sure the content is on point. You can use Google Search Console to see where your average position for queries was before and after. Look that term up in Google and see which sites are ranking above you. Is their content better? If so, how can you improve yours?
One of the things we found was that the content outranking ours was not better than ours when we searched the target keyword. The first page was spitting out the same kind of content. So the only way for Google to decide which site to rank was the backlink metric. We’ll talk about backlinks later.
Unfortunately, much of the content found on Google is commodity content. No one is separating themselves from the crowd. We created an article, threw up some generic images, did the on page SEO, maybe some internal linking and called it a day.
Separate yourself from the crowd. One way you can do so is by taking your own images…
Add images you’ve taken yourself
Many of the web’s images come from the same place and Google knows that your site is using these images. It screams generic content. Go the extra mile and take images yourself, it makes your website look authentic.
Hardly anyone on the web is taking their own images. Better yet, upload videos to stand out further.
Make subheadings unique
Having subheadings which are the same or very similar to other pages is something we’re guilty of along with much of the web. And we’re willing to bet you’re guilty of this too.
By implementing these simple yet effective items, you’ll have a better chance of recovering.
Most of our sites have a decent backlink profile and these sites were not impacted. The site that took a negative backlink did not have any quality backlinks. We did not do any link building whatsoever.
Many websites which have exclusively decided to create content and not backlinks have been impacted. Backlinks will help create a moat around your website’s rankings.
The first thing, build social profiles. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. If you’re a local business, make sure you’re getting links from directories such as Yellow Pages.
The best type of link you want to build is guest post links. These are the backlinks which will build your authority and move your website forward.
Work on EAT (Add contact us page, about us page, persona, look and feel of the site)
EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust. It’s a metric Google uses to filter out unqualified websites. For example, if you’re having a stroke and you search for a query related to strokes, you don’t want to be taken to Bob’s blog who tells you to smell peppermint oil. You want to be taken to a qualified health expert that’s going to tell you to call an ambulance.
A few ways to build EAT is to have a contact us page, an about page, a persona to your site and a great user experience. Make sure your website loads quickly, the core web vital metrics are good, the content is laid out well, easy to navigate, etc.
If your site has been negatively impacted by the update, it doesn’t always mean you’ve done something wrong. You should implement the above to give your website the best chance of recovering.
That’s all you can do. We have control and don’t have control at the same time over Google rankings. It’s part of being an SEO.