Google’s May 2020 core algorithm update majorly affects the SERPs

In this video

  • The SEO team at LinkedIn removed most of the domain from search by using the URL removal tool in search console to get rid of the HTTP version.

  • Google revealed the fastest growing Ecommerce categories are household items and puzzles as more people are stuck at home. Google have also started surfacing recommendations for your previous searches.

  • Google’s May 2020 core update majorly affects the SERPs in particular, Real Estate, Travel, Finance and Health.

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- Now an SEO's worst nightmare is seeing your traffic fall off a cliff. But when you work at big brands, that rarely happens, right? All you guys do is win. ♪ All I do is win win win ♪

- That is, unless you accidentally de-index your entire site, which is exactly what LinkedIn done last week. And there was me thinking it was the massive algorithm update that done it. We'll get into that too. So welcome to the "Canonical Chronicle", the meme-infused SEO news. This week we're going to be covering: A 60-second TLDR of everything that happened in search; LinkedIn de-indexing themselves; Google revealing the fastest growing product categories in the "new normal";

- Hold on, what the did you just say?

- We'll also talk about Google's new recent activity recommendations that are showing up in the SERPs; as well as the headline news, that's right, that big ass algorithm update that's got us all running to the hills.

- Run Forest, run! Stay tuned for all of that, plus our analysis on what's actually happened with the algorithm update and how to actually protect yourself. So, without further ado, let's get into it. Okay so first up, for all the internet babies out there with attention spans like a goldfish, here's what happened in search in 60 seconds. So the SEO team at LinkedIn removed most of their domain from search by using the URL removal tool and search consult to get rid of the HTTP version. John Miller chimed in, and he was like,

- Why you so stupid, stupid?

- Google also revealed the fastest growing eCommerce categories and, surprise surprise, it's household items and puzzles. Because we're all stuck in the fucking house.

- Well duh!

- Now if we zoom into the data in the United States, the biggest spikes have been sneeze guards and above ground swimming pools. Wow! Good ol' America, white trash til the end. Um, this avocado just gave me a wedding ring.

- Google has also started surfacing recommendations from your previous searches. I'm not sure I want my previous searches being surfaced. So Ross searched for, how to get more views. Google says, "We suggest asking your mother "why she didn't hug you enough." Or "why you seek the approval of strangers."

- You choo-choo-choose me?

- And lastly there was the mega-algorithm update that has completely fucked the SERPs. Particularly real estate, travel, finance, and health. And as usual, we were all like,

- No, no, no, no, no, no, no, nooooooo!

- Anyway, let's pull our heads out of our asses and actually dive into this update and assess what's actually going on. Firstly, Search Engine Land have got a great summary on the update. All the major tool providers have actually chipped in and given all their data points. The link for that is down below. The consensus appears to be some sort of click through rate and user engagement related thing. And they're saying, think of it more as fine-tuning rather than a big update. Now in particular travel, real estate, pets, animals, and health all saw the biggest movements with SEMRush sensor. And actually, it's been the highest it's been all year. But if we take a step back for a second and think of the industries hit by this update, they're all related to COVID because of a change in search behaviour. Health niche: We've seen a lot more informational terms and new health queries. Things like, best mixer for disinfectant and Dettol-based cocktail ideas.

- Then I see the disinfectant knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that. By injection inside or--

- Now health is obviously at a huge swing because of the search intent actually changing so it makes sense that their SERPs are now different. Kind of the same with real estate. If we're all going to work from home now, like, forever! Why would you choose to live in a city? Paying 1,000£ a month for a flat-share where your room would make Harry Potter wince.

- Here he comes!

- So more people are researching where to live which means big changes in the real estate SERPs. Not to mention, sadly, the amount of divorces that are probably happening due to lockdown. And then we've got the pets and the people niche. Now, at first I thought, "Aww, that's really nice. "Like, these are people looking to get dogs "and family pets and things." But when you take a look behind the keywords in this niche it's all bible passages and church names. Which tends to suggest people are looking for directions for a church. Not to go worship, but to actually go to funerals. So what does this all mean for the update? Well, it means that it's not really an algorithm update as we kind of know it. It's the machine learning part updating the algorithm to keep the SERP like a living, breathing, changing thing. Now we always hear that Google used machine learning, but the belief was it was kind of always on, very much like the penguin algorithm. However, it appears to learn, quote-unquote learn, for three months at a time and then release the core update. At the same time, Google actually has human search quality raters feeding this machine. So it learns what a good search result is based on user behavior and the SERPs, as well as a little bit of manual rating from people but at a huge scale. It then pushes these updates every three months to update the way the results look. And the reason why this core update feels so large is because search behavior really has changed so much. There's a really intelligent Twitter thread between my friends Arnout and Dawn I've linked in the description. I highly recommend you have a look if you're interested. Now interestingly, there seems to be a recalibration period two weeks after the core update tends to happen. So of the sites that we have control over as an agency that were negatively effected, they all seem to be recovering or massively doing a Google dance. The interesting thing is, URLs that lost traffic were informational blog posts. If you look at the SERP for those keywords, the URLs that are now ranking above us are actually from blog posts from like three years ago. And the SERPs with terms that are more commercially intent its more like news and directory listings we're seeing. So the physical SERP layout has actually changed. Which actually backs up this machine learning theory of the SERPs changing because of the user behaviour. So if you want to diagnose what's actually happened on your site, Aledya Solis has produced this epic data studio template. You can get it at The link is in the description below. And here's an example of what the report actually looks like. Now, to get this week's "Canonical Chronicle" as a slide deck, you can subscribe to our email at But, until next time, we will see you later.