IndustryThe perfect SEO recipe to survive COVID-19 and the May core update

The perfect SEO recipe to survive COVID-19 and the May core update

Award-winning digital agency, MintTwist's SEO Manager shares a bunch of tips to survive and thrive in light of the new Google update. Bon apetit.

30-second summary:

  • The latest broad core algorithm update, called the May core update, is making headlines in the SEO world. 
  • It was launched early May, but all leading digital marketers and webmaster community agree that it’s one of the biggest Google algorithm updates.
  • Award-winning digital agency, MintTwist’s SEO Manager shares a bunch of tips to survive and thrive in light of the new Google update.

The latest broad core algorithm update, called the May core update, is making headlines in the SEO world. It’s the second update of 2020, but the last one didn’t cause as big of an impact as this one.  

It was launched early May, but all leading digital marketers and webmaster community agree that it’s one of the biggest Google algorithm updates.

Research of SEMrush connects this update to change in search intent after the pandemic. Queries that were once intended for just information may now be looking for a service or product on search engines.  

That’s why industries like Travel and Real Estate that were already suffering due to lockdown and restrictions were most affected by the May core update.  

On the other hand, News, Sports, and Entertainment sites saw an increase in their traffic after the release of this update. Their online channels were already booming as people have more spare time during the lockdown and May core update gave it a boost. 

Other leaders of the digital marketing world also shared their insights on this new update that wasn’t contrary to those of SEMrush and brought new information to light. His tests show that sites with the following issues faced up to 10% decrease in their traffic.

  • That don’t update old content 
  • Have thin content 
  • Have SEO errors like duplicate meta tags 

Likewise, the websites that were wary of these issues experienced growth in their traffic 

Google faced criticism from a lot of webmasters for rolling out an update during COVID-19 outbreakWhile digital marketers are offering their resources worth thousands of dollars free of cost, it released such an update to make these difficult times more difficult 

Hundreds of Webmasters shared their experience with May core update on WebmasterWorld explaining why they might have suffered or survived.  

While many messages show a negative response complaining about how their rankings have been destroyedsome reported a growth in their website traffic 

An update this big takes time to fully roll out. That’s why some websites experienced a temporary fall but got back on their position after a while.  

This reminds us that Google updates are not for penalties. They are just to ensure that all webmasters follow their exact guidelines. Only websites that fail to follow guidelines suffer consequences.  

On the other hand, websites that have built a strong and clean SEO foundation always benefit from these updates.

It means you can withstand these updates and, in fact, benefit from them. Now let’s get on to the SEO recipe to not just survive but use May core update to your advantage.  

Follow EAT guidelines

The only goal of search engine updates is to provide the best results when users search a query. Google has published comprehensive webmaster guidelines to show what it expects from a website. In order to ensure that all those guidelines are met and the user gets exactly what he expects, it keeps improving the search algorithm.  

It has released several major updates over the past decade, but was there a specific reason behind May core update? Many asked and that’s how John MuellerSenior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Googleresponded.  

Like always, they didn’t reveal how the update works and only shared some vague hints, and that was all we needed.  

Mueller said everything we need to know is in the first official tweet about the May core update, which linked to its blog about Google’s core updates. 

That blog post highlights two things: 

  • Focus on content 
  • Get to know the quality rater guidelines and E-A-T 

Some of the most important Google algorithm updates like the Panda update in 2011, Pirate update in 2012, and Fred update in 2017 are more than enough to scrutinize the quality of content.  

Next, Google wants us to focus on EATExpertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. 

  • Does your content show expertise in your niche? You will simply feed rewritten content to the visitors without any value if you are not an expert of your niche.
  • Do you have an authoritative name? Reputation is a major ranking factor in SEO. People follow brands, and so does Google.
  • Do users and Google trust you? Trusted sites easily rank – Wikipedia and Forbes are the best examples. You will always find them in top ranks even if the page has thin content.

Refresh old content

It is believed that sites with outdated content saw up to 10% decrease in their traffic after the release of the May core updateSome researches showed that sites, where old content was regularly updated, saw an increase in their traffic.

It was never a secret that Google prefers fresh content in its search engine results pages. Brian Dean listed the content freshness and magnitude of updates in his 210 Google ranking factors 

Content losses its relevance as it gets olds. Users want the latest and accurate information that is not possible with outdated pages.  

  • They are unlikely to rank and they affect the ranking of your overall site.  
  • If a page is ranked on SERP, it may lose its position if it’s not up to date.  

That’s why it’s suggested to either update or remove outdated pagesYou can ensure that almost every single one of your articles maintains top positions in SERPs for years by regularly updating content with fresh information, research, and surveys while removing unnecessary and outdated parts.  

Build highquality links

Many webmasters that suffered from May core update had lowquality backlinks. Low-quality links don’t necessarily mean comment spam or cheap directories.  

Among many other characteristics of a bad linkit includes links from sites that are irrelevant, have low authority, or the content around link is not good enough.  

Use of an irrelevant site, low authoritative site, or low-quality content as source are some of many characteristics that make a bad link. 

You should try to get backlinks from ranked articles, preferably posted by niche relevant sites. One high-quality link is considered better than a hundred low-quality backlinks.  

Furthermore, ensure that no penalised or bad site is linking to you even if you didn’t ask for it.  

Private Blog Network (PBN) is also no longer a good strategy. You can randomize footprints all you want, but Google algorithm is smart enough to identify them, and it doesn’t go unpunished.  

Publish long-form, unique content regularly 

Google asks for in-depth content and covers every aspect of the topic. You don’t always have to write a twothousandword page although it is more likely to rank.  

What you need to avoid is thin contentAutomatically generated, spun, duplicated or scraped content is classified as thin – in short, it has no value to offer to the user.  

Websites with thin content also saw a decrease in their traffic and ranks as the May core update rolled out. 

Some people use them as doorway pages, but they should never be left as they are on a site, either remove or update the pageEven John Mueller discussed this issue in one of his hangout videos and suggested to deindex thin content.


You should update any page that has short content or doesn’t have a keyword focus; it will give you an edge even after this new update.

Hopefully, these pointers will help you steer clear of the difficulties that the update could bring. Share your queries in the comments section. Bon appetite!

Sergio Arboledas SEO Manager at MintTwist. He can be found on Twitter @sergi_seo.


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