Core update (May 4th): The industries and players affected so far

On May 4th, Google confirmed that it had begun rolling out its newest core update, the ‘May 2020 Core Update’. The last core update in January was not particularly upsetting, but a lot has changed since then, and the SEO community is keeping a close eye on performance and movement!


Core update - May core update 2020

Since January, the global pandemic has caused a seismic shift in search behaviour. We are searching less for travel and events than ever before, and researching more about Covid-19 than any other search topic in history.

It will be very interesting to see how this update plays out, and how Google plays catchup with the sudden developments of 2020.

If this update does turn out to be a significant one, demand for SEO will only grow. It’s therefore critical to keep an eye on its changes and effects.

So far, I’m not seeing a distinct pattern, but this could all change over the coming days. I will be updating this blog over the next week so keep checking back!

Here’s what I’ve seen so far…

How each industry was affected by the core update…

  • Core Update - Google May Core Update - Fashion landscape


Core update movement seen in the finance industry

Significant drops across the board in US Finance overnight

Core update: US Finance industry sees drops

This is the Pi Datametrics Comparative Visibility Index, showing the trended performance of a range of competitors for 1k+ extremely valuable US ‘Credit card’ terms. As you can see in the table accompanying / below the chart, movement is negative across the majority of players, and drops happened seemingly overnight – since the May 4th update.

Credit Karma sees drastic performance drops | April 2020 – May 2020

Core update: Credit Karma suffers significant drops for competitive searches in Finance

Credit Karma has also seen drastic dips in performance since the update; dropping from comfortable page 1 & 2 positions, to pages 9 & 10 for a handful of competitive searches that accrue between 20 – 2,900 searches a month.

Credit Karma is just about to be bought for $7 Billion. Will this purchase be affected, if that online visibility isn’t re-claimed?

Money Saving Expert experiences subtle performance drops | April 2020 – May 2020

Core update: Here's Moneysavingexpert dropping in performance

While not as drastic, Money Saving Expert has also seen a drop in performance across the board.

This looks like an update across the board of Finance to me. It doesn’t appear to be Covid-19 search related, and rather is just part of a pre-planned update to improve the quality of the SERP.

HSBC negatively impacted

The below chart shows HSBC’s online performance for 1000 finance search terms, categorised into ‘Mortgages’, ‘Current Accounts’ and ‘Banking’.

HSBC performance | February 2020 – May 2020

May 4th Core Update - Banking sector affected

HSBC has dropped for all three of these categories in the last day – will it continue to decline in the coming days?

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TSB sees positive uplift across all categories

Contrasting with HSBC’s performance, TSB has actually seen uplift across the same three banking search term categories.

TSB performance | February 2020 – May 2020

May 4th Core Update - TSB experiences SEO uplift

May 4th Core Update - TSB experiences SEO uplift

Natwest sees a slight decline in performance

This next one is interesting; Natwest is seeing a slight decline, and this follows a sharp drop and bounce on 28 April. performance | February 2020 – May 2020

May 4th Core Update - Natwest is seeing a slight decline

Core update movement in the investment industry

Kuber Ventures has seen some positive movement since the Google core update, across investment terms. performance | April 2020 – May 2020

Core update - Google May Core Update - Investment sector

With algorithm updates, all search term groups are generally impacted at exactly the same time. Therefore, the isolated flux for the ‘EIS’ search term group above is not algorithmic.

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Amazon sees uplift in fashion, but loses ‘Image’ presence

Retail behemoth, Amazon, is seeing a slight uplift across a number of sectors since the core update began rolling out: performance | February 2020 – May 2020

May Core Update: performance | February 2020 - May 2020

Interestingly, as Amazon’s presence improves here, across its ‘Classic links’ visibility, its performance for ‘Image’ features actually declines. SERP landscape performance | April 2020 – May 2020

May core update: SERP landscape performance | April 2020 - May 2020

There’s a tendency to panic whenever a core update is announced, as if the goal posts have been transported to the moon! But the main principle will always remain; Google is only ever improving its user experience. And as the wants of the searcher haven’t changed, neither has the goal of the website.

Focusing on creating and serving the very best content to your audience, bringing true value and engagement is the aim of the game.

As Google gets smarter, keeping an eye on your performance in the time after a core update is a great way to gauge whether your site is achieving the above criteria, or if something can be optimised.

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