Google’s May 2022 Core Update – What You Need To Know

It’s been two weeks since Google rolled out their first major core update of the year. As ever, the SEO industry response has been…emotional. However, there’s been some real changes this time, with some big winners and losers.

Industries experiencing volatility include arts & entertainment, games, home & garden, internet & telecom, jobs & education, law & government, online communities, shopping, and sports. The biggest changes seem to have been felt by news sites.

It usually takes two weeks for things to stabilise after an update– here’s what we’ve learned, both from our own client accounts and reports from others in the SEO industry (for this blog, we’ve used international data provided by SEO expert Malte Landwehr from this fascinating Twitter thread)

Video content is winning

Time after time, Google (and internet users) reward video content creators with additional incentives and consistently higher rankings, reflecting the way people choose to consume information now.

The May 2022 Core Update has provided the clearest signal yet that video content is the future. Using Sistrix’s Visibility Index (a ranking system that aggregates search result positions across a representative keyword set) we can see that video websites have significantly improved their visibility following this update – YouTube are up 23%, and TikTok have gained an amazing 99%.

Specialist websites make gains

It’s been a victory for the experts, as specific-interest websites providing detailed info on one topic have seen visibility index gains of up to 5%. Conversely, news organisations and publishers, who traditionally coast along on the strength of their website authority, have lost an average of 4% in visibility (when assessed on specific topic keyword sets, in comparison to a specialist website).

This has yielded benefits for smaller websites across all industries, as Google continues to improve results for those following their E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness) formula for SEO.

Greater focus on search intent

 The update brought a lot of changes for reference sites such as Wikipedia, with online dictionaries, lyric sites and stock photo repositories also experiencing a great deal of volatility.

By measuring the performance of individual reference pages against specific search terms, it was clear to see that Google had updated the algorithm to provide a better match for search intent. Consequently, informational searches now prioritise more in-depth analysis over dictionary definition, when the search query indicates a need for deeper exploration or context.

SERP Features are on the move again

It looks like there’s been some reductions in the number of paid ads dominating the SERPs, and Featured Snippets have also been scaled back. However, there’s been an increase in Maps and Images integrations, leading you off to other Google products (both of which have just seen an increase in the number of ads featured…funny, that).

So with changes like these;

  • Increased visibility for video
  • Increased visibility for specialist content
  • Better matches for search intent
  • More emphasis on additional assets like your Google Business Profile,

…it’s probably a good idea to find a digital marketing partner with the skills (and onsite video production studio) to keep your website optimised, no matter what Google sends down the pipeline.

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