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Google May 2022 Core Update Is Live

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Google May 2022 Broad Core Update


Google Search has begun to roll out the first broad core update of the year, the May 2022 broad core update. It started on May 25, 2022 at about 11:30am ET and will now roll out for the next couple of weeks.

So far, we are seeing many signs that this May 2022 core update started off strong. Over night, a lot of the tracking tools (not all just yet) picked up big volatility with the Google search results. Also, the chatter starting early this morning is really picking up. The chatter changed from comments like – “oh no, there was a Google core update announced” to “oh no, my site dropped in rankings in a big way.” I embedded and quoted a lot of that early chatter below, along with what the tools are showing. I may update some of the tools as they update later on this morning.

Google May 2022 Broad Core Update Quick Facts

Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

  • Name: Google May 2022 Broad Core Update
  • Launched: May 25, 2022 at around 11:30pm ET
  • Rollout: It will take about one to two weeks to roll out
  • Targets: It looks at all types of content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards great web pages
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions, in all languages.
  • Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update.
  • Discover: Core updates impact Google Discover and other features, also feature snippets and more.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google’s advice below.
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to this algorithm but may not communicate those updates in the future. Maybe this is what we saw the past couple of weeks or all those unconfirmed Google updates.

Danny Sullivan from Google (who is on vacation now, so likely wrote this last week and someone else published it or maybe he did it while on vacation), wrote “Several times per year, we make substantial improvements to our overall ranking processes, which we refer to as core updates. Core updates are designed to increase the overall relevancy of our search results and make them more helpful and useful for everyone. Today, we’re releasing our May 2022 core update. It will take about 1-2 weeks to fully roll out.”

These broad core updates are global.

If you were impacted by this update, check out the Google core update advice story for more.

Below is a recap of the early chatter and data we are seeing on this update less than 24 hours after it started rolling out. Keep in mind, we expect to see more over the next several days but I wanted to share some of the early reports on the impact of this update.

Did Google Test This Update Earlier?

As we’ve been reporting, there was broad core update like updates we’ve been seeing and chattering about since May 16th. Google would not confirm it, in fact, John Mueller of Google said less than 12 hours before announcing this new broad core update “I’m not aware of anything specific. We always work to improve the quality & relevance of the search results, so it can happen that a site becomes more – or less – visible over time.”

Google would tell me that what we saw before May 25th was not related to these unconfirmed updates but honestly, this happens a lot. Maybe Google was testing this core update in the wild? Who knows but we did think whatever was going on over the past week felt a lot like a Google core update.

John Mueller of Google specifically addressed this saying “when we announce core updates, we start the roll-out at that point, not beforehand.” Although he did delete that tweet shortly after this core update was announced, I am not sure why…

Previous Broad Core Updates

So yea, this will take a couple of weeks to roll out and it has been over six months since the last update, which was last the November 2021 core update on November 17th through November 30th. The previous core updates prior to the November update was the July 2021 and then a month prior to that with the June core update. The one before that was 6 months before the June update, on December 3, 2020 named the December 2020 core update. Before that was 7 month gap where on May 4, 2020, the May 2020 core update. The one prior to that was on January 13, 2020, the January 2020 core update and the one before that was on September 24, 2019, the September 2019 core update. Oh, before that was on June 3, 2019, the June 2019 core update and I can go on and on.

SEO Chatter On May 2022 Core Update

Yesterday, things were slow but this morning, things really heated up with the chatter. Here is some of the chatter in the SEO forums and on social about this May 2022 broad core update:

Remember this rule of thumb with these core updates… Don’t panic day 1 unless you are completely obliterated. Google claims these take 2 weeks to fully rollout but you should feel this update within 48 hours or it’s not affecting you at all. Then wait for the dust to settle before analyzing your SERPS. Keep an eye out for a correction too. Sometimes these core updates have adverse affects and Google sees these signals and reverts. On a separate note, the PDF spam needs to be addressed in this core update because the Spam update of November sure as hell didn’t. Good luck everyone

UK informational site with lots of UGC. Real-time currently about 2/3 of what I’d usually expect this time of day. Trying not to give into the fear just yet.

So far I noticed a slight bump in traffic, but the keyword bleeding started again, so no idea where this will go. Let’s see in a couple of weeks.

Hello everyone! So, as far as I see, my blogs were hit by this core update. On most of them, I didn’t use the table of contents and they flew away (25% for now), one of them had and it is still doing okay without changes (maybe a slight down for 5%). So, IMHO you need big articles, with a good amount of h2,h3, +FAQ, and the chances you stay in SERP will grow up.

My Site Rank was dropped xterday from 4th POS to 10th 🙁 …..

The sites which has seen fluctuation in their rankings majorly drops in ranking and I have seen many affiliate sites have seen ranking drops. So what type of changes site owner need to pay to improve the rankings.

Oh, yes, just for your information, all my informational keywords are gone far away from page 1, and now what I see on page 1? Shops! happy! I think there are no more informational keywords, only commercial! happy!

Informational site here, significant drops in traffic starting today, about 30% so far every hour. Keyword rankings also dropped in almost all categories. Yesterday was fine. Hopefully, they return as they did in December/January after the other core update.

Hey, a similar case here. The thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve lost 100% of my featured snippets. What’s peculiar is I’ve either lost the snippet but only dropped to position 2 or I’m still in position 1 and Google no longer has a snippet in the SERPs for that term.

I’ve checked a chunk of other sites and several have lost 100% of their snippets. I know of a few people who saw this back in November with no recovery. John Mu, of course, flatly denied it happening.

A few of my sites got wiped out. 50-80% of the keyword rankings are gone. First page are now filled with horrible spam pages with no useful content (some are even AI generated).

Again, it is just the first day of the update, and it is still ongoing so we can’t conclude it yet as It takes up to 12 days for the rollout to be completed. However, I’m filled with pessimism already.

Those who are losing traffic with information related sites I will say that I am in a different boat at the moment. My informational site has seen an increase overnight. Traffic is presently pushing what I would normally get in one day I have received since 9pm to 6am. So this is a big uptick for me.

Im not sure what the difference is between what I have and what others are doing but it is still really early in the game for this update. They have just begun and whatever we see should not be taken as the standard yet. We need at least 4 to 5 days to see the general direction of this one.

Tracking Tools On May 2022 Core Update

Semrush is reporting a 9.4 – which is super high:

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Accuranker is high as well:

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Advanced Web Rankings is at 10 out of 10:

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Mozcast – not updated yet:

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SERPmetrics showing big trends up:

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RankRanger should show movement later today:

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Algoroo currently not showing movement:

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Cognitive SEO is currently calm:

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SERPwoo is high:

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Have you noticed much?

Forum discussion at Twitter, WebmasterWorld, Black Hat World, Local Search Forum and Google Webmaster Help.





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Better Alternatives To ‘Click Here’

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Example of CTA


Nothing is more boring and unmotivating to a user than seeing a big “Click Here” or “Learn More” link.

As a user, they’re already researching a product or a service they want to purchase. Of course, they’re going to click links to learn more.

Going Beyond “Click Here” Or “Learn More”

So, how do we get users motivated to take the action that we want them to?

It begins by:

  • Understanding user goals and user behavior.
  • Establishing trust.
  • Creating accessible, clearly labeled directions that inspire interest.

It sounds so easy in theory, but in truth, why are our webpages only converting at an average of 2.8% in the US?

Obviously, something is missing from our webpages. If 97.2% of us don’t convert on a webpage, we’re likely confusing our users on what we want them to do to some degree.

Let’s dive into how we can accomplish this.

While You’re Here, Go There Now

The trick to optimizing calls to action is to present the action at the precise moment when your website visitor is most interested in taking the next step.

If a user is met with a call to action before any information, do you think they are going to click on it?

There has to be compelling content preceding the link, as well as an accurate description of the landing page.

If the landing page isn’t what a user expected, every time you present another opportunity to leave the page, your user may not trust that you can help them solve their problem.

The call to action is clearly labeled in the example below.

Even better, it is obvious designers understand their customers’ fears over money, ease of use, customer confidence, and the use of color.

Screenshot from TurboTax.Intuit.com, June 2022

First Date Links

When your webpage visitor is ready to take action, they must feel confident that the link invitation is worthwhile, credible, and constructive.

When you present a new product offering, nothing should prevent your visitor from immediately seeing what it is.

We may begin by being sly, especially if we want something. I call these “First Date Links.”

Example of CTA with no products or content.Screenshot by author, June 2022

The screenshot above is taken from an ecommerce website. What you see here is the entire top half of the homepage.

There is no text. There are no product images.

First-time visitors would need to know in advance what the company is selling.

With this website, first-time visitors are required to scroll down, wait for the gigantic images to load, and scan minimal text to gain a better understanding of the brand and its products.

The fun part of this “First Date Links” example is knowing that this particular brand runs this special or something similar to it every single day.

There is no incentive to “shop now” for regular customers and first-time visitors have no idea where that “shop now” button is taking them.

They’ve been presented with this link that will likely overwhelm them with choice and decision paralysis – and most likely leave the site.

Try adding specific promotions for your loyal customers, or even first-time customers, into your marketing strategy.

By creating specific promotions segmented by customer type, you’re showing that you understand what they’re searching for.

Trust, credibility, and being forthcoming with your story add spice to calls to action on websites and real-life too.

Scarecrow Links

If you have watched the original film, “The Wizard of Oz,” you will understand why I refer to these calls to action as “Scarecrow Links.”

These are calls to action that provide many choices, usually with vague labels and often to the same destination.

In the film, when Dorothy is traveling the Yellow Brick Road to find Oz, she comes upon the Scarecrow and asks for directions.

Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me. That way is a very nice way… [pointing]
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at the Scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk!
Scarecrow: It’s pleasant down that way too! [pointing in another direction]
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: Of course, people do go both ways [pointing in both directions]. That’s the trouble. I can’t make up my mind. I haven’t got a brain. Only straw.

Sometimes, calls to action are placed within webpage content at a moment when we really don’t want choices. We just want to be directed to that cool thing you just showed us.

In the example below, the top CTA is the best option because the destination is clearly defined and is the desired user task.

Example of 3 call to action buttons in a row.Screenshot by author, June 2022

If the company wants customers to learn more about curvy jeans, they can provide this information on the landing page that presents sorting options when they click to shop all the curvy jeans.

The smaller link to details would make more sense if it explained what the details are about.

Is it a size chart? Pricing?

What does that link do for us that “Learn more” doesn’t offer?

What does the user really want to do here after they have been shown images of curvy jeans?

Link Optimization Is More Than A Label

This next example is a mixture of a button, text sentence, and text sentence with a clickable icon overlaying a large header image.

If you were to watch someone using your website during a live session, you would most likely watch them mouse over the button, the text, and the text with the icon to see which one is going to go somewhere they want to go.

For this example, the “Learn more” button label provides no information about what we are going to learn.

It is the most visible CTA and the eyes of the person in the image are facing the button, which is a designer trick because studies show we look to see what the face is looking at.

How can we optimize the CTA for this page?

First, remove the “Learn More” button. We are going to give it an upgrade.

The text below the image, in tiny font size, is not linked. It asks a question, but the user must look for where to get the answer.

It also asks a question that may not be as important or interesting as the one following it. I would remove the entire “Want to get to know us better” sentence.

The more compelling story is why.

The button can be larger and placed in line with the model’s eye gaze. The button label is the invitation to “See why we do what we do” and link that to their story.

Not only does this narrow the choice to one link for one lead task, but it is easier for screen reader software to announce the link and direct visitors listening to the page.

Link optimization is more than a label.

Links with labels such as “Learn more,” “Read more,” “Shop now,” “Submit,” “Click here,” “Download,” and “Continue” are common.

However, these links are probably less likely to be clicked on than a more specific, inviting link.

Don’t be afraid to experiment to optimize calls to action by inviting the action. Don’t be afraid to tell the user what you want them to do by clicking that link.

If anything, you’re guiding them on their purchase decision journey.

Now, sometimes we may get a little too enthusiastic with our link text.

Example of CTA from ecommerce site.Screenshot by author, June 2022

Every Call To Action Is A Risk

Remember that when providing a call to action, it must be placed at the moment when you inspired your reader to leave their train of thought.

Every call to action is a risk. At the minimum, your link should:

  • Have a clear label with the exact destination.
  • Be easy to see and read.
  • Be compelling to the person.
  • Present itself at the exact moment when it is most useful.
  • Not have competition (other links) nearby.
  • Navigate to the desired task that will provide a benefit to your user.

As humans, our attention span is already short.

Each time a call to action takes them forward, they may have forgotten where they just were.

It is important to support tasks with well-organized information architecture and navigation that provides signals for a sense of place.

Calls to action are sometimes annoying interruptions.

What additional incredibly fascinating information is hiding behind “Learn more” that is so compelling that you have interrupted their thought process?

It better be worth it.

Conclusion

We have a small window of time to catch a user’s attention.

Using generic language like “Click Here” or “Learn More” won’t cut it anymore. When creating call-to-actions for a user, try to reiterate what exactly you want them to do.

Don’t insert CTA links for the sake of having them or taking up space.

Rethink your link strategy by viewing it from a user’s point of view: Is there more than one link option? Are they both needed? Are they clear enough for a user to take action?

Furthermore, your content leading to that call-to-action should be enticing enough for them to want to take action.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Motortion Films/Shutterstock

In-post image #4 created by author, June 2022





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Freshness & SEO: An Underrated Concept

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Freshness & SEO: An Underrated Concept


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

During my time in search, there are certain ranking factors that I’ve changed my perspective on. For instance, after coming to Go Fish Digital and working on internal linking initiatives, I started to realize the power of internal links over time. By implementing internal links at scale, we were able to see consistent success.

Freshness is another one of these factors. After working with a news organization and testing the learnings gained from that work on other sites, I started to see the immense power that content refreshes could produce. As a result, I think the entire SEO community has underrated this concept for quite some time. Let’s dig into why.

Reviewing news sites

This all started when we began to work with a large news publisher who was having trouble getting in Google’s Top Stories for highly competitive keywords. They were consistently finding that their content wasn’t able to get inclusion in this feature, and wanted to know why.

Inclusion in “Top stories”

We began to perform a lot of research around news outlets that seemed quite adept at getting included in Top Stories. This immediately turned our attention to CNN, the site that is by far the most skilled in acquiring coveted Top Stories positions.

By diving into their strategies, one consistent trend we noticed was that they would always create a brand new URL the day they wanted to be included in the Top Stories carousel:

As an example, here you can see that they create a unique URL for their rolling coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Since they know that Google will show Top Stories results daily for queries around this, they create brand new URLs every single day:

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-16-22/index.html

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-21-22/index.html

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-23-22/index.html

This flies in the face of traditional SEO advice that indicates web owners need to keep consistent URLs in order to ensure equity isn’t diluted and keywords aren’t cannibalized. But to be eligible for Top Stories, Google needs a “fresh” URL to be indexed in order for the content to qualify.

After we started implementing the strategy of creating unique URLs every day, we saw much more consistent inclusion for this news outlet in Top Stories for their primary keywords.

However, the next question we wanted to address was not just how to get included in this feature, but also how to maintain strong ranking positions once there.

Ranking in “Top stories”

The next element that we looked at was how frequently competitors were updating their stories once in the Top Stories carousel, and were surprised at how frequently top news outlets refresh their content.

We found that competitors were aggressively updating their timestamps. For one query, when reviewing three articles over a four-hour period, we found the average time between updates for major outlets:

  1. USA Today: Every 8 Minutes

  2. New York Times: Every 27 minutes

  3. CNN: Every 28 minutes

For this particular query, USA Today was literally updating their page every 8 minutes and maintaining the #1 ranking position for Top Stories. Clearly, they were putting a lot of effort into the freshness of their content.

But what about the rest of us?

Of course, it’s obvious how this would apply to news sites. There is certainly no other vertical where the concept of “freshness” is going to carry more weight to the algorithm. However, this got us thinking about how valuable this concept would be to the broader web. Are other sites doing this, and would it be possible to see SEO success by updating content more frequently?

Evergreen content

Fortunately, we were able to perform even more research in this area. Our news client also had many non-news specific sections of their site. These sections contain more “evergreen” articles where more traditional SEO norms and rules should apply. One section of their site contains more “reviews” type of content, where they find the best products for a given category.

When reviewing articles for these topics, we also noticed patterns around freshness. In general, high ranking articles in competitive product areas (electronics, bedding, appliances) would aggressively update their timestamps on a monthly (sometimes weekly) cadence.

For example, as of the date of this writing (May 25th, 2022), I can see that all of the top three articles for “best mattress” have been updated within the last 7 days.

Looking at the term “best robot vacuum”, it looks like all of the articles have been updated in the last month (as of May 2022):

Even though these articles are more “evergreen” and not tied to the news cycle, it’s obvious that these sites are placing a high emphasis on freshness with frequent article updates. This indicated to us that there might be more benefits to freshness than just news story results.

Performing a test

We decided to start testing the concept of freshness on our own blog to see what the impact of these updates could be. We had an article on automotive SEO that used to perform quite well for “automotive seo” queries. However, in recent years, this page lost a lot of organic traffic:

The article still contained evergreen information, but it hadn’t been updated since 2016:

It was the perfect candidate for our test. To perform this test, we made only three changes to the article:

  1. Updated the content to ensure it was all current. This changed less than 5% of the text.

  2. Added “2022” to the title tag.

  3. Updated the timestamp.

Immediately, we saw rankings improve for the keyword “automotive seo”. We moved from ranking on the third page to the first page the day after we updated the content:

To verify these results, we tested this concept on another page. For this next article, we only updated the timestamp and title tag with no changes to the on-page content. While we normally wouldn’t recommend doing this, this was the only way we could isolate whether “freshness” was the driving change, and not the content adjustments.

However, after making these two updates, we could clearly see an immediate improvement to the traffic of the second page:

These two experiments combined with other tests we’ve performed are showing us that Google places value on the recency of content. This value extends beyond just articles tied to the news cycle.

Why does Google care?

E-A-T considerations

Thinking about this more holistically, Google utilizing the concept of freshness makes sense from their E-A-T initiatives. The whole concept of E-A-T is that Google wants to rank content that it can trust (written by experts, citing facts) above other search results. Google has a borderline public responsibility to ensure that the content it serves is accurate, so it’s in the search giant’s best interest to surface content that it thinks it can trust.

So how does freshness play into this? Well, if Google thinks content is outdated, how is it supposed to trust that the information is accurate? If the search engine sees that your article hasn’t been updated in five years while competitors have more recent content, that might be a signal that their content is more trustworthy than yours.

For example, for the term “best camera phones”, would you want to read an article last updated two years ago? For that matter, would you even want an article last updated six months ago?

As we can see, Google is only ranking pages that have been updated within the last one or two months. That’s because the technology changes so rapidly in this space that, unless you’re updating your articles every couple of months or so, you’re dramatically behind the curve.

Marketplace threats

The concept of freshness also makes sense from a competitive perspective. One of the biggest weaknesses of an indexation engine is that it’s inherently hard to serve real-time results. To find when content changes, a search engine needs time to recrawl and reindex content. When combined with the demands of crawling the web at scale, this becomes extremely difficult.

On the other hand, social media sites like Twitter don’t have this issue and are made to serve real-time content. The platform isn’t tasked with indexing results, and engagement metrics can help quickly surface content that’s gaining traction. As a result, Twitter does a much better job of surfacing trending content.

Thinking about the web from a platform based perspective, it makes sense that most users would choose Twitter over Google when looking for real-time information. This causes a big threat to Google, as it’s a reason for users to migrate off the ecosystem, thus presenting fewer opportunities to serve ads.

Recently in Top Stories, you now see a lot more “Live Blog Posts”. These articles utilize LiveBlogPosting structured data, which signals to Google that the content is getting updated in real-time. While looking for real-time URLs across the entire web is daunting, using this structured data type can help them better narrow in on content they need to be crawling and indexing more frequently.

Google seems to be aggressively pushing these live blogs in Top Stories as they often see strong visibility in Top Stories results:

This might be a strategic move to encourage publishers to create real-time content. The goal here could be increased adoption of content that’s updated in real-time with the end result of showcasing to users that they can get this type of content on Google, not just Twitter.

Utilizing these concepts moving forward

I think as an industry, sometimes there’s room for us to be more creative when thinking about our on-page optimizations. When looking at how to improve pages that have lost traffic and positions over time, we could take freshness into consideration. When looking at pages that have lost prominence over time, we might want to consider checking if that content is also outdated. Through testing and experimentation, you could see if updating the freshness of your content has noticeable positive impacts on ranking improvements.



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Google Search Console Insights For GA4 Properties Now Available

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Google Search Console Insights For GA4 Properties Now Available


In an update rolling out today, Google addresses a limitation of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties by making them compatible with Search Console Insights.

Combining data from Search Console and Google Analytics, Search Console Insights provides a thorough overview of how people discover your content across the web.

Since its launch in June 2021, Search Console Insights has only been compatible with Universal Analytics (UA) properties. If all you have are GA4 properties, your Insights section in Search Console would have been pretty bare.

It was a matter of time before GA4 support was added, however, as Google is sunsetting UA properties next year.

Using Search Console Insights

There are different ways to access Search Console Insights. You can get to it via:

  • A link at the top of the Overview page
  • From the navigation menu of Google’s mobile app
  • Search Google for a query that your site ranks for

Search Console Insights is accessible without Google Analytics, though linking the two together will provide you with more significant amounts of data.

Analyzing Data In Search Console Insights

Google designed GSC Insights to offer a snapshot of content performance within recent weeks. It only shows GA data for the last 28 days, which is sometimes compared to the prior 28-day period.

With that being the case, it’s helpful to check GSC Insights regularly as the data is frequently updated.

If you have a GA4 property and don’t see any data in the Insights section after today’s update, here are a few reasons why:

Your GSC property is not associated with a GA property.
You do not have sufficient permissions on GA.
You have the wrong GA view selected in GSC.

For more information, see: Google Search Console Insights: 7 Questions Answered.


Source: Google Search Central on Twitter

Featured Image: Screenshot from developers.google.com/search/blog, July 2022. 





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