We looked into how Google’s May 2022 core upgrade affected search ranks across industries to see what lessons may be drawn from spikes and dips. Google updates its algorithms once or twice every day, most of which are imperceptible. Additionally, Google will formally declare a “core upgrade” a few times every year. A core update is a term for significant modifications to Google’s algorithms and infrastructure that materially alter search results.
Core Update Terminology
Nobody will be aware of the precise details of core changes until Google makes them public as it did with the Speed update and the Freshness update in the past.
We can examine visibility and volatility to determine the effect a Google core upgrade has on organic search results.
Visibility describes a domain’s natural presence in Google search results.
A site ranks higher for more high-volume keywords that are likely to generate clicks when the visibility metric rises. On the other hand, a dropping visibility statistic denotes a loss of keywords for the domain. Volatility is the degree to which the visibility metric increases or falls.
Because the visibility metric dramatically rises or falls during a predetermined window that coincides with Google’s announcement, we can determine when fundamental upgrades have an impact on a website. Let’s examine the Semrush Sensor data and the Sistrix visibility index with these two terms in mind to see what we can discover about the May Core Update 2022.
Early in the roll-out, marketers talked of significant fluctuations and declines in traffic across sites. According to Semrush sensor data, the May 2022 update was minor in comparison to the November 2021 core update. On June 1, Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Branding at Wix, evaluated the Semrush Sensor data and found no evidence that the May 2022 upgrade targeted any particular sectors.
Oberstein said that he doesn’t believe Google targets certain verticals; rather, it’s a constant trend across sorts of material inside that vertical. I questioned Oberstein about what fluctuations might suggest that an update targeted a specific specialty.
Because “you wouldn’t be able to diagnose what was happening unless you looked at a specific (keyword) ranking movement,” Oberstein advises people to focus on page-level activity.
Search Queries Affected
Marcus Tober, the founder of Searchmetrics, used sensor data from Semrush during a Wix webinar to break out rank fluctuation by term intent.
Four broad categories can be made out of keyword intent:
- Find out general information or an answer to an inquiry.
- Finding a certain website or page via navigation.
- Commercial: Research various products or services.
- Complete a transaction, such as a purchase.
The graph indicates that during the May 2022 core update, informational (answer) and transactional (buy) search queries had above 50% fluctuation. Who we observed to win and lose in the SISTRIX visibility index, into which we shall delve next, is consistent with Tober’s findings.
Winners and Losers
Based on the Sistrix visibility index, the following winners and losers are visible (keyword rankings weighted by search volume and click probability).
The top 20 websites in the UK in terms of absolute visibility change were considered the winners.
Big Brand eCommerce
The Sistrix UX visibility score confirms that social media has been a prominent forum for the discussion of eCommerce.
The table above shows that branded retail websites like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy have the biggest changes in absolute visibility. They are occupying more of the fictitious web “storefront” The drop affiliate site owners are experiencing may be explained by the expansion of the brand’s presence and the three product review revisions over the past year.
Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, the leading e-commerce platforms, are deploying full product schema faster than smaller sites.
This result is consistent with Marcus Tober’s observation that transactional (buy) search queries had a 51 percent volatility.
YouTube, TikTok, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Twitch usage have all climbed dramatically. The most impressive growth was witnessed on TikTok, which saw an overall gain of 133% (red line below). What we already know about the development of the internet is affected by this phenomenon. Online video viewing is popular, and Google has already begun to index videos from countless websites.
Videos can be found on Google Images, Discover, the primary search results page, and video search results.
Google Product Manager Danielle Marshak stated, “We think this kind of material may be valuable for a lot of various types of search queries, and we’ve been experimenting with ways to offer it to people more regularly,” during an edition of the “Off The Record” podcast in March.
Groups whose visibility index on Sistrix significantly dropped were considered losers.
News and Media Publishers
Steve Paine, the marketing manager at Sistrix, discovered a general loss for the majority of news and media publishers among the 30 news websites examined. Generalists who cover a wide range of topics, such as celebrity news, sports outcomes, the weather, the economy, and career guidance, were particularly impacted by the loss.
In the example given below, you can see how independent.co.uk’s /subject directory is benefiting significantly while its rival dailymail.co.uk (which has topic landing pages) is suffering.
Malte Landwehr, a former VP of Product at Searchmetrics, said that although “Google recognizes that while you may have the newest news on the Knicks ”that” does not mean you are what individuals searching for [queries like] ‘eyeshadow’ are looking for.”
Websites that provide references, such as dictionaries, Wikipedia ripoffs, song lyrics, and stock photo websites, were among the losers. You can consider these pages (reference pages), according to Landwehr, as “backfill” for Google.
A definition-type page might appear pertinent based on TF-IDF, Word2Vec, or related techniques, but they rarely correspond to the search intent. Marcus Tober’s observation that informative keywords experience a 54 percent fluctuation supports this conclusion.