May 2022 Google Core Update Complete: What Does it Mean?

17 Jun, 2022 Google Core Update

Several weeks ago, Google announced the commencement of its May 2022 Core Update. The kind of announcement that never fails to send shockwaves through the global SEO community, with the usual lack of detail as to what the update might bring.

Instead, Google’s Danny Sullivan simply provided the following vague outline of what Core Updates mean in general:

“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.”

“Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. While nothing in a core update is specific to any particular site, these updates may produce some noticeable changes to how sites perform.”

Seemingly on schedule, Google then announced on June 9th that the Core Update had been successfully completed. Though again, with no further clarification on the specifics of the update.

A Volatile SEO Landscape

Throughout the update’s two-week rollout, SEO forums were awash with reports from webmasters and business owners experiencing severe SERP turbulence.

One WebmasterWorld user shared the following words of wisdom, aimed at those who took a hit early on in the proceedings:

“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!”

And so it proved, as much of the volatility reported at an early stage seems to have subsided. Not that this will come as much comfort for those who are still experiencing poor performance now that the update is complete.

Another SEO writing on WebmasterWorld lashed out at Google, suggesting that these updates are in no way associated with quality:

“Traffic is fluctuating wildly from day to day now. People mistakenly assumed that the goal of Google’s AI was to provide better results…it’s actually to find the best ways to raise revenue and keep all the traffic while alienating as few people as possible. Many days the results just look like a jumbled mess.”

Rewards vs. Punishments

Still, Google remains adamant that its Core Updates are implemented not to punish sites for their problems, but to reward superior sites with better SERP placement:

“There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. They haven’t violated our webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. In fact, there’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”

Other than this, Google has provided little to no information regarding the specifics of the May 2022 Core Update, but SEO chatter indicates that some industries have been hit much harder than others.

Much of the volatility attributed to the May 2022 Google Core Algorithm Update has hit keywords with an MSV of less than 10,000, and sites operating within the following sectors saw the most drastic changes in performance:

  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Autos & Vehicles
  • Beauty & Fitness
  • Finance
  • Games
  • Health
  • Internet & Telecom
  • Jobs & Education
  • Law & Government
  • News
  • Online Communities
  • Pets & Animals
  • Shopping
  • Sports

Interestingly, very little volatility was noted by businesses operating in the food and drink, real estate and travel sectors.

The Fightback Begins

On the plus side, things are unlikely to get any worse for those hit hardest by the update. The whole thing is now officially complete, which should translate as a return to stability.

Reversing the damage done in the wake of a core update treads a fine line between difficult and impossible. Google itself has gone on record to state that a rapid restoration of prior SERP prominence is not usually on the cards.

Instead, it is a case of working on gradually building the kind of SEO profile that gives you an edge over those who have now overtaken you in the rankings. All in hope of a more positive outcome when the next Core Update is announced, which chances are will happen soon enough.