Google Unveils May 2022 Broad Core Update

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Danny Sullivan of Google announced on May 25, 2022, that the company rolled out its first broad core algorithm update of 2022, the May 2022 core update. “Several times per year, we make substantial improvements to our overall ranking processes, which we refer to as core updates,” Sullivan’s post read. “Core updates are designed to increase the overall relevancy of our search results and make them more helpful and useful for everyone.”

The most recent core update before this was the November 2021 core update. Google said it would take one to two weeks to fully roll out the May 2022 core update. 

“Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web,” Sullivan’s post read. “While nothing in a core update is specific to any particular site, these updates may produce some noticeable changes to how sites perform, which we’ve noted in previous guidance on what site owners should know about core updates.” 

Search Engine Roundtable reported on May 17, 2022, that Monday, May 16th, showed multiple signals of a possible Google search ranking algorithm update, although it was not confirmed by Google. Barry Schwartz reported that he was “seeing spikes in both levels of chatter about an update from within the SEO community, where SEOs are noticing ranking changes with their sites in Google Search.”

Search Engine Roundtable noted that the last core update was on November 17, 2021, exactly six months ago. Core updates are expected every three to six months.

According to Search Engine Roundtable, other core-like unconfirmed updates included the Mother’s Day update, the May 1st update, the April 20 and 21st update, the April 18th update, the April 13th and 14th update, the March 18th update, the March 11th update, and the March 4th update. The last confirmed update was the March 2022 Product Reviews Update, which ended on April 11th, and the previous two versions included the April 2021 Product Reviews Update and the December 2021 Product Reviews Update.

Google noted in its most recent update that it confirms broad core updates because they can produce some widely notable effects. Some websites could see drops or gains during the updates. 

Google said it knows parties with websites that experience drops will be wanting a fix, and Google wanted to ensure they did not try to fix the wrong things because there might not be anything to fix at all. Google said there is nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. 

Pages performing worse have not necessarily violated webmaster guidelines or been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action, which can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. Google said there was nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites, as the changes are actually more about improving how their systems assess content overall and these changes could cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.

Anybody affected by this core update should revisit Google’s “What site owners should know about Google’s core updates” post from August 01, 2019. In it, Google suggested focusing on ensuring that a person or company is offering the best content they can because that is what the company’s algorithms seek to reward.

Some of the questions that Google said in May 2011 that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article included:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by the genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health-related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
 

In May 2019, Google offered the following content and quality questions:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?
 

The company also provided the following expertise questions:

  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
  • If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?
  • Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?

There were also presentation and production questions that included:

  • Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
 

Comparative questions included does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results? And does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

The bottom line is that when Google updates its search ranking algorithms, your website may do better or worse in its search results. You should be paying attention to your analytics and rankings over the next couple of weeks to see how you are impacted.

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