Your Guide to the May 2022 Google Core Update & Why It’s Significant
On May 25th, Google announced its latest core update to its search algorithms and systems. Google conducts significant, broad changes a few times a year, which they refer to as “core updates.” As Google describes it, the purpose of a core update is to ensure Google’s delivering on its goal “to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.”
Google notifies users about these updates because they can produce some noticeable effects on the search experience. Plus, they can typically last a few weeks. For reference, this May 2022 core update lasted from May 25th until June 9th—when Google Search Central confirmed its rollout on Twitter. Now that it’s been a few months since the change, the Helium SEO team wants to provide our insight on the May 2022 Google core update.
Why Does Google Perform Algorithm Updates?
Since it was established, Google’s mission has been “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” As the tech giant has evolved, Google has also focused on providing the best user experience with its search engine results pages (or, SERPs). With technology, information, and consumer behavior always changing, Google continuously adapts to these variables. And that’s why algorithm updates exist.
Google’s algorithm used to seldom change in the company’s early years, but now it’s constantly changing. Most updates are so small that users likely can’t even notice. In fact, in 2020 alone Google made 4,500 “improvements” to Google Search (or just “Search” as it’s succinctly called). Within those 4,500 changes, Google performed 3 broad core updates, occurring in January, May, and December of 2020.
Google Algorithm Update vs. Google Core Algorithm Update
We’ve made it clear that Google’s performing algorithm updates multiple times a day, so what makes a broad core update so different? Core updates are so important because they’re huge Search disruptors. Google deems them so significant that they publicly announce the upcoming changes; whereas minor update notifications are nonexistent. This is to give website owners ample time and opportunity to adjust as needed to the results of a core update.
In simple terms, core updates reshuffle the search rankings based on factors Google now views as important. For example, this can include Google recognizing the growth of mobile searching and de-ranking webpages that aren’t mobile-friendly (like it did in April 2015 with the “Mobile-Friendly” core update). Over the last decade or so, large updates have mainly focused on penalizing duplicate content, plagiarism, keyword stuffing, spammy or irrelevant links, low-quality content, and poor user experience. But over the last 5 years, Google has gotten less transparent on the specific details behind their core updates—leaving webmasters left to wonder and research how to be successful with SEO.
What Do We Know from the May 2022 Google Core Update?
The May 2022 Google broad core update is the first core update this year and the most recent since the November 2021 broad core update. According to Semrush, the May 2022 update is less “volatile” than the November 2021 update. Volatile here means how much keyword visibility metrics change; in other words, how much a domain’s organic presence within the search results changes. For example, a website’s organic presence increases when it ranks higher for keyword searches.
A less volatile update means the changes Google implemented can be a little more difficult to notice. However, SEO experts and website managers always pay attention to discern how core updates—or any updates—impact Search. Algorithm changes for the 2022 broad core update might appear smaller, but they’re important and worthwhile to take notice of because then you can better understand Google.
Helium SEO’s Insights and Takeaways
Whenever there is a broad core update, our team of engineers and strategists get to work to find algorithm changes. This meticulous, data-driven approach to SEO is how Helium SEO has thrived to help our customers reach their digital marketing goals, and the May update was no exception. These are Helium SEO’s biggest insights and takeaways from the May 2022 Google Broad Core Update.
#1 Google is looking for more activity for ranking within blogs
Constant blog building is now more necessary than ever. Google has always liked seeing fresh content and updates within a site because this indicates that the owner/site has the latest and greatest information. Not only is blog building important but so is refreshed content. Take a look at this website’s metrics as an example:
The site was getting good, sizable traffic before the core update was announced. And then it all practically vanished with the May update. This was until recently when more blogs were added and content was refreshed. Now, organic traffic is even better than where it was before. If you want your site to rank, it’s crucial to continuously refresh existing content and publish blogs frequently to let Google know you’re an authoritative, trustworthy, and helpful website for your audience.
#2 Constant link building is important
Along with constant blogs, constant link building is helpful. Link building, in case you’re unsure, is the practice of obtaining links from other websites. These links are called backlinks, and backlinks play a crucial part in improving a website’s visibility. Backlinks help your website gain authority within Google’s eyes and rank for certain keywords.
Nevertheless, the May 2022 update indicates Google favors constant link building versus rapid link building (obtaining several links at once and then getting no more after that). Constant backlinks tell Google that your site is continuously “liked” and talked about by other websites. This is another indicator that you’re providing the latest, most recent information within your industry. Google enjoys (and rewards) more consistency overall after this broad core update.
#3 EXACT MATCH DOMAINS RANK HIGHER AGAIN
Exact match domains (EMDs) are when the targeted keyword is found within the URL. For example, one keyword this blog is targeting is “google core update may 2022.” So, we made the slug (what appears after “/blog/”) exactly that: “google-core-update-may-2022.” EMDs could also be called an exact match URL if that helps too. But the point and relevancy are the same: incorporating your targeted keyword into the URL should help your page rank higher for that keyword because it effectively tells Google what your page is about.
We say EMDs are ranking higher “again” because this comes in and out of importance about every 6-9 months or so. While using your URL to your advantage by fitting keywords in is smart all the time, Google doesn’t always directly reward a good URL. But now with the May 2022 update, Google is back to ranking EMDs higher. This means exact match domains might help you quickly spot why you are ranking higher or lower for certain keywords.
A fun example I noticed occurred after the penultimate episode of the popular TV series Better Call Saul (a spin-off and prequel to Breaking Bad). In the episode, a character mentioned searching “con man Albuquerque” and within a few hours most of the Google search results related to the show. But one in particular caught my eye:
Someone made a domain with that exact, entire keyword: conmanalbuquerque.com. While I think this is pretty funny, it’s also fascinating to compare that website with what’s below it. That website is less than 3 weeks old and has only a handful of backlinks but it’s outranking an established site like Reddit, blog sites, and even the City of Albuquerque’s website. Needless to say, exact match domains (or URLs) can help you rank well for keywords your target audience is searching for.
Other 2022 Broad Core Update Expert AnalysisWhile those were the 3 biggest takeaways Helium SEO noticed and has advised clients on since the update, there are a few more conclusions other experts have come to.
#1 Organic presence of videos has increasedThe internet—along with consumer behavior—has evolved to focus more on video content. How that plays into the broad core update is visibility growth for video sites like YouTube, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Twitch. But the biggest winner was TikTok; the platform had an increase in visibility of 133%. It’s even been reported that almost 40% of Gen Z uses TikTok as a search engine too; they’d rather watch a video for fashion, food, or things to do instead of searching those topics on Google. The cultural shift to using video more has caused Google to experiment with having videos as primary results for search queries. This is the type of content that might be more useful to searchers. Look at what comes up for these searches:
#2 e-commerce websites are getting more visibilityAnother “winner” of the May 2022 Google broad core update is large eCommerce retailers. Specifically, Amazon and eBay had the largest visibility increase with Etsy close behind it at #9. This is evidence of consumers going directly online to shop versus visiting brick-and-mortar stores. It also indicates that the digital storefront will be getting more difficult for smaller companies to compete with the 800-pound gorilla that is Amazon. Gaining visibility for what your target audience is searching for requires thorough strategy and creativity. The digital landscape’s growing more crowded, but hiring an SEO consultant can help you stand out.
#3 increase in rich resultsA key SERP feature implemented around the time of the May update is increased rich results. “Rich results,” as Google itself explains, “are experiences on Google surfaces that go beyond the standard blue link.” These primarily include images or carousels—essentially non-textual elements. Experts have noticed these more with transactional searches, where products appear, such as “hair dryer” or “car tires.” Here are some rich result examples that appear when you search those keywords:
So what all came out of the May 2022 Google broad core update? Google now values:
- Constant blog building and refreshed content
- Constant link building
- Exact match domains (EMDs), aka exact match URLS
- Videos in certain search queries
- Larger eCommerce sites and products
- Offering a continued, better user experience with more rich results
All of these changes to Google Search are important for both users and businesses. Users should understand how Google is updating to align more with our interests and preferences. Search engines are always trying to evolve to get us to click, such as by showing images of products or videos first.
On the other hand, it’s pertinent for businesses to be cognizant of algorithm changes to best know how to adapt. A digital presence grows more crucial every day. If you’re not actively adapting to search engine changes along with patterns in consumer behavior, then you’re falling behind.
Has Google changed its format in 2022?
Google changed its search format in 2022 to include more rich results, which Search experiences other than the standard blue link. These include FAQ rich results, images, and carousels.
How often does Google do a core update?
Google performs a core update approximately every 4 months, but it can vary. Its 5 latest core updates occurred in May 2022, November 2021, July 2021, June 2021, and December 2020.
What are the latest Google updates?
The latest features of the May 2022 core update include an emphasis on frequent blog building, refreshed content, constant link building, and exact match domains (EMDs). Additionally, the latest update focuses more on including videos in the SERPs, prioritizing big eCommerce websites, and featuring rich results.
When was the last Google core update?
The last Google core update was the May 2022 broad core update. It started on May 25, 2022, and finished rolling out on June 9, 2022.
Is Google updating right now?
Google updates multiple times a day. However, these are minor—often unnoticeable—algorithm changes, but Google is always updating. When Google performs a core update, it lets users and webmasters know beforehand so they can expect significant changes.