Google has rolled out its first core update for of the year 2022. Our final analysis shows that it had widely noticeable effects. There are spectacular winners, but also domains with massive losses. Find out what patterns are emerging and read the full list of winners and losers in this blog post.
Google Core Update May 2022: Timeline
When it started: After more than a week of wild speculation within the SEO community, Google announced the launch of the May 2022 core update on May 25. They published few details in Google Search Central along with a short blog post reminding webmasters that while core updates can bring improvements in page rankings, this is not always the case. Ultimately, they stressed not to worry about pages that perform poorly during a core update.
The explanation? This can simply be because the pages no longer meet the parameters of the Google search algorithm, which will evaluate content on a page differently following an update.
According to the Google Search Central blog:
“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.”
When it ended: On June 9, 2022 — exactly 15 days after its official launch.
The May 2022 core update rollout is now complete.
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) June 9, 2022
May 2022 Google Core Update: Analysis
After the update, we used our Searchmetrics Research Cloud to analyze the winners and losers. The Research Cloud is based on a keyword database that includes 50+ petabytes of SEO data from 38 countries. For the analysis, the URLs that rank in the search engine result pages are determined for all keywords contained in the Research Cloud. This allows us to make comparisons between two data points and to pinpoint changes in the results for the URLs and their respective domains.
For an analysis of the winners and losers in the May 2022 Google core update, we compared the changes in the search result positions for English-language desktop searches on Google.com between two data points. The values at the beginning of the update were compared with the values on June 20, 2022, i.e., after the rollout was complete. This provides valuable insights into what domains or types of website and topic clusters are among the winners and losers.
This list is arranged by absolute gain or loss in SEO visibility and only includes domains with change in SEO visibility of more than ten percent. The final list is a curated selection of examples of winners and losers. No longer included are adult domains, relaunches, and others.
Google May 2022 Core Update: Winners
|Rank||Domain||SEO Visibility Increase (absolute)||SEO Visibility Increase in %|
Our observations on the Google Core Update winners
Here are some of the most prominent trends from our analysis of the winners of the May 2022 Google core update:
Winners are grinners
A core update is often a good reason to pop the champagne corks. In fact, there will be many domains enjoying a significant jump in SEO visibility. And that often results in more traffic and more conversions, which translates into sales. The table below shows examples from our Top 100 winners who enjoyed a more than 100% increase in SEO visibility following the May 2022 update. This includes TikTok (position 3), which made it into the Top 100 most visible U.S. domains for the first time.
Wikis and dictionaries fared well
Another area that is often affected by core updates is wikis and dictionaries. And Google’s May 2022 core update was no exception. Our selection of domains with the biggest gains from the 2022 core update includes countless wikis and dictionaries. The lack of variation in content on individual domains in this area may be why these pages appear to be equally strong to the Google algorithm. This chart shows how little tweaks in the algorithm, which is what these core updates are all about, can impact the domains that come out top in Google’s search results.
Google May 2022 Core Update: Selection of Losers
|Domain||SEO Visibility Increase (absolute)||SEO Visibility Increase in %|
Key facts about the losers from the Google Core Update
Here are some of the most prominent trends of losers in the May 2022 Google core update, according to our analysis:
Easy come, easy go
Google giveth, Google taketh away. The core update in November 2021 brought joy to two publishing domains vox.com and theguardian.com, with both publishers making substantial gains in Google.com’s index for English language content. Six months later, the party is over and the same publishing houses have seen their SEO visibility plummet once again in the May 2022 core update.
Health got E-A-T-en
For particularly sensitive areas such as health, increasingly core updates have proven to be a cause for concern. Because things tend to go one of two ways: steeply uphill or steeply downhill. Google still doesn’t seem to be very sure about its evaluation of health domains in terms of E-A-T. As you can see from the chart, many health domains suffered ranking losses from the May 2022 core update:
Impacted by the Google update? Here’s what webmasters & SEOs can do
In the statement, Google stressed its perennial guidance that core updates aim to improve the overall ranking process by increasing the relevancy of search results and “keeping pace with the changing nature of the web.”
Searchmetrics SEO Consultant Grace Adato shares guidance on how to manage your SEO operations amidst a core update.
“One thing that’s important — that even SEOs lose sight of — is going back to the basics,” she says. “Scrutinize content from Google’s lenses.”
If you experience a drop in rankings, consider the following questions:
Are traffic losses impacting leads or sales revenue?
“During core updates, I’ve seen sites lose traffic for broad keywords they weren’t the best source for,” says Adato. “Always compare traffic and rankings losses to lead and sales KPIs. If leads or revenue are not being lost at the same rate, those lost keywords weren’t bringing in qualified traffic.”
Has Google adjusted its algorithm due to shifting trends?
If traffic loss is affecting the bottom line, there may be a change in demand. Use Google Trends to determine if search interest is declining; competition is changing; or content is growing stale.
“Proper segmentation of landing pages in your analytics or BI tools helps you easily spot impacted pages and/or content types,” she says. “Isolate a few pages in Google Search Console to examine affected queries.”
Do any of the competing results have new information on the subject? If so, update your page with new information and include the date of the update.
Another tactic is using your browser’s incognito mode to view SERPs for your affected query. If there’s new competition, evaluate your title tag and meta description against the higher-ranking pages.
Is the data reflecting my concerns?
“Don’t act too quick or make changes without analyzing the data. Rule out other factors such as major site changes and seasonality and compare similar year-over-year timeframes,” says Adato.
For additional self-assessment questions, read Google’s post on What site owners should know about Google’s core updates.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve been impacted by this update or get in touch for expert support.