The May 2022 Google Core Algorithm Update

Published on June 10, 2022 by Alex Eade

Over the last few weeks we’ve been watching the fluctuations in search rankings caused by Google’s May 2022 core algorithm update. Now that Google has confirmed the update is complete, we’re bringing you the need to know information about what this update means for you.

How long did the update take?

The update started on 25th May, so it’s taken Google 15 days to roll it out. Google releases lots of small updates to their algorithms each  year, but only a few core updates are made. 

A tool that we use (alongside lot of other things) which shows the volatility caused by the Google Core Update is the semrush sensor – here you can see that there was very high volatility in search engine results just after the core update started rolling out, and that there have been several days since when volatility was high. This means that since the core update started rolling out there have been lots of ranking changes for websites across all industries so you are likely to see some unusual patterns in your Google Analytics data in late May-early June. 

Graph depicting SERP volatility May 2022 Core Update

What is a Google core update?

A core update is a change that is designed to improve the overall nature of search – rather than focusing on one small change. Google doesn’t tell us when they release small updates (if they did, they’d have to constantly make announcements!) but they do tell us about core updates because they usually produce ‘some widely notable effects’. 

What kind of effects can a core update produce?

Core updates will often create fluctuations or more permanent changes in site performance including visibility and rankings. Google says that ‘some sites may note drops or gains during them’ but our advice is to watch and wait. Often rankings will return to where they were pre-update so it’s important to hold tight and wait until the core update is finished rolling out before assessing how it has impacted your website and what you should do next. 

What was the May 2022 core update focused on?

There hasn’t been much information provided about what exactly this update looked to fix or improve. Google does tend to keep their cards close to their chest unless they absolutely have to tell us what their update is about (otherwise people might try to game the system). However, they have said it is meant to:

improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web

Improving search is often about improving content, and there are some in the SEO world who have suggested that this update may have been trying to weed out AI created, or spammy, content. However, it’s too soon to be completely sure, and our focus remains on ensuring that websites we work on stick to best practice and create the very best user experience – in our opinion, that’s the way to please search engines. 

Google’s Advice

Something that Google stresses quite strongly is that ‘There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update.’ Your pages might not need updating – so do not panic. The most important thing is that you are following Google’s guidelines around high quality, relevant content, good SEO, and focusing on the user above all else. If you do this, you have no need to worry!