Google May 2020 update explained, 400+ sites checked, 270+ human manual hours invested

Google did a major broad update on 4th May and many of you have certainly seen huge rank shuffle in you rankings.

Since 7th may – I (and 3 of my other team members) have put a lot of hours into analyzing and understanding this google update and we have many takeaways.

 

WHAT EXACTLY DID WE DO? –

We checked more than 400 sites. We checked a lot of things about these 400 sites. (We actually checked 1000+ websites but approx. 400 websites were checked in huge detail. This article is a work of 270+ human manual hours.

We sorted all sites in different 3 categories.
Category A: Sites those saw rank loss ~after the update. Let’s call these LOSER SITES.
Category B: Sites those had almost same rank ~after the update. (Hardly 5-10 rank PlusMinus OR sites those saw rank loss for some keywords but not for all.)
Category C: Sites that were benefited from the update. Let’s call these WINNER SITES.

We cross-checked all these sites again on 22nd May (bcoz Google takes some time to roll out its updates completely) and then we picked sites accordingly and did cross-check things again so that we can reach to a clearer conclusion.

 

How does Google rank a website? – ( understanding the BALANCE) –

This paragraph has nothing to do with the work we did, but reading this paragraph will make it easier to understand the complete article.
Google never ranks a website on the basis of a SINGLE THING. Google always checks many things while deciding if they should rank your website.

For example:
For your niche – You can see a site ranking 1 – which has ZERO social media votes.
OR
For your niche – You can see a website ranking 1 – which has only 5 pages on it.
OR
For your niche – you can see a website – which has only 10 links.

but that does not mean that you should also make ZERO social votes and do only 5 pages and have only 10 links to rank.

If you get some social media votes then your chances of ranking will increase.
If you have a lot of articles on your website – then your chances of ranking will increase.
If you have a lot of good links – then your chances of ranking will increase…..

SEO is about giving your website POSITIVE POINTS from many aspects. Be it social media. Be it links or any other thing.
There is no single thing – which did cost you your rank drop. There are many factors involved and I will try to cover many of those.

 

Let’s BEGIN!

 

1. Links to homepage VS links to inner pages:
Most of the winner sites have average 30-50% backlinks to homepage And 50-70% backlinks to inner pages.
Most of the loser sites have a higher percentage of backlinks to HOMEPAGE and a lesser percentage of links to inner pages.

POINT TO NOTE: Check your website links percentage. Make sure your inner pages backlink count is MORE THAN your homepage backlinks count.

 

2. Exact brand anchors percentage:

Most of the WINNER SITES have close to 30% exact brand anchors.
Most of the loser sites have close to 13% exact brand anchors.

EXACT Brand anchor example:
If your site is Football.com then brand anchors are football, foot ball.
We did not calculate BRAND ++ keywords IE we did not count “post title + brand anchors” (or other variation of brand anchors) as brand anchors (otherwise brand anchors percentage would be way too higher).

POINT TO NOTE: Make sure to have a lot of EXACT broad anchors.

 

3. Generic anchors percentage:

Most of the WINNER SITES had close to 10% generic anchors.
Most of the loser sites had close to 5% generic anchors.

POINT TO NOTE: Make sure that you have close to 10% generic anchors.

 

4. Social media votes:

Most of the winner sites had close to 2000 social votes.
Half of the LOSER sites had close to ZERO social media votes.
Other half LOSER SITES had way too high social media votes (10k+ average).

We checked LOSER SITES social media votes manually and it was a clear sign of SOCIAL MEDIA SPAMMING.
Their social media votes were on very spammy profiles and looked 100% spam.

We also checked WINNER SITES social media votes manually and it was clear – that their social media votes were coming from half-decent profiles ~ definitely not as spammy as LOSER WEBSITES social media votes.

Most of the winner sites – social media votes – were spread on many different pages/posts of their website.
Most of the loser sites – social media votes – were targeted on just a few pages/posts of their website and it looked spammy too.

Google did a great job understanding social media presence of a website and you should not take this lightly now.

POINT TO NOTE: Get social media votes from half-decent profiles atleast. Do not get social media votes from very spammy social profiles.
Get social media votes slowly and never buy thousands of social votes in a single shot.
Get social media votes for different many pages of your website and never get those for just a few urls.
Most important – your social media presence should not look too spammy. It should make sense. Try to get votes for pages/posts of your urls – those you think – are good enough to get shared on social websites.

 

5. Which social sites are preferred by google:

Most of the winner sites had social media votes from –
A. Fb (likes, comments, share) (close to 20%-50% of total votes)
B. Pinterest (Close to 20-50% of total votes)
C. GetPocket, Folkd, Bitly, VK, Buffer, Reddit

Point to note:
Get social media votes from facebook and pinterest mainly.
After these 2 – try to get votes from GetPocket, Folkd, Bitly, VK, Buffer and Reddit.
If I be you – I will add some twitter votes too.

 

6. Backlink niche relevancy:

Most of the winner sites had many NICHE RELATED backlinks. Many unrelated niche backlinks were posted on the right “category” of a backlinking website.

Most of the loser sites had fewer NICHE RELATED backlinks. Their backlinks were also posted on WRONG “category” of the website.

POINT TO NOTE: Get links from niche relevant websites. If you are getting links from unrelated sites – make sure to choose RIGHT CATEGORY/TAG as much as possible.

 

7. Total Article count on a website (on page):

We checked 400 websites in detail but we also checked 600 other websites – just for finding this next line (and 1 more line you will read later) –

In a single/same niche – we checked top 10 competitors of a winner site and we found that – a winner site had almost 3 times more articles than a loser website.

POINT TO NOTE: Make sure to have more articles than most of your top 10 competitors (avoid authority competitor sites obviously as this is close to impossible to have more articles than them).

 

8. Word count for your articles? (On page):

Most of the winner websites had an average 1000 words long articles on their website.
Most of the loser websites had average 700 words long articles on their website.

POINT TO NOTE: Make sure that you have average 1000 words long articles on your website.

 

9. Anchors used?:

For most of the winner sites -> when we looked at different pages of a website – we found that each page has atleast 5 different anchors used.

For Most of the loser sites -> when we looked at different pages of a website – we found that each page has only 2-3 different anchors pointing to the page only.

POINT TO NOTE: While making backlinks – make sure that most of your website pages – have atleast 5 different anchors pointing to them.

 

10. User time spent on a website:

Most of the winner site’s users spent average 53 seconds on the website.
Most of the loser site’s users spent average 1.49 minutes on the website.

POINT TO NOTE: Nothing.

 

11. Video backlinks:

Google gives a lot of weightage to video backlinks now.
Most of the winner sites have a lot of video backlinks pointing to them.
Most of the loser sites have either ZERO OR very low count of video backlinks pointing to them.

POINT TO NOTE: Go make some youtube videos and get link to your website from there.
ALSO get video backlinks from other video sites such as dailymotion and more.

 

12: Relevancy of a website (ON PAGE):

Most of the winner websites had LESSER count of BROAD ARTICLES on them.
Most of the loser websites had HIGHER count of BROAD articles on them.
Broad anchors example: If your website is football.com then a possible broad anchor is: FUN ACTIVITIES OR Sports.

It looks like – Google now cares a lot about the relevancy of a website ~on page wise.

POINT TO NOTE: You need to stick to “ONLY AND ONLY YOUR NICHE” more now….. Don’t do a lot of broad articles on your website now.

 

13. LSI keywords used for backlinks:

We checked 400 websites in detail but for this step – we checked another 600.
Winner sites had “more backlinks using LSI keywords” then loser websites (we found this after checking top 10 competitors of a winner website).

POINT TO NOTE: LSI keywords. Go get more of those.


Those are all the findings – we were able to make.

 

How to re-gain your ranking:
In most of the cases – A single factor is never responsible for giving you a rank drop or rank gain.
It is always decided by many factors. If you have lost your ranking then you should cross-check all the points written above and get the ones- you don’t have currently.

PS: We used “MOST OF THE” sites word many times in the article. By “MOST OF THE” we mean 40-80% websites (bcoz as written above- a single factor can not decide a website rank drop or gain).

PPS: We checked most of the mid-size OR low sized websites only. What we have written above – is definitely not about huge authority websites that have millions of articles on them.

We hope you find this article useful.
Thank you for reading!

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