Google is synonymous with change. Webmasters have come to expect regular changes with each new update. This helps them to adjust their processes and methods accordingly to conform to whatever changes the giant tech company makes. With the impending release of the May 2020 update, bloggers, website owners, digital marketers or just about any content creator on the tech sector are interested in knowing what Google has in store.
What Can We Expect with the May 2020 Update?
According to Google, from May 26, 2020, a new Government Documents and Official Services policy will go into effect. Duration of approximately 5 weeks will be given for the policy to be fully enforced. In addition to this, the Other Restricted Businesses policy will be updated although the Sale of Free Items, which is a part of the aforementioned updated policy, will be removed.
What is the ‘Other Restricted Businesses Policy’?
This policy simply serves to protect Google users from being exploited. Google limits or even stops advertisements from businesses when they feel such ads have the potential to pose certain risks to users. Some of the criteria of what Google considers to pose such risks include:
The sale of free items policy, as mentioned above, will be removed in the May 2020 update. This policy involves selling products or services, which can be gotten for free or at a reduced price from another source.
The May 2020 update will see the arrival of the new Government Documents and Official Services policy. This policy means that Google will not allow advertisements for documents or services that can be gotten from governments or delegated providers.
A delegated provider is a company that has received an official assignment from the government to provide products or services on its behalf.
Features of the new policy
One important fact to consider is that this new policy will be implemented regardless of the price of the product or service as set by the advertiser.
This policy will disallow ads for documents or services that aid in the renewal, replacement or acquisition of information that can be gotten from the government or its delegated provider. Examples are passports, IDs, licenses (such as driver's or gun license), birth certificates, etc.
The new policy will also disallow ads for helping with the application or payment of services that can be gotten from the government or its delegated providers. Examples are applying for government benefits, requesting an official change of name or change of address, etc.
This policy does not affect some professional services such as:
Accounts could be suspended if the policy is violated repeatedly.
Other Recent Google Updates
The policy update that will take effect in May 2020 is not Google's first update of the year. This tech giant has made some changes in its activities in recent months. Here are some of Google's Update you should learn about to get your website in good standing with the search engine.
Google March 2020 Update
In March 2020, Google adjusted the way it treated ‘nofollows’. This was a means to improve its search results and it greatly affected website rankings on its search page.
Nofollow is used by websites to direct search engines, thereby preventing them from crawling and indexing their sites. Before this update was implemented, Google followed the direction of the ‘nofollow’ links and did not crawl or index websites using such links. Google has used this new update to modify the ‘nofollow’ link and add two ‘rel’ attributes:
This attribute is used by sites whose content is mainly produced by users. Sites such as Wikipedia and other forums make use of the rel="ugc" attribute within their links.
This attribute is used by sites that offer monetary benefits. The rel="sponsored" attribute can be found within links to sponsored posts or paid advertisements.
Google January 2020 Update
- Snippet Algorithm Update
Google tweaked its algorithm to make sure that its search engine result page (SERP) is not cluttered. Previously, webpages that appear in the snippet position would also appear as part of its search results, but the new update changes that. The selected webpage in the snippet position is now counted as part of the search results and ensures the display of only relevant information, thus reducing clutter.
- Broad Core Algorithm Update
Several times a year, Google releases a broad core update. This is different from the usual core algorithm update released frequently each year.
The broad core update affects how visible websites are on Google's search engine results page. It affects the rankings of webpages on its SERP. That is why webmasters are always on the lookout for broad core updates because it affects their ranking positions and visibility to users globally.
The only remedy to such updates is the improvement of content quality as Google makes changes to website rankings by following E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) standards. The E-A-T standard ensures that users will get only the best and accurate results on the SERPs opened to them.
Google December 2019 Update
In December 2019, Google officially released the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) worldwide which had been released previously in October for U.S. English. The new BERT algorithm update in Google Search now supports over 70 languages worldwide including Afrikaans, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. BERT, described by Google as a means to get a better understanding of languages, aims to provide results by considering all the words provided in a search query rather than individual word order.
Google November 2019 Update
Google started the roll-out of its Local Search Algorithm Update in November 2019. This algorithm update makes use of neural matching to understand how the words used in a search query are related to concepts, thereby providing relevant search results based on what the user intended.
- BERT and Neural Matching Differences
The roll-out of two search algorithms by Google within a short time frame initially left webmasters confused. Will both algorithms work together or is BERT a replacement to the Local Search Update which uses neural matching? These questions lingered on the minds of webmasters.
According to Google, neural matching and BERT are two separate algorithms. Neural matching makes use of a synonym system to try and understand user intent based on the words provided in the search query. This helps to give users relevant results regardless of whether the exact words are found in the query. This is good for businesses because they are now ranked based on how the search term and concept relate. On the other hand, BERT makes use of a process of masking to see how words in a search query relate to each other and the overall context of the query. BERT affects 10% of search results in all available languages. BERT and neural matching operate differently but they both serve to provide relevant search results to users, which is what Google intends to do.
Google September 2019 Update
- Core Algorithm Update
Google started the roll-out of its core update in September 2019 across its several data centers. This new update mainly affects websites that do not send quality signals to Google. The impact of this update was not huge compared to the past broad core updates.
- Google Search Review Algorithm Update
An algorithm update designed to review snippets was released by Google in September 2019. This new update became part of the Crawl and Index processes used by Google to review snippets. Furthermore, changes in the display of such snippets were made. The reviews were put in place to aid users in finding the top services. However, this service was being misused due to a lack of frequent updates from Google since its release. Previously, any website could have Search Reviews added to it by a webmaster, but this update changes that. Google has limited the standard review schemas to just 17. Therefore, only websites that now support the 17 schema types will be able to show Google Search Reviews. This helps to bring users to review valuable snippets. One schema type that is no longer supported by Google is the Local Business and Organization schema. This was removed because certain businesses were making use of third-party widgets to add reviews for promoting themselves.
Google June 2019 Update
- Diversity Update
The diversity update was designed in response to multiple articles from the same website appearing on Google's SERP. This update was released in June 2019 to promote diversity among websites in the top search results. The new update limits the number of results from the same website to just two except in certain cases. The diversity update now includes a sub-domain with the root domain, thereby ensuring that only one domain is listed in the search result.
- Core Algorithm Update
A broad core algorithm update was released by Google in June 2019. This update greatly affected the SERP rankings as detected by algorithm trackers. This update was seen as a quality patch for SERP.
Google March 2019 Update
- Core Algorithm Update / Florida 2 Update
Google started its roll-out of a broad core algorithm update on March 12, 2019. This new update called the Florida 2 update by SEOs was released in phases. A medic update, previously released by Google in August 2018, had caused certain websites to receive undue rankings. The new Florida 2 update helped in reversing these rankings. It was also observed that websites that built backlinks through private blogging networks were severely affected by Florida 2. Meanwhile, websites that had natural backlinks were helped and saw a rise in rankings.
Google January 2019 Update
Google released an algorithm update in January 2019 that greatly affected news websites. News websites that rewrote content or collected content from other sites were the major targets of this algorithm update.
Google released a document that outlined how news websites could find success in Google News. 2 major steps were provided:
1.) Blocking of Scraped Content
Scraped content involves collecting materials from other sites regularly.
2.) Blocking of Rewritten Content
Rewritten content involves collecting materials from other sites, then rewriting them in order to present the materials as different without adding any value to the article.
The document also provides tips that news websites should follow:
1.) Making use of descriptive titles
2.) Making use of HTTPS on all webpages
3.) Blocking Scraped and Rewritten content
Also, for each article, news websites are encouraged to describe the author. The contact details of the news publisher should also be provided.
The algorithm update of January 2019 was not limited to news sites only. Blogs covering topics such as sports, travel and others also saw their rankings affected by the update.
How can websites improve Google's E-A-T rankings?
Blocking Scraped, Rewritten or Duplicate Content
As mentioned previously, scraped, rewritten or duplicated content from other websites do not sit well with Google. The company aims to provide the best and most relevant content to its users, therefore sites that rely on such content are usually given low rankings.
Having High-Quality Backlinks
A website's E-A-T ranking is greatly determined by the quality of its backlinks. Sites with high-quality backlinks are rated highly. On the other hand, sites with low-quality backlinks through private blogging networks or blog comments get a low E-A-T rating.
Making use of HTTPS
HTTPS is another major factor affecting E-A-T rankings. Google prides itself on user security. Google views those websites not having HTTPS to be insecure, thus attracting a lower E-A-T rating.
Providing as much information as possible about a website also helps. Contact details, testimonials, and reviews make a website trustworthy and this improves E-A-T ratings.
Providing Author Descriptions in Articles
Websites providing healthcare or financial articles should provide information about their authors. This ensures that articles read by users are provided by experts in their specific fields.
All webmasters and SEO experts want to see their websites get as much exposure as possible and Google helps them to achieve this. The Google May 2020 update will come with changes that will make the search engine better. A non-compliance with the changes leads to penalization. In most cases, this results in reduced exposure of a website. This is something webmasters and SEO experts will do well to avoid as being in Google’s favor is a top priority.