What Car Dealers Need to Know About Google’s May 2020 Core Update

Because there isn’t enough happening right now, Google decided to roll out a core algorithm update in May, aptly titled the “May 2020 Core Update” (catchy, isn’t it?). In this blog, we’ll cover what we know, what we don’t, what Google says, and our recommendations for car dealers.

What is a Core Algorithm Update?

What Car Dealers Need to Know About Google's May 2020 Core Update

While Google makes small tweaks to its search algorithm almost daily, a couple of times a year Google will make significant and far-reaching updates to its search engine algorithm. These larger “Core Updates” are designed to make the search experience the most relevant and useful for users as it can be.

Because Google does not publically announce what exactly changed in the algorithm when these core updates are rolled out, it’s up to us as SEOs to decipher and decode what has changed (if anything) for the websites we maintain.

What Does Google say?

Well, other than announcing that a core update began rolling out on May 4, 2020 — not that much….

As with any large core update, Google will recommend the following: “We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” This is pretty standard as Google constantly recommends that the best SEO practice, especially when an update drops, is to target and serve the user.

One of the best ways to future-proof your website from a rankings shake-up due to a core algorithm update is to ensure that you’re consistently publishing content to your website that is relevant to real people, with real questions, looking for real solutions.

Whether you’re doing that yourself or using an SEO provider, now is a good time to take a minute and review the content that has been published recently to your website.

Ask yourself, is this content truly useful to a real person, or is it a thin and keyword laden page meant to convince a search engine into thinking it’s something that it’s not?

If it’s the latter, it’s time to take a new approach. You can learn more Car Dealer SEO Best Practices right here on our blog.

What Does The SEO Community Know?

The SEO Specialists on the Dealer Inspire team are a part of many SEO-focused online communities where we keep up with the news and discuss all things SEO with fellow search-nerds across multiple industries.

Search Engine Journal is pointing out four big takeaways, but it’s important to note that since Google doesn’t offer specific guidance about the goals/objectives of algorithm updates, takeaways will change as rankings stabilize:

1. Thin content powered by external factors losing: Content that has little or low value to users that has previously performed well in the SERPs because off-page factors such as backlinks have seen a drop in rankings.

2. Local SERPs are in major flux: Businesses are seeing shake-ups in who is showing in the local-packs, although Google’s Danny Sullivan has said that there wasn’t really a major local effort in this update.

3. Aggregators and directories are winning: Aggregators seem to have come out ahead and are gaining rankings. Our SEO peers at have reported significant ranking increases since the update rolled out, and they attribute that to not just the aggregated vehicle listings, but the massive amount of relevant research content that’s consistently published on their website.

4. SERP Features may be in flux: It looks as if Google may be pushing back on the overuse of schema markup to alter the SERPs. Note it’s still early to say this definitely, so more monitoring is needed.

Google May 2020 Core Update Winners

It’s also worth noting that according to SEMRush, the auto & vehicles market is considered a winner as we’re observing slightly increased position rankings post update.

What Else Has Changed?

In addition to the above takeaways, we’ve also seen some significant changes with the way search results are displayed on the page this month.

1. Branded searches get 6 organic results: For many branded searches where one business owns the entire SERP, we’re seeing only 6 organic results on the page instead of the traditional 10.

2. Sitelink makeover: We’ve also documented a change to the way sitelinks are displayed. In some circumstances, they are more pronounced for both paid and organic search results.

Changes to the way sitelinks are displayed in Google Search Results

Keep in mind we’re not suggesting both of these changes to the SERP were a part of the May 2020 Core Update; we just observed them during the same timeframe that the update was rolling out. These could also very well be A/B tests that Google is quietly and constantly running in the background.

What Don’t We Know?

A decent amount, as Google would never tell us what exactly they changed, updated, or fixed so we can never know for sure. But that’s what makes SEO interesting and — dare we say – fun! Putting on our detective hats and reverse engineering what we’ve seen based on platform-wide observations is challenging yet super rewarding.

We think Moz writer Dr. Pete Meyers says it best: “It’s very easy to step off the sidewalk and into the muck after a storm, and at the very least we need to wait for the ground to dry.” As with any algorithm update, we can try to figure out the specifics and see what is changing, but we won’t really know until the dust settles, we have more data, and we are able to analyze larger date ranges.

What Do We Think?

As with any core algorithm update, we at Dealer Inspire never try to react too early. We agree with our friends at Moz that it’s always best to let the big update get fully into place before drastically changing anything.

Organic Session IncreaseWhat we can see right now is a decent trend upwards in terms of traffic to our sites. When sampling 200 Dealer Inspire websites with our SEO Services we compared May 1 – May 15 vs. the previous period, we saw a 43% session increase.

Now, we don’t believe this is entirely from the core update; we believe it’s tied to search traffic rebounding from decreased car shopping intent due to COVID-19. So while it’s challenging to analyze shifts resulting from a core update at the same time search volume is bouncing back from the effects of a global pandemic, we can at least say with confidence that the positive traffic trends we’re seeing indicate our sites are remaining organically healthy post algorithm update.

That said, here at DI, we tend not to get worried about algorithm updates in general. Here’s why:

We always prioritize the user over the search engine.

Whenever Google releases an update, they always stress catering to the user first and foremost. This dedication to users has served us well over the years, as we often don’t see any large issues with our client’s websites from algorithm updates.

Remember, as mentioned above, Google’s algorithm updates almost daily and they only announce the larger core updates because they know some results will change and we SEO types will notice. If we were worried about every single algorithm update, nothing would ever get done.

Unlike some providers that focus on manipulating algorithms, we focus on creating content that allows our clients to Be The Answer to a user’s question, we make sure directories and Google My Business listings are set up according to best practices, and we make sure all the websites we work on are technically healthy to ensure a solid user experience.

As always, the team at Dealer Inspire follows best SEO practices and tweaks our processes and strategies to align with all algorithm updates as needed!

Want to learn more about how Dealer Inspire can help bolster your dealership’s SEO efforts? Just drop us a line!

Let’s Connect!

Connor Bonam
Connor is a SEO Strategist and 2017 Innovation Award Winner. At Dealer Inspire Connor has created SEO strategy through keyword research, competitor research, technical audits and creating link building strategies with a variety of automotive and non-automotive clients.

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