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May 2020 Google Core Update Shows Google Itself Does Not Comply

Today I was looking at the SEO score of one of our client’s websites that until the core update had a 100% score for SEO. In this recent update which has been tightening this week, we noticed that a lot of our clients are in the same situation. Here you can plainly see that on this page there are 4 links with the text “LEARN MORE”. This is now a “no-no” link text phrase. Google says “Descriptive link text helps search engines understand your content. Learn More” and links to this page: https://web.dev/link-text with the same text it is telling us NOT to use here!

SEO score

Here is what you see when you visit the “learn more” page explanation:

page explanation

Clearly a majority of websites will be affected negatively because many sites use Read More or Learn More in their blogs. Phrases like these reduce Google’s ability to understand your page better, and will eventually impact your ranking. This is only of many interesting changes that website owners should be made aware of now that the most recent May 2020 Google core algorithm update has rolled out and continues to tighten.

I can speculate that Google wants to cut down on the number of instances of these linked phrases in its index and is actually trying to help the internal linking structure of sites so that Google shows the correct page to searchers more often.

But again, it is Google making businesses spend more money on website changes that may or may not actually improve the user experience. So as a website developer, I guess I should be happy that Google is making all businesses conform to the standards it is setting because it will lead to more redevelopment work. Older sites will need their architecture completely revamped to meet Google’s ever-changing speed and usability requirements. The length of time an actual website can “last” successfully on Google’s search index will certainly be shortened.

I appreciate that Google is trying to make the web better. Certainly, Google has improved mobile and made information about COVID readily available. Per Google’s post, they do say “A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months’ notice before they’re rolled out. We’re providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.”

Maybe these core updates will allow small businesses who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic a grace period of six months or so to make the necessary changes to their sites, but all businesses should use the new audit tools to assess their site pages and make decisions about whether they need to make immediate technical improvements to their site architecture and content. Certain businesses should discuss a budget increase for their websites quickly.

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