Did the May Google core update rock the SEO world?

Did the May Google core update rock the SEO world?
image of an axe cutting through the word SEO


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June 3, 2020



So, did the Corona core rock the SEO world?


Now that the dust has settled on the Google May core update, Crakrevenue is here to tell you that there is not really much to worry about. Nope. We really think that if you do what you do your SEO homework and follow SEO best practices, you will just be fine.  

Don't get us wrong, we are aware that 100% of all business models want to eliminate the non-predictability of any business decision. So Coronavirus and a large core update do not bode well at all for any affiliate. But, as you will soon see, these updates are necessary for both traffic (end users) and the marketer.


a bout navigating through icebergs with flags of all the different core updates on each iceberg


Yes, it is always a bit tougher to cross an algorithm change due to having to readjust all SEO optimizations that were already implemented. Having to throw away a workflow you thought you nailed when creating web content in the goal of optimizing traffic is always a bit of a bummer. Heck- Your day is already full as it is. 

So, big changes in an algorithm always mean tougher and less predictable ways of ranking for affiliates. The bigger the algorithm change, the longer the period of time to adjust your content to get back on track.

Therefore, the answer is a clear and certain YES. The core update not only rocked the SEO world but also the affiliate marketer's SEO reality.

Google core updates. What are they?


But to get why we think it ain't no biggy, you got to look at what the core is.

To know what the Google core is, it's important to know what the Google promise is. A simple browse to the Google about page says that their mission is to; 

organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful

a brain with wires connected to computers that surround it

The statement is probably the definition of a blanket statement. This task is gigantic! But, with the aid of some AI, machine learning, and warehouses filled with lots of computer servers, Google seems to have been able to do just what they set out to do.


Every machine needs its instructions


How does Google execute this monumental task? With the aid of computers executing a whole bunch of instruction sets. Literally billions of websites, words, paragraphs, links, and code are evaluated every second. 

However, any machine, no matter how powerful, needs an instruction set to get a job done. The instruction set that decides the relevance and the utility of one site over another to an end-user is commonly and misleadingly referred to as "the algorithm" 

It is, however, more than just a mathematical formula that is able to get the right page to the right person. There is a whole system in place by Google that includes MANY algorithms, human content raters, and analysts. This ensures that people in a world with changing interests and evolving life goals get search engine results that pertain to their specific reality. This whole system can be considered as the "core" or "core engine".


Google at the center of a mathematical formula, an equation, and a people huddled together


Changing world means changing "core"


This core instruction set must face reality. Therefore, with rapidly changing technologies, cultural outlooks, and differing opinions the core must always be revised. Like all other updates, Google had one scheduled for May 2020.

This Google core May update was a two-week algorithm update released on the 4th of May. Many gave it the nickname of "Pandemic update" because Google released this substantial update during the COVID-19 pandemic.

a graphic representation of the google algorithm. there people, text, computers and computer screens


Updates to the Google search algorithm(s)* are a usual thing, occurring rather frequently during any given year. What was particular about the May update, however, was that it rocked the SEO world in two ways.

  • The extent of the update
  • The insistence by Google in releasing it regardless of COVID19


Google logo and coronaviruses running away into the sunset


Google core update or Coronavirus. Which is worse?


Bear in mind that, although much of Google's guides to making better SEO content are public, how "THE ALGORITHM" decides what appears in search results remains a partial mystery. This mystery behind ranking decisions is there for good reason. Although Google's intent is to have content creators make relevant content, it does not want them "beating the system" either.  

But this mystery breeds worry among many affiliate marketers, webmasters, and brands who have spent many hours optimizing their content and product message. 

Any large SEO ranking change will, quite simply, cut into business'. No one likes losing control over revenues and income. 

So, the impact of this update was, for many SEO specialists, as big and as unexpected as the pandemic itself.


a doctor with a protective mask on their face with the words covid19 written on the mask


Who has the Google May core update really impacted?


Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the ability to measure the impact of the core update is quite difficult. COVID19 has been such a huge blow on all traffic behavior that trying to know what specifically caused each traffic change is difficult. 

Bearing all external factors though, early studies show that the following content has been impacted:

This is a partial list of what areas are affected:

  • Local business searches 
  • Health-related sites and particularly well being sites
  • Worldwide site rollouts
  • Simultaneous multilingual sites


Taken from moz.com's "2020 core update winners" article


Health and well being seems to be benefitting from the new algorithm the most. With sites under the YMYL theme just getting dramatically higher results.

"But so far, there are clear patterns that the May 2020 Core Update appears to have had a disproportionate impact on YMYL websites, and is showing big reversals in organic visibility from prior core updates across many domains"

PathInteractive; The 550 winners and losers from Google's May core update

All sites with any political leanings took an extreme hit. Be it right or left-leaning, the consensus was very clear. The Google algorithm was going to negatively affect visibility for these types of sites in the future.


Some good news though

Certain sites that would have been considered fringe or even off-limits have had definite gains such as marijuanadoctors.com. Fringe but YMYL, definitely show that Google is allowing for a more open look on cannabis consumption for well-being purposes.


a person looking at web content and taking notes


Back-end core changes this year


Human content raters now have new guidelines

There is also a human element to rating web content. Although quality raters do not actually change what is considered quality, their feedback weighs heavily in the decision as to what is and is not quality content later down the line. Guidelines for actual human content raters drastically changed. 

E.A.T. evaluation has changed to follow the times

The actual guidelines are elaborate but they basically boil down to prioritizing the down rating of those who do not have enough E.A.T This concept is far from being anything new for content creators but how Expertise, Authority, and Trust is evaluated has been changed.

Another change in the guide's list is the section stating that a headline that has a Title that is "exaggerated or shocking" and whose (MC) or main content does not match that shocking content will be considered low-quality content.


A search magnifying glass with a woman posing in front of a computer

How is adult content affected by the core update?

Revisions must be made for many content creators that work on adult sites where shocking headlines are most likely to be. Our content titles can sometimes be overboard. But what Google seems to be saying is that your content can still rank in relevance if the main content goes with what the title says an end-user will see. 

So, because of this low-quality content evaluation criteria, it will be important to check out how your site's content might be flagged. In the adult scheme of things, this is always a concern.


Essential reading: Our ultimate adult SEO guide is still relevant and a great resource, click here to see it



In this update, low-quality thin content has also been redefined. Content with less beef and little to offer will be even more vigilantly scrutinized. As adult content marketers, it will be important to go across all content we advertise on to make sure that our content doesn't have that thin element. Let's face it, we all have been guilty of pushing thin content or shocking titles at one point in time so it won't hurt to re-evaluate what you got out there already.


The word "quality" in google colors with an arrow pointing upward



Conclusion (What you can do)

Google sais on their webpage that 

Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings.

Google's "how seach works" page


balance showing the word content on one side and a pile of money on the other


All honest content might take a hit but it will bounce back. This is, by no means, a lie and we cannot push home the fact more.  Focus on content that interests your viewers and is relevant to their reality.

Director of traffic acquisition in our offices at CrakRevenue Julien Guiss states the following

Although our job is to find keywords that might help us get our message across, at the end of the day, we still need to ensure that whatever webpage we create takes into account the end-user. The days of meaningless content are over. Google has gotten smarter and smarter. So, create accessible, well-performing, pertinent content for an end-user looking for an added value and you will benefit. Use your keyword list for the nobler end of finding what has relevance and utility to that end-user you want to reach.

A winning strategy


So much has happened in Q1 and Q2 of 2020 in our environment that adopting a strategy of trying to "master" how the algorithm is thinking would be totally foolish. You might want to think of just going over your content to make sure that you are following Google's general guidelines.

One thing that is sure is that the core brain is getting savvier and savvier. So, by just ensuring that you have something to offer will in fact "beat the algorithm" 

We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward

Google's "What webmasters should know about google core updates" page

This all basically boils down to the adage that "If your content is quality, you have nothing to worry about."


Go back to the basics and it will pay off

So, as crazy as it sounds, when considering what content to post on any page, you might want to think of looking at the question guide offered by the webmaster tools at Google. For adult traffic, it might also be best to pinpoint the following questions


  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

  • If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with the impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?

  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?


While it is highly recommended to answer all the questions on the list, you might want to pinpoint these as they pertain to the adult marketer's reality.


Where CrakRevenue has seen the changes so far

For CrakRevenue offers, we have seen the following change in data since the update.

  • SexEmmulator a drop in traffic
  • CamsFinder has gone up
  • Jerkmate has also had a small drop

It is also worth noting that CrakRevenue partners like BlueChew will most likely see higher traffic numbers because they are YMYL and were otherwise considered fringe as well.

Whether Coronavirus helped the rise or fall of some of this traffic is really still up in the air. We will have to wait and let the dust settle to get pertinent results.

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