Good morning, is the force with you? 

Yesterday, coinciding with May the Fourth, Google began rolling out a core search algorithm update. This May 2020 Core Update is the second one of the year — the last update rolled out mid-January, Google said it may take a week or two to fully roll out, so it’s too early to tell what its impact will be and who’s got the force on their side. (Yes, we know Yoda, Luke or Rey had nothing to do with this.)

By most accounts, the January update was substantial, with rankings volatility for sites focused on YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) topics, in particular. We’ll be reporting further on this May update. Let us know what you’re seeing at [email protected]

Google also said yesterday that it made a change to show more COVID-19 related content from local news publishers in the Top Stories box in search results. Google’s Danny Sullivan said the company has never seen levels of search volume as it has for COVID-19 related content, much of it for local news. 

With brand safety in mind, advertisers have largely opted to block their ads from showing alongside all coronavirus-related articles. That leaves vast swaths of local publishers’ newfound traffic unmonetized. Unfortunately, exclusion lists and brand safety tools often lack the nuance to understand tone. That obviously hurts publishers, and with so much interest leaves opportunities for advertisers on the table. As the news evolves, it might be time to take a look at how and what you’re excluding

If you’re looking for inventive ways to use tools for finding content ideas, Aaron Friedman, solutions engineer at SimilarWeb, has some tips. He and Barry Schwartz sat down (pre-social distancing) to talk about what to focus on and how to use tools to your advantage. Watch it here.

Keep reading for your daily Search Shorts and more. 

Ginny Marvin


COVID Trends

Wondering what content gained serious traction last month? Programmatic ad impressions on Hobbies & Interests content shot up in mid-April at sustained levels through the month, according to new data from Media Math. The findings are included in a microsite the company launched to track metrics in the ad-tech space, including programmatic spend by vertical and CPMs by channel. 


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Search Shorts version 8

Quality. Gary Illyes from Google had a one-liner on Twitter “there’s more to ranking than just quality.” He added, “We use hundreds of signals to offer users the most relevant piece of content for their query. Sometimes that means that indeed they get the highest quality, other times it may mean that they get lower quality, but much faster.” 8. has released version 8 details with lots of new features including stuff for non-profits; e-commerce shipping data; eligibility requirements in job postings; identifying movies and their versions; and educational materials.

Google Crawl slow. Google has not slowed crawling sites because of COVID-19 issues, Google’s John Mueller reiterated.


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What we're reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader

Google Merchant Center Releases Price Competitiveness Insights – Merkle

Google My Business Websites Pass 36 Million Created – Why Should You Care? – Mike Blumenthal

Google Question Hub Screen Shots – Search Engine Roundtable

How We Ranked a Single Page for 2.6K Keywords Driving 30K Monthly Searches [Case Study] – Moz

Responding to the revised publisher code process in Australia – Official Google Australia Blog

SEO-friendly Pagination Strategies for Ecommerce – SEM Rush

Stand out in Search with FAQ Rich Results – Schema App Tools

To every teacher, thank you times infinity – Google Blog