The day after Google officially released the basic update in May 2022, it is Semrush sensor caught fairly high levels of rank fluctuations.
Google seems to be accepting a much faster initial increase in rank volatility during its base updates; prior to the most recent update, this initial period of extreme rank volatility would last 3-4 days or longer.
Let’s take a look at the initial effect of the update and what it means for winners and losers this time around.
How volatile was the base update in May 2022?
The answer here is complicated. Looking at the highest levels of rank volatility, the fundamental update in May 2022 seems to be as strong as the core update in November 2021.
The highest levels of volatility observed during the May update are almost exclusively up 9/10 vertically; In particular, real estate was noticeably higher than during the fundamental renovation in November 2021.
Overall, the average maximum volatility rate was 9.4 on desktop and mobile devices. This is similar to the November 2021 Core Update, which peaked at 9.3 on desktop and mobile devices.
From this point of view, the base updates of May 2022 and November 2021 seem to have been equally strong in terms of their impact on rank volatility, but we see that this is not the case if we increase it slightly.
When we look at the change in the average level of volatility, we can see that the update of the core in November 2021 was much more effective. This resulted in a much larger change in the baseline level of volatility that existed before the update:
Specifically, the November 2021 core update took the pre-update level of volatility from 5.6 all the way up to 9.3 on the desktop. Comparatively, before the base update in May 2022, the level of baseline volatility was much higher; the pre-update level was 6.4 on the desktop, which increased to 9.4 during the update.
While the highest levels of volatility observed between the two updates were quite similar, they had to increase further during the base update in November 2021. There was some volatility in the remnants before the May update began, so it doesn’t seem to have been as important as the November one.
Looking at changes by device, the data for desktop and mobile devices during the May update proved to be similar in terms of maximum volatility, where a level of 9.4 was reached on both devices:
The increase in volatility from pre-update levels varied slightly between devices, as the mobile phone showed slightly higher volatility before the update:
There did not appear to be any dramatic changes in certain industries on this occasion, as the most affected industries were the same in all devices.
On the desktop, the following industries recorded the largest increase in ranking volatility:
Books and literature
Hobbies and leisure
Pets and animals
In mobile devices, Health is a substitute for travel in the 5 most affected industries:
Pets and animals
Hobbies and leisure
Books and literature
In both cases, the property was the only vertical to see an increase in volatility of more than 5 points between devices, with an increase of 5.4 on desktop and 5.3 mobile, but there were no fluctuations to indicate that this update targeted certain niches.
Determination of the impact of the basic update of May 2022
Of course, we are still assessing the full impact of the update, as changes continue to take shape over time. To get a feel for the initial impact and scope of the May 2022 baseline update, however, we researched where the new ranked URLs come from, if they appeared among the top 10 this time around.
Here, as in the basic update in November 2021, 6.7% of the top 10 results were previously ranked over 20th.
This is fairly typical of the kernel update, and it would seem that there have been significant changes in the ranking in May, but it remains to be seen whether this is a sign of the consistency of the impact of Google updates.
To better understand this, we also looked at the top 20 results overall to see previous positions of newly ranked URLs. Here, more than 17% of the top 20 URLs came from outside the 20th position.
Again, this appears to be very similar to the November 2021 baseline update, with 16.2% of new URLs ranking above 20th in the top 20 before the update.
You can read more about the ongoing impact of Google updates in our study here: Are fundamental updates becoming less powerful?
Parity between gains and losses of rank
While we continue to analyze the impact of these algorithmic changes, we know that different updates may reflect different sorting patterns. For example, in some cases, although there may be a sharp and drastic drop in ranking, Google will gradually improve the ranking of the remaining first-page URLs by a position or two to replace the URL (s) that were downgraded from the SERP. (or at least from the first page of the SERP).
To better assess how the May 2022 core update behaved, we analyzed the average profit and loss of the position that URLs experienced as a result of the changes. How did the different industries fare with each other in mobile and desktop devices together?
For the most part, there is general equality between instances where URLs have experienced a loss of ranking and gains of ranking. Overall, URLs that lost rankings lost an average of 3.8 places, while those that improved rankings gained an average of 3.4 places.
Some verticals deviated from this pattern, such as Arts and Entertainment and Books and Literature; each lost more than he gained. The need to focus on creating quality content (which includes consideration EAT) relevant to your audience is universal.
Without looking at specific cases, it is difficult to diagnose the causes of discrepancies. They can range from how Google uses SERP features within any vertical, to the content available to Google, and its propensity to reward it significantly.
Changes in rankings due to algae updates can cause mass hysteria in the SEO community, but it is crucial that you approach them with a long-term mindset. While the negative change on the scale is real, basic updates can present new opportunities for websites (and even if they do negatively, there is always room for improvement that will ultimately lead to long-term growth).
Average gains and losses during the base update in May 2022
When we look at the top 100 websites that have experienced the biggest losses and gains, as we did after Basic update November 2021we see that:
- The winners of the May updates gained about 31.4 positions, with an average position of 10.2. For context, the November winners gained 33.6 places.
- Those most affected by the update lost about 34.9 positions. They lost 27.6 places in November.
Back to you
As for the initial volatility based on Google’s major updates, it’s interesting to see a change in its tendency to release them. Instead of events, as they may once have been, Google points out that it implements them “several times a year.”
That could be part of a bigger trend that is basic updates become less effective over time. However, at least the full introduction of the update and prepare your site for future updates so much the more necessary.
As with all fundamental updates, it should be reiterated that you should improve the quality of your content if you notice that the update negatively affects your ranking and traffic. Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on losing rank.
Before devoting important resources to making changes to your site, make sure that losing rankings affects the keywords that are critical to the health and success of your site and will result in a real loss of traffic.