How Google’s 39 May Updates Impact SEO

Which of Google’s 39 May updates impacted SEO? This is a review of most significant changes affecting our industry. I will keep it short and sweet as I hope to save you time here.

Google Update

Here are the ones which I found most interesting:

[Links+Onsite] Deeper detection of hacked pages

This means you will no longer see hacked websites which rank for “buy viagra“. Oh wait, I take that back. Work in progress I guess, but this update has no doubt affected the link graph and its signals in a global sense weeding out any glaringly obvious blackhat spam. Perhaps compromised websites are no longer (as) affected in rankings if Google thinks it’s a hack.

[News] Improvements to ranking for news results

News are detected pushed in search results quicker than before.

[Links] Better application of inorganic backlinks signals

Google web spam team figured out what to do with all the inorganic signals they already had at their disposal. Link schemes and manipulation take another punch in the gut with this ‘Penguinesque’ algorithm tweak.

[Links] Improvements to Penguin

Penguin 1.1 or Penguin 1.2? In any case, this appears to be a refresh and push of newly calculated filters likely to be linked with some of the changes mentioned above. We’ve seen these change our search results several times throughout May this year.

[Onsite] Trigger alt title when HTML title is truncated

If you fail to fine tune your titles, Google will continue to tidy them up for you, this time with more confidence.

Two other updates: “Better demotion of boilerplate anchors in alternate title generation” and “Efficiency improvements in alternative title generation” are part of the same set. It’s worth to mention that Google is getting better at recognising template content / boilerplate elements and not use those in snippets. Does this further affect links and on-site elements too? If it does, good bye superfooter, we won’t miss you.

[Algorithm] Simplification of term-scoring algorithms

Search quality makes a slight quality sacrifice in order to improve performance. Instance 1.

[QDF] Smoother ranking functions for freshness

Temporal resolution for Google’s fresh results goes denser with threshold tweaks. Is this linked to “Improvements to ranking for news results”?

[QDF] Better detection of searches looking for fresh content

Completely new classifier for detection of fresh content intent has been introduced. Social?

[QDF] Freshness algorithm simplifications

Expect to see more frequent freshness tweaks in the future.

[Algorithm] Performance optimizations in our ranking algorithm

Search quality makes a slight quality sacrifice in order to improve performance. Instance 2.



Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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One thought on “How Google’s 39 May Updates Impact SEO

  1. HI Dan, ok so this is a longish response and only 90% on topic as it springs from penguin update. But really I am reading your post and thinking that you guys really understand the recent updates so i would love to pick your brain for a one sentence reply.

    I am a small business owner doing my own seo and have been affected by mr penguin. Luckily for us it only affected certain keywords and resulted in a 30% loss of revenue but I figured out the issue and rectified it quickly. I have come to realise I have been following SEO advice that really works rather than than advice that is 100% Correct as far as google is concerned. As a result I have removed a ton of content from the web and unsubscribed from most of my rss feeds. Going forward I am really only wanting to concentrate on content for our own site and making us squeaky clean. 

    The trouble is I am not 100% sure what is meant by “over optimisation”of internal links. Lets say I have a business selling electric razors and their parts (which I don’t) and I am adding 4 or 5 new products a week. I am also creating a couple of blog entries discussing industry related stuff and also creating a couple of entries in our “How To” section describing how to maintain a particular model of razor. Now my real question is if these posts are all good quality information that is truly useful to consumers how much is too much linking to the relevant products?

    Currently I might include 2 or 3 anchor text links per piece of content and not to the same product and not using the same keyword eg 
    “new braun battery” “braun shaver foils” “shaver foils” 
    Over a few different pieces of content I may link to some of these keywords if appropriate. 
    Basically I am a bit paranoid now I know I need to be using internal links to help people and spiders and to me the links look totally natural but does thins sound like too much to you?

    Sorry that is so long but I really want to get this right going forward.