May Core update: one month later

I take a look at sites that were affected by Google's 2020 May Core update.

When it comes to Google algorithm updates, there are three hard rules

  1. You can’t “fix” an algorithm update. When you got hit, it’s too late and you need to pivot for the long-term.
  2. We need to look at the impact on a per-vertical basis.
  3. We can’t just look at a single point in time to assess the impact.

In this episode, I’m paying tribute to the last two points and look at the status quo one month after the May Core update and the winners and losers in each vertical. The data comes from SEMrush and compares traffic and keywords by desktop and mobile from May 6th to June 6th.

Losers/Winners per vertical


  • Loser: Grubhub (lost during the May update and keeps trending down)
  • Winner: Instacart and Doordash both lost on May 6th but bounced back in June
  • Especially Doordash is very volatile in traffic (see screenshot below)

It seems that “near me” keywords are bouncing up and down:


  • Loser: Walmart (lost a bit of traffic during the May update but gained in back in June on 6/3), Alibaba
  • Winner: Asos (gained a lot in May), Wayfair, Chewy (gained in May and June), Target (gained mostly in May), Walmart (lost in May, gained back in June), Kohls (lost in May, gained back in June)


  • Loser: Udemy
  • Winner: Coursera (gained in May, lost in June)


  • Winners: Netflix, Soundcloud (desktop, mobile was a bit soft)
  • Losers: 9gag (tanked in May), Twitch (lost a good amount of traffic during may and is still losing a bit in June), is still bleeding, YouTube (lost on mobile in may and gained on desktop). Spotify is still down and keeps losing. I covered the case in-depth here: Zooming out, they lost a good -36% of traffic (see screenshot below).


  • Loser: CreditKarma and Nerdwallet both lost a lot, CreditKarma the most. They seem to have a technical issue with trailing slash URLs (see screenshot below).
  • Winner:


  • Winner: Mayoclinic
  • Loser: Verywellhealth

For Verywellhealth, I see a bit of a duplicate content problem. Different URLs rank for queries at different times. It could also be Google figuring out which URL is the best answer.


  • Loser: Ashleyfurniture
  • Winner: /


  • Loser: Flickr, Unsplash, Pexels
  • Winner: /


  • Loser: /
  • Winner: ziprecruiter


  • Winner: /
  • Loser: Hubspot (started dropping on June 3rd)


  • Loser: Buzzfeed
  • Winner: Nytimes, CNN, The Guardian (all started gaining in June without much happening in May)

The NY Times is especially interesting because they recently migrated to It’s going to be exciting to watch how well that works.

Real estate

  • Loser: Zillow (lost some traffic on June 3rd)
  • Winner: Realtor (gained mostly in May)


  • Loser: Thespruceeats, (mostly lost in May)
  • Winner: Allrecipes (gained in May), Delish (gained in June)


  • Loser: IMDB (lost in May)
  • Winner: Wikipedia (gained a ton in June on mobile)


  • Loser: Atlassian
  • Winner: PayPal

Social Networks

  • Loser: /
  • Winner: Pinterest (still gains in June after winning in May), Tiktok (lost in May on Desktop, though gained on Mobile and gained overall traffic on June 3rd)


  • Loser: NFL (lost a bit in May and June; see screenshot below)
  • Winner: NHL (gained both in May and June)


  • Loser: Tripadvisor, Booking, and Expedia all gained in May and lost a good bit in June
  • Winner: /

I see traffic changes happened around May 31st and June 3rd. Altogether, I also see some verticals, like images or travel, continuing to lose traffic across the board while verticals like news or e-commerce seem to be going strong.

I will continue to update you as I see trends emerge. If you have a tip for a domain to look into, please comment on this email.