May was an eventful month for us. There was a Google algorithm update, a major industry report was released, and Boostability’s SEO trends remained positive.

Here’s an overview of the highlights:

Google Algorithm Update

The big news this month is that Google released a major algorithm update on the 17th of May. While we’ve been seeing a ton of algorithm updates lately, this one had a particularly significant impact on the industry. It was mainly felt in the national space but we began seeing fluctuation around the 24th of May.

The current consensus around the potential algorithm change is that it focuses on general site quality. This article by Glenn Gabe is fantastic in covering the frequency, reversals, and latest algorithm changes around site quality.

Overall, this update confirmed to everyone that algorithms do in fact share data. That means if you are impacted by Penguin, your quality will be checked by Panda and so on.

What this means to small business owners

  • For small business owners, this update drives home the fact that usability is key. If you are able to rank and get traffic, then the next piece in the SEO cycle is making sure you are helping your customers. This means answering questions, providing more than enough detail, and next steps or actions.

What you should do about it

  • On our end, this means that we need to spend time analyzing how people use sites with tools like CrazyEGG or Google Analytics. Then use your findings to tighten up the page for your users. This could include things like adding content, visuals, links, or giving a clearer next step or call to action.

SEO Industry Report

This month, a number of significant industry studies were released by experts and companies in our industry. One of the most prominent examined the amount of traffic lost due to featured snippets being displayed in search.  Other study topics included:

In all, these studies gave a few key recommendations from experts that can help SEO clients become more successful.

To start, the biggest item being pushed right now is the need to keep ‘intent’ at the forefront of website creation and optimization. Understanding what users are looking for and what action they are trying to take can either make or break search rankings. The idea is that you need to retain users through quality content that helps them take action and accomplish their objectives. Make sure you are keeping this in mind when reviewing accounts, ranking trends, and client requests.

What this means to small business owners

  • Make sure your content is fresh and up to date with the latest information. This may include different content types or breaking content down to make it easier to digest.

What you should do about it

  • If you have not touched a page in a few months you should give it a quick read to make sure it is up to date and accurate. If anything is lacking make necessary changes.

SEO Performance in May

Below are a few graphs to show our performance and what other have seen within the industry.

Boostability Aggregate Averages

This graph shows the average rank for ALL accounts. What we see with the RED Arrow is that we saw good averages at the first of the month. With the BLUE Arrow, we can see where the algorithm rollout occurred. Lastly, we see a rebound in our rankings with the GREEN Arrow.

Page Distribution

This graph shows our total rank distribution by page. The RED Arrow indicates we saw a drop in our 10+ pool with a gain in our first-page pool.

Change by Day

This graph shows the total positive and negative movement by day. The RED Arrow indicate when we saw a large fluctuation in our data set. The BLUE Arrow shows continued fluctuation. The GREEN Arrow shows the final day of massive fluctuation for us.


Algoroo Averages

These last two are other tools that track rankings for a much larger and national subset of data. The RED Arrows on both indicate mass fluctuation on the 17th of May. The BLUE Arrow shows the largest fluctuation see rolled around the 23rd of May which correlates with our data.

Key Articles

As always here are a bunch of read-worthy articles from the last month. Nothing hugely impacting to our client base but good to know or at least have a pulse on.

  1. Google Testing Job Board – Google was testing a Job board looking results for certain queries. Later in the month, they confirmed the Job board tool. (Source and More)
  2. Stop Optimizing for RankBrain – Googlers advise you shouldn’t optimize for RankBrain which was a response to this blog post. (Source)
  3. Awesome GMB Guide – Here is a guide that is great if you are trying to take action on a GMB profile. (Source)
  4. Testing is Necessary – On Twitter, Google’s Gary Illyes state he likes when people question and test what he is saying as it helps him rethink what he is saying. (Source)
  5. Videos Do Not Equal Better Rankings – Gary Illyes stated via Twitter that having videos on a page does not automatically make it rank better. (Source)
  6. Anchor Text and Alt Tags Help – Google’s John Mueller stated via Twitter that Anchor Text and Alt Tags help Google understand the context of content. (Source)
  7. May 17th Google Algorithm Update – A tweak to Google’s algorithm was made, initial test and studies are seeing ‘site quality’ as the biggest factor. (Source)
  8. Over-Optimization Can Hurt – Gary Illyes via twitter confirms that over-optimizing eventually hurts websites. (Source)
  9. Algorithms Share Data – John Mueller confirmed that Google’s algorithm share data, which could mean they influence each other. (Source)
  10. Reminder Link Campaigns – Google published a reminder on their webmaster blog that stuffing keywords into articles or using writers that are not knowledgeable on your vertical. (Source)


Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.