How the Google May 2020 Core Update Impacts the Travel, Hospitality, Events and Entertainment Industries

At the beginning of the week, Google rolled out the May 2020 Core Update, which will have a significant impact on the travel, hospitality, events and entertainment industries from a search perspective.

I’m highlighting these industries because I was in the events and entertainment industries, in particular, for two decades, so it hits close to home. Also, these industries are currently the hardest hit during these challenging times. They were the first to be affected when the Covid-19 pandemic broke and will, unfortunately, be likely, the last to recover fully.

If a company depends on organic search to drive business or search makes up a significant percentage of revenue generated, this may ultimately affect business in the future.

Google May 2020 Update

To understand the Google core update, check out this excellent article by Matt Southern who covered the update on Search Engine Journal (SEJ) here.


As per the SEJ article above:

“Sites will inevitably notice drops or gains in search rankings when a core update rolls out.

Changes in search rankings are generally a reflection of content relevancy.

Meaning if content has gained relevancy since the last update it will be moved higher up in rankings. The opposite is also true.

Then there’s newly published content that didn’t exist at the time of the last update. That all has to be reassessed against previously existing content.”

In particular, the significant event that occurred since the last update was the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

By Google’s own admission, there have never been so many searches for a single topic as there have been for Covid-19.

Google on Covid-19

The virus and the resulting pandemic have changed what people search on Google. More people are seeking information, products or services related to Covid-19 or to help in the current situation.

Topics, products and services that were not as relevant before are now extraordinarily relevant and subsequently prioritised by Google in this recent core update.

Conversely, categories and topics that were once highly relevant are no longer as searched for as before, including but not limited to travel, hospitality, events and live entertainment. As such, the Google May 2020 Core Update has a direct impact on these industries.

Google May 2020 Update Impact on Travel, Events and Entertainment


The drop in relevance and fewer searches for businesses, products and services in the travel, hospitality, events and entertainment industry will mean the search engine ranking performance (SERP) for such searches will be much lower.

This can have long-term consequences even after the Covid-19 pandemic is over unless Google runs another update. Even so, there is no guarantee that your website’s search engine ranking performance will return to prior levels.

While there are no guaranteed solutions to what you can do to prevent a drop in SERP, here are some recommendations that you should do to minimise the volatility over time.


If your business has a website, you want to ensure it is search engine optimised so that it ranks high in Google for your desired target keywords. This would be your pre-Covid-19 target keywords.

However, what you need to do now is to introduce content with keywords such as Covid-19 relevant keywords such as corona virus, remote, online, virtual, delivery, and social distancing. But, you must ensure that these keywords are used in the context of your business.

Note: This is not a call for you to use a black hat technique known as “keyword stuffing” by just having the Covid-19 keywords placed all-around your website. If you do this and the context of the keywords is not relevant, Google will penalise you and down-rank your website.

What you want to do is to create meaningful content that has value.

For example, if you are a service provider to the events industry and have found a value to move some of your business digitally, you want to create content around online events, virtual events, online registration or, online event activities.

You also want to create long-form articles or blog content around the Covid-19 topic that relates to your business.

For example, if you are in the travel industry, team up with a travel photographer and create a virtual tour in a location for virtual tourists. This can be in the form text, video and photos. Provide commentary, information and food & drink recipes so virtual tourists can have a taste of a location from their own homes. Of course, this is nothing like the real thing, but you are creating meaningful and creative content that Google will find relevant and rank. Most importantly, it relates to your business and ensures your Google online presence is maintained.

If your business cannot operate during this period, you might want to take the opportunity to share your expertise online through teaching others. In which case, keywords like online course for XXX subject, online training for XXX subject or virtual lessons for XXX subject may be relevant to you.

The goal is to link your business with target keywords that people are searching for during this Covid-19 period in a legitimate way. This is to keep your website relevant in Google’s “eyes”.

Here are some other SEO content marketing ideas you can developing using Covid-19-relevant keywords, contextualised for you business.


You can use the target keywords I gave above as a starting point.

Then, head over to Google’s Keyword Planner.

Keyword Planner is a tool that provides keyword ideas and traffic estimates to help you build a Search Network campaign. Search for keywords based on terms that describe your product or service, your website, or a product category related to what you want to be associated with.

Simply type in the target keywords I gave above along with the nature of your business and see what Google suggests. Narrow down relevant ones and use that as the basis of your content.

You should research similar businesses in your industry to see what they are doing and model after excellence. You can also look at other industries and see if you can borrow any relevant ideas.


The golden rule to follow when it comes to creating content is “user experience”. When assessing a website or webpage, Google primarily focuses on the value and experience that a site gives users. In a simplistic explanation, Google then uses hundreds of factors and signals to rank this user experience, and conversely, the website.

If the content is relevant to the user’s search, provides substantial value and is designed or laid out in a way that provides a positive experience, Google will favour such a site and reward it by ranking it higher in search results.

Additionally, if many people view the content, discuss or share the content on social media, these are signals for Google to rank the content.

As long as you keep user experience in mind, it will guide you on what content you should be creating and how you should be creating it.

After creating the content, you do want to ensure it is search engine optimised so that it is indexed and ranked by Google. Specially, you will want to focus on what is known as “On-page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)”.

To help you out on that, you can check out this article on essential search engine optimisation you should be doing for your website.

J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 12 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics. J C holds a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse". He has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938, and Money FM 89.3.

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