Google May 4th Core Update impact on Discourse forums

My two Discourse forums were hit badly by Google’s May 4th Core Update, while other non-discourse websites were getting better instead…

I am assuming it was due to the bad UX as that core update is more related to user experience, anyone has any ideas on this?


You can find, more about it in here:

that’s just a link from a simple google search “Google search May 4th update” it has impacted many websites, and perhaps it seems like it has affected Discourse badly due to the bad UX (specifically the rendering speed, as Google been warning about it for sometime now).


Sorry to hear that @Yassine_Yousfi, for those of us who do not know, can you share what the Google May 4th Core Update was? And how it specifically affected your community?


We’ve experienced the same—a significant drop in clicks and impressions from Google Search after the May 2020 Core Update which was rolled out between May 4th and May 18th.

Our Google Search Console performance chart for our Discourse forum (absolute numbers hidden):

Additional information about Google’s core updates is available in this blog post.


Site category

My site is a car enthusiast community that most of its participation is through people with issues with their cars and searching for guides and how-tos

Google webmaster data

Here you can see my massive drop just after May 4th. It’s a reduction of 40-50% which has been slowly getting back up with it is still hurting the operations of the forum.

Discourse own data

Yearly data

We can see an upward trend that starts slowing down on March (COVID-19 hits Latinamerica) but there’s a clear and sudden dip after the May 4th date

Two months data

As you can see, the site took a hit after May 4th but not as strong as the one that Google reports.

Infrastructure information

The site is hosted in a Digital Ocean droplet using the recommended install. On April I setup a CDN on the site which helped a lot to equalize page time loads in most of America form North to South. So not only the infrastructure has been stable it has improved its load times for the target audience.

If any of the Discourse team needs access to more detailed information, let me know.


You can find, more about it in here:

that’s just a link from a simple google search “Google search May 4th update” it has impacted many websites, and perhaps it seems like it has affected Discourse badly due to the bad UX (specifically the rendering speed, as Google been warning about it for sometime now).

I’ve edited the question too

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@marianord @ltm I’ve had the same exact thing:

The only thing I am suspecting is the LCP, the time it takes to render Discourse which I complained about previously in another thread that got closed by @codinghorror

It seems either that google is targetting any website with bad UX, in our case the drop was 50% in both discourse forums, but two other websites (that are not discourse) with lower content quality have actually improved for some reason.

I am not certain whether the LCP is one of the causes of the drop, but it will be hard to ever know for certain… But LCP as you see below is under “Poor” not “Need improvement” meaning that Google SERP is taking it seriously recently…

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Can’t confirm this, on the contrary, our website has been steadily going up in pageviews since May-June and google search hasn’t been impacted at all. Then again, this whole Covid thing has turned many things upside-down.


FWIW, I don’t have any evidence of this in my community.


Do you see any LCP errors on your Google Webmaster tools and is your forum a local one?

Everyone adding stats should also add what is their site category. Lots of industries are seeing lower traffic because pandemic.

So if your forum is about travel, or a technology used in work environments it may be more sensitive to Google changes.


Mine one was in Technology, and another in online marketing both saw a huge decrease.


Can’t there also be a server performance problem, maybe ? (And that would have a higher impact in the algorithm now ?)

Not really, the servers for both websites are actually quite fast and they are massively under-used (especially now with no traffic).

We’re in technology. We’ve seen a slight decrease year-over-year in Google traffic to our main site (approximately 8%) while the Google traffic to our Discourse forum has decreased 28%. So I don’t think the pandemic can be blamed exclusively. The sharp decline in traffic for multiple Discourse users on exactly May 4th also can’t be coincidental.


This is quite off! The Pandemic didn’t suddenly take place on May 4th! actually logically the SERP needs to improve due to the Pandemic like it did for our other non-discourse websites! As technology wasn’t that affected that badly at all by it in-fact now that users are working from home they are more likely to search for things online…etc…etc but again the Pandemic in the west started in March/April not suddenly in May while coinciding with a Core update from Google on the same day that as far as I read from their Twitter announcement thread it focuses mostly on UX.


Here you can see drop just after May 4th.

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Updated my initial post with a ton more information that I think might help

Pulled the stats for Meta - not seeing any major change as of May 4th.


Correct. This SEO issue has little to do with the pandemic, directly. However, Google is using their A.I. capabilities increasingly more and they are struggling to manage misinformation, relevancy and authority.

We saw the same issue after the Google May update on all our busy tech sites, including LAMP based architectures.

I need to do more analysis on this; but so far what I have read indicates that Google is using more A.I. to “improve” SERP, and based on experiences in the past, this often has a number of unintended and negative consequences.


Check the fresh updates on Googles twitter account about their updates…

As i have read, the Affiliate website owners will be at most punished by this update so far, and there was a bug for local seo, but they have fixed it already, otherwise there is no worries for other people aslong you have quality content, but not political content…

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