Unconfirmed Google Search ranking update feels big

Google seems to have pushed out some ranking algorithm change over the weekend that has resulted in a large shift in the rankings of many web sites. To be clear, Google has not yet commented on the speculation around this update or confirmed that an update even occurred.

Always changing. Yes, Google’s search results are always changing and new pages come into the index, new signals are being refreshed and Google makes thousands of changes per year. We know that, but it is not that often that we see such a big spike in both the SEO community chatter and the rank checking tools.

Rank checking tools. Here are some screenshots from the popular rank checking tools. The tool providers have said they do not count user interface changes or the featured snippet deduplication change with their rank changes. So while some suspect the featured snippet deduplication or a user interface change is the result for these tools showing the rank fluctuations, it does not appear this is accurate.

Here is what the tools are showing in terms of how the URLs these track for specific Google queries have changed day-by-day.

Mozcast shows spikes in ranking fluctuations in recent days. SEMRush also shows “very high” recent volatility in rankings. Advanced Web Rankings showed a very big spike on February 10. SERPMetrics “top100” sites showed significant movement in recent days. Accuranker shows large changes across across the top 100 results per keyword. RankRanger shows big changes over the past few days SERP fluctuations for 10,000+ domains and keywords it tracks. Cognitive SEO shows changes based on the over 170,000 keywords the tool tracks. Algoroo shows big changes as well based its sample query data.

So as you can see, most of these tracking tools are “off the charts.” This doesn’t mean your site was impacted in a positive or negative way. But a good number of sites were impacted, according to these tools.

SEO industry chatter. I cover a lot of the chatter in the SEO community on my personal blog. I summarized a lot of that chatter over there. Let me share some recent posts on Twitter with specific charts of how individual sites were impacted:

Things are still in flux as of this morning according to Glenn Gabe

Still in flux. It seems this update is still going on as of this morning. Sites impacted on Saturday are still seeing changes as of this morning. Like I said above, you may not notice any change for your specific sites at this point in time. So for now, just check your analytics and narrow down to your organic Google traffic. If you see big changes, for now, wait it out and keep an eye on it as this update settles.

Why we care. While with most Google updates, especially core updates, there “is no fix” according to Google, the company has given general advice on how to improve your site. The advice is good for making your web site better, so it doesn’t hurt to take a step back, read it, and continue to make your site better every day.

With this unconfirmed update, right now, let’s wait and see how things roll out and if Google comments. Stay tuned.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.