Huge Ranking Algorithm Change - Jan 10, 2016


JoyHawkins

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There is a lot of talk about the update that happened Saturday. See more about this here: https://dejanseo.com.au/major-google-update/:

What do we know about this update?
Global
It looks like Penguin, but it’s broader in its scope so at this stage it appears to be a multi-purpose update encompassing a range of search quality parameters. From webmaster reports we know this update carries global impact.

Link Spam
Some shocking websites have suddenly appeared in Google’s results (anchor text manipulation, link networks) so it appears as if the update hasn’t rolled out completely. If it has… well then it’s a likely failure and it will have to be rolled back much like they did in December 2014.

Localisation
There are still hints of this being localisation related change as well (some websites are now showing double listings classic organic and local organic).

Snippets

Certain results now show longer, very detailed snippets which often disregard meta description. These appear to a limited audience, likely a test.

Still seeing most experts insisting that it's not Penguin 4.0.

Have you seen any increases/decreases since Saturday?
 
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Caleb

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Nothing noticed here. Same steady flow of organic traffic from the big G... other than the usual bleeding of mobile rankings from our non-mobile friendly site.

This song comes to mind: Steady,as she goes.. (The Raconteurs)

Some of the responses John & Gary have put out on Twitter are hilarious.
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-google-response-21457.html
I loved the one John looped in @POTUS

Has anyone here noticed unexpected ups/downs in rankings?
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Joy, I was reading the chatter over the weekend.

Some of the responses John & Gary have put out on Twitter are hilarious.
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-google-response-21457.html
I loved the one John looped in @POTUS

Has anyone here noticed unexpected ups/downs in rankings?
Thanks Caleb, those comments from Gary and John cracked me up!

Notable is Dejan's previous post too:

<a href="https://dejanseo.com.au/today-is-the-biggest-google-update-since-june-2015/">Today is the Biggest Google Update Since June 2015</a>

There are some indicators that this might be a localisation-related update. We’ve checked a few results which contribute to Algoroo’s volatility index and noticed a very different landscape for a number of queries. Some of the results are completely out while some new players are in the first page of results.
All the SERPs I keep an eye on are still the same. I saw big movement in the main one I watch over the Holidays, but nothing since then.

Anyone else?
 

Linda Buquet

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FYI Joy started a thread at the Pro Community too, so may want to check there later as Pros wake up and start weighing in.

<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JoyHawkins/posts/3oDiKL3v87f">Local Search Pros - Community - Google+</a>
 

JoyHawkins

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So far this is what I'm seeing:

  • We have tons of clients that saw small lifts (increased a couple positions across many keywords)
  • The client that saw the biggest increase was a multi-location business that just signed up with us and had a manual penalty a couple months ago and we disavowed several thousand domains (he had over 1 million links total). His ranking tracker showed increases in position for almost every keyword.
 

Marie Haynes

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Penguin work comprises the majority of what I do and I have seen almost no changes that I would call Penguin.

I find it interesting that many people are seeing link related changes. It seems to me that most of those who are reporting big changes are in verticals that have more proclivity for spam.

But, I'm seeing some changes in sites that would have more Panda issues than Penguin.

If you're interested, here's more on my thoughts on whether or not this is Penguin:

Something big is happening. Is this finally Penguin?

We'll see how this plays out. There's definitely something going on. I almost wonder if Google will tell us that they've got an entirely new core algorithm now.
 

JoyHawkins

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@Marie,

I saw your article and am really glad you put it out there! My client that increased a lot was a staffing agency. Would you consider that a spammy industry?
 

Marie Haynes

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Hi Joy,

I would bet that it's possible. I know that staffing agencies can make HUGE money, so I'm betting that there is a lot of competition in those SERPS. Anywhere where there is big competition there will also be aggressive spamming.

Of course, this is just a theory of mine as I'm trying to rationalize why others are seeing Penguin-like changes and I am not.
 

mborgelt

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Thanks for sharing this information everyone. It seems like Google's "major" updates are shaking the tree a lot less than in previous years (no complaints here). I am curious if this is at all related to the promise Gary made. Also, the Twitter banter about this has been pure gold.
 

JoshuaMackens

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All clients were fine except one took a penalty somehow. Gone from page 1 of SERP's. Nothing black hat or anything. Not sure how it happened.

But it doesn't seem to be behaving like Penguin. Penguin normally just suppresses your ranking back to a deep page, like page 8. At least in my limited experience. His homepage is actually gone completely. However, an inner page is ranking in the 40's. So strange.

Have you seen anything like that before Mary?
 

Marie Haynes

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I've had a couple of clients this week for whom the home page has dropped out of the top 20 pages and then a few days later resurfaced. Hard to say why though and I don't think it was Penguin related at all.
 

Susan

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Crazy stuff going on from what I'm reading - but haven't seen any direct impact. Spent the day looking at the SERPs for multiple clients. Nothing. Which is ok with me. Looking forward to seeing continued conversations about this potential change. Thanks to all of you for sharing your input!
 

JoshuaMackens

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I've had a couple of clients this week for whom the home page has dropped out of the top 20 pages and then a few days later resurfaced. Hard to say why though and I don't think it was Penguin related at all.
Did the homepage rank at all for those clients? That's what's most concerning for me at the moment.
 

Caleb

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@JohnMu It's not penguin; not "confirmed-ish" just "confirmed" :).

Gary said it's a "core algo update."

We're still seeing nothing across any of our sites.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jen and Barry are reporting that Panda is now part of the core algo, instead of a spam filter added after the fact.

<a href="http://www.thesempost.com/google-panda-is-now-part-of-the-core-ranking-algo/">Google Panda is Now Part of the Core Ranking Algo</a>

<a href="https://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-core-ranking-algorithm-21465.html">Google Panda Is Now Part Of Google's Main Core Ranking Algorithm</a>

So if it was just added and that's what the update is we've been seeing then I suspect what's happening in local is this...

If you and your competitors don't have any Panda issues, then that's likely why some of you didn't see much change. If one or more of your competitors had Panda issues and dropped down or out, you moved up. That's what I'm thinking at this point anyway.
 

Marie Haynes

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This whole thing is a mess. Google confirmed that this was a core algo update, just like one of the many ones that they make all year long. But, they did not confirm that Panda was a part of the update.

Jen Slegg reported yesterday that a Google employee said that Panda had "become one of our core ranking signals". That got interpreted as "Panda is baked into the main algo" and then that got stretched to "Panda is running real time".

Gary Illyes tweeted that this was NOT Panda:

https://twitter.com/methode/status/686924661360295936

Hopefully Google will give us further clarification on the whole thing.
 
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On Thursday the fourteenth one of my clients (cannot divulge) experienced a change in rankings for key search terms. The last check before this was on Tuesday the twelfth. For several terms they fell from 3rd and in the pack to seventh and not in the pack. I checked again this morning and got almost the same results. Could this be the algorithm change? If so does anyone know where I should be looking for a reason?
Thanks in advance for your help,
Stephen
 

JoyHawkins

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Stephen,

I was just on a webinar and someone pointed out a couple tools that I wasn't aware of before:

http://serp.watch/
https://www.ayima.com/pulse/

Both these tools are showing ranking changes but http://serp.watch/ caught my eye because if I look at just the US and law, for example, the ranking changes have been much more noticeable/severe than finance, for example.

I would say it looks like your example could very well be related to the update.

 

JoshuaMackens

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Just got off the phone with a business owner who is experiencing the same thing I am.

I'm going to split this into 2 parts:

Part 1

Here's what's going on with my client. He is a chiropractor. For his main terms like "chiropractor", "chiropractors", etc. he has completely dropped out of the rankings. For his secondary terms like "back pain", "neck pain", "spinal decompression" he is still ranking where he was before the update.

Looking a little closer at everything, I realized that the culprit is his homepage dropped completely out of the rankings. But the inner pages are still ranking just fine. The inner pages are what is and has been ranking for "back pain", "neck pain", "spinal decompression", etc. That's why we didn't lose ranking for those terms What's been ranking for our main terms like "chiropractor", "chiropractors is our homepage. That's why we dropped for those terms, because our homepage got it.

We dropped from page 1 to page 4 for our main terms. Sure enough, I look at the page ranking on page 4 and it's an inner page. I look for our homepage and guess where it's ranking? NO WHERE. I scrolled through as many results as Google would give me for "chiropractor <city>" and no where to be found.

So, obviously our site as a whole is fine. It's the homepage that got hit.

If this is Penguin, it's a different type of Penguin because Penguin use to hit a site as a whole, not just a page. However, maybe Penguin has evolved to that point. I mean, they're talking about a rolling penguin filter anyway, so improvements are obviously being made.

If this is Panda, then something is wrong. Our homepage is 100% complete unique content. It makes no sense.


Part 2

So, as I mentioned today, I had a business owner call me about his website. He's seeing a similar but a bit different situation.

His homepage is still ranking for one of his main terms but an inner page of his website is ranking over it.

This is a bit off-topic but an interesting side note: he and I did not see them same results for this particular keyword. I saw him still ranking in the same spot he always has, #1 organically, while he saw the new results, where he ranks around #9 with an inner page and #10 right behind it with his homepage. Is the update not completely rolled out yet? Does it affect people differently in different areas (I'm a long distance from him and didn't have search location set to his city)? Or does it have something to do with data centers, which I know Linda has mentioned at some point. I'd love some opinions on this.

So, he sees a similar situation.

Now, he shows me a competitor that is ranking above him (#3 or so) that didn't use to. Guess what page is ranking #3? The competitor's inner page. I look across 9 pages of search results (900 search results as I set it to 100 results a page) for this particular keyword, the competitor's homepage is no where to be found, but his inner pages are all over the place.

Then I get curious and look at the competitor's main search term. This term is the first term in their homepage title tag, all over their homepage, etc. Sure enough, through 900 results, tons of their inner pages, nothing on their homepage.

So their homepage got hit too.

I checked them out in Majestic and they're definitely doing SEO. Denver is a hotly hit keyword for them, so this could be a Penguin hit. But honestly, a lot of their links look legitimate. At least the powerful ones do. It could have been the low quality, exact matches that got them. I'm not sure there's enough of those or enough exact match to overcome the high quality ones that don't have keywords in them at all though.

It does look like some sort of penalty was rolled out though. It doesn't look Panda related to me. It looks Penguin related. But it's odd. Again, Penguin normally hits a whole site. I've seen two instances now where it's just hit the homepage. So, maybe Penguin is hitting page level now. Or maybe it's not Penguin at all.

All opinions are welcome.
 

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