Each time Google updates its algorithm, it’s moving a step forward in making the search experience easy and more relevant to the users. However, as SEO professionals, we get entangled with questions from clients on why the update caused fluctuation in rankings.
Unconfirmed Google Algorithm Update – 23-06-2020
We know Google has a history of rolling back some of the signals after the rollout of Broad Core Updates. However, these changes are not announced and it’s only through the sensors that we get to know about the SERP fluctuations.
It looks like Google has rolled back a few signals of May Core Update on the 23rd June as we have seen websites hit by the last Broad Core Update getting ranking improvements.
Here is a quick analysis of unconfirmed Google Update that I did along with Senthil Kumar, VP, Stan Ventures.
The sensors are also showing a big spike in ranking fluctuations
Google Starts Rolling Out May 2020 Core Update – 04-05-2020
After two months of recess, the SEO community has to brace for yet another Google Broad Core Algorithm Update. Announcing the roll-out of the latest core update, the Official Search Liaison Twitter handle said, the update has started rolling out across different data centers.
Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUAlt0G
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 4, 2020
The roll-out, like all other typical broad core algorithm updates, will take a week to complete, and the impact may take some time to reflect on the results.
The May 2020 Core Update is now rolling out live. As is typical with these updates, it will typically take about one to two weeks to fully roll out.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 4, 2020
Unlike the daily updates that Google launches, the broad core algorithm update has vast implications as it is notorious for shuffling the organic results, causing fluctuations in the organic rankings of websites.
However, there is no quick fix if a broad core algorithm update hits you, says Google. The reason for the decline in the organic ranking is not because your website has serious SEO issues, but it is the result of Google finding better results for the search query.
Listen to my discussion with Senthil Kumar, VP, Stan Ventures about the impact of Google May Core Algorithm Update:
Senthil: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of SEO on Air. Today I have with me my colleague, Dileep. And this is the first time we’re collaborating on this (podcast). Dileep is our content head and takes care of the Stan Ventures web content.
Most of you who are listening to this will be aware of the rank for most of the competing keywords when it comes to Google algorithm updates. So it’s the time of the year where Google releases these algorithm updates and you may see a bump in your web traffic. Well, that doesn’t really mean it’s all because of the algorithm update, as it could as well be seasonal traffic. So, we are here to discuss what this algorithm update is about and what it can cause.
So, I and Dileep came up with the podcast idea just five minutes back (we were having a conversation about what’s happening out there). It’s a very ad hoc, impromptu podcast, I would say. Anyway, Dileep, welcome to the show, man.
Dileep: Thank you. Thank you.
Senthil: The topic for today’s discussion is the Google algorithm update. The core algorithm update is very special because it’s a rock-solid one. They (Google) waited for two months and then released it.
Dileep: Yes. So now they have a definite pattern for launching the algorithm updates, at least the core one. The last one was launched in March, the other in Jan. So definitely we can expect a broad core algorithm update during the period of every two-months.
Within the SEO community, many SEO forums were discussing Google postponing the update because of COVID. However, I think Google had its own plans.
So this time, if you check the fluctuations after the May broad core update, they are huge. There was a big launch last year, the BERT. It was said that almost 10% of the global search will have its impact, but you can’t see much fluctuation.
However, compared to the last three or four Google algorithm updates, this one has high fluctuation. This means some websites, which were ranking on top, have definitely felt the heat. Some well-maintained websites may have improved their rankings, but a handful of websites that were ranking on the first page or the featured snippet have definitely felt an impact of this update.
Senthil: I did notice that because I was tracking a few high-value keywords last week in an insurance article for a prospective client. We were doing an SEO audit and trying to figure out what they were ranking for. When talks began, they were in the sixth position, and after we submitted the proposal, they were in the third position. They were pretty happy about it.
But one thing that I noticed was that earlier, the first and second position was dominated by really good brands in the industry. The prospective client was in the third position while other data aggregators like Policy Bazaar were ranking in the fifth and sixth places.
After this update, these big brand websites have gone down the ranking scale and the data aggregating sites with some really good content have climbed up the ladder. It’s a weakness because, instead of tracking the services pages of websites for keywords related to money, Google is choosing to focus on sites with huge chunks of detailed content.
Dileep: I think that’s pretty good because Google is tracking for the users. So, for example, the guy who lost his ranking for a money-related keyword may rank on his features page for the same keyword. However, if a user clicks on the site and finds the information useless, he/she will definitely click back to the search page and find the right site for their needs. So this is basically Google collecting information from users over time, using tactics like this where the user closes one site and opens another, and letting them know what they want ranking on SERPs.
That’s why there is always a gap of two to three months when they launch the Broad core update. If you check on a daily basis, Google launches two to three updates every now and then. Last year alone, there were almost 900,000 updates launched.
Coming back to the money keyword, we have to understand that the user typing the keyword is not considering it as one. He wants something else, and that’s why the blogs are ranking now.
Senthil: So, let me share my screen and do a quick check. I think you’ve already added a detailed analysis on this, so let’s do a quick walkthrough. For people who are listening to this, we’ll be adding this podcast on the blog post as well for your perusal.
Dileep: The day the update was launched, there were no major fluctuations in rankings. What usually happens is that after Google rolls out the update, its effects start showing over the next few days.
It was on May 4th that Danny Sullivan, through his official Google account, announced that they were going to launch the new update. But when I checked the Moz and SemRush sensors on that particular day, both these tools were not showing much fluctuation.
It was on May 4th that they announced the update, but the fluctuation started from May 5th.
Senthil: Yeah. I can see a big tower here.
Dileep: Actually, there is a bigger update, which you can see if you Google SEMRush sensor, and it has caused huge fluctuation in rankings.
Usually, the algorithm updates are launched across multiple data centers. On May 5th, when it was just rolled out, the SEMRush sensor was at 7.7, and you can see a huge spike on May 6th.
Senthil: Yeah, just shot up like anything.
Dileep: So this huge spike in rank fluctuations is something that I haven’t seen for at least one and a half years. It can be a good indicator that many websites have been hit by the update. You can also see all the categories that have got hit.
Senthil: So it’s clearly not a regular update. When it comes to Google core algorithm updates, it’s across industries. It’s not like an EAT update or YMYL update where only the money websites, insurance, healthcare, and other similar websites were affected.
But if you look at a broad core algorithm update, you can easily figure out that by looking at this itself, you can look at all the categories. Almost everybody has taken a hit, right? This gives you a sense that this is definitely a broad core algorithm update.
So the local pack, obviously, because of the COVID and other reasons, might have taken a hit, but look at this knowledge panel, the growth by 32.2%.
Dileep: And also, if you check for some individual niches, you can see there’s a huge drop in featured snippet positions during that particular day.
But it has picked up after they rolled out the update completely. So this means that they have made some fresh changes to what they are displaying on the featured snippet data. So if you’ll just select one of the top niches in that, go to finance or even health.
Senthil: Yeah. Let’s look at health care because that’s the department where last year, the update hit them. The local pack has taken a hit by 1.2%
Dileep: So you can see how the featured snippet has been packed at this thing climb, which is showing, that is how the featured snippets, so that day when they launched that date, the featured snippet went down. Like anything. So that means they really did some refresh on the feature snippet area, and now we can see it is normalizing.
One thing about featured snippets is you can see that they are getting the user’s inputs. They have a feedback area for all the features in the search results displayed. They get feedback from the users and they use it whenever they do a broad core algorithm update. That’s what I have seen while analyzing the past few updates that they have rolled out.
A feature snippet position is something that no website owner can say, “I am ranking on the featured snippet and I will be ranking there for the rest of the year.” You can’t predict it because this is something that Google decides and based on many factors, which they obviously have not revealed.
But yeah, there are techniques in which you can optimize your content to rank on featured snippets, which most of the website owners are also trying to do.
So the position of the featured snippet is something that is kind of volatile when an algorithm update is launched.
Senthil: Let’s look at mobile as well. The data might be skewed anyways because COVID 19 is there and there will be naturally a decrease.
Dileep: The problem is that the user’s mentality for search has changed over the last two months. There are a lot of daily updates that they are rolling out. So, based on that, they are tweaking the search results on a daily basis.
There are chances that some of the niches, before even launching this particular update, were facing some kind of fluctuation in their ranking because the user intent kind of changed after the COVID incident.
Senthil: Absolutely. So I think the best thing for whoever has lost the rankings, I know some, I mean, there are always winners and losers and it changes.
So if you’ve won, congratulations. Enjoy the cake and enjoy the victory. But the people who have been building so far and have lost the rankings, I don’t think we should panic. I think there’s not much that you can do about it. Probably, you can get back to the basics. Try to check the spammy links, try to look at the person that outranks you. Look at that page and look at the content styling.
Dileep, what I feel is when people are looking at it, they miss the point that “what is the intent?” Why did Google outrank it? For example, at the beginning of the conversation, I told you. This was a money page where it is trying to sell an insurance product.
But the website that has outranked this website has a page which talks about top 10 insurance products that you can buy. And it has a really good comparison. So I think the intent shift is there. Instead of thinking that you should add all your content on the service page, maybe you can rethink the strategy, look at the search results and figure out what Google prefers to show more.
Maybe if they are gonna show more blog pages, then maybe it’s time for you to recheck if any blog on your website has the capacity to go and try to do that. Because if you’re still stuck with the money page, then probably, it might work or it might not.
So it’s always better to have your link man in place so that if anything happens and you know, you still have a lifeline to save you.
Dileep: I think one of the reasons why people try to put these kinds of money keywords for the service pages itself is because the number of conversions that happen from a blog page probably might be a little less than the service page.
So that is probably the thought process. But here, the intent is different than the user who is coming from a blog based content will never buy a product from your website. So he’s in the top of the funnel probably, like we say in marketing. So he’s just exploring the options. Even if you are ranking for the keyword on the featured snippet, I don’t think the person will buy the product from you.
He will again go back, he will do his research and probably, later on in the stage of his marketing funnel, he might come back again. But again, at the initial stage, he will not. So ideally, if that is the case, then I would prefer having a blog rather than my service page.
Senthil: Absolutely. You’re right. Actually, the money keyword is still there. Money keywords, like for example buy with a particular name, the ranking still hasn’t changed. But the ranking has changed for the top of the funnel informative keywords. So I think the change is now Google itself is trying to realign themselves into saying hey if you’re an insurance company, don’t go after the keyword insurance. That’s all. That’s what Google is trying to say.
If it’s like insurance, it means the intent of the user is to look at multiple comparisons. So even if you’re a big brand so far, you might have won that cushion layer from Google because Google thinks the best brands should always rank, but now I think that is getting decimated with this.
So basically, they want to keep the users happy. That’s how Google earns. So if the user is not happy, then they are losing their own money. So they want to make users as happy as possible.
They have all the ways to understand whether the user is happy or not. They can check the time spent on the page, the bounce rate; these are all signals that Google already has to measure whether the user is happy or not. So there is no way we can trick it. I think the thought process should be to align ourselves with the intent of the user.
Just forget about Google, let’s just forget about Google for the time being, and just try to focus on your user. If your user is coming for something, which is probably a blog post, you provide him that rather than putting your service page upfront.
Senthil: So hopefully, yes. Guys, that summarizes the discussion. So, if you are affected by this algorithm update, please don’t panic. Just look at who has outranked you. Look at what intent that website satisfies and ensure that you’re able to match up to that expectation. And for God’s sake, don’t go after the single keywords. Go after the keywords that solve the intent.
That is exactly what Google is trying to do. Don’t try to be Wikipedia. Try to be a brand. You’re there to make money, so whatever pages that make you money, try to focus on the page and don’t go after the tons of other things out there.
So that summarizes this discussion. Thank you so much, everyone. So Dileep, you have anything else to add before I wind up this podcast?
Dileep: One more thing, I think there are a lot of people who are in panic mode because I am seeing a lot of comments on our Google algorithm update page, telling that they are almost on the verge of closing down their business because of this update. So what I would like to tell them is this is something that is probably a phase in your digital marketing platform. So basically, it can turn around within the next algorithm update.
So what usually happens is once the algorithm update is launched, then after two or three days, Google would analyze whether the update has hit some genuine websites. So what they used to do is they used to roll back whatever negative things were there within the update.
Senthil: Like a refresh. They usually release it after a couple of weeks. So your job is not lost yet, guys. So don’t worry. There will definitely be a refresh coming up and the good sites that got knocked down by this, they will get their thing back. But that also depends on who outranked you. So if that outranked guy is better than you, then that is a very little chance.
Dileep: Yeah, but again, if they keep on trying to improve upon their content, I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to rank when the next broad core algorithm is launched. So Google itself says a majority of the sites who are hit by a broad core algorithm update, they can only recover when another broad core algorithm update is launched.
So basically, just wait for another two months. Do a good job, continue producing good quality content, and then you’ll have a sure shot of ranking again.
Senthil: Absolutely. Great. Thanks, man. It was a good conversation. So anyone having any questions around this, please feel free to leave your comments.
We’ll do our best to get back to you. Dileep will answer whatever technical things that you guys have. Feel free to give a shout out and hopefully, we get through this. Already COVID on one side and the core algorithm on the other side. Tough times actually make the best businesses, so if you’re able to survive the next two months, you can survive at least for a while.
So all the best guys! Feel free to share your comments, and don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. I’m just trying to become like the YouTubers. Anyway, thank you so much. Have a nice day.
The only way for websites that are impacted by the broad core update is to improve the quality of the content and its authority.
We did a quick analysis of the popular algorithm trackers and the impact of the Broad Core Update seems significant. Here are a few screenshots.
We will keep you posted with all insights about the May 2020 Core Update when the SERP dance settles down.
Unusual SERP Changes During Unusual Times (March – April)
The weeks following the spread of COVID-19 have been quite tumultuous with almost all Google Algorithm Update checkers displaying spike in algorithm activity. We are not sure whether this is due to the change in global trends after the global pandemic or because of some incremental updates that Google has rolled out.
With many local businesses now temporarily closed, the local search results are witnessing many changes. The Google Map Pack is currently subjected to high-volatility due to the COVID-19 circumstances.
However, we believe that this is a passing phase, and things will normalize once the threat of COVID-19 is over. We are all looking up to that day and hope you and your family are safe during these difficult times.
Google has made several steps to ensure that no fake news goes out to the public through their SERP, and this has resulted in many Health and Wellness websites seeing massive fluctuations. If you check the SERP page for COVID-19, it’s evident that Google doesn’t want to take a chance by listing sites other than the high authority ones.
Since Google has not come up with any announcements regarding core update, these changes have to be deciphered as the result of the change in search behavior of the users.
Going by the algorithm trackers, there is a high fluctuation on almost every day. What we are now going through is unforeseen circumstances, and the same is happening in the search landscape.
Such a scenario has never occurred in the internet era, and the current changes and fluctuations have to be put into in-depth analysis before we can conclude on the factors that are making such violent SERP changes.
If you are seeing massive traffic drop or keyword positions decreasing, I suggest you not to make a series of changes at this point in time. Keep doing the great work and wait until the good times are back
SERP Fluctuations Through the Eyes of Algorithm Trackers
Unconfirmed Algorithm Update – February 8 – 13, 2020
We understand that there are thousands of algorithm tweaks that happen every year. However, the one that has occurred during the last one week seems to be as significant as a broad core algorithm update!
Announcing important algorithm updates before its rollout is a habit that Google has been following since last two years. Thanks to Danny Sullivan, the SearchLiaison twitter handle has been doing a great job, keeping webmasters informed about impending updates.
However, it seems like an update with as much or even more impact than a Broad Core Algorithm Update was rolled out last week – unnoticed.
I asked Danny whether there was a significant update. However, the answer came out to be the same template that Google executives provide when they are hesitant to reveal further details of the update.
We do updates all the time. I would suggest rereading our general advice about this: https://t.co/aL4QObvvhH
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 13, 2020
However, I’d take this reply from Danny as an “Yes” to my question. We will be doing an in-depth analysis of the websites impacted by this update in the coming days.
Featured Snippet Algorithm Update – January 23, 2020
Google officials announced that it has rolled out an algorithm update that will restrict URLs that is shown in the featured snippet to appear again within the first ten organic search results.
Google’s Danny Sullivan, while replying to a question on twitter confirmed that a webpage that gets featured in the snippet position AKA #0 position, will not show up again in the listing.
According to Danny, Google’s Public Searchliaison, the new tweak in the algorithm will ensure the Search Results page is not cluttered, and only relevant information gets displayed.
He also confirmed that starting today, the featured snippet will be counted as one of the ten listings on the SERP.
“If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show,” tweeted Danny.
Danny also confirmed that the new update has been rolled out 100% and is now effective globally.
It rolled out today 100% globally.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2020
Interestingly, I had predicted the same to happen last week and had asked Google’s John Mueller whether Google is testing the new featured snippet update. John’s reply to my tweet was convincing enough to believe that they were indeed testing the new update, which is now live.
These are organic search features, so they can change over time.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) January 16, 2020
Google January 2020 Broad Core Algorithm Update
As announced on January 13th Google rolled out the first Algorithm Update of 2020. The significance of this algorithm update increases as the search engine giant has confirmed that the new Google Update is a broad core algorithm update.
The January 2020 Core Update is now live and will be rolling out to our various data centers over the coming days.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 13, 2020
The roll out was pre-announced through the Google Search Liaison official twitter handle. The tweet read, “Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the January 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. ”
Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the January 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUA3RC6
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 13, 2020
Google rolls out close to a thousand algorithm updates each year. However, it’s only a few times in a year that a broad core algorithm update is released. The significance of the broad core algorithm is closely related to the impact it has on the websites.
Unlike the core update, which usually goes unnoticed due to the fewer tremors it causes, the Broad Core Algorithm Update makes significant SERP fluctuations, which often results in giving webmasters panic attack.
All this said Google has been telling webmasters that the only way to recover from the impact of a Broad Core Algorithm update is by building great content. It also says that these updates are focused on improving the search quality by giving users better search results.
During the initial days after the Algorithm Update, various Algorithm Update trackers started showing huge fluctuations. This is an indication that a lot of websites are in fact seeing increase or decrease in their organic ranking positions.
What is a Google Broad Core Update?
A broad core update is an algorithm update that can impact the search visibility of a large number of websites. Each time an update is rolled out, Google reconsiders that SERP Ranking of websites based on expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- Unlike the daily core update, the broad core update comes with far-reaching impact.
- Fluctuation in ranking positions can be detected for search queries globally.
- The update improves contextual results for search queries.
- There is no fix for websites that were previously hurt by Google update.
- The only fix is to improve the content quality.
- Focus more on Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E.A.T)
To know more about what is a broad core algorithm update, check our in-depth article on the same. We will provide you in and out of the new update in a short while. Please keep a tab on this blog.
Future Algorithms will be of Google, by Google, and for Google
As we all know, the Google organic search is on a self-induced slow-poison! How many of you remember the old Google’s search results page, where all the organic search results were on the left and minimal ads on the right? Don’t bother, remembering isn’t going to make it come back!
If you’ve been using Google for the last two decades, then the transformation of Google Search may have amazed you. If you don’t think so, just compare these two screenshots of Google SERP from 2005 and 2019.
Google started making major changes to the algorithm, starting with the 2012 Penguin update. During each Google Algorithm Update, webmasters focus on factors such as building links, improving the content, or technical SEO aspects.
Even though these factors play a predominant role in the ranking of websites on Google SERP, an all too important factor is often overlooked!
There has been a sea of change in the way Google displays its search results, especially with the UI/UX. This has impacted websites more drastically than any other algorithm update that has been launched to date.
In the above screenshot, the first fold of the entire SERP is taken over by Google features. The top result is a Google Ads, the one next to it is the map pack, and on the right, you have Google Shopping Ads.
The ads and other Google-owned features that occupied less than 20% of the first fold of the SERP Page now take up 80% of it. According to our CTR heatmap, 80% of users tend to click on websites that are listed within the first fold of a search engine results page.
This is an alarming number as ranking on top of Google SERP can no longer guarantee you higher CTR because Google is keen to drive traffic to its own entities, especially ads.
Since this is a factor that webmasters have very little control over, the survival of websites in 2020 and beyond will depend on how they strategize their SEO efforts to understand the future course of the search engine giant.
When talking about how Google Algorithm Updates might work in 2020, it’s impossible to skip two trends – the increasing number of mobile and voice searches. The whole mobile-friendly update of April 2015 was not a farce, but a leap ahead by the search engine giant that would eventually make it a self-sustained entity.
We will discuss voice and mobile search in detail a bit after as they require a lot of focus.
Algorithms will Transform Google as a Content Curator
If you dig into the history of search engines a little deeper, you’d know that Yahoo started as a web directory that required entering details manually. Of course, this wasn’t a scalable model. On the other hand, Google’s founders decided to build algorithms that can fetch the data and store it for the future. However, Google later realized that their model can be turned into one of the most ROI generating one.
Google of 2019 is both a content curator and a search engine. However, moving forward, Google will be less of a search engine and more of a content curator. Still wondering how Google is curating content to its users? Here are a few examples:
Just Google “Hepatitis B” and you will find a knowledge graph on the right that is autogenerated by Google.
This particular information about Hepatitis B is generated by Google’s Learning Algorithm by stitching together data from authority websites. According to Google, this medical information is collected from high-quality websites, medical professionals, and search results.
With Google being the repository of important web pages that users value, you can expect more such self-curated content in Google search. It’s interesting that even the creative used in such results are created by Google. Another example of Google doing self-attribution.
Here is Another Example of Google Curating Content
A Google search for “how tall is the Eiffel tower?” will display a knowledge card with the exact answer to the user’s question, without any attribution.
But further scrutiny into the SERP, especially the right-side Knowledge Graph, will help you find out how Google came up with the answer.
This is an indication of how critical the structured data would be in 2020 and the years to follow. However, structured data is a double-edged sword as the Google of 2020 may use it on SERP (like in this case) with zero attribution.
Google Algorithms will Stick to Its Philosophy, But with a Greedy Eye
If you think Google is fair and isn’t greedy, here is something that you may have missed in the earlier screenshot.
The way Google is moving ahead seems like the algorithms will scatter ads clandestinely within the SERP to direct more traffic to promoted/sponsored content.
Basically, Google is taking data from your website, repurposing it for the knowledge graph, and getting monetary benefits, which ultimately do not reach you. However, taking into account Google’s current position, this has to be seen as a desperate move!
Google was petrified by the decrease in the click-through-rates received for results on mobile devices and did everything possible to get their million-dollar advert revenue back on track. And one such step was what we now call Mobilegiddon. The mobile-first indexing approach introduced in 2015 was a silent threat to websites asking them to either toe the line or be ready to be pushed to the graveyard (second and following pages of Google search.)
The perk that Google earned from this strategy is that it saved the amount of time and effort to update its algorithm to crawl and render both mobile and desktop versions of websites. So, with mobile-first indexing in place, Google decided to use mobile-first UI/UX.
Here is how
(Screenshot of the Mobile-first design of Google)
E.A.T (Expertise, Authority, Trust)
Google has been quite vocal about maintaining the E A T standard. Even though this is now more focused on websites in the YMYL category websites, moving forward, the Algorithms will become smarter and start using it for all niche.
Google’s Algorithms will keep on ensuring websites that feature on the first page of its search provide the best accurate information for the users. Implementing this across the web will ensure that users only get the best results on SERP.
Online reviews, social mentions, brand mentions, and general sentiments across the web will play a vital role in ranking websites on Google.
No-follow and UGC Links Will Pass Link Juice
It was a while since Google made any major announcement with regard to links. However, 2019 saw the search giant adding two new attributes to the links in addition to the do-follow and no-follow.
UGC and Sponsored are the two new link attributes that will soon become part of the Google ranking factors. A majority of the sites use the no-follow as the default attribute for external links. This is one reason why Google introduced the two new link attributes.
Moving forward, no-follow and UGC links will start passing link juice. Even though the importance of these links will not be as significant as the do-follow, they will definitely pay a vital role in the future.
When it comes to the promoted links, Google will ensure that its algorithm completely ignores passing the link juice. Google has asked the webmasters to start using these attributes as early as possible as they are scheduled to become part of the Google Ranking Factors in March 2020.
BERT Update Live for 70 Languages – December 9, 2019
Google has officially announced the roll out of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) in Google Search across 70 languages.
Earlier in October, Google rolled out BERT, touting it as the latest and most reliable language processing algorithm. The BERT has its origin from the Transformers project undertaken by Google engineers.
During the announcement of BERT Algorithm Update, Google confirmed that its new language processing algorithm will try to understand words in relation to all the other words in a query, rather than one-by-one in order. This gives more impetus to the intent and context of the search query and delivers results that the user seeks.
The Google SearchLiaison official tweet says, “BERT, our new way for Google Search to better understand language, is now rolling out to over 70 languages worldwide. It initially launched in Oct. for US English.”
Here is the list of languages that uses the BERT natural language processing algorithm to display Google search results:
Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Azeri, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified & Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian Malay (Brunei Darussalam & Malaysia), Malayalam, Maltese, Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Spanish.
Difference Between BERT and Neural Matching Algorithm
The recent announcement about the rollout of the November Local Search Algorithm Update by Google has opened up a pandora of questions in the webmaster’s community. The whole hoo-ha about the update stems from the term “neural matching.”
It was only in September that Google announced the rollout of its BERT update, which is said to impact 10% of the search results. With another language processing algorithm update now put in place, the webmaster community is confused as to what difference both these updates will make on the SERP results.
Google has patented many language processing algorithms. The recent BERT and the Neural Matching are just two among them. The Neural Matching Algorithm was part of the search results since 2018. However, this has been upgraded with the BERT update in 2019 September.
As of now, Google has not confirmed whether the Neural Matching Algorithm was replaced by the BERT or if they are working in tandem. But the factors that each of these algorithms use to rank websites are different.
The BERT Algorithm is the derivation from Google’s ambitions project Transformers – a novel neural network architecture developed by Google engineers. The BERT tries to decode the relatedness and context of the search terms through a process of masking. It tries to find the relation of each word by taking into consideration the predictions given by the masked search terms.
Talking about Neural Matching, the algorithm is closely related to a research that Google did on fetching highly relevant documents on the web. The idea here is to primarily understand how words are related to concepts.
The Neural Matching algorithm uses a super-synonym system to understand what the user meant by typing in the search query. This enables users to get highly relevant local search results even if the exact terms doesn’t appear in the search query.
When it comes to local business owners, the Neural Matching algorithm will better rank businesses even though their business name or description aren’t optimized based on the user queries. Neural Matching algorithm in Local Search results will be a boon to businesses as the primary ranking factor will be the relatedness of the words and concept.
Basically, the BERT and Neural Matching Algorithms have different functional procedures and are used in different verticals of Google. However, both these algorithms are trained to fulfill Google’s core philosophy – to make the search results highly relevant.
Local Search Algorithm Update – November 2019
Google has confirmed that the fluctuations in the organic search that were reported throughout November were the result of it rolling out the Nov. 2019 Local Search Update – the official name coined by Google. There was a lot of discussion about possible algorithm update during the first week of November and the last week. However, Google failed to comment on this until December 2nd.
The official announcement about the update came via a tweet by Danny Sullivan through the official Google SearchLiaison twitter handle. The tweet read:
Google has also confirmed that the roll-out, which started earlier during last month, has been completed. However, Google has also said that webmasters need not make any changes to the site as this local algorithm update is all about improving the relevance of the search based on the user intent.
The search engine giant has also confirmed that the local search algorithm update has a worldwide impact across all languages.
The new update will help users find the most relevant results for local search that matches their search intent. However, Google has been using this for displaying search results since 2018, primarily to understand how words are related to concepts.
The new algorithm will now understand the concept behind the search by understanding how the words in the search query are closely related to each other. Google says it has a massive directory of synonyms that help the algorithm to do that neural matching.
Starting November 2019, Google will use its AI-based Neural matching system to rank businesses in Local Search results. Until recently, Google was using the exact words found on a business name or description to rank websites on local search.
Unconfirmed Google Algorithm Update – November 27, 2019
There is a major tremor in some algorithm trackers and this could be an indication of another Core Update that could be as significant as the one rolled out on November 8, 2019. There are a few algorithm trackers that have picked up the heat and some are just showing a little spike as of 27th. We will keep a close tab on how this new Google Update will impact the ranking fluctuations.
Unconfirmed Google Algorithm Update – November 8, 2019
There is a lot of chatter in the SEO arena about a major shift in rankings of websites during the second week of November. However, there is no official confirmation about this from Google, which means it could be a significant Core Update that Google has confirmed happens hundreds of times a year.
The chatters were more focused on websites that came under categories such as recipes, travel, and web design. A closer look into some of these sites revealed that there were no major on-page issues. That said, a deeper link analysis gave us a fair bit of idea about the pertinent question, “WHY US?”
Recipe sites, Travel Blogs, and Web Design companies get a lot of footer links, and most of the time, they are out of context. This, according to the Google link scheme document, is a spammy practice. According to Google, “widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites” will be counted as unnatural links. This may have played spoilsport, resulting in a drop in rankings.
After the chatters online, Google came up with an official confirmation via a tweet on the SearchLiason Twitter handle, stating that there have not been any broad updates in the past weeks. However, the tweet once again reiterates that there are several updates that happen on a regular basis.
In the Twitter thread, Google also gave examples of the type of algorithm updates that will have a far-reaching impact on search and how the search engine giant informs webmasters prior to the launch of such updates to ensure that they are prepared.
Only a few Algorithm trackers have registered the impact:
Google BERT Algorithm Update – October 2019
It’s been close to five years since Google announced anything as significant as the BERT Update. The last time an update of this magnitude was launched was back in 2016 when the RankBrain algorithm was rolled out.
According to the official announcement of Google, the new BERT update will impact 10% of overall search results, across all languages. The statement says that BERT is the most significant leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps ahead in the history of search.
With so much emphasis given to the latest Google Algorithm Update – BERT, it’s most likely going into the SEO history books along with its predecessors, Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, and RankBrian. The update will affect 1 out of 10 organic search results on Google search, with a major impact on Search Snippets, aka Featured Snippets.
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, codenamed BERT, is a machine learning advancement made by Google involving it’s Artificial Intelligence innovation efforts. BERT model processes words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. This gives more impetus to the intent and context of the search query and delivers results that the user seeks.
The announcement about the BERT update was made through the official Twitter handle of the Google SearchLaison. The tweet read, “Meet BERT, a new way for Google Search to better understand language and improve our search results. It’s now being used in the US in English, helping with one out of every ten searches. It will come to more counties and languages in the future.”
The new BERT update makes Google one step closer to achieving perfection in understanding the natural language. This also means that the voice search results will see significant improvement.
To know more about Google’s BERT Update, read our extensive coverage on its origin, concept, and impact on Google search results.
September 2019 Core Algorithm Update Starts Rolling Out
Google has confirmed that the rollout of the September 2019 Core Update has officially begun. The announcement was made via its SearchLaison Twitter handle. The tweet read: “The September 2019 Core Update is now live and will be rolling out across our various data centers over the coming days.”
Unlike the other Broad Core Updates launched by Google, the September 2019 Core Update didn’t have a massive impact on websites. However, the algorithm trackers registered fluctuations in SERP.
September 2019 Core Algorithm Update Pre-announcement
Google has once again confirmed, via its SearchLaison official Twitter handle, that a new Broad Core Algorithm update will be rolling out later on Tuesday. This is the second time that Google is pre-announcing the roll out of an algorithm update. Last time they did it was before the roll out of the June 2019 Core Update.
The June 2019 Core Update had a major impact on websites that failed to implement the E.A.T Guidelines. However, going by the current pattern, the new update will have a far-reaching impact on websites that fail to provide Google with quality signals. In addition to this, the new update is being rolled out after Google made three big announcements in the last week – New Nofollow Link Update, Google Reviews and the Key Moments in Videos.
We will keep you posted on how the new broad Core Update impacts the SERP appearance of websites.
Google Search Reviews Updated – September 16, 2019
It has been almost three months since Google came up with an official Algorithm Update announcement. The last time that the search engine giant issued a public statement was on June 4, 2019, when it rolled out the Diversity Update to reduce the number of results from the same sites on the first page of Google search.
However, on September 16, the official Google Webmaster Twitter account announced that a new algorithm is now part of the crawling and indexing process of review snippets/rich results. According to the tweet, the new update will make significant changes in the way Google Search Review snippets are displayed.
Here is what the official Google announcement says about the update:
“Today, we’re introducing an algorithmic update to review snippets to ease implementation: – Clear set of schema types for review snippets – Self-serving reviews aren’t allowed – Name of the thing you’re reviewing is required.”
According to Google, the Review rich results have been helping users find the best businesses/services. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misuse of the reviews as there have been a few updates about it from the time Google implemented it. The impact of Google Search Reviews is becoming more and more felt in recent times.
The official blog announcing the roll out of the new Google Search Review algorithm update says it will help webmasters across the word to better optimize their websites for Google Search Reviews. Google has introduced 17 standard schemas for webmasters so that invalid or misleading implementations can be curbed.
Before the update, webmasters could add Google Search Reviews to any web page using the review markup. However, Google identified that some of the web pages that displayed review snippets did not add value to the users. A few sites used the review schema to make them stand out from the rest of the competitors.
Putting an end to the misuse, Google has limited the review schema types for 17 niches! Starting today, Google Search Reviews will be displayed only for websites that fall under the 17 types and their respective subtypes.
List of Review Schema Types Supported for Google Search Reviews
Self-serving reviews aren’t allowed for LocalBusiness and Organization
One of the biggest hiccups faced by Google in displaying genuine reviews was entities adding reviews by themselves via third-party widgets and markup code. Starting today, Google has stopped supporting Google Search Reviews for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (and their subtypes) that use third-party widgets and markup code.
Add the name of the item that’s being reviewed
The new Google Search Reviews Algorithm Update mandates the name property to be part of the schema. This will make it mandatory for businesses to add the name of the item being reviewed. This will give a more meaningful review experience for users, says Google.
Google Diversity Update Roll Out – June 4, 2019
Just a few days after the incremental June 2019 Core Update, Google officially confirmed that another update is now part of its Algorithm.
The new Diversity Update is intended to curb multiple search results from the same website from appearing on the first page of Google search. Our first impression of this new tweak is that the impact of it was pretty minor.
But discussions are happening in forums about how the update will impact branded queries, which may require Google to list several pages from the same site.
The announcement about the roll-out was made through the official Twitter handle of Google Search Liaison. The tweet read, “Have you ever done a search and gotten many listings all from the same site in the top results?
We’ve heard your feedback about this and wanting more variety. A new change now launching in Google Search is designed to provide more site diversity in our results.”
“This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results.
However, we may still show more than two in cases where our systems determine it’s especially relevant to do so for a particular search,” reads the official statement from Google.
One of the major changes to expect after the diversity update is with regards to the sub-domains. Google has categorically stated that sub-domains will now be treated as part of the root domain. This will ensure that only one search result appear per domain.
Here is what Google says, “Site diversity will generally treat sub-domains as part of a root domain. IE: listings from sub-domains and the root domain will all be considered from the same single site. However, sub-domains are treated as separate sites for diversity purposes when deemed relevant to do so.”
June 2019 Core Algorithm Update Roll Out
As warned, the June 2019 core update is slowly being rolled out from Google’s data centers that are located in different countries. The announcement about the roll out was made from the same Google SearchLiaison Twitter account that made the pre-announcement.
The algorithm trackers have started detecting a spike in their graph. This indicates that the impact of the latest broad core algorithm update, which has been officially named June 2019 core update, is starting to affect SERP rankings.
Since Google has updated its Quality Rater Guidelines a few days back with more emphasis on ranking quality websites on the search, the latest update may be a quality patch for the search results page.
We will give you a detailed stat of the impact of the algorithm update on SERP as soon as we get the data from the algorithm trackers. Also, our detailed analysis of the websites hit by the update and the possible way to recover will follow.
June 2019 Core Algorithm Update Preannouncement
Google Search Liaison has officially announced that the search engine giant will roll out an important Algorithm Update on June 3rd.
The latest Google algorithm update, which will be a Broad Core Algorithm Update like the one released in March, will officially be called the June 2019 Core Update.
It is the first time that Google is pre-announcing the launch of an Algorithm update.
Here is the official Twitter announcement:
Tomorrow, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the June 2019 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this tweet for more about that:https://t.co/tmfQkhdjPL
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 2, 2019
Unofficial Google Algorithm Update of March 27th
Yes, you heard it right. Google has made some significant changes to the algorithm during the final few days of the month of March.
We have seen Google making tweaks after the roll-out of Broad Core Algorithm updates, but the one we are witnessing now is huge, and some algorithm sensors have detected more significant ranking fluctuation than the one that happened on March 12th when Google launched its confirmed March 2019 Core Update.
The fluctuations that started on March 27th is yet to stabilize, and more and more webmasters are taking it to forums after their website traffic got hit.
The latest tweak has come as a double blow for a few websites as they lost the traffic and organic ranking twice in the same month.
Google Officially Calls March Broad Core Algorithm Update as “March 2019 Core Update”
As I mentioned in my earlier update, Google representatives have a history of snubbing the names given by SEOs for their Algorithm Updates.
Usually, their criticism ends without attributing any names to the update but it seems like Google is now easing its muscles and giving official names to their updates.
The official Google SearchLiaison Twitter handle announced on Thursday that Google would like to call the Broad Core Algorithm Update of March 12th as “March 2019 Core Update.”
“We understand it can be useful to some for updates to have names. Our name for this update is “March 2019 Core Update.”
We think this helps avoid confusion; it tells you the type of update it was and when it happened.” Read the tweet posted on the wall of Google SearchLiaison.
With this, let’s put an end to the debate over the nomenclature and focus more on the recovery of the sites affected by the March 2019 Core Update.
Recovering Sites Affected by March 2019 Core Update AKA Florida 2
Have you been hit by the March 2019 Core Update? There are several reasons why a website may lose traffic and rankings after Google rolls out an algorithm update.
In most cases, the SEO strategies that the website used to rank in SERP backfires, and in other instances, Google finds a better site that provides superior quality content as a replacement.
In both these cases, the plunge that you’re experiencing can be reversed by implementing a well-thought-out SEO strategy with a heavy focus on Google’s E A T quality.
However, the initial analysis that we did has some good news for webmasters. The negative impact of the latest update is far less than what we thought.
Interestingly, there are more positive results, and the discussion about the same is rife across all major SEO forums.
This makes us believe that the Broad Core Algorithm update on March 12 is more of a rollback of a few previous updates that may have given undue rankings for a few websites.
Importantly, we found that sites with high authority once again received a boost in their traffic and rankings.
We also found that websites, which had a rank boost last year by building backlinks through Private Blogging Networks, were hit by March 2019 Core Update, whereas the ones that had high-quality, natural backlinks received a spike.
If you’re one of many websites that were affected by the Google March 2019 Core Update, here are a few insights about the damage caused to sites in the health niche
According to the data provided by SEMRush, Healthcare websites saw a massive fluctuation in traffic and rankings after the recent March 2019 Core Update.
The website has also listed a few top losers and winners. We did an analysis of the top 3 losers and here is what we found:
MyLVAD is listed as one of the top losers in the Health category according to SEMRush. The Medic Update hit this site quite badly in August 2018, and it seems like the latest March 2019 Core Update has also taken a significant toll.
According to the SEMRush data, the keyword position of MyLVAD dropped by 11 positions on Mar 13. MyLVAD is a community and resource for people suffering from advanced congestive heart failure and relying on an LVAD implant.
We did an in-depth analysis of the site and found that it does not comply with the Google E A T quality.
The resources provided on the site are not credited to experts. Crucially, the contact details are missing on the site.
Since it’s more like a forum, the website has more user-generated content. As this website falls under the YMYL category, it’s imperative to provide the author bio (designation of the doctor in this specific case) to increase the E A T rating.
Also, details such as ‘contact us’ and the people responsible for the website are missing.
The PainScale is a website, which also has an app that helps manage pain and chronic disease. The site got a rank boost after the September 2018 update, and until December that year, everything was running smoothly.
The traffic and ranking started displaying a downward trend after January, and now the Florida 2 Update has reduced it further.
On analyzing the website, we found that it provides users with information about pain management. Once again, the authority of the content published on this website is questionable.
Though the site has rewritten a few contents from Mayo Clinic and other authority sites, aggregation is something that Google does not like.
The website also has a quiz section that provides tools to manage pain. However, the website tries to collect the health details of the users and then asks them to sign up for PainScale for FREE.
Google has an aversion to this particular method, as they are concerned about the privacy of its users. This could be one of the reasons for the drop in traffic and rankings of PainScale after the March 2019 Core Update.
This is yet again another typical example of a YMYL website that Google puts under intense scrutiny. Medbroadcast gives a lot of information regarding health conditions and tries to provide users with treatment options.
Here again, like other websites on this list, there is no information regarding the author.
Moreover, the site has a strange structure with a few URLs opening in sub domains. The website has also placed close to 50 URLs towards the footer of the homepage and other inside pages, making it look very spammy.
This site also received undue traffic boosts after the Google Medic Update of August 2018. The stats show that the traffic increased after the Medic Update and started to decline at the beginning of January.
Once again, the impetus is on E A T quality signals. The three examples listed above points to how healthcare sites that failed to follow practices mentioned in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines were hit by the Florida 2 Update.
Here are a few tips to improve your website’s E A T rating:
1. Add Author Byline to All Blog Posts
Google wants to know the authenticity of the person who is providing information to users.
If the site falls under the YMYL category, which includes websites in the healthcare, wellness, and finance sectors, the author should be someone who is an expert in that field. Google wants to ascertain that trustworthy and certified authors draft the content displayed to its users.
Getting the content written by content writers is a trend largely seen among YMYL sites. Nevertheless, Google hates it and only wants to promote high-quality, trustworthy content.
2. Remove Scraped/Duplicate Content
Google calculates the E A T score of a website by analyzing individual posts and pages. If you’re engaging, scrapping or duplicating content from another website, chances are you may be hit by an algorithm update.
As seen in one of the above-mentioned examples, paraphrasing content doesn’t make it unique, and Google can identify these types of content very easily.
So, if you think your website has thin, scrapped or rewritten content, it would be ideal to remove it. For YMYL websites, ensure that the content is written by an expert in your niche.
3. Invest Time in Personal Branding
Make sure that your website has an “About Us” page and you’re providing valuable inputs to Google in the form of schema markup.
In addition, positive testimonials and customer reviews, both within the site and outside, can boost the trustworthiness of your website.
Google’s quality rater guidelines also ask webmasters to display the contact information and customer support details for YMYL sites.
4. Focus on the Quality of Back-Links Than Quantity
The Google search quality guidelines suggest that websites with high-quality backlinks have a superior E A T score.
Investing time in building low-quality links through PBNs and blog comments may invite Google’s wrath and can adversely affect a website’s E A T rating.
It’s highly recommended to use white hat techniques such as blogger outreach and broken link building as part of the SEO strategy to get high-quality links.
5. Secure Your Site With HTTPS
The security of its users is a priority for Google, and that’s why it’s pushing websites to get SSL certified. HTTPS is now one of the ranking factors, and it’s also one of the ways to improve the E A T rating of websites.
Also, it has to be noted that Google Chrome now shows all non-HTTPS sites as insecure, which is a clear indication of how Google values the privacy of its users.
To know more about the factors that Google use to rank health websites, read our in-depth article, “Advanced SEO for Healthcare and Medical Websites: Tips to Improve Search Quality Rating“.
Here are a few rumors from the Black Hat World about the Latest Google March 2019 Core Update AKA the Florida 2 Update
“There are 5 projects of mine which are very, very similar to each other. All targeting Beauty/Health niche, all of them have a lot of great content (10k+ articles) and all of them are build on expired domains with a nice brandable name,” says a user going by the name yayapart.
“The G Core Update hit 4 of my 5 projects. One of them, actually the oldest one of them, got a huge push and increased it’s organic traffic about 40%.
The other 3 projects that are affected lost all their best rankings. I don’t see any pattern here yet but it hit me hard,” he added
Another user going by the name Jeepy says, “Health Niche. This site got hit by medic update and now it’s rising back without doing anything. Right…”
Confirmed: Google March 2019 Core Update AKA Florida 2 Update – March 12, 2019
The official SearchLiaison Twitter handle of Google confirmed that a Broad Core Algorithm update has started rolling out on March 12th.
Like other broad core algorithm updates, the latest one will be rolled out in phases, and we are not sure when the “SERP dance” will stabilize. SEOs started calling it the Florida 2 Update.
“This week, we released a Broad Core Algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before,” read the tweet post on the official Google SearchLiaison handle.
Read our blog to know more about the latest Broad Core Algorithm Update.
Our analysis found that the Google March 2019 Core Update reversed the undue rankings that a few websites got after the Medic Update of August 2018.
In addition to this, most of the sites hit by the update used low-quality links to increase their authority.
See how ranking sensors detected the change:
Google Algorithm Update – March 1st, 2019
In my earlier update, I had predicted that Google was preparing for some big changes in the coming days. Now, validating my ESP, the latest Google algorithm update rolled out on March 1st seems to be bigger than what we initially thought.
There are reports that Google displayed more than 19 search results on a single page for a few search terms during this period.
We will be doing a detailed blog post about this in a few days. There are also murmurs about Google giving more preference to websites that have in-depth content.
Interestingly, Dr. Peter J. Meyers of Moz found that Google displays well-researched articles in the results even for a few buyer intent keywords.
Google possibly wants a mix of products and information to feature in its search. This way, users who are confused with products can read and be informed before making the purchase decision.
There are also chatters about the drop in the number of image search results after the latest Google update on March 1st.
An interesting analytics screenshot shared by Marie Haynes depicts how one of her clients got a massive boost in organic traffic during February 27th and March 1st.
See how ranking sensors detected the change:
Google Algorithm Update – February 27, 2019
Google seems to be making a lot of tweaks to its algorithm this month as there is yet again a spike in the Algorithm trackers, suggesting the roll out of an Algorithm Update.
A similar spike was witnessed on the 22nd of this month but the chatters soon subsided, probably due to the less impact it had on websites.
However, it seems like something big is brewing for the coming days that will make significant changes to the SERP results in Google.
Advanced Web Ranking
Google Algorithm Update- February 22, 2019
There are talks about an algorithm update, but this time, the impact is not so far-reaching. All major algorithm trackers detected a sudden spike in their ranking sensors, but it didn’t sustain for a long duration.
It seems like Google may have done a little tweaking to their algorithm during the weekend, especially on Friday.
Other than a few chatters here and there regarding lost traffic, there is nothing concrete to underscore this as a significant algorithm update.
Since it’s widely talked about in blogs and SEO forums, let’s look at a few trackers that sensed the update.
Google Algorithm Update – February 5, 2019
There is a lot of chatter about an algorithm update from Google that has affected many websites, mostly the ones that are in the UK.
The stats were more-or-less calm after Jan 16th, but we have noticed a sudden increase in the stats on all major algorithm update trackers.
Some algorithm trackers suggest the update rolled out during February 5-6 is more devastating than the one rolled out in January.
We will keep you posted as we dig deeper into the sites affected by the algorithm update and diagnose the reasons for the drop in rankings.
Here are a few stats:
Google Algorithm Update – January 18, 2019
We had announced earlier this week that Google rolled out an incremental Algorithm update – the first in 2019.
The impact of the Algorithm Update was hard on News websites and Blogs of various niches. This is why we named the latest Google Update as the “Newsgate Algorithm Update.”
A new document released by Google on 16th January 2019 corroborates our findings as it provides advice and tips for the news publishers to get more success in 2019.
Our analysis had found the algorithm update rolled out during the second week of January affected the news sites that “rewrote content” or “scraped content from other sites.”
The latest document released by Google proves that we were right. There are two specific sections in the document titled “Ways to succeed in Google News,” which recommend News Publishers to stay away from publishing rewritten and scraped content.
What the Google document says:
- Block scraped content: Scraping commonly refers to taking material from another site, often on an automated basis. Sites that scrape content must block scraped content from Google News.
- Block rewritten content: Rewriting refers to taking material from one site and then rewriting that material so that it is not identical. Sites that rewrite content in a way that provides no substantial or clear added value must block that rewritten content from Google News. This includes, but is not limited to, rewrites that make only very slight changes or those that make many word replacements but still keep the original article’s overall meaning.
In addition to this, the Ways to Succeed in Google News also highlights a few best practices that News Publishers have to keep in mind before publishing a story.
- Descriptive and Clear Titles
- Displaying accurate date and time using structured data
- Avoid duplicate, rewritten or scraped content
- Using HTTPS for all posts and pages
The advice and tips provided in the document can help news websites affected by the latest Google algorithm update to recover.
Also, Google has put impetus to the transparency of the News Publisher, which has to do more with the search engine giant’s EAT Guidelines.
The new Google News guidelines ask publishers to be transparent by letting the readers know who published the content.
The advice Google gives is to include a clear byline, short description of the author, and the contact details of the publication.
According to Google, providing these details to the readers and to the Google bot can help in filtering out the “sites or accounts that impersonate any person or organization, or that misrepresent or conceal their ownership or primary purpose.”
Google also warns news publishers not to engage in link schemes that are intended to manipulate PageRank of other websites.
Google Algorithm Update – January 16, 2019
It looks like Google has rolled out its first significant algorithm update for 2019. This time, the target seems to be news sites and blogs!
The data from SEMrush Sensor suggests that the “Google Newsgate Algorithm Update” has touched a high-temperature zone of 9.4 on Wednesday.
The speculation about an update was in the air for the last few days. Now, it looks like the search engine giant has come out with an incremental update on Wednesday night.
Google announced earlier that every year, it rolls out around 500–600 core algorithm updates. In addition to this, there are broad core algorithm updates that Google rolls out three to four times a year.
These updates come with a major rank shift in the SERP with a few websites seeing a spike in organic rankings while others experience a dip.
Google has not yet confirmed if the algorithm update rolled out during the second week of January is a core or a broad core update. However, the update seems to have made drastic changes to the results shown in the featured snippets.
In addition to the news websites, the “Google Newsgate Algorithm Update 2019” has also affected blogs in niches such as sports, education, travel, government, and automotive sites.
According to the Google Algorithm Weather Report by MozCast, the climate was rough during the 9th and 10th, suggesting an algorithm update.
The graph has shown significant fluctuations in the weather, especially during January 5th and 6th. After a few regular days, the weather deteriorated further, which may be a signal of two separate Google Algorithm updates within the same week.
SEO communities are rife with discussions about the update as many websites were affected by the algorithm update in the last few days.
“Travel – All whitehat, good links, fresh content, aged domain, and all the good stuff. Was some dancing around Dec and then, wham, 3rd page,” said zippyants a Black Hat Forum member on Thursday.
“Big changes happening in the serps since Friday for us. Anyone noticing an uptick or downward slide of long-tail referrals? First time we’ve seen much since the big changes in August/September,” asked a user SnowMan68 via Webmaster World.
“Yes! Today, the signals are quite intense. Probably going on for past 4 days No changes seen on the sites though,” answered a Webmaster World user arunpalsingh to one of the questions asked in the forum.
In addition to this, the Google Grump Tool from AccuRanker has also suggested a “furious” last two days. This may be an indication that the algorithm update was rolled out in phases.
According to our early analysis, the sites that were affected by Google’s first Algorithm Update in 2019 are the ones that publish questionable news.
Also, we saw a nosedive in the traffic of news sites that rewrote content without including any newly added values.
Algoroo, another Google Algorithm tracker, has added TechCrunch and CNBC to the top losers list. This, yet again, stands as evidence to our understanding that the update is intended for News websites and blogs of different industry niches.Last year, Google rolled out the infamous Medic Update targeting wellness and YMYL websites. The impact was huge and many websites that were affected are yet to come to terms with the traffic loss.
We found that the sites impacted by the Medic Update were lacking the E.A.T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) quality signals. A few days after this, Google confirmed the same saying the update had nothing to do with user experience.
Some websites hit by the Medic Update made remarkable comebacks after the algorithm update in November. The sites that recovered from the Medic Update created quality content based on the Google EAT guidelines.
The rollout of the update was completed on Sunday as all the sensors had cooled down by Monday. We will soon do a detailed analysis of the sites that were affected by the “Google Newsgate Algorithm.”
This will help you understand why the sites were affected and how they can recover from the latest Google Algorithm update.
Maccabees is the update that wrangled people between 12th to December 14th, 2017. There were considerable discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and SEO forums regarding the loss of up to 30 percent traffic from some websites.
If you happened to be an owner of such a website, then you may have been a victim of ‘Google Maccabees Update.’
This update had hit hundreds of websites, and the reason behind it was the fact that these websites had multiple pages filled with huge keyword permutations. The update was framed to catch the long-tail keywords used with permutations because search results prefer pages with long-tail keywords. The majority of the sites hit by Maccabees are from e-commerce, affiliate websites, travel, and real estate sites.
For instance, a travel agency has multiple keywords, and a few of them that were flagged are as follows:
- Low-cost holiday package to Switzerland.
- Cheap Switzerland holiday package.
- Low-cost tickets to Switzerland.
Similarly, an affiliate website has multiple pages containing the following:
- Avoid mosquitoes at home.
- Get rid of mosquitoes.
- Wipeout mosquitoes.
- Wipeout mosquitoes fast.
You may guess why they were aiming for long-tail keywords and why SEO had such keen eyes for those keywords. Because, though they seem similar, all keywords are huge traffic drivers.
There is no formal name for this update. However, informally, in remembrance of Hanukkah and the search community, Barry Schwartz of SERoundtable, called it ‘Maccabees.’
A Google spokesperson stated that the changes in the algorithm are meant to make the search results more relevant. The relevance may come from on-page or off-page content, or sometimes, both.
9 Major Google Algorithm Updates before 2018
Whenever there’s a new update from Google, websites are either affected positively or negatively. Discussed below are the major algorithm updates by Google before 2018.
What is Google Panda Update?
Google Panda update was released in February 2011, which aimed to lower the rankings of websites with thin or poor-quality content and bring sites with high-quality content to the top of the SERPs. The Panda search filter keeps updating from time to time, and sites escape from the penalty once they make appropriate changes to the website.
Here’s a brief of its hazards and how you can adjust to Panda update:
Targets of Panda
- Plagiarized or thin content
- Duplicate content
- Keyword stuffing
- User-generated spam
Panda allocates quality scores to the pages based on the content quality and ranked them in SERP. Panda updates are more frequent; hence, the penalties and recoveries as well.
How to adapt
Keep regular track on web pages to check for plagiarized content and thin content or keyword stuffing. You can do that by using certain quality checking tools like Siteliner, Copyscape.
What is Google Penguin Update?
Google’s Penguin update was released in April 2012. It aims to filter out websites that boost rankings in SERPs through spammy links, i.e., purchased low-quality links to boost Google ranking.
Targets of Penguin
- Links with over-optimized text
- Spammy links
- Irrelevant links
It works by lowering the ranks of sites with manipulative links. It checks the quality of backlinks and degrades the sites with low-quality links.
How to adapt
Keep tracking your profile growth by the links and run regular checks on backlinks to audit the quality of the links. You can use certain tools like SEO SpyGlass to analyze your sites and eventually help you adapt to Penguin’s update.
What is Google Hummingbird Update?
It is considered to be the most significant algorithm update that Google came out with since Penguin. The update was introduced to emphasis on natural language queries, preferring context over individual keywords.
While keywords are still vital, the Hummingbird helps a page to rank well even if the query doesn’t contain exact terms in the sentence.
Targets of Hummingbird
- Low-quality content
- Keyword stuffing
It helps Google to fetch the web pages as per the complete query asked by the user instead of searching for individual terms in the query. However, it relies on the importance of keywords also while ranking a web page in the SERPs.
How to adapt
Check your content to increase the research on keywords and focus on conceptual queries. Additionally, search for related queries, synonymic queries, and co-occurring words or terms. You can easily get these ideas from the Google Autocomplete or the Google Related Searches.
What is Google Pigeon Update?
It is the Google update released on July 24, 2014, for the US and expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia on December 22, 2014. It is aimed to enhance the rankings of local listings for a search query. The changes also affect the Google maps search results along with the regular Google search results.
Targets of Pigeon
- Perilous on-page optimization
- Poor off-page optimization
Pigeon works to rank local results based on the user’s location. The update developed some ties between the traditional core algorithm and the local algorithm.
How to adapt
Put in hard efforts when it comes to off-page and on page-SEO. It is best to start with some on-page SEO, and later you can adopt the best off-page SEO techniques to rank top in Google SERPs. One of the best ways to get yourself listed off-page is in the local listings.
What is Google Mobile-Friendly Update?
Google Mobile-Friendly (aka Mobilegeddon) algorithm update was launched on April 21st, 2015. It was designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results while filtering out pages that are not mobile-friendly or optimized for mobile viewing.
Targets of Mobile update
- The poor mobile user interface
- Lack of mobile-optimized web page
Mobile update workflow
Google mobile-friendly update aims to rank web pages at the top of the SERP that supports mobile-viewing and downgrade web pages that are unresponsive or unsupportive on mobile devices.
How to adapt
Tweak the web design to provide better mobile usability and reduce the loading time. Google’s mobile-friendly test will help you to identify the changes to cope up with various versions of the mobile software.
What is Google RankBrain Update?
As reported by Bloomberg and Google, RankBrain is an algorithm update that is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system launched to process the search engine results efficiently. It was launched on October 26th, 2015.
Target of RankBrain
- Poor user-interface
- Insubstantial content
- Irrelevant features on the web page
RankBrain is a machine learning system released to understand the meaning of the queries better and provide relevant content to the audience.
It is a part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. It ranks the web pages based on the query-specific features and relevancy of a website.
How to adapt
By conducting competitive analysis, optimize the webpage for comprehensiveness and content relevancy. You can use tools like SEMRush, Spyfu to analyze the concept, terms, and subjects used by the high-ranking competitor web pages. This is a perfect way to outmatch your competitors.
What is Google Possum Update?
Possum was the Google algorithm update released on September 1st, 2016. It is considered to be the most significant algorithm update after the Pigeon, 2014 update. The update focused on improving business rankings that fell out of physical city limits and filtering business listings based on address and affiliations.
Targets of Possum
- Tough Competition in your target location
The search results are provided depending on the searcher’s location. The closer you are to a given business, you are more likely to see it at the top of the local search results. Fascinatingly, Possum also provided the results of well-known companies located outside the physical city area.
How to adapt
Increase your keywords list and do location-specific rank tracking. Local businesses should focus on more keywords because of volatility Possum brought into the SERPs.
What is Google Fred Update?
Fred is the Google algorithm update released on March 8, 2017.
Targets of Fred update
- Affiliate heavy-content
- Ad centered content or
- Thin content
This update targets the web pages violating the guidelines of Google webmaster. The primary web pages affected by this are blogs containing low-quality content and majorly targeting the audience to make revenue by driving traffic.
How to adapt
Remove thin content by analyzing it through Google Search Quality Guidelines. If you’re allowing advertisements on your pages, make sure they’re on the pages with high-quality and useful content for the users. Please don’t try to manipulate Google into thinking that your page is high-quality content, when it is, instead, full of affiliate links.