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Every year, Google makes lots of changes to its search algorithms. Most of the time the effect of these changes is negligible and unless you spend every waking moment analysing your website data, you won’t notice. However, from time to time a major change is rolled out and the effect is seismic. So when webmasters and the rest of the SEO community started noticing massive fluctuations in Google’s search results a few weeks ago, quite a few people started getting the jitters.
When asked about the changes people were noticing in their Google tracking tools, Google denied there was anything major in the works. They just said it was ‘business as usual’. All very comforting, but what’s really going on?
The fluctuations don’t seem to be related to Google’s Panda or Penguin updates, which is a relief if you, like millions others, saw your website rankings tank when they were rolled out. It has been suggested by some that this unusual pattern of results could be linked to the warnings issued by Google last month relating to non-mobile friendly websites, although industry insiders don’t believe this is the case.
Right now we don’t have a clue what’s going on. The anomaly clearly isn’t related to anything we have seen before, but this is not to say it isn’t a precursor of something major looming on the horizon. We know Google makes minor tweaks and changes to its search algorithms around 600 times a year, but given the flurry of excitement over this latest change, it would seem that something other than a minor tweak has taken place.
The last major update to the Google algorithm was Pigeon. This was rolled out in the US last July, and the UK, Canada and Australia just before Christmas. There was a significant update to Penguin in September last year, as well as the Pigeon update in July, plus several ‘refreshes’ of other updates. Interestingly there was also another unconfirmed update last March that caused a number of ranking updates, so this latest flux could be part of a similar pattern.
Whilst Google will continue to release updates to improve the way their search engine works, it is possible to retain your search position by avoiding anything that Google has warned about in the past. However, if you have noted a change in your position, get in touch with us. We'll be happy to take a look at your site, and your linking practices, and help you to move forward past the penalty. Get in touch with us today to find out more.