Google May Be Updating Their Algorithm But They Won’t Confirm It

google logo - basic 570x270Today, September 4th, and last week, August 21st, there were huge spikes in chatter amongst the SEO and webmasters about the Google search results shifting and changing.

In short, many SEOs and webmasters were complaining that their rankings in the Google search results have declined drastically. In addition, many sent me images of their analytics, showing a clear significant drop in traffic from the Google organic source.

I asked Google about both these updates, and for each one, they said they have “nothing to announce.” Meaning, they won’t confirm if there was or was not an update.

We can confirm that the various search results monitoring tools, such as Mozcast,, SERP Metrics and Algoroo all showed volatility on August 21st. Since the September 4th chatter began this morning, we will have to wait for tomorrow to see if the tools show activity for today (the tools are about 24 hours delayed).

Although, there are hundreds of comments on the August 21st post and well over fifty comments on the September 4th post in less than seven hours.

Google does not always confirm updates but we think you should be aware that on August 21st and September 4th, there was enough noise to report to you that Google may have done some sort of algorithmic update.

For more info on the more popular Google updates, see our Google Panda and Google Penguin categories.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Ashish Ahuja

    Its all about authority, time on site, bounce rate etc. its not easy to see what is wrong if there is no website to analyse. But it sure was a huge bump to authority sites

  • Ashish Ahuja

    First is analysis of the problem and what is causing it and then making a recovery plan or if recovery is too distant then relocation plan. The main focus should be to increase authority. If you share your website we can run a basic analysis

  • Terry Van Horne

    Catherine… the content is good in and of itself…however looking at the home page it **appears** to have a spammy footprint…. if you had seen as many penguin poisoned guest posting blogs as I have then you would understand the problem better…

    The mixture of topics on the home page looks like most of the guest blogs I try for link removal or in worst case scenario disavow while cleaning up. If I may…. Consider a custom home page that only includes the latest from each author with their expertise and what the overall theme of the blog is as right now it seems a hodgepodge of themes…. it seems to be at least partly about life style and choices etc….

    I would try Google’s “woops form” cuz I can see how easily it’d be to classify this site as something it is not with it’s current home page.

  • Terry Van Horne

    Panda is not being reported anymore they’ve told us that already…. Panda will not stay static and lots of people don’t even realize they have Panda because they have been concentrating on links so hard they think that is all there is to rankings…

    Also the flux in query spaces is unusually high with Universal search being replaced by Knowledge graph in the top of the SERP’s. This has always been the case when new elements are added…. think about every addition from videos on…. always start near the top of the SERP and work their way to the spots they deserve…. we’re at the beginning of likely a 6-8 month cycle of extra fluxxy SERPs do to more knowledge graph/answertype queries which virtually steal traffic from sites by supplying answers in the SERP. So these radars with their Top heavy SERP analysis are extra sensitive to this “new SERP element” flux.

  • Ashish Ahuja

    Do you think it is a switch. Just flip it on and lo my rankings are back.

  • Ashish Ahuja

    Traffic is lost due to huge bump to authority sites see here

  • Ashish Ahuja

    or maybe the SEOs have done very poorly as compared to white hat sites

  • Ashish Ahuja
  • Ashish Ahuja

    Agree with Terry here the home page and design looks pretty sub-par and otherwise your link profile also does not look too good with huge spike in links in July this year

  • kimberly537

    what Brenda answered I’m blown away that people able to make $6032 in 4 weeks on the internet. visit homepage w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • kiran

    Was there any rainfall or icefall on that day ?

  • Danny

    Google gives the priority the websites which have more quality backlinks with good Domain authority in this update.

  • Jyoti Nayak

    I really don’t know why Google is not notifying before hitting website ?
    Updates should be confirmed, may be Google do not want to give any clue to spammers. But it affecting all …… its really frustrating.

  • Paul Rone-Clarke

    One of the things that’s been mooted is a rebalancing of authority. A few months ago Google were embarrased a few times by very poor quality sites ranking top 3 for some extremely lucrative short tail commercial phrases

    Remember the 2 day old Facebook page..with 1 coment and 2 shares ranking number 3 for “Payday Loans” for a few days? A phrase which has a commerciality index if close to 95 suggesting that it makes well over $100 million a year through online transactions… it wasn’t the only example.

    The thought at the time was that these were being fixed manually and that an update that properly addressed the balance was due.

    Gooogle are juggling their desire for freshness (a la “Caffeine” back in the day) with their need to be seen to reward established trust, and let’s face it there is no such thing as “automatic trust” – trust is accrued over time. Page rank has always been seen as the marker of trust and that has been left hanging now for almost 8 months without an update. The longest gap in refreshes for many years.;

    That issue seems to be the one addressed with the July refresh. The August one? I don’t know. But I’m thinking that one of the 5 items that this post..

    … may be the topics Google are about to address or now addressing with these very updates.
    Hopeing the searchmetrics guys can shed some light on this with their next update.

  • paul_t7

    It’s definitely not EMD. One of my sites was hit, and its a pretty obscure name, not related in any way to the niche.

  • Fionn Downhill

    You think!!..Wonder why they wont confirm it. It looks like links on the 21st of August and Panda on the 4th or a combination of both on the 4th.

  • Fionn Downhill

    Yes agree

  • Sanjiv

    One thing is sure , Authority websites got big boost due to this udpate.

  • Fionn Downhill

    Catherine, do you really not know why the site was hit? Blog comments and guest posts got hit hard not just the sites they link to but the sites that look like a big link farm.

  • Fionn Downhill

    Its a mutant version of a cross between a panda and a penguin. Google worked out that we had got way to clever and figuring these updates out so they threw us a curveball.

  • Fionn Downhill

    Check your duplicate content that is definitely a factor.

  • Sherri Jones

    Just wanted to know whether any one has experienced sudden drop in their ranking after 11 September?. Is Google rolling some unnamed / hidden algorithm.? I have experienced drop in my sites ranking after 12 Sep 2013.

  • Henry Mangult

    Yeah Fionn I was already thinking of that, thanks for your help

  • Sherri Jones

    Just wanted to know whether any one has experienced sudden drop in their ranking after 11 September?. Is Google rolling some unnamed / hidden algorithm.? I have experienced drop in my sites ranking after 12 Sep 2013.

  • Catherine

    Thank you for the feedback Terry. I appreciate it very much (as well as with all of the other comments and suggestions offered here – very kind of everyone to take the time to offer feedback).

    The banner to the home page is being re-done and what is there is the temporary banner, but the guest posting is a problem… maybe I should change the name, but we do want other dream stories, just like the woman who wrote about cancer survival and becoming an author. I want women to come tell their dream stories, beyond the 8 regular writers.

    But Terry, your input is great and I will work on it this month. I think your points are valid concerns and I love having more perspectives (often creators like me can’t see the forest for the trees on our own work). Thank you again for your honesty.


  • Catherine

    Terry I do agree with this and I did fix a problem at the beginning of Aug. Thank you for caring enough to look at it for my site – very kind.

  • Abi

    We also saw a huge drop in our search traffic on 14th september 40k UVs/day -> 3k UVs/day :(

  • Ashish Ahuja

    There is news of update around 12th maybe a new one or iteration of the updates going on since Aug 21 read here

  • Ashish Ahuja


  • Ashish Ahuja

    By conforming their algo got cracked much easier with people figuring out panda and penguin

  • Ashish Ahuja

    This time there was a huge boost to authority and branded website watch this

  • Ashish Ahuja

    Agreed 100% huge bump to wikipedia, amazon etc.

  • Ashish Ahuja

    need to fix authority and branding will write a post on it

  • Paul Rone-Clarke

    Yes – this is as predicted. Though looking at the graphs in that video, it is a re-correction in most cases to their pre April 2013 settings.

    Something happened in March or April this year which hammered authority and ranked thin, poor and often spammy sites very highly very quickly.
    The level as we are now with authority sites (mid September) is back to the early 2013 levels (not higher). Google may have done something for 3-4 months mid April to MId August that really messed their rankings and seemed to actually penalize trust and authority over time. Then late in August corrected it back to the previous level.
    An experiment?
    “Extreme Rank Transition” done on a macro scale?
    A look to weed out large but unauthoritative websites (perhaps made using “auto blogging” tactics with auto posted plagirised material – there are many of these about) Who knows.

    But whatever it is they have (in most cases) put it all back again

  • Ashish Ahuja

    For me it looks like google was giving more weight to relevance than authority. Now I am seeing lots of authority sites ranking for non-relevant keywords. So it may not be good for the users for eg. they may see wikipedia links when they are interested in buying goods

  • Amulya Infotech

    Nowadays Google is not informing about their algorithm updates. I think As Matt cutts Said once, Panda and Penguin has become the part of Indexing process.

  • mmayer

    Reporting for Mid Sept give me 2 big pictures. The keywords i optimsed goes down but those keywords consider not priority goes up. Not few but more than 20 keywords ,so we have more than traffics than we lost.

  • Dan Patrick

    Naw… I’m betting it’s the goats!

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