Over the past few days, the Webmaster and SEO community have been discussing significant shifts, fluctuations and updates in both the Google rankings and traffic patterns they have seen from Google’s organic search.
I’ve asked Google if there was, indeed, an update, and Google would not confirm. Instead, they gave me the boilerplate response, “We have nothing to announce at this time.” They of course added, “We make over 500 changes to our algorithms a year, so there will always be fluctuations in our rankings in addition to normal crawling and indexing.” This is nothing new; Google often will use this response when discussing matters of algorithmic changes or updates to their index.
They have, however, been very transparent about some updates, such as the former Panda updates, Penguin updates, EMD updates, top heavy updates, as well as others. I should note that Google said they will unlikely provide confirmations of future Panda updates.
Was There A Google Update Or Not?
So, was there an update this week in the Google search results? It is hard to say for sure without Google confirming.
If you look at the various discussion forums, including some like WebmasterWorld and Google Webmaster Help, there is definitely an uptick in discussion around ranking changes. If you look at the Google monitoring tools such as MozCast and SERPs.com, there are clear signs of more fluctuation in the search results this past week than in prior weeks.
If you look in the comments at two posts I made at the Search Engine Roundtable, one on May 9th and the other on May 7th, and totaling about 200 comments – you will see many people claiming either ranking declines or ranking improvements.
As you can see, I am convinced there was something that happened in Google’s search results which impacted many webmasters.
If There Was An Update, What Did Google Update?
If there was an update, what was it? Was it an algorithmic update? Was it Penguin? Was it a small Panda refresh? Was it a new algorithm? Maybe Google is testing an algorithm to a select subset of searchers, and that is why some webmasters are noticing it and some are not? Maybe Google made user interface changes to the search results, which results in click through rate changes or placement changes of the search results?
The bottom line: without Google confirming the update and telling us specifically what changed, it is impossible for me to tell you with certainty if there was an update and what the update was. All I can say is that there are many webmasters and SEOs talking as if there was some sort of Google update.
Postscript: At 1:46pm EDT today, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts said it wasn’t a Penguin update. So we can cross that off the list. Our follow-up story has more: Google’s Matt Cutts: Next Generation Of The Penguin Update “Few Weeks” Away.