A Google Search bug wreaked havoc on the search results Monday night

The issue lasted several hours yesterday, putting the SEO community in a bit of panic mode.

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Monday afternoon, the SEO community began to notice massive ranking changes in the Google search results. Initially it looked like the Google algorithm updates from the old days but as time went on, it just looked like something was really off — as if there was a glitch.

It was a bug. Turns out it was a glitch, a Google spokesperson told us last night, “I confirmed with the team that this is a bug that we are fixing but still in the process of fully diagnosing, so we don’t have specific details to share right now. “

John Mueller of Google also posted about the glitch after my preliminary report on this issue:


The timeline. The SEO community started to notice changes to the Google search results rolling out as early as 1:30pm ET on August 10. Then by 5:00 p.m. ET on August 10, it seemed to have really started to roll out more fully. By 11:55 p.m. Google confirmed it was a bug and by 12:40 a.m. ET on August 11, Google said it had been fixed.

So the issue seemed to have last several hours in total.

Beware of your analytics. If you see massive Google organic search traffic changes in your analytics or your SEO tools from yesterday afternoon through this morning, you should disregard it. Make an annotation in your analytics noting that organic search reporting should be ignored for that whole time period. Looking at it can really cause you some serious stress and it is unwarranted. Everything should be back to normal this morning.

It doesn’t mean your rankings did not change. Rankings change all the time in Google, but whatever happened at a large scale yesterday was reverted and fixed, according to Google.

Things are fixed. Yes, not only did Google say things are fixed. We are seeing SEOs confirm this as well. Here are some tweets confirming that:

What is next. Google did say it is now “in the process of fully diagnosing” the issue. Google did tell us the company will give us more information on this issue today. We will report back when we hear more. Google has had some search bugs over the past year, mostly around crawling and indexing. This one, felt different.

Why we care. Again, if you see massive changes in your Google organic traffic and analytics and reporting tools, you can disregard that. This was a temporary glitch that lasted several hours last evening.

You may have lost a lot of traffic, new customers, revenue from this glitch — or you may have benefited. But things should be back to “normal” and your previous rankings and expected Google traffic should be back to where it was.

Postscript. Google updated us saying these issues were caused by “indexing issues.” Read our full coverage here.

About the author

Barry Schwartz
Barry Schwartz is a technologist and a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics.

In 2019, Barry was awarded the Outstanding Community Services Award from Search Engine Land, in 2018 he was awarded the US Search Awards the "US Search Personality Of The Year," you can learn more over here and in 2023 he was listed as a top 50 most influential PPCer by Marketing O'Clock.

Barry can be followed on X here and you can learn more about Barry Schwartz over here or on her personal site.

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