Large Google Update on the 16th of June?
There have been talks of small scale and high scale Google updates occurring in June, with webmasters reporting that they’ve either seen a drop in rank or an increase in rank for their respective niches. Looking at the SEO weather tools, they have identified that there have been big changes in the SERPs in June.
Tools 1: MozCast
Moz has their own tool called MozCast, which attempts to identify any turbulence in Google’s algorithm by assessing the volatility of a sample of 1,000 keywords. Its most recent report shows that on Tuesday, 16th of June, there was major turbulence that pushed the MozCast metric to 102°. To put this in perspective, the first ever Penguin update clocked in a figure of 93.1°.
Tool 2: Algoroo
Another tool called Algoroo samples 17,000 keywords and looks for fluctuations in a similar way to MozCast. This tool is also reporting a high amount of SERP flux and volatility in the same time periods as MozCast. If we look at when Google’s Phantom II / Quality Update occurred we can see that a recent increase, on the 16th of June, shows a far larger fluctuation in the SERPs than the Google Quality Update on the 3rd of May:
Google have confirmed that this is neither a Panda, Penguin, nor HTTPS update. It was thought that this could have been an HTTPS update because recently (12th of June) Wikipedia encrypted their entire website in HTTPS/SSL. With a large percentage of Wikipedia pages being dominantly displayed in the top 10 search results this could have caused fluctuations, as Google indexes the HTTPS version of the site. This may have been the cause for the fluctuations in the SERPs where tools have shown high volatility. Pete Meyers at Moz explains this in more depth, here.
However, Pete asked Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, if there was an HTTPS update that could have caused these high fluctuations. He wouldn’t go into further detail and responded on Twitter stating:
At the time of writing, further details explaining the extent of this change haven’t been made available by Google. However, they did confirm to Search Engine Land that this was not a Panda update, stating:
“This is not a Panda update. As you know, we’re always making improvements to our search algorithms and the web is constantly evolving. We’re going to continue to work on improvements across the board.”
The reason there was speculation around a Panda update is because Gary Illyes announced on June 2nd at SMX Advanced that webmasters should expect a Panda refresh within the upcoming weeks. At the same time, he announced that Google were working on refreshing Panda at much more regular intervals (possibly returning to 2013 levels). In 2014, there were only 2 Panda refreshes: Panda 4.0 (May 19th 2014) and Panda 4.1 (Sept 23rd, 2014). Later, on the 17th of June, John Mueller in a Google Webmaster Central hangout said, “a Panda update should happen in next 2 weeks or so.” We can expect a Panda update at the end of June or likely at the beginning of July based on those statements. The recent changes in June, however, point to a core algorithmic change.
What could this have been?
It’s hard to say. This could have been a continuation of Google’s Phantom II update, quite possibly. That was also a core algorithmic change. One website that we know was impacted by Google’s Phantom II update is Hub Pages. They lost 22% of their organic traffic in May after that update had occurred. In June, the situation has only got worse with what I’m looking at in Search Metrics. The reason why I bring them up is because the CEO of Hub Pages concluded that it was essentially the low quality parts of Hub Pages impacting the high equality parts of the site. Another site, that I’ll do a deep dive into called weheartit.com saw a massive drop in visibility after the Phantom II update. I’m currently analysing the site to see if I can find any problems that might have caused that drop. I’ll update this post with more information.