We will start by saying that this is referring to a desktop Google Update we are looking at, not the Google Mobile Update that rolled out on the 21st April (or if you look at some metrics even a day or two earlier than that). We first noticed this volatility on the weekend of the 24th April. Based on our own tracking, we believe any changes may have been reverted on Monday although further testing may have been carried out since.
Of course, rollouts of any algorithm change by Google can take time, and effect certain Google data centers before others, so it is possible the fluctuation we saw is just that. As of now, though, at least looking at changes on our own websites either the algorithm has been tweaked so as not to be so draconian, or it has been partially rolled back.
There have been many other new changes this month in the search, and it could be that the fluctuations were related to the Doorway Algorithm (although we got the impression that this had already fully deployed), or simply something new.
Let’s take a look at the SERP Tracking Signals
Rank Ranger Risk Index:
As you can see from their SERP tracking, there is some volatility, but it is perhaps not as widespread as we feared. Just for comparison, you can see their mobile SERP tracking below show the impact of the Google Mobile algorithm update:
As you can see, there has been much volatility for the Mobile SERPs from around the 17th or 18th April, slightly earlier than the advertised 21st April #Mobilegeddon.
As you can see, there was a clear spike in SERP volatility on the 24th April, but it seems to calm down after that. The chart data only shows to the 27th April (Monday), so it is possible there is further movement in the last day or so.
The spike on the Algaroo SERP tracker seems to peak on the 26th April, which is kind of interesting, and indeed if we take all the charts together, it is clear the movement takes place over several days, which is in line with what we see ourselves.
So What Are People Saying in the SEO Community?
Surprisingly, there is not a massive amount of chatter regarding this update, but in the ongoing April Google Update thread at WebmasterWorld it was noticed:
Well, April is wrapping itself up as the WORST month ever, not just for traffic but mostly for conversions. […] What happened to desktop traffic? Is it really human or have the Zombies returned? Very, very odd patterns indeed. Time to go back to basics, pounding the pavement and pressing the flesh to get customers. Google land is a joke.
Dr. Pete Meyers at Moz also noted the changes, and confirmed that it was unrelated to the mobile update on the 21st April:
Hotter algo temps across both desktop and mobile (~79 deg. F), but no real difference and no new signs of #Mobilegeddon.— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) April 25, 2015
Any coincidence this update hits exactly three years after Google Penguin was introduced?
On the 24th April 2012, Google launched “Google Penguin”, an algorithm specifically designed to target webspam. This took into account various factors including keyword stuffing, over-optimized backlinks, link schemes and other black hat link building techniques.
This makes us think that the latest Google Update could have something to do with Penguin or some other related algorithm. Of course, at this stage that is just speculation.
Have you been hit by the update? Let us know in the comments.
Jonathan Griffin Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.
Jonathan Griffin is The Webmaster's Editor & CEO, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all our publications. Jonathan writes about Development, Hosting, and SEO topics for The Webmaster and The Search Review with more than nine years of experience. Jonathan also manages his own SEO consultancy, offering SEO developer services. He is an expert on site-structure, strategy, Schema, AMP, and technical SEO. You can find Jonathan on Twitter as @thewebmastercom.