By Jonathan Griffin. Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.
We will start by saying that this is referring to a desktop Google Algorithm Update we are looking at, not the Google Mobile Update that rolled out on the 21st of 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 of 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 affect specific Google data centers before others, so the fluctuation we saw maybe just that.
Looking at changes on websites we track, it would appear that the algorithm has been partially rolled back.
There have been many other new changes this month in the search algorithms. It could be that the fluctuations were related to the Doorway Algorithm (although we got the impression that this had already fully deployed). Alternatively, it could be 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 definite spike in SERP volatility on the 24th of April, but it seems to calm down after that. The chart data only shows to the 27th of April (Monday), so there may be further movement in the last day or so.
The spike on the Algaroo SERP tracker seems to peak on the 26th of 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 of April:
Any coincidence this update hits precisely three years after Google Penguin was introduced?
On the 24th of 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.