By Jonathan Griffin. Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.
After a relatively quiet August, Google has launched a reasonably significant Google Algorithm Update. Volatility started on the 13th of July, ramping up on the 17th.
Analysis indicates that this is a very broad update and does not focus on YMYL. Some webmasters reported some of the early gains from this update were rolled back around the 18th July.
Due to comments indicating that some of the gains received on the 13th were partially rolled back around the 17th I am treating the two spikes in volatility as one update.
John Mueller was asked about the update, but simply responded with a “Sorry” and shrug emoji:
The SERP Trackers
Let’s take a look at the SERP trackers:
The SEMrush Sensor shows “very high” volatility on the 18th of July, indicating a significant algorithm update.
The update appears to have started around the 16th of July and is distinct from the volatility on the 13th of July.
Rank Risk Index:
The Rank Risk Index tracker mirrors the SEMrush Sensor, again showing a significant spike on the 18th of July, 2019.
The MozCast weather report is almost a mirror image of the SEMrush Sensor and Rank Risk Index.
The Algoroo report shows a clear spike on the 18th, but the preceding days look quieter than the other trackers.
Advanced Web Ranking:
Advanced Web Ranking shows a gradual increase in volatility over several days, peaking on the 19th of July.
CognitiveSEO SIGNALS again confirms an update over several days, peaking on the 19th of July.
SERPmetrics shows a clear spike in volatility on the 17th and 18th July.
Accuranker shows increased volatility on the 16th of July, but the chart has not yet updated for the 17th.
What does the SEO community say?
Let’s take a look at the discussions on WebmasterWorld for the 13th July spike.
I am definitely noticing some fluctuations out of the ordinary. After a quiet week, it appears that Google is releasing an update.(HereWeGo123)
I’m noticing huge fluctuations, but I don’t know if it’s because of the work I’ve been doing to my site or what. (whoa182)
@whoa182 – Possibly a combination of both. If you feel that you’ve done a lot of work on your site, and there’s an update “supposedly” rolling out now, perhaps Google reassessed your site positively. There’s definitely still something happening though. We are seeing slight improvements in rankings and I’m noticing some competitors sites that saw increases back in March/June core updates now plummet substantially and losing their rich snippet stars. (HereWeGo123)
Yup, looks like an update. SEMRush is spiking in the UK right now to 6.4 Desktop and 6.8 Mobile. Not showing any changes for the US just yet. (whoa182)
I’ve had a jump in traffic, hard to tell how much right now but seems to be around a 20-25% increase.
The June update hit me -65%, so I’ve got some of it back but traffic still quite low.
I made NO major updates to my site since the June 3rd update that cripped my site. The only updates I’ve made is to fix a few broken links and I decided to disavow spam links to my site.(BangkokBaby)
Same here @MayankParmer. My site have been down by 75% since the June Core Update and not even a slight recovery since then. It was like my site was put in a black prison in the middle of an ocean. (cabsco)
Let’s take a look at the discussions that were posted around the 18th July:
anyone seeing any mass movements today? SEMRush sensor shows a 9.0 today for US Mobile (ybendiks)
Massive movements for me. All my keywords have dropped again :( I can’t believe this (MayankParmar)
Same happening here. If its any similar to June’s update, there might be room to recover in a week or so. (paranoid android)
I didn’t recover from the June update. It took away more than half of my traffic. July 13 update took another 10% and today’s update is going to take away the rest. ((MayankParmar)
In Canada, we’re seeing some clients up, and others down. On our end, we’re seeing it hit specific verticals - again the YMYL and authority issue seems to be playing a role from what we can see. Our sites are otherwise very healthy, great content, no technical problems to speak of, etc… this is the only factor that we’ve not been able to properly address. (Jeff_Fidler)
Starting on 7/12, my music history website’s traffic went up more than 50% and then moved lower on the 15th but is till above previous levels by around 20%. (travelin cat)
I got punched while down on whatever changed Wednesday :( Still haven’t recovered from June. One can only hope people start using Bing i guess. (CByronM)
An interesting comment from a person that says tehy own SERPWoo (Im not familiar with it but it is an SEO tool) in searchengine roundtable under the report about this “Maverick Update” that says : “Hey, there was no update. It was Google that updated their HTML code for mobile devices. That resulted in a lot of rank trackers seeing 90-100% volatility. (Side note: I own SERPWoo). At SERPWoo we separate the volatility by categories, and got this result - I updated the code for mobile and things are back to normal” (Milchan)
When you think it couldn’t get any worse… it gets worse :o 10 people on my site from Google in the last 11 hours. I guess it’s as good as dead now unless Analytics has stopped working properly. I should have over 120 by this time prior to June. (whoa182)
On Twitter, various SEO professionals waded into the conversation:
What do the Data Providers Say?
RankRanger did some analysis on Rank Fluctuations Increases by niche:
Here are the takeaways:
- The high levels of SERP changes were driven by the bottom half of the SERP across all niches, not just YMYL sites.
- This update was not necessarily about YMYL sites, UX/UI, and weak authority. While many low-quality health sites got hit, other similar low-quality health sites with poor UI saw gains.
- Many webmasters who saw gains since the start of July saw their increases partially rolled back:
- Many webmasters who saw significant gains on the first two days of the update saw their gain partially wiped out on the 18th July:
What to do if this update hits you
Personally, I think Google updates are getting more and more difficult to pin down to any one thing. I don’t think any SEO professional can say “do this, and then your problems will be fixed”. You need to be continually improving your website, including updating old content.
Google has said on many occasions that the web is evolving and searchers expectations are as well. It is only natural that your SEO strategy and techniques will have to develop with it. What worked last year won’t necessarily work this year.
The best advice I can give you is to read the Google Raters Guidelines in its entirety.
There is some excellent guidance relating to E-A-T and content quality in the guide, and the advice comes straight from Google.