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Another weekend, another Google update

Another weekend, another Google update

Hot on the heels of last week’s update, we had another Google update this weekend. Looking at the data there are some outliers, probably due to individual issues with sites, but most of all it seems like Google is changing the branding results all the time now.

Another Google Update

Google updates galore

I wrote 3 posts last week, all to cover Google core algorithm related updates. If you haven’t read them and this is the first you hear of all these changes, you might want to read them, in order:

  1. Real time Penguin? Or something else?
  2. Google Panda part of Google’s core algorithm
  3. Google core algorithm update: brand terms

As I covered in my brand terms post, this Google update mostly seems to be changing the results for specific brand related terms. This weekends update was no different. What’s surprising is the enormous amount of SERPs (search engine result pages) that were updated.The volatility in the SERPs is huge though, as evidenced by all the screenshots in Barry’s post. The update was dubbed “Burj Khalifa” by Dan Petrovic over at Dejan SEO, although I honestly think Petronas Towers would have been a better fit, given that the volatility the next day was just as high.

We’re still analyzing the patterns of this update. In part, it looks like last weekend added some news results back in to the SERPs that had been taken out the weekend before. Some of the “winners” this week were losers last week, but none of them recovered their entire visibility. Results didn’t quite return at the same spot and there were definitely some other tweaks. It seems Google is searching for a balance of sorts.

Another core algorithm update

This was definitely not Penguin, you can see that based on what changed, but also because Googler Gary Ilyes confirmed it:

From the type of changes SearchMetrics shows, it’s clear that it’s “more of the same” compared to last weeks update, with an emphasis on “more”.

Theories are forming

We’re seeing some first theories form around the web as to what this is, but I honestly have a hard time believing any of them, which is why I’m not linking them yet. The only thing that is painfully clear when you look at the changed results is that URLs seem to be more important than I think they’d ought to be. But this could still just be correlation, I have no proof for causation yet.

Have you been hit by these changes? Are you seeing anything particularly weird? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: ‘Google core algorithm update’ »

18 Responses to Another weekend, another Google update

  1. Arafat
    By Arafat on 1 February, 2016

    Google has an influential change in some Keywords. Over the last few days my website rankings seemed to have changed on several important keywords.

  2. Nick
    By Nick on 30 January, 2016

    We’ve seen fluctuations as well. Seems to be stabilizing a bit though.

  3. Konrad Mowrer
    By Konrad Mowrer on 29 January, 2016

    I have seen my website go all over the place on google searches. It seems like results from searching “carpet cleaning” are never consistent. I have given up on trying to figure it out. Now I am just focusing on conversion.
    Yoast SEO plugin was a big help in keeping me closer to the top.

  4. JudyAnn Lorenz
    By JudyAnn Lorenz on 27 January, 2016

    It’s working for me. Someone obscure found me on Google! Before I read this I thought it might be my employment of SEO by YOAST, but now I have another bunny trail to consider.

  5. Roger
    By Roger on 24 January, 2016

    We run an ecommerce Dancewear site ( and we’ve seen no impact on the number of site sessions, but some of our specific products have dropped down the rankings by 2 pages.

  6. Kelvin
    By Kelvin on 22 January, 2016

    We have also seen a brand related increase in traffic from one of the quality ecommerce websites that we maintain.

  7. Paul
    By Paul on 22 January, 2016

    Yes, I saw a huge increase in search traffic this week.

    Oh wait, I have a snow blower website and there is a major snow storm forecasted. I guess it wasn’t the Penguin after all.

  8. Daniel Borg
    By Daniel Borg on 21 January, 2016

    I recently optimised a site based on what I have been learning about SEO and some of Yoast’s recommendations (and your awesome WP plugin). Anyway, this took the site from the 7th page of google to the first page over about 4 weeks, so I was pleasantly surprised to say the least! Reading this article though, I am hoping these results are sticky and was not due to a temporary Google tweak/experiment?

  9. Andreas Ostheimer
    By Andreas Ostheimer on 21 January, 2016

    I have seen ups and downs but mostly significant changes. I agree that after an initial huge change things seem to go back to normal in regards to rankings. One can see that easily in the Google Search Console.

  10. Brian
    By Brian on 21 January, 2016

    I’ve given up on attempting to comprehend what Google is or isn’t doing. Quite simply I just put the best content I know how to or am capable of producing on my site. I can’t be the only small business that either can’t afford expensive SEO companies or spend the extraordinary time it takes to keep afloat with these changes. I’ve followed Yoast’s recommendations to the best of my ability but most of the Search Console html errors are an ongoing source of frustration. I’m busy trying to run a business and don’t have the time to expend all my energy on these constant changes. Recently my phone has been ringing off the hook. Maybe I did something right, maybe it’s just a coincidence. I’ve no clue.

  11. Nathan K Smith
    By Nathan K Smith on 21 January, 2016

    Over the last few days my website rankings seemed to have changed on several important keywords. One of my main ranked pages was moved down a few positions however it was replaced with two other pages on the first page of the serps.

    Today I checked and it seems to be back to normal.

  12. Janice
    By Janice on 21 January, 2016

    My traffic from search on a little fitness blog has more than doubled over the last week and I haven’t changed anything either. Whatever Google is doing is benefitting me so I hope my rankings stay the same for whatever people are searching for :)

  13. Alexis
    By Alexis on 21 January, 2016

    My site ( has seen a 90% increase in google traffic, and according to webmaster tools, my impressions and clicks have jumped in the past few weeks. Site itself is relatively unchanged so I’m assuming I have dramatically benefited from a change in Google. Why a small baby sleep site is seeing a huge bump? Dunno (but yay?)

  14. Michael Vittori
    By Michael Vittori on 21 January, 2016

    Thanks for the update Jon. Google (John Muller) is only saying that Title Tags isn’t a big ranking factor…. and isn’t explaining all these algo changes. Also on Google Italy I’m seeing big changes and “tremors”, luckily in most of case are positive for me.

  15. Flo91
    By Flo91 on 20 January, 2016

    Another piece of evidence: I work for an online video channel, two of our most popular videos have disappeared from the Google video search on Sunday. Disappeared as in they do not show up at all, not just a lower ranking problem. They are still showing up in the general search page, but we were getting traffic from the video search. What’s more puzzling is that other videos from our platform are showing up as usual… Terrible effect on our organic search traffic, obviously :(

  16. Byron Trzeciak
    By Byron Trzeciak on 20 January, 2016

    I saw many of the websites manage significantly improve in their rankings two friday/saturdays in a row only to see the changes reverted again come monday. I’m in Australia so I’m probably seeing the changes the day after the US. Either way everything that is changing seems to be reverting from my view so whatever they’re doing I’m not sure it’s been officially rolled out. It seems like two weekends of testing on some wider algorithm changes and maybe with some minor incremental changes to brands etc that you’ve been talking about Joost.

  17. Jon Miller
    By Jon Miller on 19 January, 2016

    I have been seeing huge fluctuation on traffic the last week for my popular website

    Today it looks a little closer to normal, but search rankings were all over the place. Went from top 3 position to page 4 and back again on many searches and had traffic down 30-40% over the weekend.

    Would be nice if they gave some guidance on these big update, not on how to manipulate your rank, but on key things to avoid like they did ahead of mobile becoming a ranking factor.


    • Joost de Valk
      By Joost de Valk on 19 January, 2016

      Hey Jon,

      thanks for chiming in. We’re looking to provide you the guidance that Google is indeed not giving, but the algorithm changes, so far, don’t make sense to me yet.

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