If you’ve noticed a change in your website’s organic traffic over the past week you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. Google recently confirmed that a broad core algorithm update is rolling out and the effects of the changes are still just starting to hit some websites.
As anyone who works with website SEO should know, Google sometimes like to make updates to their algorithm without making an announcements, while at other times, they scream it from the rooftops months in advance. This is one of the quieter algorithm updates, which only came to light once enough people started asking Google why their rankings had changed.
If the phrase “broad algorithm update” seems unhelpfully generic, that is mostly by design. This update is designed to balance results in a way that Google thinks is more fair or that leads to better-quality results. If they told people what changed, then sites would change to adapt to the new algorithm.
Unfortunately, this means there is no easy way to “fix” things if your site has dropped in rank after the update. The only way to raise your ranking will be to use a consistent digital marketing strategy that builds your site’s SEO over the long term. When the algorithm was first being noticed, Google’s response to people was that nothing had changed in their guidelines.
In a Twitter post, the company stated, “This week we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains the same as in March.”
Google updates take time to spread through the entire system, so some sites may not see the effects of the algorithm update yet, but may notice it in the next week or so. When asked on Aug. 3rd how long the rollout should take, a Google liason suggested they will be finishing up sometime soon.
In a response to a Twitter request from SearchEngineLand, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said, “Say by middle of next week, should be fully rolled out.”
While the lack of specific details about what has changed are lacking, this is consistent with Google’s behavior with updates. When Google wants to influence the way websites are built or the way content is constructed, they loudly announce in advance what will change. This was the case for the switch to the mobile-friendly, HTTPS, and anti-spam updates to the algorithm. Google wanted people to make mobile friendly sites, switch to HTTPS and stop using keyword or link spam in websites, so they made those updates very public.
These smaller updates are more about fine tuning the system to remove any holes that spammers can use to influence search results. Despite their best efforts, people can still manipulate Google to giving incorrect or less than useful links for certain low-ranking phrases. It makes sense for Google to try and patch out any issues before the upcoming mid-term elections, when search engine results and social media posts will be under scrutiny for signs of manipulation.
The latest update to the Google algorithm is reminder than any “get rank quick” scheme will eventually become a losing strategy when Google changes the algorithm to account for the trick and SEO manager that try to scheme their way to top of rankings will eventually fall back down.
For more information about recent updates to major web services, read this article about a recent change to the Facebook API that will prevent posting to personal Facebook pages.