It seems Google is being mischievous again. Many webmasters around the globe who are familiar with Google’s search algorithm, noticed that Google’s SERP has been in a state of massive flux over the weekend.
Industry experts Gary Illyes, John Mueller and Zineb Ait Bahajji of Google have confirmed on Twitter that the fluctuations that the webmasters have been noticing over the last week, is a core ranking algorithm update. But they have also shot down the possibility that the update could be related to the new Penguin 4.0 real-time algorithm update that was supposed to be launched in 2015, but got delayed to this year. Many webmasters have been hoping that the update would be related to the Penguin, but apparently that was not the case.
@dawnieando It’s not penguin; not “confirmed-ish” just “confirmed” :-).
— John Mueller (@JohnMu) January 12, 2016
This confirmation came as a surprise, because Google rarely confirms core algorithm updates. Another confirmation that came from them was way back in May, 2015. Webmasters and SEO professionals are thus observing the SERP fluctuations, and are on the lookout for any major changes that might happen. The screenshots below show the extent of the fluctuations that were noticed by the experts:
It is also worth noting that the Panda algorithm update, that is also considered as Google’s most noteworthy anti-spam algorithm update, has been made a part of the above mentioned core algorithm update. Though it is not clear why this was done, we suspect that Google wants to make the Panda algorithm updates much more frequent, as they have been putting more and more emphasis in a website’s content quality and employment of spammy techniques. The Panda algorithm saw a major update around October last year. Named Panda 4.2, it was a slow update that rolled on for several months. Gary Illyes of Google has confirmed that though Panda is now part of the core update, the weekends update “have absolutely nothing to do with panda or other animals”, that some experts suspected would be the case. He has also confirmed that the update was not real-time, as some webmasters thought it would be.
Now the question arises what could be the possible effects of this major update?
Since it has been reflecting on websites with thin and low content, now the websites will be penalized more heavily than before as Google has incorporated Panda into its core algorithm.
There are some other factors which points towards Panda update, including the sudden drop in traffic and no improvements in rankings despite creating quality backlinks. For Webmasters and SEO professionals whose eyes are always on algorithm updates, this seems to be alarming as Panda is an algorithm has become one of the most significant ranking signal.
So, if your pages drop in search results you are not the only one. The update may ring a few bells but the ship is still very much sailable.