Lori Meloche
Keyword Ranking Updates

After a lot of speculation and confusion, Google finally acknowledged that it had updated its core search ranking algorithm. The problem is that if websites begin to experience a decline in their search engine ranking, there is nothing that professional webmasters can do to fix it.

Early Chatter

In the latter part of February, companies that provide SEO services began hearing chatter that Google might make a change to its ranking algorithm. At that time, no one had valid information. While some believed that was a possibility, others felt it was nothing more than a rumor.

Soon, complaints made by webmasters on social media sites like Twitter intensified. What made the situation so confusing is that some websites saw a dramatic increase in traffic, going from 1,000 to 5,000 over the course of three days, while others experienced a decline. As imagined, that made people talk even more. By March 2, talks about a significant update heated up, although, at that point, there were no changes made.

Some webmasters speculated that any changes were probably due to a bug, rollback, or perhaps a slow rollout. Some went as far as to question if Google was playing games. While experts who provide professional SEO services knew something was brewing, they could not identify anything specific.

Just a few days later, webmasters speculated that two algorithm updates had occurred, although they remained unconfirmed. Google did confirm that it would expand its mobile-first index within several weeks, but that was it. Along with that, Google eliminated the view image button in image search, got rid of the blog search ping feature, rolled out multifaceted featured snippets, and made changes to the request indexing feature because of abuse and spam.

Even with those admissions, companies providing professional SEO services knew there was more, but they had no idea what that would entail. Then, over the weekend of March 9 through 11, webmasters theorized that Google had completed its algorithm update. What made the chatter even more confusing was that while one professional SEO services company experienced no drastic changes, another complained about a substantial drop in traffic, as much as 50 percent. Again, experts knew something was going on but had no official confirmation from Google.

Google’s Confirmation

Finally, on March 13, Google reported the update, stating it released a broad core algorithm the previous week. The company added that algorithm updates get made several times throughout the year. In fact, it went on to say that it unleashes one or more changes daily as a way of improving results. However, what webmasters pointed out is that an update to a core algorithm is not something that happens every day.

After Google’s confirmation, one expert explained that while the update was to a core algorithm, it only happens a few times each year, not several times a day as stated by Google. This individual also said that from a technical standpoint, this update occurred on March 7, but people did not notice it until March 8 or 9. By March 19, the effects of the core algorithm update varied. Some claimed the update had no impact, while others said it caused traffic to drop by 55 percent.

As reported by Nathan Johns with Google, the core algorithm update officially began rolling out on March 7, but it took a few days for webmasters to feel its effects. He went on to explain the reason for this change was to reward sites that are typically under-rewarded. Johns encouraged sites experiencing a decline in search engine rankings to keep working to improve, considering that a decline in traffic was not the result of a Google penalty.

Help for Webmasters

Although SEO experts cannot “fix” the update to this core algorithm, they can continue making changes to improve websites. In response, that will help bring search engine rankings back up. The primary focus is on creating better content. That combined with other innovative SEO solutions should help increase traffic.

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