Google updates its search ranking. Site owners are not happy.
The PPC community isn't the only Google community that complains when Google suddenly, without warning, makes changes to its algorithm, breaking businesses that spent years building tools for the platform.
This happened recently when Google changed its broad match modifier match type, and took away control from PPC marketers as to what ads would be shown for what search terms.
And Google is at its old tricks again. This time around the victim is the SEO world.
For months SEO specialists have speculated that another Google search ranking update was just around the corner. On November 8th, some users began to notice some changes in their reporting tools, which were shared with SearchEngineLand.
Much of this went unnoticed by the major SEO tools like SEMRush, Mozcast, RankRanger which failed to detect any major ranking shifts in Google’s search results.
Google put all the speculation to an end this week, officially confirming there was a new algorithm update on Twitter.
“We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis," Google said in an official response on its Twitter account.
Google's announcement was different to how the search engine usually informs its users about changes.
For example, when the mobile first update was rolled out in 2018, website owners were informed months in advanced, so they could optimize their websites for mobile in time and ensure they continued to rank well.
Not so this time around. In fact, this time it looks like Google intentionally withheld information.
How can this new Google search ranking affect your site?
SEOs and site owners have been reporting significant changes to their organic rankings and site visits, up to 50% in some cases in either direction.
But Google has given mixed signals as to whether site owners can do anything at all to fix things. They did share an old blog post from August about how to optimize your website if the site has been negatively affected.
That being said, users are not happy about the way Google rolled out its search ranking update.
For instance, Google shared this:
Which in response, one user answered with this:
Other users were equally angry. One user complained about solo content creators taking a hit, and when Google representative Danny Sullivan asked to have specific examples brought up, a girl mentioned how her blog post about a zoo in Germany with original content, their own photos and information about what to do was outranked by an irrelevant newspaper article in 2012.
The biggest complaint seems to be related to low quality content outranking higher quality content that people have spent years building, sometimes taking a 50% loss in traffic.
"It's almost as if low quality content that loads faster serves more value than a quality enriched page that may be slightly behind," one user tweeted. Google says that faster load times are what the user wants, but users are also willing to wait a little longer for a page to load if they know they will receive quality content. These pages, however, take a hit.
And of course, some complained that black hat techniques are being preferred over quality content, which is the opposite of what Google has said site owners should focus on.
This is of course Twitter, where people are bound to complain. But it will be interesting to see how Google's newest search ranking update affects websites.
In any case, to prepare for a possibilt hit to traffic, make sure to review your rankings and your search traffic reports. If there is an increase, then consider yourself lucky and in Google's good books. However, if there was a steep decline, then follow Google’s guidelines about how to improve your website and content.