Last week, an update in Google’s search algorithm was detected, catching users unaware of this short-lived shift in rankings. The unplanned update suggests some bigger changes in SEO to come to the publishing space.
- Users spotted an update in Google’s algorithm, which resulted in huge upwards movements in rankings across the board.
- The update was reverted less than 24 hours after it was noticed, suggesting that Google may have been testing out an upcoming change in the algorithm.
- The introduction of core web vitals will inform the future of Google’s ranking algorithm.
What happened: Following what was revealed to be a glitch on August 10th, which scrambled Google’s search rankings and delivered a set of incongruous Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), users detected another update last Saturday, August 15th.
- Many users spotted huge movements upwards in their sites’ rankings, which were reflected across the tracking results of many reputable SEO tools including SEMRush, MozCast, and RankRanger, while others inevitably noticed a drop in their positions.
- Less than 24 hours after the changes were noticed, the fleeting update was reverted by Google and the algorithm seemingly returned to its original state, prompting forum users to speculate whether Google was testing an upcoming permanent update.
- The update was compared with the glitch from the week before, which had resulted in poor-quality links ranking on Google’s first page, suggesting that this was an error.
— jasonpatterson (@jasonpatterson7) August 15, 2020
All links whose rankings were boosted in the update of 15.08 seemed to be reputable, so it’s unlikely that the update was unplanned or a glitch. A key point of change noticed by users involved Featured Snippets. Veteran SEO mogul, Glenn Gabe, identified a number of sites gaining and losing their Featured Snippets from the SERPs.
Based on the volatility yesterday, I've been checking sites that surged in visibility or dropped. Like Barry reported, it seems to have reverted late yesterday. When checking ranking changes, interesting to see many featured snippets involved (gaining the FS or dropping from it): pic.twitter.com/MNksI9zva2
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) August 16, 2020
- 5 May 2020: Google introduces core web vitals – a new set of UX measurements designed to help site owners improve the quality of their site and optimise their users’ experience.
- The announcement on core web vitals was followed by a significant core update to the algorithm.
- 28 May 2020: Google confirms that from 2021 earliest, these web vitals will become significant ranking signals, and should be prioritised by site owners.
Why you should care: Google continues to implement regular new changes to its algorithm, which could forecast a significant shift to the SEO space for publishers going forward.
- It has become increasingly difficult for sites to achieve organic traffic from Google, due to an increase in paid ad slots on Google’s first page, as well as no-click searches.
- Google has since announced the new labeling of ‘fast links’, determined by the core web vitals, in order to further improve user experience. When a user long-presses a link before clicking, those who meet the metric threshold will be clearly labeled to indicate that previous users have had positive experiences.
Zoom out: It seems that there is potential for the core web vitals to dictate the fundamental criteria of ranking ability in the future. Combined with the additional updates of recent, the web vitals could strongly influence publishers’ ability to rank over the next few years.