Correlating SERP Fluctuations & Volatility to Google Updates

Jul. 17, 2013 | by Modestos Siotos

Ranking fluctuations are an integral part of Google’s algorithm and are expected, to a certain extent. Depending on the competitiveness of a given keyword or niche, ranking updates can take place hourly, daily, weekly or even monthly. Ranking fluctuations in search results are usually caused by one or more of the following factors:

  1. Changes in the number of inbound links pointing to a ranking page. The higher the number of acquired or lost links, the more likely that ranking changes will take place.
  2. Changes in the content of a ranking page that affect its relevancy towards one or more keywords.
  3. Technical obstacles that affect the way search engines come across a given page.
  4. Search engine updates. These can be official or unofficial but when they get rolled out rankings can fluctuate significantly, progressively or rapidly, for a period that can vary from a few days up to 2-3 weeks.

 algoroo

High volatility one day after the Penguin 2.0 update was announced (Algoroo)

Distinguishing between a search engine and all other factors can often be tricky.  Google sometimes officially announces some of the major algorithmic updates on its own  blogs as they did with the first releases of Panda and Penguin. Sometimes other significant updates may be unofficially announced by Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam, on his blog or Twitter account. For instance, Matt announced the much anticipated Penguin 2.0 update on his blog. However, most updates do not get announced at all and this is when things become tricky as often it isn’t immediately obvious whether ranking drops or gains can be attributed to certain on-site (e.g. updated content, technical obstacles) , off-site (e.g. successful PR activity) or technical factors as they may have been a consequence of a global Google update that was not announced. NB. Google revealed that in 2010 they made 516 enhancements to their algorithm, out of which only a handful were publicly communicated.

Search results volatility measurement services

There are some useful services and tools that can help you work out whether an algorithmic update may have taken place:

  • Mozcast – This is the most sophisticated service that reports Google volatility over the last 30,60 and 90 days based on a set of 1,000 monitored keywords. It also reports on domain diversity, the influence of Exact Match and Partial Match domains and more.
  • SERPMetrics – Reports Google, Bing and Yahoo volatility on US sites during the last 30 days.
  • Advanced Web Ranking – Reports Google SERPs volatility for US, UK and DE based on a dataset of 10K keywords across various verticals.
  • SERPs.com – Reports Google and Bing volatility during the last 30 and 90 days based on 1,000 monitored US sites.
  • Algoroo - Algoroo data relies on fluctuations in rankings of tens of thousands of organic positions primarily from Google.com.au and a fraction from Google.com.
  • Local Weather – Focused on keywords with local intent. Ideal for Local SEO ranking fluctuations as it will pick up significant changes in Google Places/Google Maps/Places.

SERPs-volatility

Most spikes represent disclosed and undisclosed Google updates (SERPs.com)

Google updates resources:

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    Comments (21)

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    • NB

      Hi Modestos,

      First time here, and the post was of much help...Thanks for sharing!

      :)Sep 18, 2013 10:55 am

    • Modestos Siotos

      Hi Lucas,
      It is true that some updates (such as Panda) are part of the main index and being updated gradually. However, when such updates take place there is still increased flux in the SERPs and the above tools can help identify such cases.Jul 18, 2013 10:15 am

    • Lucas

      Hi Modestos,

      Google are now starting to roll out updates over a period of (give or take) 2 weeks, rather than doing it all in one big hit to A) so they do not have such a sudden / harsh impact B) so that they can fine tune them over a period of time I would assume.

      You can read more about the gradual updates here:
      seroundtable.com/google-panda-roll-16922.html

      Keep up the good work.Jul 18, 2013 07:47 am

    • Modestos Siotos

      Thank you Tom – Nice to hear that you found the post interesting :)Jul 17, 2013 09:58 pm

    • Tom Brown

      Interesting article especially to a layman like me. Thanks Modestos ...great stuff!Jul 17, 2013 08:18 pm

     
    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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