DENVER, COLORADO – On August 10, 2020, the world’s largest search engine experienced a temporary glitch that caused many websites to experience sudden changes to their search engine rankings. While some websites — particularly those connected to eBay, Amazon, and other eCommerce sellers — experienced a sudden rise in their page rankings, many businesses were put on high alert as their digital performance began to rapidly decline.
“I don’t have all the details yet, but it seems like this was a glitch on our side and has been fixed in the meantime” tweeted John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google. By most estimates, the effects of the glitch were felt for about 16 hours before the glitch was fully addressed.
“We see Google page rankings go up and down all the time”, explains David Finberg, CEO of Denver SEO Agency Peaks Digital Marketing, “There are many different reasons that a given site might move onto or off of the front page of Google. Our job is to make sure our clients are getting the best page rankings they possibly can.”
According to Finberg, it is not uncommon for Google (and other search engines) to “test” components of their new algorithms before officially deciding to put them into use. Oftentimes, if page rankings experience increased levels of ranking volatility, this means that an algorithm update might occur in the next few weeks.
Google updates its algorithms on an essentially daily basis, but some algorithm updates will be much more powerful than others. This year, Google’s largest update thus far was the “May 2020 Core Update”, which occurred on May 4. The “broad core algorithm update”, as described by Google, had a major impact on the digital marketing community.
While the exact mechanics of Google’s algorithm updates can be difficult to predict or reverse engineer, there are a few consistent trends that have stood out in recent years. In addition to optimizing each page in order to ensure better performance, Google also wants to encourage content creators to publish high-quality content that answers people’s questions. Recently, the company began introducing a “highlighting” feature that helps users quickly discover the components of their content that will likely be most useful for them.
“Learning to think like Google is one of the most important parts of digital marketing” David Finberg explains, “the company is constantly changing their algorithm and it is crucial to be thinking ahead. Even if we don’t know what their next change might be, we know that we need to keep creating high-performing, relevant, and fully-optimized pieces of content.”
While the turbulence experienced on August 10 can be attributed to a simple glitch, it is clear that Google’s next big update is likely just around the corner.