You may have noticed or heard about an update to Google’s search algorithm in the first week of February and wondered “what’s going on?” Google claims that the changes are in line with the regular tweaks they make to their algorithm on a near daily basis, but this tweak had a larger effect than many. Because the SERPs for the affected keywords are still shifting, it’s too early to draw definitive conclusions. BrightEdge’s unique resources and perspective enabled an analysis of a broad set of keywords and yielded some interesting preliminary insights.
- Analysis confirms Google’s claim that this update wasn’t Panda or Penguin- related
- Changes were not correlated with keyword search volume, head vs. tail type or the associated CPC for keywords
- eCommerce keywords were most heavily affected
In response to questions from Search Engine Land, Google claimed that the update wasn’t Panda or Penguin-related, describing it simply as a regular “tweak,” and Brightedge research confirms that it did not impact the types of sites generally affected by Panda or Penguin updates.
Within the analyzed set of keywords, eCommerce related terms showed the greatest increase in volatility, which was measured as the total number of position shifts for URLs on pages 1–3. For the most part SERPs remained similar with nearly all of the shifts involving movement of already-ranking results. There was no clear trend in the types of sites that moved up or down, nor was there a trend in the types of eCommerce keywords that were affected.
What it was not
Changes on affected SERPs weren’t correlated with keyword CPC, keyword search volume or head vs. tail keyword type. Although keywords with measurable CPC showed slightly higher volatility during the update period than ones with no ads, this is likely due to the fact that the keywords with the most volatile SERPs were eCommerce related and almost always have a non-zero CPC.
What you can do
As always, check your BrightEdge dashboards to see how this update affected your site in particular. A combined view of rank and traffic will give you excellent insight into what search terms were most affected. Most importantly, remember that SEO is a long-term game, and continuing to build excellent content and high quality links will always pay dividends, regardless of updates like this one.