Google May 2014 Algorithm Updates

Traditionally May tends to be a busy month for Google algorithm updates.  As we reported  the other day, we have seen Google’s Panda 4.0 algo update as well as some others including Google’s release of their “Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0” which targets spammy queries.  Could there be a Penguin refresh happening as well?  A number of folks in the industry were reporting some SERP activity on May 26 and May 27th.  We have not noticed anything dramatic with our clients as we have seen clients experience increases in traffic ranging from 8-12% over the past week.  This could be due in part to seasonality with the long weekend occurring with our clients south of the border.

So far in May 2014, it appears that we have seen the following from Google:

  • Google Spam Algorithm Update (aka Payday Loan Update) – released weekend of May 17th/18th
  • Google Panda 4.0 – released on May 2oth
  • A possible Penguin Refresh – May 26th
  • A possible Penguin 4.0 Rollback – May 26th or May 27th

So needless to say it has been an eventful month in the Google SERP.  The only thing to expect is change and more of it.  The fact is (and this is why it is important not to chase the algorithms) is that Google makes changes all of the time but there can be other reasons as to why traffic to your website might fluctuate.

4 Reasons for Website Traffic Fluctuation

Seasonality – seasonality of search activity impacts most all websites.  For example, check out your traffic trends around the holidays or in summer as the weather gets nicer and people start enjoying their vacations.  There is a direct impact on search activity depending on the time of year it is and the type of website that you have.  Using a more recent example, this past Monday, May 26 was Memorial Day in the Unites States so overall search activity was most likely down between last Thursday (May 22) and yesterday (May 27).  You may be seeing some traffic fluctuation as a result of a long weekend or other forms of seasonality.

Implementation of Site Changes – anytime you make a dramatic change to your site, you may have a direct impact on the traffic to your site.  For example if you inadvertently removed a page or series of pages from your site, the traffic to your site will be directed impacted.  On the flip side if you recently added some fresh content (i.e. a blog post) to your site you may experience a temporary lift and fluctuation in your site’s traffic.

Typically Search Activity – depending on the type of website that you have, you can bet that your traffic goes down each and every weekend?  Why is this?  Well for one it’s the weekend and there is generally less search activity happening on the weekend.  Combined with the fact that the overall type of searched people conduct on weekends can be dramatically different than weekday search activity.

Algorithm Adjustments / Rollbacks – with initial reports of a possible Penguin refresh or a potential Panda rollback (some are reporting that sites that were hit hard by Panda 4.0 such as eBay are starting to recover).  Google has been known to make adjustments or rollbacks to algorithm so in some cases you may experience a fluctuation only to have your traffic level out a few days or in some cases weeks later.    It takes a lot of work for Googlebot to crawl the trillions of pages in its index.

So we don’t think that we are seeing anything out of the ordinary here.  In typical May fashion Google appears to making some updates.  There is probably no need for you to be reactive to these changes from Google.  As we have mentioned time and again if you continue to produce fresh, relevant and timely content you should not have to worry about “chasing the algorithms”.

If you are concerned about being devalued by an algorithm update, I’ll repeat what I shared last week…

3 Tips for Determining if Google Panda Impacted Your Website

Check your overall traffic and organic traffic totals for the period of concern.  Did your site experience a significant traffic fluctuation?  Compare Year-Over-Year.  Is there a trend or pattern forming?  Is this typical or atypical of what you would expect with your site?

Review the traffic to your landing pages.  Using the same data range review your page level data for your website’s pages to identify if there were any pages that experienced major traffic declines.  Review these pages; is there sufficient content on these pages?  Is the content dated?  Is the content unique to your website?

Leverage the data from Google.  Go into Google Webmaster Tools and review the “Search Queries” report to see if there were any specific terms that Google is indicating saw a large decline in position.  This could be an indication that some pages have been devalued in Google’s search results for a certain key phrase.

Interested in what others are saying?  Check out the ongoing forum over at Webmaster World.   Barry Schwartz over at SEO Roundtable and Search Engine Land always has up-to-date coverage on potential movement with regards to algorithm updates.

Matt Cutts has continued to state that we can expect more updates and more regular refresh updates as well.

It is all about Google’s desire to produce the most relevant results possible when it comes to Web Search.  So our advice to you?  Do not worry about chasing the algorithms.  Focus on your messaging and your content and on in ensuring that the Search Engines can efficiently find and crawl your content.  Focus on the usability of your site so that once the traffic arrives on your site they can follow through with a clear call to action.  Digital marketing can be a challenge but it can be rewarding as well.  When it comes to worrying about the algorithms, let me leave you with this great quote from Bruce Lee:

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”
― Bruce Lee

After all we are at the mercy of the algorithms are we not?