The SEO community has been abuzz with talk of a potential Google algorithm update occurring late June 2017.
The update was rumoured after webmasters and SEO professionals noted fluctuations in rankings for several properties.
What’s An Algorithm Update?
Search rankings don’t just happen by magic. Google ranks pages according to ever-shifting algorithms that take into account hundreds, potentially thousands, of factors.
Moz has estimated Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 times a year. Most of these go unnoticed or unknown due to their minimal shifts in ranking position, but sometimes Google drops a larger update which more substantially impacts search positions.
Some of these past updates (Google Panda, Google Penguin) impact the way SEO is conducted. For example, Panda impacted around 12% of US search results, and targeted “content farming” sites that produced low-quality or shallow content, and lowered their rankings accordingly.
What Do We Know About The Update?
The update is suspected to have rolled out from 25th June, with multiple webmasters and SEO professionals noting of substantial ranking changes and alterations.
When approached for comment, Google were as usual elusive, preferring to keep details of ranking changes to themselves.
As is common with algorithm updates, the sheer number of SEO professionals, ranking tools and variety of websites experiencing ranking changes is the greatest evidence of the update at this stage.
Search Engine Journal has reported on data gathered by RankRanger, which suggests it has been a long running update, the “likes of which haven’t been seen since October 2016”. It also suggests the update predominantly targeted pages ranked 6-10.
The muted reaction from the broader digital community is most likely due to positions 6-10 being the biggest target, which are more likely to fluctuate in any case, not positions 1-5.
While the fluctuations were seen across all sectors, there has been speculation that food and drink related websites have been hit the hardest.
Nonetheless the fluctuations are larger than normal and a sure sign Google is up to something.
While it’s not suspected to be as large of an update as Penguin or Panda, it could be a precursor to a larger change, or simply a widespread but temporary fluctuation in rankings.
We expect further details as the update is rolled out globally, affecting more users, SEO professionals and webmasters.
Once the update has had time to settle in, more details will emerge about the specifics of the update, main content and websites affected, and more specific guidance on what can be done to rectify it – if there is any lasting impact.
For further reading on the suspected June algorithm update see the following coverage: