Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update Kicking Off Or Is It The Helpful Content & Link Spam Updates?


I see signals, both in terms of SEO chatter and some of the Google Search tracking tools, of more volatility in the Google Search results. The volatility is algorithm update levels and can either be a new Google search ranking algorithm update or it can be the tail-end of the ongoing December 2022 helpful content update and December 2022 link spam update.

As you know, the December 2022 helpful content update started on December 5, 2022, and should have been done three weeks ago, but we are now on week number five. And the December 2022 link spam update started on December 14, 2022, and should have been done almost two weeks ago, but now we are heading into week number four.

But yes, we have a week or two more to go as of last Friday – so it might make sense to see some rumblings and fluctuations at the tail-end of these updates. I hope these updates finish on different dates and not the same dates.

Earlier last week, Danny Sullivan implied that the fluctuations we saw on January 3rd to 5th were related to these updates. He said on Mastodon then, “Both the updates are continuing to rollout. Normally these types of updates would have concluded by now, but rollouts can slow or pause when we get into the holiday periods.”

The two updates were delayed in its finish date because they ran into the holidays. Google said there was a security issue with completing them on the holidays. Also, we did see some big turbulence days before Christmas, and then things calmed down a lot. The truth is, the Google volatility is much calmer still than the previous couple of weeks. We also saw some fluctuations on December 26th.

SEO Chatter

Here is some of the SEO chatter from WebmasterWorld and BlackHatWorld over the past day or so… Note, some have been saying things are settling but some are seeing some wild swings (like any update, I guess).

Seeing black and white changes in search volume – happened 2 days ago

Anyone else seeing a drop in USA traffic today? Every other country is zooming, but USA is down 25%+ at 4:30pm

I’m seeing major position changes for high-volume, commercial queries in G serps, including some VERY high authority websites in this space. We’re generally side by side with these sites so it’s significant to see them disappearing from serp’s. Old positions were 1-3, new positions are 85-90 for the same queries. SEMR is showing a 15-25% drop in several of the sites within this niche and I think the only reason it’s not higher, is that the queries are not updated in their database yet.

After weeks of turbulence, the SERPs in my vertical seem to be settling.

If previous years are anything to go by then my traffic should start to return to my global site from today onwards, Monday it was at 71%.

Last night I received a notification about ranking change for a query and went to investigate. I found a SERP that was completely different than the day before. All of the scrapers and AI garbage and low quality sites were gone and replaced by the sort of sites you would expect to show up on page one. The sites that actually produce and sell a widget rather than the sites that write 2,000 word articles about the widget.

The further drastic drop in traffic, “IT how-to” niche. Neither updating, nor new content helps, it’s just destroying my 10 year old website. After a year-by-year growth, Google suddenly identified my website as a bad one, and started killing it, and nothing helps. I don’t know for what reason should we produce new content these days…

Google Tracking Tools

It is early but here is what some of the tools are showing, I will make sure to update these charts later on in the day as the tools update again:

Semrush:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Accuranker:

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Algoroo:

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SERPwoo:

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Cognitive SEO:

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SERPmetrics:

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RankRanger:

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Mozcast:

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Now reporting big swings:

SERPstat:

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Do you see any volatility yet? Do you think this is the ending of these two updates?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and BlackHatWorld.



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