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Google Search Ranking Algorithmic Volatility On March 1st (Product Reviews Update)

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Google Core Update

I am seeing a much bigger spike in chatter within the SEO community this morning around another Google search ranking algorithm update. It might be related to the ongoing Google February 2023 product reviews update or it might be something new. Right now, the tools and the chatter within the community are pretty extreme.

The February 2023 product reviews update kicked off on February 21st and we saw some volatility the days following. Then we saw a spike in volatility around February 25th and now again, we are seeing big swings on February 28th and March 1st. Again, it is unclear if the latest spikes are product reviews related, you’d think by now most of the volatility would be done with this update (but who knows).

SEO Chatter

The folks in the WebmasterWorld forums and in the comments here started to notice big swings again in the past 24-hours. Here are some quotes:

I’m down another 30% after the Feb 24th update, YIKES. The weird thing is, my website isn’t even a product review website, and absolutely no affiliate links can be found anywhere on my website.

The rankings are replaced with giant websites that have very little relevant info on the niche. RPMs are down badly in the UK, and traffic is down badly, sad times are ahead for my business.

Big drop today (-40%), conversions picked up yesterday in evening and vanished over night.

The same thing – another drop, the most irrelevant traffic from all sources I have:

Google 0:33 s, 1.08 pages per session
Bing 1:02, 1.22 pages per session

The absolute assassination of my website entirely. All my pages are dropping – as those that are recently updated, as TOP10, TOP100 – everything drops…

Also substantial drop around that same time, like everyone else.

For a spell this morning I was getting completely irrelevant results on Google (which I only use now to check my SERPs positions) from all over the world for some searches – I’m in London. It seems to have settled down for now.

This update has somehow killed our traffic, and I’m not even in a product review niche. I don’t understand how that’s even possible. My niche is firearms, which to my knowledge does not gain product review juice at all, but here we are, keywords tanking, traffic tanking, after a long period of nice gains. Baffled.

My results are still all over the place, I am 4th for 1 term now, but will go back to 1st overnight and in the morning…then back to 4th. it has been like this for nearly 2 weeks now.

My websites are dancing in serp 1 day i am in 1st page next day 3rd page after 2 days 1st and then again 3rd, 4th

SERP dance starts again. Welcome to the show.

In the past, when I saw the SERP dancing, hope was emerging, I presumed it was a sign of that things would be better. But currently, I realized that nothing would be better, we are just losing the traffic when SERP starts to dance.

Massive volatility is going on right now

Yesterday traffic was strong the entire day from every region for the first time since the end of January. Let’s see how long that lasts. A few days of decent traffic with no conversions doesn’t compensate for a month of crap traffic, which is more often the case these days. I have noticed that the SERPs are being broken up by ads at top, middle and bottom now…so it’s very disorienting to search for something and suddenly get a big block of unrelated ads in the middle of the organic results. It’s basically a game of Gotcha! at this point, with Google trying to get people to mistakenly click on ads to generate more revenue. It appears that confusion might pay more as people click around mistakenly instead of avoiding the ads altogether. That’s also why the ads don’t produce conversions for the advertisers. I saw already years ago that 85% of traffic from Google hit one page and left in a few seconds

Google Tracking Tools

The tools are pretty volatile too in the past 24-hours. In fact, I have not seen Semrush this hot in a long long time.

Semrush:

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RankRanger:

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Cognitive SEO:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Accuranker:

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SERPmetrics:

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Algoroo:

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Mozcast:

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So there does seem to be something big going on, if it is the ongoing product reviews update or something else, I do not know at the moment.

Update: It might be product reviews related:

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.



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Google Weekend Volatility, Google On Search Leak, Elizabeth Tucker Interview, Apple Intelligence & More

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Google Weekend Volatility, Google On Search Leak, Elizabeth Tucker Interview, Apple Intelligence & More


For the original iTunes version, click here.

Google Search had more weekend volatility, surprise, surprise. Google responded more to the search leak around Navboost, clicks and user interactions. I interviewed Google’s Elizabeth Tucker on the March core update and much more. Google said you can recover from the helpful content update after a core update. Google spoke about fixing a few pages and how that can help, or not, with the helpful content update. Google said sometimes search experiments cause issues with Search. Google said you cannot completely disregard desktop for SEO. Google Search Console performance reports gain merchant listings for the image tab. Google added return policy structured data to the organization level. Google dropped home activity cards from Search. Google said the lastmod date in your XML sitemap is either trusted or not. Google said you should disallow crawling of action URLs. Google needs to fix product variant structured data. Google is testing organizing the search results. Google is testing shaded favicon, site name and URL in the top of the snippet. Google is testing local five packs. Google is testing QR codes in the local panels. Google Business Profile websites now completely 404. Bing is testing black review stars. Google is testing call and location extension new formats. Appel Siri is getting more useful with Apple Intelligence and ChatGPT. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Sponsored by Similarweb, the all-in-one- strategic SEO software. Get clarity of the SEO landscape through competitor analysis, keyword research, rank tracking, SERP insights and more. With industry-leading traffic and keyword data, based on real user journeys, Similarweb gives SEO professionals the whole picture so they can strategize smartly and drive sustainable business growth.

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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 14, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google experiments sometimes cause problems for Google Search and they need to revert them. Google Business Profile websites now 404. Google Ads it testing new call and location extension formats. Google is testing a new from sources across the web snippets. SEO bloggers are the reason Googler’s don’t share as much, sorry. Plus, I posted the SEO video recap (in a daze).

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Weekend Volatility, Google On Search Leak, Elizabeth Tucker Interview, Apple Intelligence & More


    Google Search had more weekend volatility, surprise, surprise. Google responded more to the search leak around Navboost, clicks and user interactions. I interviewed Google’s Elizabeth Tucker on the March core update and much more. Google said you can recover from the helpful content update after a core update…

  • Google: Sometimes Search Experiments Conflict Causing Issues


    In the last Search Off The Record podcast, Gary Illyes from the Google Search team said that sometimes issues can arise within the Google Search results due to two experiments that conflict with each other. He said at the 19:41 mark, “Very often there are experiments that need to be rolled back because two experiments might interact very badly with each other.”

  • Google Business Profiles Websites No Longer Load – 404


    Google Business Profiles websites, which stopped loading websites and began redirecting to the Google Business Profiles listing on Google Maps now completely 404 – as expected. It was supposed to stop working completely this past Sunday, but it did not stop working until later this week.

  • Google Tests New Call & Location Extension Ad Format


    Google may be testing a new call extension and location extension ad format. This format shows up as a carousel of links or buttons that you can scroll through below the ad snippet in the search results.


  • Google Tests Multiple Featured Snippets Under From Sources Across The Web


    Google is testing a new look for the “from sources across the web” search results feature. This one looks like the multiple features snippets look, with the perspectives design, but is titled under the “from sources across the web” search results.

  • I’m The Reason Googlers Don’t Reply With Nuance


    Did you know that SEO bloggers, like myself, are the reason you see fewer and less nuanced responses from Google Search reps? John Mueller from Google said so on Reddit, where he wrote, “Love the SEO news/bloggers, but it also means I can’t reply to things with nuance publicly.”



  • Google Dinosaur Eating A Baby


    Stan, the Google dinosaur, has a baby in its mouth, as if it is eating the baby. Stan is the Google dinosaur that is located at the GooglePlex, the Google Mountain View offices in California.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 13, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google is testing description overlays on local photos in the Google local pack. Microsoft Bing is testing black review stars. Google said we should not let Googlebot crawl action URLs. Google is testing larger fonts for the snippet title link and smaller fonts for the site links. Google updated GA4 attribution models to associate conversions better to paid search campaigns. Reminder, I am offline today and this newsletter was pre-written and scheduled.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Fixes GA4 Attribution Models To Better Associate Conversions To Paid Search


    Google posted a notice that it fixed an issue where Google Analytics, GA4, would sometimes not credit the proper conversion attribution to the paid search campaign. Google said it will update the “attribution models in GA4 over the next two weeks to improve the accuracy of conversion credit for paid search campaigns.”

  • Google Tests Larger Fonts For Main Snippet Title Link & Smaller Font For Sitelinks


    Google is testing a larger font size for the main search result title link, followed by smaller fonts for that same snippet’s sitelinks. This was spotted a few days ago by both Umair Khan on X and Lily Ray on X.

  • Google: Disallow Crawling Of Action URLs (Buy Now, Sign Up, etc)


    Google posted a public service announcement saying you should disallow Googlebot from crawling your action URLs. Gary Illyes from Google posted on LinkedIn, “You should really disallow crawling of your action URLs. Crawlers will not buy that organic non-GMO scented candle, nor do they care for a wishlist.”

  • Bing Tests Black Review Stars In Search Results


    Microsoft is testing using black-colored review stars in its Bing Search results. This is instead of the yellow or orange review stars. I am not sure why they are testing it in black, but they are.

  • Google Local Pack Photos With Labels


    Google seems to be testing adding labels and descriptions on the photos within the local business profile listings. These are on both the carousel of images and on the detailed business profile page.

  • I’m Feeling Lucky Notebooks At Google


    Here are some colorful notebooks that say “I’m Feeling Lucky” that were spotted at the GooglePlex, the Google office in Mountain View.

  • Programming Note: Offline For Shavuot On Wednesday & Thursday


    This is a programming note that I will be completely offline for the holiday of Shavout/Shavous, from Tuesday night, June 11th, through late Thursday night, June 13th – I return Friday, June 14th. Any stories published here will be scheduled, written beforehand, and not written during the holiday hours.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.


Note: This was pre-written and scheduled to be posted today, I am currently offline for Shavout.



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