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Google Search Ranking Update January 14th & 15th

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Google Search Ranking Update January 14th & 15th


Friday and Saturday, January 14th and 15th there may have been another unconfirmed Google search ranking algorithm update. This comes a few days after the unconfirmed January 11th update. There is some chatter but this time, the Google tracking tools are showing much higher volatility.

There does appear to be more volatility surfacing this morning, Monday, January 17th. It is a bit early to see, as the chatter is not lining up right now with what the tools are showing. Of course, it is a US holiday today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So that might result in less chatter, as some are off, but it wouldn’t directly represent why the tools are showing so much change.

So if you saw ranking fluctuations around this time, you are not alone.

Google Tracking Tools

This time, I’ll start by sharing what the tools were showing on Friday and Saturday, it seemed to calm down a but on Sunday.

Semrush:

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RankRanger:

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Accuranker:

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Mozcast:

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Algoroo:

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Cognitive SEO:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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SERPmetrics:

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Community Chatter

Here is some of the chatter I found around these ranking changes, fluctuations and volatility.

Yesterday’s traffic and today’s SEMRUSH report shows that I may have reverted to whatever poor results I was getting last week. I suppose today will define whether that’s correct or not but it’s certainly a slow start.

Anyone else see a short lived reprive from poor traffic?

Looks like a huge drop in usa traffic this morning, but it’s only 6am so hard to say. Every place else is zooming. One of my smaller competitors just leapfrogged everyone to the top after languishing for months. My ranking is still at a low and not recovering at all, but the traffic has been better, albeit low quality. The inquiries are all from clueless people with low budgets and highly unrealistic about what things cost so half the time I ignore or delete them without responding. That is a big contrast to last year this time.

The new year traffic gains seem to be holding in non-USA traffic. But USA traffic is still highly throttled. Once again I’m slowly losing top 3/10/20 ranking terms… no recovery of the over 50% of top 3/10/20 terms lost since this time last year. Those are gone forever for any site with commercial intent, and that traffic is going to informational sites and how to articles. This new year bump in traffic is producing some conversions though, so that’s one small thing to be thankful for…while it lasts.

So far a much busier than average Sunday traffic even with 3 hours to run.

US traffic for me as normal but, I don’t know why, something just doesn’t feel right.

Sensors are up again. Perhaps too many websites benefited from the recent updates so it’s time to ‘adjust’ things now.

Have any of you noticed big changes over the past few days?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.





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The Return Of Yahoo Search

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Yahoo Search

Last week I reported that Yahoo Search posted on Twitter that it will be making search cool again. As I posted on Search Engine Land yesterday, we got more evidence that Yahoo is really moving forward with improving its search service.

Last night, Jim Lanzone, the CEO of Yahoo (more about him below), responded to Greg Sterling and myself about Yahoo getting into search:

So yes, we got that tweet that I covered last week, followed by a number of other tweets:

But we got a lot more – we have a job listing for a Principal Product Manager, Yahoo Search. The job listing says, “We’re looking for a Product Manager for Search at Yahoo. We are looking for folks that are interested in pushing beyond the status quo to change the way folks interact and use search.”

Jim Lanzone, who was the CEO of Ask.com and worked for several years for Ask.com (previously Ask Jeeves), who is now the CEO at Yahoo. He is a search guy, originally, and I do suspect he will want to do big things again with search. Under Jim, Ask released some incredibly innovative features, like Ask 3D – which Google kind of ripped off with its Universal Search – as some say… So I think, Yahoo Search, under Jim Lanzone might be an interesting Yahoo Search to look at.

As I also said on Search Engine Land, Brian Provost, SVP & GM, Yahoo posted on LinkedIn about this job listing and wrote, “There’s going to be so much innovation in Search in the coming years and there aren’t many places where you can immediately have an impact this big. Would love to hear from you if you have a passion for Search and building product experiences.”

This is exciting – I suspect it will take a year or so to see anything – but I am looking forward to it.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.



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Google Says Spammy Links From Porn Sites Are Not Something To Prioritize

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Google Handcuff Adult

Google has posted one of its Google SEO office-hours, this one was posted today, recorded in January, after the Google layoffs news, and one question asked was about if you should worry about spammy from porn sites and if they can cause bad for ranking in Google Search.

In short, Lizzi Sassman from Google said not really. She said, “This is not something that you need to prioritize too much since Google Systems are getting better at figuring out if a link is spammy.”

This is similar to what John Mueller of Google said in 2016, saying “Adult sites aren’t automatically spam, and links from them not automatically unnatural / problematic.” Of course, the question here is that we know the links are spammy and from adult sites. The question before was, the links were from adult sites and not necessarily spammy.

The question was asked and answered at the 5:20 mark in the video:

Here is the transcript:

Are spammy links from porn sites bad for ranking?

Anonymous is asking, I’ve seen a lot of spammy back links from porn websites linking to our site over the past month using the Google Search Console link tool. We do not want these. Is this bad for ranking and what can I do about it?

This is not something that you need to prioritize too much since Google Systems are getting better at figuring out if a link is spammy. But if you’re concerned or you’ve received a manual action, you can use the disavow tool in Search Console. You’ll need to create a list of the spammy links and then upload it to the tool. Do a search for disavow in Search Console for more steps on how to do this.

Later on in the video, there is a question about disavowing links in general. Google has downplayed the importance of disavowing over the years and this is related to this question, so here is that transcript:

Will disavowing links make my site rank better?

John: Jimmy asks, will disavowing spammy links linking to my website help recover from an algorithmic penalty?

So first off, I’d try to evaluate whether your site really created those spammy links. It’s common for sites to have random, weird links, and Google has a lot of practice ignoring those. On the other hand, if you actively built significant spammy links yourself, then yes, cleaning those up would make sense. The disavow tool can help if you can’t remove the links at the source. That said, this will not position your site as it was before, but it can help our algorithms to recognize that they can trust your site again, giving you a chance to work up from there. There’s no low effort, magic trick that makes a site pop up back afterwards. You really have to put in the work, just as if you did it from the start.

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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Google Says If You Redesign Your Site Your Rankings May Go Nuts

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Google Waves

Gary Illyes from the Google Search Relations team posted another PSA on LinkedIn. This time he said, “when you redesign a site, its rankings in search engines may go nuts.”

Yes, this is probably super obvious to most of you reading this site but Gary dives a bit deeper.

He said, “Among other things, search engines use the HTML of your pages to make sense of the content. If for example you break up paragraphs, remove H tags in favor of CSS styling, or add breaking tags (especially true for CJK languages), you change the HTML parsers’ output, which in turn may change the site’s rankings.”

In short, when redesigning, sure – go ahead – make the site pretty. But changing the core HTML can result in ranking changes.

Gary recommends, “try to use semantically similar HTML when you redesign the site and avoid adding tags where you don’t actually need them.”

So if you can change the design but at the same time keep things in the HTML looking similar, that is your best bet. Change a lot without changing a lot – if that makes sense.

Forum discussion at LinkedIn.

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