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Large Google Search Ranking Volatility; Is It The Tail End Of The Product Reviews Update?

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Large Google Search Ranking Volatility; Is It The Tail End Of The Product Reviews Update?

As of yesterday afternoon and certainly today, I am seeing signs of some really large Google search ranking volatility and ranking changes. The question is, are these fluctuations from the tail-end of the March 2022 product reviews update or is this some sort of new update?

I am seeing significant and some off the charts volatility and fluctuations being reported by the tracking tools. Some are literally as high as they can go. I am also seeing a spike in chatter from within the SEO communities and forums.

Google Product Reviews Update Related?

As a reminder, the March 2022 product reviews update kicked off on March 23rd, it was quiet for some time, we saw small tremors that day but it really spiked on March 31st. Then it went quiet again and I thought it was pretty much done. I even posted my big Google update data review on Search Engine Land. Because by two weeks out, normally with these updates, we don’t see too much change this late in the game.

So is this related to the product reviews update? Possibly. I did ask Alan Kent from Google for an update last night, but he did not reply. Instead, Lily Ray published a chart of her own, showing for one site she is tracking, that it looks like we are still seeing big changes, as recent as yesterday:

I asked Glenn Gabe to share some charts this morning as well and yea, similar:

SEO Chatter

So what kind of chatter am I seeing within the SEO community. I can share the public WebmasterWorld forums, where the chatter normally precedes the tracking tools and here is some of that chatter:

Traffic improved over the weekend, but UK traffic was way off on Sunday. Today traffic started normally but simply fell off a cliff at 11am sharp and has been very low all day. My home page is -54% today. USA -14%, Canada – 49%, Australia -63%. Referral traffic and social media traffic has been down for almost two weeks as well.

Google has started bloating my websites. The traffic spiked very high for the last few days, but I am not celebrating because I have seen it in 2020. The same pattern. High rise of traffic followed by complete crash about a month later for at least a year. And it also happened in April 2020. Anyone seeing something similar.

Anyone else getting weird numbers in GA realtime today? (Metric total looks right, but ‘right now’ is lower than it should be)

Same here, the realtime stats of active users is def not working correctly at the moment.
Started this morning around 07:00 AM (CEST).

So the chatter seems to just be kicking off now, but it is hard to know when Google Analytics may have had some delays?

Tracking Tools

If you look at the tracking tools, some are literally off the charts. Some are showing massive spikes in volatility and Google ranking fluctuations. Here are screenshots and I may update some of these throughout the day, as some tend to update later in the day.

Semrush:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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SERPmetrics:

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Accuranker:

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Cognitive SEO:

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RankRanger:

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Mozcast:

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So what do you all think? It seems to me like it might be the tail-end of this Google product reviews update based on Google not yet telling us this update is complete, based on Lily Ray’s chart and based on all the recent volatility. But you tell me, look at your analytics and tools and let me know in the comments.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.




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Google Again Says Ignore Link Spam Especially To 404 Pages

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Google Robot Blindfolds

I am not sure how many times Google has said that you do not need to disavow spammy links, that you can ignore link spam attacks and that links pointing to pages that 404/410 are links that do not count – but John Mueller from Google said it again.

In a thread on X, John Mueller from Google wrote, “if the links are going to URLs that 404 on your site, they’re already dropped.” “They do nothing,” he added, “If there’s no indexable destination URL, there’s no link.”

John then added, “I’d generally ignore link-spam, and definitely ignore link-spam to 404s.”

Asking if it would hurt to disavow, after responding with the messages above, John wrote:

It will do absolutely nothing. I would take the time to rework a holistic & forward-looking strategy for the site overall instead of working on incremental tweaks (other tweaks might do something, but you probably need real change, not tweaks).

Earlier this year we had tons of SEOs notice spammy links to 404 error pages, John said ignore them. In 2021, Google said links to 404 pages do not count, Google also said that in 2012 and many other times.

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Plus, outside of links to 404 pages, Google has said to ignore spammy links, time and time again – even the toxic links – ignore them. The messaging around this changed in 2016 when Penguin 4.0 was released and Google began devaluing links over demoting them.

Here are those new posts in context:

And in general, Google says it ignores spammy links, so you should too (not new) but this post from John Mueller is:

And then also on Mastodon wrote about a similar situation, “Google has 2 decades of practice of ignoring spammy links. There’s no need to do anything for those links.”

Forum discussion at X.

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

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Google Needs Very Few Links To Rank Pages; Links Are Less Important

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Gary Illyes Serp Conf

Gary Illyes from Google spoke at the SERP Conf on Friday and he said what he said numerous times before, that Google values links a lot less today than it did in the past. He added that Google Search “needs very few links to rank pages.”

Gary reportedly said, “We need very few links to rank pages… Over the years we’ve made links less important.”

I am quoting Patrick Stox who is quoting what he heard Gary say on stage at the event. Here is Patrick’s post where Gary did a rare reply:

Gary said this a year ago, also in 2022 and other times as well. We previously covered that Google said links would likely become even less important in the future. And even Matt Cutts, the former Googler, said something similar about eight years ago and the truth is, links are weighted a lot less than it was eight years ago and that trend continues. A couple of years ago, Google said links are not the most important Google search ranking factor.

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Of course, many SEOs think Google lies about this.

Judith Lewis interviewed Gary Illyes at the SERP Conf this past Friday.

Forum discussion at X and image credit to @n_minkov.



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Google Core Update Flux, AdSense Ad Intent, California Link Tax & More

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Google Core Update Flux, AdSense Ad Intent, California Link Tax & More


For the original iTunes version, click here.

The Google March 2024 core update is still rolling out, almost 6 weeks now, and we saw two shifts of ranking volatility, both mid-week and the weekend before. Google’s Danny Sullivan went on the defensive on search quality and forum listings in the search results. Google’s site reputation abuse spam policy will be fought both algorithmically and through manual actions. Google responded to The Verge mocking its search rankings over best printer. Google Search Console has a new unused ownership tokens page. Some sites may see the Google Indexing API work for a limited time on unsupported content types. And having two sites won’t result in your sites search ranking decline. BingBot now fully supports Brotli compression and will test Zstd compression soon. Google Search is testing thumbs-up and down buttons for product carousels. Google is testing new sitelinks designs. Google Notes on Search may not go away in May. Google Maps no longer supports draft reviews. Google Maps released a bunch of new maps, directions, travel and EV features. Google Ads Demand Gen campaigns now support AI image generation. Google Ads is testing a similar product carousel. Google Ads reminds advertisers that ad customizers are going away. Google Ads is testing a new horizontal ad card format. Google AdSense has these new ad intent formats. Google AdSense publishers are reporting lower RPM earnings since mid-February. Google threatens to drop links to California news publishers amongst link tax bill. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

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