Huemor’s Take on Google’s Unnamed Update

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There was some buzz and slight upheaval in the SEO world last week when rumors of a Google algorithm update hit the circuit. The mouthpieces of Google are being cryptic and tight-lipped, as they often are about updates. So while there are no concrete details on what the update was based on–or what branch of prior updates it may be a part of, this is Huemor’s take on it.

While regular updates, mostly minor, are part of Google’s ongoing practice intended to keep the search engine’s results clean and relevant, any shakeup can be stressful for website owners.

How to Spot an Update

Most SEO experts noticed pretty quickly that rankings were fluctuating heavily, a sign that is indicative of an update.

According to Search Engine Land, there may have been two updates this last week–a core web search update and one which affected local rankings. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller admitted to at least one update on Tuesday September 6th, he also assured nervous industry insiders this was not a Penguin update. Penguin, an algorithm update introduced in April, 2012, targets spammy and unnatural SEO links. Mueller said, “this is something that isn’t really the kind of update that we would announce individually.” There hasn’t been a Penguin update in over 695 days.

Mueller did advise, via a Google+ live hangout Tuesday morning, “we do roll out a lot of updates over time. Sometimes, multiple updates even come, time-wise, kind of simultaneously when you see the effect.”

With a Penguin update out of the equation, and no leads other than our own expertise and industry chatter, Huemor’s Digital Marketing team can glean that the new update has nothing to do with spammy practices, such as over-optimization, link schemes or republished and duplicate content. Most SEO experts, ourselves included, are turning to SERP trackers and resources alike to fit the remaining puzzle pieces together.

What Did We Learn?

Like Search Engine Land’s initial prediction, we’re seeing the signs of a core web search algo update. Early results seem to point to Panda algorithm update. Panda, introduced in February, 2011 applies a number query thresholds to determine the quality of a website’s content. The search filter prevents poor quality content from ranking high on search engine results. Low quality content can include keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and thin (low word count) content.

The second part of this mystery update appears to affect local listings and map results. Most SEOs and local business owners have noticed their local pack (the set of map results presented during search) have changed in some way or another.

While Google’s algorithm updates sometimes send SEOs and site owners into a panic, clean and meticulous optimization, as well as staying on top of trends will go far in keeping your top results where they are.

Check back, as Huemor continues to post reports on this unnamed update.

Update: 9/20/2016 – There has been more of a reaction from Google about the speculation. While most experts, including us, agree that there is enough data to conclude that there was a significant update, Google’s PR team says otherwise. According to Search Engine Land and Google’s John Mueller, the changes we have witnessed are due to normal search fluctuations. In a tweet sent out on September 16th, Mueller said it’s “a sign that our algorithms and engineers are working hard.”

Update: 9/22/2016 – SEOs are no longer left guessing. Possum is the official name for the Google update that occurred on September 1st. This algorithm impacts local search rankings and Google My Business listings. According to the latest update post from Search Engine Landthe business listings have been filtered, focusing in on the age of the listing, organic ranking and duplicate listings. Keyword variations, specific reviews and physical location also come into play. Google’s growing sophistication is satisfying user-intent by serving up the most relevant listings.

Are you unsure if your listings are up to par for this update? Contact us to talk about building an SEO campaign that’s right for you!


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