An update to Google’s search engine algorithm is currently being rolled out. Industry-experts have been speculating about its purpose, but John Mueller, the analyst of Google’s Webmaster Trends confirmed that this update is not related to Panda.
Panda updates are changes to Google’s algorithms which are aimed to ‘lower the rank of low-quality sites or thin sites and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results’.
Is This Update Important For SEO?
Analytic services and sites, such as the MozCast, have lit up and claimed that huge changes are occurring in a range of SERPs. Rather than simply being a data glitch, certain search engine experts are already starting to call this update ‘Securageddon’.
Rankings are currently in turmoil, with the Mozcast’s weather warning reading both ‘foggy and stormy’. It has been suggested that Wikipedia’s recent move from HTTP to HTTPS could be the most reliable evidence in place that Google’s latest update has focused on the favouring of secure websites and pages.
The Role Of HTTPS In This Update
It has been suggested, by a range of SEO experts in London and across the world, that simply Wikipedia’s switch-over itself could have had a dramatic effect on the amount of HTTPS sites that rank so highly in SERPs, but it is obvious that there are a wide range of contributing factors.
When you spend your time with one eye fixed on the results pages, as our digital team have a habit of doing, you get used to seeing change on a daily basis. However, when such a hugely fluctuating event as this takes place, it is definitely worth approaching every change in position with a more detailed gaze – particularly when Google aren’t offering much in the way of clues!
Moz’s Dr. Pete Meyers was the first to raise the suggestion that HTTPS was the driving force behind this fluctuation, and he raised some extremely interesting points. The fact that HTTPS URLs on the first page made the huge jump from 16.9% to 18.4% by the morning after the update rolled out, and that the update came into effect so soon after Wikipedia’s change over, would lead any SEO expert with common sense to put two and two together.
Even ignoring the fact that a great many first page results were suddenly HTTPS, the average rankings of a HTTPS site dropped from 2.96 to 2.79 over the course of a day. This is a phenomenal change!
It is also extremely possible that this change was due to Wikipedia’s adaptation into HTTPS alone, but a wide range of people refuse to believe that Wikipedia’s movement could shake the world of search engine optimisation so powerfully. Even if this update isn’t based on the importance of a secure HTTPS over a traditional HTTP, Wikipedia’s strategy should be an indicator to many smaller websites and businesses that the switch to HTTPS could be a beneficial movement to consider.
Another analyst of Webmaster Trends at Google, Gary Illyes, said today that although he liked the name ‘Securageddon’, the update wasn’t related to HTTPS. This is an example of just how complex search engine rankings are, when even industry experts like Dr. Meyers can misread information and produce a hypothesis that turns out to be wrong.
It has also been speculated that the update could have been related to interstitial websites, as Google have publicly claimed that this is an area that they hope to address in the near future. This was quickly debunked by industry professionals, however, as Forbes.com remained unaffected in the update. Forbes is one of the biggest and most popular websites to use interstitial advertising, which is where an advert appears before the user access the site’s content.
Another Core Update? And More To Come?
It has been confirmed over the last few hours that Google’s update was not related to Panda, Penguin or HTTPS. Instead, this was a normal Google Core search update and SEO’s all over the world have been warned to expect continuing changes over the next few months.
It seems, simply, to have been poorly timed for Wikipedia to make the leap over to HTTPS as this fluctuation is obscuring the real results of Google’s latest update. Over the next few weeks, we expect the results of the update to become more obvious and, if we keep our eye on the SERPs, we should have some idea as to what Google are up to.
Here at SEO Junkies, we are proud of our ability to keep up to date and even pre-empt the changes that Google make to their search engine results pages. Our dedicated team are keeping an eye on the changes that the update has made to SERPs, but we’re proud to report that the changes haven’t caused any of our clients’ sites to drop rankings for relevant keywords.
For more information as it becomes noticeable, contact our team on 0118 380 0203 or follow us on social media!