Keeping Track of Search Engine Algorithm Updates


eCommerce merchants know how important organic traffic is to their site. Many depend on white hat SEO tactics to get their website ahead of the competition on the search engine results pages (SERP). There are some SEO strategies that are not evergreen and must respond to algorithm updates in order to stay on top of the SERPs.

Last week, Google rolled out an algorithm update that used mobile load speed to distribute rankings. This comes nearly three years after Google’s “Mobilegeddon” overhaul which penalized sites that were not yet mobile responsive.

Apparently, Google and other search engines are pushing web developers to focus on mobile development, but this is all just hypothesis and conjecture. Why? Because Google is famously tight-lipped about their algorithm updates having been burned by black and grey hat SEO tactics in the past.

So how will you know if an algorithm update is around the corner? Although SEO is fiercely competitive over keyword ranking, SEO experts know that we are all in this game together. Here are a few sources and tools that will help you stay ahead of algorithm updates, and keep your website on the SERPs.

SEO Sites to Follow

There are many great SEO websites and blogs that share news about the algorithm upgrades. Here are a few you may want to follow.

Search Engine Journal: Search Engine Journal will give you a detailed timeline of major Google updates. Their reporting spans updates from 2003 to present day. Not only that, they will give an overview of the update, whether it was confirmed by the search engine, and what was affected by the update. They also share links to official Google documents about the update, and other relevant news stories surrounding the update to study and use as a sort of predictive measure for possible future updates.

Google Webmaster Central Blog: Though not so much recently, the Google Webmaster Central Blog used to be the place to find out about important algorithm changes as they happened, whether it was the rollout of Panda, Penguin, or even the Page Layout algorithm.

Google still uses the blog to announce upcoming big modifications, sometimes weeks or months ahead of time (such as the situation with the mobile-friendly upgrade). Definitely keep your eye on this resource to keep up on the most recent changes, directly from Google.

Twitter: A few years ago, Matt Cutts was the ideal person at Google to follow along as he regularly kept the SEO community informed about changes to search. Nobody has fully filled this role, so Google is no longer very good about confirming algorithm updates.

But, there are a couple of Googlers who may declare or confirm updates, and perhaps even discuss some important details. Also using Twitter’s discover feature to search recent Tweets from SEO experts about rumors and real-time fluctuations in the SERPs.

SEO Tools

Google is not particularly fond of any third party tools that monitor changes to Google’s algorithms. Officially, a few Google spokespeople have cautioned SEO professionals that such tools are inaccurate most of the time. But there are a few trusted sources that can be used to monitor volatility in the SERPs.

MozCast: MozCast uses an weather forecasting analogy to report on volatility in the SERPs. Hotter and stormier signifies Google’s positions are extremely much in flux.

SEMrush Sensor: They are among the more remarkable algorithm monitoring tools. It’s possible to see ranking changes (desktop and mobile) broken down into over 20 categories, as well as by device, SERP attribute, and location. Plus you’ll be able to have a look at entire SERP volatility (and domain winners and losers) for the last 30 days.

Advanced Web Rankings Google Algorithm Changes: AWR’s Google Algorithm Changes tool exhibits 11,000 keywords and 500,000 URLs across various businesses to highlight changes and show changes in position.

After the Updates

After you know for sure an algorithm has been updated, here’s what you need to do. First of all, don’t panic. If you have dropped in rankings you can bring them back up with some SEO work.

Read credible resources (such as Search Engine Journal) to obtain insights and see exactly what the search engine optimization experts are saying. Make alterations to your SEO strategy and roll out tactics as required.