Thursday, August 31, 2017

Changes in the Google algorithm: August 2017

By Adrián Coutin


Several SEO tools have detected a "mysterious" updates of Google algorithms that, according to the Semrush Sensor Indicator, the update has affected a large number of websites. Some examples of affected web pages are commented in this post.



Google - Updates and changes


Google is constantly making adjustments and changes to search algorithms. Several corrections are even activated in an "intelligent" way, it is not necessary the direct intervention of the personnel. Certain conditions are fulfilled and filters and corrections that quickly change the search results are activated.

Google news index and all results linked with news is a good examples of how google can fix index automatically.

However, there are changes that generate a severe adjustment, let's say that changes valuations of certain variables of a Web page or their interactions with elements or nodes that make up the Web world (links, snippets codes, etc.)

During 2017 according to Moz  there have been two major updates without any name being given, and the Google penalty announced in January 2017, known as an intrusive interstitial penalty. More details of these in Change in the Google algorithm

About the August update the online journal Search Engines Roudtable published an interesting summary of all the changes recorded by the main tools in the market that monitor the movements in Google indexes.

In this summary some of the tools mark the changes in Google indexes in different dates, others do not detect significant changes,  and therefore, there is no consensus about this google possible algorithm updates.

Some comments added to this information confirm the changes but, unfortunately, we do not come to a conclusion that helps identify what elements or elements of a Web are being valued to change search results significantly.

SEMrush Sensor - Changes detected in Google Index


The following chart shows the changes registered by SEMrush Sensor which provides various specific data for search results on Google.es (desktop)

SEMrush Sensor Volatility - All Categories August Google.es

Through this indicator, Volatility Sensor, SEMrush evaluates the permanent changes that occur in Google's search results.

In the graph above we can see that the Volatility Sensor, for all Web categories in Google.es search results, is at 6.6 out of 10.

What does this mean?

Volatility is classified into 4 states or situations ranging from 0 to 10:

Low: Scale from 0 to 2. There are very few changes in positions in Google search results.

Normal: Scale 2 to 5. Changes in positions in search results move in a range that should not be alarmed.

High: Scale from 5 to 8. Indicates that there are significant changes in positions. If they span all categories it may be updates in Google's algorithm.

Very High: Scale from 8 to 10. These are algorithm updates that cause severe penalties (affecting a high number of Web pages)

In the case at hand, Volatility Sensor August, we find a high figure: 6.6 out of 10 for all categories of results.

The volatility data for each of the categories can be better seen in the following graph:

SEMrush Sesor - Categories
They appear in red box those categories that have had an index of volatility above the average of all the categories (6,6).

Categories with index of volatility above the avarage of all categories ordered from highest to lowest volatility:

  • Games: 8,2
  • Art and Entertainment: 7.9
  • Pets and Animals: 7.9
  • Sports: 7,9
  • Shopping:7,4
  • Books & Literature: 7,2
  • Hobbies & Leisure: 7,1
  • Computers & Electronics: 6.9
  • News: 6,9


Patterns detected in web pages hit for this Google Update


According to the observations made by SEMrusch there are three fundamental patterns detected as the origin of the changes in Google's search results in the month of August:

  • Thin content with lots of ads
  • Broken links and/or Flash
  • Low relevance to the query

In previous google algorithm updates these three features have been detetected as origin of degratation of pages values. So probably we are dealing with another turn of the screw again poor content in web pages.

I show you an example of automatically generated pages, thin content and that were positioned by names or types of products and disappeared from search results.

Example in Google.nl

Modern fishbowls. A page with little content and linked to a set of products, newly incorporated fishbowls to the online store.


Example of web page affected for new Google updates


This page was at position 2 on Google.nl for the keyword "modern aquarieum", with a high competitiveness index.

As a result the update was removed from Google's search results.nl

With this example we can begin to analyze the falls of traffic in our Web and to identify the reasons for which traffic has been lost and how we can remedy it.

And if you are working on a new web project, keep in mind that you should not expect pages of this type to be correctly positioned.

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