What’s with all these SERP fluctuations in Google?
With Penguin chatter still occurring daily on Twitter etc it seems a lot of webmasters and SEO’s are hanging their hopes on the next big Penguin refresh. We’ve even blogged several times when we’ve noticed significant movement or ranking fluctuations.
However I think something else is going on behind the scenes and Google HQ which may not be Google Penguin and something completely different which is why so many are reporting ranking fluctuations.
Lots of movement in Google SERPs
I’ve noticed over the last 2 months in particular that Google keeps showing incorrect results for UK searches in particular niches and also for certain locations.
Let me show you an example
For the search term ‘bi fold doors Perth‘ in Google.co.uk you can clearly see now 7 out of 10 positions are com.au sites
Does Google not understand GEO location any more?
Until recently Google has always been pretty spot on when it comes to understand your IP location and what you are searching for and presenting the most accurate results. So why now is Google getting confused with a location such as ‘Perth’ in Scotland and delivering Perth Australia?
Way back eons ago when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth (in 2103 really but it does feel a long time ago to me) Google released an update code named ‘Venice‘. The Venice also update was created to understand your GEO IP location and to tie this in with the results you required. This meant if you were in London and searched ‘Restaurants’ you would be served ‘Restaurants in London (UK)’. Perfect, Google is a magician, it can read my mind.
So how in 2016 when we have RankBrain and the most up to date search algorithms can Google get confused and serve up Australian websites in it’s UK search engine?
And it’s not just this occurrence either, I have found it in Cambridge, Basingstoke, Kingston (upon Thames) and others.
What does this have to do with a Google mystery update?
I’m not saying it’s directly related to this mystery update but it sure does fit in with the same time line that we started to see these glitches. The same with Google Places, we are seeing incorrect map data every week although the last 10-14 days has been a lot more stable than it has been in the past.
Here’s one idea why things are messed up
One idea is that RankBrain is learning and it will take it time to understand locations the way we humans do.
Dude you broke Google!
Another idea is that it’s just broken. Why not, Google breaks all the time. Really? Oh yeah! We reported earlier this year about Google reporting a catalogue of copyright entries after page 2 of the search results.
Another possible reason we are seeing rankings fluctuating
Google is texting out a new algorithm. I am seeing over the past 3 weeks a lot of sites using high numbers of inbound links via SAPE and PBN’s ranking a lot higher. This goes for ‘IT Support London’ if you look at this site which came from nowhere HTL.London and from March to the present has acquired over 13,000 back links in a very unnatural way.
How are they ranking without getting a penalty?
Look at their anchor text ratio?
You can see their anchor text is all over the place. No mention of ‘IT Support’ but have some very ‘interesting’ shall we say link anchors coming in to the site. So maybe by using this approach they are able to get better organic rankings without getting penalised for search terms they are targeting.
Has Google uprated the importance of inbound links as apposed to referring domains?
This is one thing I’m definitely seeing more of in the spam world. Sites with huge number of inbound links but far less of new referring domains outranking sites that have great relevant content and authoritative links.
It’s impossible to say for sure what the reasons are but I’m pretty sure it ain’t penguin as this goes against everything Penguin is about. My best guess is Google are testing something new out or it’s rank brain. It doesn’t seem to effect every niche and with rankings across the board fluctuating so much daily all signs point to testing. Or it’s dataset merging but I’m not sure its that either.
Tom Peary is the director of SEO21 Ltd. Offering SEO, Website Design, Digital Marketing, Google Places Optimisation, Guest Blogging, Copywriting and Link Building Services.