Google has made two algorithm updates within the last two weeks. These updates affect Local Search Ranking and Product reviews. What exactly do these algorithm updates entail?

Web and Local Search Ranking

Around the 23 April, people began noticing an unconfirmed Google Search ranking update both on web and local search results. This update sparked chatter in the SEO forums, which was coupled with automated tracking tools picking up on these big changes. 

In addition to this, there was significant chatter regarding Google not indexing content as of late. Could this be the reason why Gary Illyes (Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst) encouraged Google users to pass the quality checks for indexing? 

Here is some of the chatter surrounding this update in the WebmasterWorld forums. The chatter is specific to the ranking fluctuations. 

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Huge drop this afternoon. Has anyone noticed any fluctuations?”

“Anyone else noticing that Google is favoring freshness big time at the moment?” Got a competitor who is just republishing the same type of article every few days with a different title and respinning the content and rocketing up the rankings and doing well on Google Discover. Fluff article just respinned every few days.”

“My USA traffic down 24% today…drop started at 2pm. Traffic from every other country either average or up. I’m getting awfully tired of my USA traffic being throttled for half the day…”

“Exactly the same. At 2pm the drop started. This is becoming commonplace every day. Yesterday was more significant.”

– WebmasterWorld Forum

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In addition to the chatter on the forums, there was more chatter on both the indexing side and ranking fluctuation side. Below are screenshots from the automated tracking tools which show changes from as early as 22 and 23 April 2021.

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(Image Source: Mozcast)
(Image Source: SERPMetrics)
(Image Source: SEMRush)
(Image Source: BrightLocal)

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Product Reviews

As if the Web and Local search ranking updates were not enough, around 1 May 2021 users began seeing sights of an update that had a relatively big impact on the Product Reviews update, which initially ended on 22 April 2021. Could it be that Google made an unconfirmed algorithm update that impacted product reviews and other categories of sites or was it a totally separate update? It is all speculation at this point as it is unconfirmed as Google said they would not confirm. 

Users have noticed that this particular update is very similar to the core update, and they began questioning whether it is something much larger that was rolled out that impacted both product reviews and other categories. It is all speculation however there have been signs from both the community forums and tracking tools regarding these changes. 

Here is a brief summary of the chatter from the SEO community at both WebmasterWorld and Black Hat World:

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“Anyone noticing any shifts? Not seen much movement on our sites, but I am in the process of doing some database housekeeping on some sites – so need to sometimes just cross-reference with a google search for some tables….and yet….despite quite obviously being very very very interested in WordPress……the search results have utterly abysmal for some of the most basic queries….so thought I’d ask if anyone is being hammered.”

“Finally, today my traffic dropped off a cliff at 9am and is still lower.”

“Something started brewing yesterday.”

“Here we go again…it took about 6 months to fall right back into the punitive sandbox Gorg started on May 10th 2010. No doubt encouraged to cheat webmasters out of revenue by their new partners in Washington who turn a blind eye to any of their corrupt practices. Site income has dropped by 80% in the past week.”

“Did anyone notice a big drop this afternoon?”

– WebmasterWorld and Black Hat World

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SEO consultant focused on Google’s algorithm updates, Glenn Gabe, shared some interesting charts of product reviews he has been following in his tweets below

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(Image Source: Twitter)
(Image Source: Twitter)
(Image Source: Twitter)

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Now looking at the tracking tools:

(Image Source: Mozcast)
(Image Source: SERPMetrics)
(Image Source: SEMRush)

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Why should you care?

An unconfirmed and unannounced Google update is like having a visitor come over on a Sunday while you are watching the footy in your shorts and do not want to be disturbed. However, with these updates, there is doubt as to whether the web and local search updates were related to the product review updates but it may be a quality change Google has made to impact indexing. It is advisable to check your traffic, ranking and all things related to Google and cross your fingers you did well with this unannounced intrude, oh I mean update. A reminder to not forget the page experience rollout. Read this post on the updated page experience rollout to know when to expect the changes. 

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