October has never been a quiet month in terms of Google changes and it seems that we can continue to accredit that this year after seeing reports (and evidence) that search engine giants Google have been tweaking things again this year, a month that in 2014 saw three updates and 2013 saw one.
Website owners took to the online communities to claim ranking changes had been seen around 14th/15th October and then again around 19th October and the days that followed, however Google were being tight lipped surrounding what the cause of those alterations could have been.
We already know that Google announced back in July that they were releasing a slow rollout of their latest Google Panda algorithm and that it would take a number of months to complete its initial phase and that could well be one of the reasons that we saw one set of the fluctuations within the organics, however speculation is high surrounding what the secondary movements were in relation to.
Search Engine Roundtable posted an article on their site that accredited the movement to a so called ‘Zombie update' due to the fact that Halloween resides within this calendar month, however we had seen a select number of drops in the rankings of some third party sites that we monitor that seemed to have lost organic placement on pages with a high volume of links being added to specific pages.
With very little insight into what the later movements could have been caused by, we began to question whether Google were starting to roll out their new and improved Google Penguin algorithm, a version that they claim will become a rolling update but sources inside of Google continued to previously claim that it simply wasn't ready just yet.
In a bid to see whether we could find out a little more about what could have caused the fluctuations that many are reporting (including some of the leading SERP movement trackers) we reached out to Gary Illyes of Google to see whether he would be a little looser with the information that we could gather.
Using Twitter I enquired whether the update we had seen working its way through the search engine was related to Google Penguin, however Gary expressed once again that the Penguin update was still not ready for the live index.
After being able to rule out Google Penguin at this point, I tested the waters again and speculated that the dual movements that we have seen could have been the rolling Google Panda update taking affect with a possible larger tweak to the Spam and Hacked site update that we had seen recently.
Unfortunately Gary came back to say that Google don't confirm changes to their core ranking algorithm, citing that this could have been related to that.
Although we seem to have been fed the generic Google response of a long winded ‘we can't tell you' there is something in that response that website owners can take away from it. That the change could be an alteration of the core ranking algorithm.
That means, if you were negatively affected by the change, it could be time to take a look at your site to ensure that you are following best practise across the entire site otherwise without change, it would be unlikely that the core algorithm would reconsider those drops in organic visibility.
Do you have any theories surrounding what the changes could have been?