Google: Our Algorithms Don't Stand Still, Neither Should You

Dec 3, 2013 • 8:30 am | comments (33) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

walking legoI see these threads all the time, a webmaster complaining their rankings suddenly dropped and for no reason.

Well, Google's John Mueller responded to one of these, potentially with good news but also Google-like advice.

In a Google Webmaster Help thread John said:

Fluctuations like this can be normal - the algorithms don't stand still and use many signals to review & determine the relevance of pages & sites. Looking at it just now, it seems that it may just have come back again :). That said, working to improve the overall quality of a website is always a good thing. If this is currently one of your busier times, then it might make sense to do that a bit afterwards -- but I'd definitely think about what you could do to get feedback from users (customers or not) already.

I checked the site's rankings and it was not back to number 9 for me. But maybe John saw it back at 9. Either way, the advice is typical advice from Google but important.

In short, Google's algorithms don't stand still, neither should you.

You should keep working on your site, making it better for users and hopefully Google will appreciate those efforts as the algorithms update.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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12/03/2013 01:47 pm

Yeah, keep messing with your site, just don't make any mistakes or Google will destroy you.


12/03/2013 02:26 pm

How is this important advice? It's pretty basic but yet, misleading. So, a webmaster should always manipulate text to appear fresh? What if a site is not in a market with 'freshness' such as a retailer with an established product line? Such crook these Google feedbacks are becoming. It's like listening to politicians.

Barry Schwartz

12/03/2013 02:28 pm

Webmasters shouldn’t stick around and let their sites sit because they are okay now. They should always look to grow it.


12/03/2013 02:54 pm

It's absolute murder on websites that don't need constant daily/weekly updates. What they're doing is creating a scenario where you'll have to do it anyway.


12/03/2013 02:56 pm

So, instead of link spam, content spam. I guess it's job security for Google's spam team.


12/03/2013 03:13 pm

It was interesting he said "If this is currently one of your busier times, then it might make sense to do that a bit afterwards" I am always trying to get our creative team to not mess with major things on our site during the busy season but that is one battle I rarely win.

Durant Imboden

12/03/2013 03:22 pm

"Working to improve the overall quality of a website" (the phrase used by John Mueller) doesn't necessarily refer to freshness. It certainly doesn't refer to "manipulat[ing] text to appear fresh," which has nothing to do with quality. John Mueller was simply stating the obvious: Be the best you can be, not the best you were six months or a year ago.


12/03/2013 03:51 pm

google algorithms investigating money niches, so fluctuation is normal. But usually in top 1000 side.


12/03/2013 03:56 pm

they are same as politicians. It hard to tell for them directly why small/medium webmasters sites lose rankings (and lot of peoples losing workjob), why no freedom in internet anymore, why content is not a king. Real answer is pretty easy - because google want more money, but they trying to answer it in "we are good" way and "because of spam" form. Common lie.


12/03/2013 04:00 pm

so, to rephrase that guy. If you want good site, make it good or even better. but we never tell you what is good for our unnatural algorithms and will tell everything in "may be form", because we don't know now how our algorithm work themselves. imho, common blablabla.


12/03/2013 04:02 pm

any website will grow if webmaster see result from it. Until google not sending traffic (most biggest traffic source), here is no way for site to grow. 10-20 updates, after it almost anybody will stop doing it, if see no search engines love.


12/03/2013 04:04 pm

Yeah, I have a location directory site that was doing great for a year, then decided to improve it by adding structured schema data to the addresses. Google picked up all the data, and then murdered 90% of the traffic a week later on 11/12. I figured it was a coincidence, and let it ride for two weeks with no improvement. Took out the structured data last week, and all of a sudden I'm back up about 50% so far this week. Could absolutely be a coincidence, but so much for updating with Google's suggested changes now.

Rohit Palit

12/03/2013 04:48 pm

Happens with me, a LOT.

Durant Imboden

12/03/2013 05:14 pm

Interesting. I began adding article markup in August (along with rel="prev" and rel="next" pagination), mostly to longer articles in several subdirectories. Traffic in those subdirectories is way up, compared to what it was before the changes. (Maybe the pagination, not the stuctured markup, is what did the trick: It made it easier for Google to see that, for example, a multi-page article on Widgetberg or the S.S.CROESUS was a single in-depth entity.)

James R. Halloran

12/03/2013 08:23 pm

I really wonder if the Google execs know what they're talking about sometimes. So much of their advice seems to contradict each other from month to month. It's no wonder everyone is frustrated. And why they're tampering with their algorithm at the most sensitive time of year for retailers is beyond me. Can they just give it a break already? At least til the New Year?

Usman Raza

12/03/2013 09:31 pm

well Google is only trying to facilitating its users means (Googlers) so what they guys are doing is great keep up the Good work Google !


12/03/2013 11:05 pm

I actually saw a week of increase after adding the new schema, and was really exited, but the next week it took a huge dive. Again, could be total coincidence, or maybe one algorithm liked it, followed by one that didn't. I have no idea. I had to try something though, and the schema removal was followed by an increase. I hope it works out for you though. I'm sure it's gotta be liked by something at Google seeing as it has it's own webmaster tools section?

Mukesh kumar

12/04/2013 05:53 am

i am agreed with you ...

Mukesh kumar

12/04/2013 05:56 am

Bing Results are beeter than google and results are improving after every update.


12/04/2013 07:17 am

Where exactly do they contradict each other?

Luana Spinetti

12/04/2013 10:18 am

Well, what Mueller says is nothing new - websites are live entities on the Web, they're not stale; they naturally evolve over time and according to users/readers/customers' needs. They're social channels, communities, in a way. And the SERPs always fluctuate; today I'm #1, tomorrow it's my competitor's turn, next month I might be #1 again.


12/04/2013 11:53 am

Barry, GIF is cool :)


12/04/2013 11:54 am

Barry, Cool GIF> (y)


12/04/2013 01:00 pm

The reason behind this can be found from the outcome of this story:


12/04/2013 01:07 pm

When was the last time you updated your services section ?? If we remove the blog and news section from your RustyBrick site, what freshness you have added in your website and when was that done? I know you are not bound to give any explanation on this but tell me what these type of section or services based sites do leaving blog or news???

Barry Schwartz

12/04/2013 01:09 pm

We are constantly adding more apps and features to our software. I have updated the services section maybe a month or so ago. But we are constantly pushing out new software, apps, content, etc.

Jérôme Verstrynge

12/04/2013 03:04 pm



12/04/2013 03:07 pm

its in their favor - you dont stand still unless you buy adwords. thats why even peope lwith top10 now have to buy adwords to keep traffic.,

Matt O'Toole

12/04/2013 03:40 pm

RustySearch is down. Only getting "error" when searching for "Barry Schwartz". ;)

Barry Schwartz

12/04/2013 03:41 pm

That was an april fools joke back in 2004.


12/04/2013 03:48 pm

These two comments (Justin & Durant) are perfect examples why it's important to test the changes we "should" be making. We ran into a similar situation where we had video rich snippets showing up in the SERPs. Normally, this would be a great thing, right? Well, I ran multiple tests on a few different pages that had video rich snippets showing up. When I removed the video rich snippet from 2 separate pages, our rankings improved & traffic as well as revenue nearly DOUBLED. Don't just listen to what Google our even what other SEO's say. Test everything. Assume nothing.


12/05/2013 04:18 am

Is making the content of a website dynamically relevant to customers all that webmaster have to do to reduce drastic fluctuation of the traffic that flow to their sites?

James R. Halloran

12/05/2013 06:10 pm

It's not so much that they "contradict" each other. They tell us to do something to help improve SEO, but they don't tell us all the details right away. For example, I remember Matt Cutts telling us to go ahead and use the Disavow Tool to get rid of bad links, but then a few weeks later, said don't use it unless you have to. Why couldn't they tell us that at the same time they introduced it?

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