Matt Cutts: Google Tries To Minimize Search Updates Before Holidays

Dec 19, 2013 • 9:10 am | comments (44) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

rejectionI am not sure if you noticed but all the Google search results tracking tools flared up yesterday reporting major changes in the Google search results. You can see for yourself at MozCast,, SERP Metrics and Algoroo. But I personally saw very little chatter about any changes in the search results outside of major authorship reduction and even that is somewhat questionable.

Matt Cutts, Google's lead guy here, responded to an angry tweet from a website owner saying Google doesn't do major updates before holidays. Here are the tweets:

So are those tracking tools wrong? Is Matt Cutts lying? Is he not aware of something that is going on? Did Google not do an algorithm update but some user interface change is messing up the tracking tools?

Again, I don't see signs of an update based on webmasters complaining about ranking changes.

Did you notice changes in your traffic or rankings?

Forum discussion at Twitter and WebmasterWorld.

Image from here when trying to find an image of someone being rejected or denied (cats are good)

Previous story: Google's URL/Content Removal Tool Now A Wizard



12/19/2013 02:21 pm

No Barry, cats are not good. Who wants to kiss a bunch of hair that's been gathering dirt and bacteria from around the house, including, from a box of its own feces anyway? Cat knows what best, it knows it's dirty and shouldn't be kissed.

Alexander Hemedinger

12/19/2013 02:29 pm

Haven't seen any changes in traffic or rankings so far. Seems pretty stable.


12/19/2013 02:29 pm

This is quite telling actually. If Google had confidence in it´s algos why would it make any difference at all when the updates were released? This tells me that Google releases these major updates with their fingers and toes well and truly crossed. Rightly so judging by the poor shape of the current SERPS. Thank God for Adwords otherwise nobody would find anything of value searching.

Martin Panayotov

12/19/2013 02:30 pm

I guess that is not considered a major update, because authorship does not affect rankings directly. Something is definitely going on with the authorship snippets..


12/19/2013 02:31 pm

Barry, look at it by sector. Some, like real estate, got hit in a major way for authorship image removal.


12/19/2013 02:43 pm

Something is definitely going on. 2 days ago my website disappeared from organic search results for all keys words. The site was gone for about 3 hours then it slow started to come back. After the "event" was finished I saw improved rankings:-)

Marie Haynes

12/19/2013 02:49 pm

My guess is that Panda refreshed. We know that approximately once a month the Panda algorithm refreshes. Most likely that's not considered a "major" update.


12/19/2013 03:03 pm

"we try to minimise" does not equal "we haven't"

Michael Martinez

12/19/2013 03:15 pm

It could just be a confluence of lag times. People forget that search results change because of what Websites do with their content, and there is constant churn on the Web.

12/19/2013 03:15 pm

Nice to see some of my sites at higher positions than in the past 12 months after yesterday.


12/19/2013 03:16 pm

Spot on. The current SERPs are a joke... some results are nothing short of bizarre.

Durant Imboden

12/19/2013 03:34 pm

Our Google referrals have increased slightly in comparison to other traffic sources in the last few days. Nothing to get excited about, though. Crawling, on the other hand, has been on steroids lately. Googlebot has been far more active on our site since November 1 than it was in previous months.

Durant Imboden

12/19/2013 03:40 pm

"If Google had confidence in it´s algos why would it make any difference at all when the updates were released?" Because no software is perfect, and bugs happen. If you were a Google engineer, would *you* want to get stuck at the office on Christmas Eve?


12/19/2013 03:43 pm

they cannot stop playing with serp and human lifes.


12/19/2013 04:08 pm

Yes...Traffic change in my sites...So i think a major update on 17 Dec. 2013

Renato Ferreira

12/19/2013 04:20 pm

I got a huuuuuuge drop just today


12/19/2013 04:21 pm

The bulk of the online holiday sales are over and Google may be returning to a set of search results that are not so biased towards those companies they invest in or have partnered with. Too bad many small businesses missed this holiday ship, but I guarantee Amazon did really good!


12/19/2013 04:32 pm

Exactly! I know Amazon did well, especially considering they dominate 3-4 of the page one results for all of my important terms now.


12/19/2013 04:44 pm

That girl is so cute!

josh bachynski (SEO)

12/19/2013 04:55 pm

He said they "try". He didn't say they didn't. :-)

Ana Peterson

12/19/2013 05:03 pm

Big change 150% up :) (site has no google authorship, last post was added 40days ago.). Actually site came on the same amount of se traffic as it was 2 months ago


12/19/2013 05:03 pm

As always, it pays to take anything that Matt Cutts says with a grain of salt. He's a friendly sounding corporate mouthpiece that tells you what Google wants him to tell you for their own benefit.


12/19/2013 05:03 pm

I see the update.


12/19/2013 05:19 pm

oh, yeah, btw., the update or ranking shift happened to us on Dec. 17th at approximately 7pm Eastern Time. We're running ranking checks automatically every few hours.

PM Fiorini

12/19/2013 05:26 pm

Oh, Matt Cutts

Krystian Szastok

12/19/2013 05:27 pm

Right, as far back as I remember there always were updates around holidays... and big ones usually.

Amit Ghare

12/19/2013 08:03 pm

@Matt Nice gift for Holidays!!! New Wild Animal to Kill SEO

Amit Ghare

12/19/2013 08:05 pm

i lost almost 20% traffic for major phrases, Changes are first page to 5, 6...9th page. WTF


12/19/2013 09:33 pm

I agree, this look liked a Panda Update instead of Penguin


12/19/2013 11:00 pm

I see this 2

Mike Pannell (Dallas Realtor)

12/20/2013 01:44 am

I had something that happened like 2 days ago but they are slowly going back today.. not sure what caused it..

Mike Pannell (Dallas Realtor)

12/20/2013 01:49 am

Yep all mine where removed unless you are logged in to your google account then you will see the people you are connected to..


12/20/2013 06:38 am

It happens every year, and my stats are done over 70% since this time 2011. Google is out to kill small business that don't pay. Period.


12/20/2013 06:39 am

Why can't I sign in with Facebookj?

Louie Ramos

12/20/2013 10:50 am

There was an update about 3 days ago. I've seen noticeable SERP changes in Google UK and Google Australia for some of the keywords I am tracking

Doc Sheldon

12/20/2013 05:28 pm

Haven't seen any notable changes on any of my sites. I'd be more inclined to think it might have been just a blip caused by a minor update or refresh. Seasonal blips are to be expected about now, with some of the major pre-Christmas marketing campaigns that are launched.

Emma North

12/20/2013 05:48 pm

Interesting that Matt said that this year after the Panda update right before Christmas last year! I haven't seen anything noticeable in the last few weeks so I'm holding on to the idea that nothing major is going to be thrown at us until at least the middle of January [fingers crossed].

Media Tower

12/21/2013 05:28 pm

"we are trying not to.." doesn't mean "we are not doing" :/

Gracious Store

12/22/2013 12:20 am

I did not see any changes on website. It will be unthinkable for Google to do any update in the "heat" of major holiday sales


12/23/2013 07:49 am

Dec 18th in our country, major traffic spikes. But looking on the ranking it goes down

Nicolas Cliche

12/23/2013 05:01 pm

We've been hit with a policy issue on AdWords right before Christmas (Friday December 20th). Apparently, Google AdWords updated their automatic detection for policies violation.... Wow, we lost 90% of our traffic right before Christmas vacation. Thanks Google!


12/24/2013 12:44 am

Pushed from number 3 to midway page 2, here in Ireland (.ie) on 19th. Guys I'd never heard of are now ranking on page one? Matt could be telling the truth, kinda... 19th was the date of the Google Christmas party and someone spilled beer over a bunch of Google servers. Light beer. Someone's got to lick it up.

Spook SEO

01/07/2014 03:59 am

URL removal tool and decrease in authorship both are the huge updates and i think both impacts a lot upon SERPs but also affect the websites and causing fluctuations in the graphs. Do you think they can impact as much on the graphs ?


01/15/2014 01:38 am

Visitor traffic went down to 1/4th on Dec 17th .Trying to remove links from forums and blog comments,I think was major cause of unnatural links.

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