Google Search Update Over The Weekend?

Sep 23, 2013 • 9:14 am | comments (70) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

google updating logoThe ongoing WebmasterWorld thread and dozens of posts in the Google Webmaster Help forum suggest that around September 20th, Google did some sort of larger update.

Let me start by saying, Google asked me nicely not to ask them on record if there was an update. So I am not going to ask Google from now on.

But based on the chatter I have seen over the weekend, it seems like there was some sort of update.

Here are complaint posts from September 20th through today:

Seeing significant shift here in the UK, biggest in a long time. Affecting all verticals I watch.

30% drop in UK referrals in the last 24 hours (and slightly more from USA), but I'd have to to look at the stats in a lot more detail to say how far off normal that is.

Conversions? My Inbox is empty, and the phone doesn't ring.

Did something happen today? My traffic has taken a nose dive!

Now, looking at Mozcast,, Search Metrics and Algoroo, they don't show the same thing. Mozcast shows major changes on September 17th, shows major changes on the 18th , SERP Metrics shows changes on the 19th and Algoroo shows them on the 20th. I've never seen all four show significantly different dates for an update based on the chatter I've seen.

Some can be based on UI changes, universal search changes, geo-based changes, algorithmic changes or something else.

So it is hard to nail this one down.

Did you see an update this weekend? If so, when did it start?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: I have sources that tell me that Google has hit two large link networks over this time period.

Update 2: Here is the post on the link network targeted by Google.

Previous story: Google Certification Program Changes Coming


Fred Anderson

09/23/2013 01:18 pm

Nothing special here !! All is Well


09/23/2013 01:28 pm

I think that there was some type of update on Sep. 19.


09/23/2013 02:19 pm

BTW: You can also watch out the german version of mozcast, this shows a significant change on September 20 (this corresponds to Septmember 19 on mozcast).

Durant Imboden

09/23/2013 02:56 pm

According to Google Webmaster Tools, our site has had a slight but definite improvement in average rankings over the past week or so, but this past weekend was uneventful. A couple of things to think about: 1) Google may be doing more targeted updates (as opposed to broad, general updates) than it used to, which would account for a drop in the massive--and usually angry--chatter that we used to see on sites like Webmaster World, and... 2) If we accept Google's word that Panda is now part of the main algorithm, it would be reasonable to think that sites might be affected by algorithmic changes at different times, depending on when and how extensively their pages were crawled.


09/23/2013 03:02 pm

huge drop once again... I still can't understand what is worng with my site.. We are publishing a great content on a regular pages and the site has no manual penalties and all the backlinks are clean. Google SUCKS BIG TIME


09/23/2013 03:21 pm

it seems there was an update...

Yo Mamma

09/23/2013 03:24 pm

I love Google. Love their new projects, their invaluable search results, the honestly and integrity in their staff - There is nothing evil here. I say we all buy a Google employee a coffee to show our gratitude.

Rahul Sharma

09/23/2013 03:42 pm

They there, My name is Rahul, i am a web optimizer from India. I feel bad that your website ranking dropped somehow and yes, it's quite difficult to understand what actually wrong thing you've done with your website. So, being a professional web optimizer, i wanna share my knowledge with you, and maybe this can help. Before, when we generate good backlinks and posts new content on regular bases, our website ranking improves really good, but it's not happening now, so, what we can do now, that help us to improve ranking etc.? There are 2 things you can focus on, 1st is Social Sharing or say Bookmarking and 2nd is Traffic. Now, the more you share or post your site in social networks, the more you get traffic, the more improvement you see. I am not just saying this, i tried on my clients website that affected with Penguin update, and it really worked. Just, post the quality articles on popular article directories and share them in social networks, that's it. Just try it for few month and you'll see the improvement for sure. Hope you like my suggestion Thanks, Rahul


09/23/2013 03:53 pm

Stop using any kind of Google service that requires you put G JavaScript in your site, like Analytics, +1 buttons, etc, and you will see how in a couple of months the Panda and Penguin viruses will free your site. Without the data of your visitor in your sites they wont be able to judge your site.

Alex S

09/23/2013 03:55 pm

The reason for such a huge drop in referrals is people are falling under filters for link spamming (inbound or outgoing) and web masters are scrambling to "nofollow" their links and send out reconsideration requests. This has been going on since July. Since Google can't apply a filter to all sites at the same time, they are pushing out these filters in batches. It's not an update this weekend, it's Google continuing to battle link spamming and paid links.


09/23/2013 04:17 pm

Thanks Rahul.. The social media is quite helpful indeed.. and I'm using it since a while and it has proven it's effcicency .. but I guess there is something else .. I'm still digging but if you haev any suggestion I will really apreciate it thanks a lot


09/23/2013 04:50 pm

Yes, a nice scorching hot coffee.


09/23/2013 05:06 pm

I can't see any significant change, traffic is good and stable since Sep 13

Ashish Ahuja

09/23/2013 05:37 pm

I have seen chatter of link networks being hit especially those with footer and sidebar links.

Amit Kumar

09/23/2013 05:44 pm

Its going pretty normal with google and they even don't want confirm guys just stick with quality work whether its on page, off page or social media sharing you will defiantly a place between these kind of tweaks. Stay good save yourself..


09/23/2013 07:22 pm

I'm finally seeing some little signs of recovery after the 4th of September mess, but is too early to say for sure. I've made some inbound link cleaning and work on the quality of the pages... Hope the best!


09/23/2013 09:36 pm Shhh, this is MC on duty. He is fighting with spammers .... again.


09/23/2013 09:55 pm

Yes, I think there was an other update on weekend... ups and downs all the time for last two weeks. When start thinking that I got penalized or devalued, the next day I got my traffic back or with even more visitors :S my hair turned very grey this month


09/23/2013 11:55 pm

Here is what I find interesting and why I think google's update has to be connected to increasing the value of "brands". If you do a google query for a random name/city/state like this one "barbara gibson bedford ma", the results on the first page include and and neither have any relationship to that query, but yet they are on the first page? Something is awry!

Justin Clark

09/24/2013 05:27 am

It means you don't know anything

Vishal Shah

09/24/2013 05:31 am

yes there was some sort of update rolled out on September 20th. Check the graph on, it clearly shows that Total movement across all tracked keywords are more than that number of tracked keywords on that day!

Mike Lowry

09/24/2013 06:04 am

there is something going on, may be Google updates for UK . one of my UK based website drastically improved in ranking.


09/24/2013 06:29 am

Me too, but I had to merge some pages which could be considered as near duplicate content. Are new 'Search queries' created for your pages in Webmaster Tools?

MOS SEO Services

09/24/2013 07:20 am

I saw a little fluctuation. It is even hard to find good SEO listings.


09/24/2013 07:43 am

Here's a cautionary tale...sadly it's true. The Google Search team are evil. They think they have all the answers and wielding all their power, they can do as they wish with no pathway for dialog. My company had been for 5 years a stellar example of quality white hat SEO, giving users what they want quickly and with easy navigation. The numbers had been consistent, even slightly improving, over the years. Then on Sep 8 around 8am, we went from 370K search impressions to 50K. The Google Webmasters Tools say nothing. No manual spam, no link to request 'reconsideration', no crawl errors, no messages, nothing. nada. just business going from very successful to crapper in the matter of a day. Since then, no change, that is until Sunday, when numbers (somehow) dropped a further 20%. Our once proud website with 60,000+ daily visitors now struggles to get 15,000 and the numbers are still dropping. Our daily traffic from Google alone dropped to nearly nil. We never did anything underhanded, and actually, I've never even done a single link exchange. Not even one. Our entire focus was on building a better website. Keeping the bounce rate down, UI improvements that yielded better pages/per user, sprucing up the backend for better performance. We bought in to the whole Google program. We built our business around Google and their massive search engine. We trusted their "no evil" crap. We still rank page 1 on Yahoo and Bing, but there's no numbers there. As for the industry we are in, if you do searches for the many hundreds of keywords we were once on page 1, (and now somewhere on page 4 or lower), you'll see several crappy and spammy sites, along with irrelevant results. How did this improve the user experience? Why does Google's search team hide? Come out, hire some more people if you need to handle the mess you've created. I feel like shouting at someone, and they don't even give me an ear to yell at.

Craig Hamilton-Parker

09/24/2013 08:46 am

They do not need ears - their objective is to simply remove sites that get free traffic from Google. My sites are like yours: no link exchanges, all great content, no spammy techniques etc but hit with the first panda and penguin kicks and no recovery. I tell my story to politicians and explain how small businesses, which are the hope for growth, are quietly being suffocated out of existence.


09/24/2013 08:58 am

Google need to be regulated - The government has to understand that google has more power to influence and affect lives on a global scale in a very quick time.


09/24/2013 09:10 am

Yep, we already had to let go one employee and now I'm considering shutting down servers to scale back to bare bones. Our small company will not be able to sustain employees nor the $100K+ in server costs, conference and travel costs, etc... Actually, you're right, the whole economy loses. If there isn't a recovery in a few months, we'll likely have to shut down. I'm not so one-minded as to think that Google doesn't have a right to make changes, but hey, about a heads-up? How about giving a real (personal) explanation as to why you no longer rank in over 20,000 page 1's literally overnight. Give us a chance to rectify what you think is lacking? "Write more content"? That's really nonsense. It doesn't apply to many businesses. For example, do you want to read content about your sports team when you're looking for a ticket exchange? Sometimes, the best site is the one that gets you to your desired results the quickest and with the least aggravation. How about user experience? Measured by bounce rate, avg time on site, return visitors, pageviews per session, etc... I can go on, but it's pointless... Plus, they've got me so worried that I don't even dare publish my business name, lest they "peg" me (personally) and ban or "mark" me for whatever businesses I may decide to open in the future.

Craig Hamilton-Parker

09/24/2013 09:31 am

Google are a registered domain seller but never sold a domain. This however gives them access to whois and can associate domains with individuals. So they can in theory 'mark' you. Am I right about this and is it legal to do this?


09/24/2013 10:07 am

They are above the system, they need to be reined in they seem to think they are god and any fallout from webmasters are just the UNLUCKY lot. We need to bring this to the public and governments attention, there should be some sort of stability to rankings, not just people at Google (heaven) flicking switches and adding the Amazing new ideas they keep coming out with....I could imagine it!!! a load of over paid ninnies coming up with the newest ideas..LOL.......Lost there way or what... But spammers will always be here, they seem to have forgotten the little guy, Google was once for the smaller seller, promoter ETC but now they are so corrupt all they rank are: It was a fair playing field for all... amazon eBay ETC and all the big corps.............. They have done so much damage to there Serps that every smaller website is in danger and will fall prey to these crazy algorithm brainstorms.. People want Google for search not for social and other rubbish they keep spewing out... Bring on the fall of Google ;)

Rob jH

09/24/2013 11:12 am

I haven't seen any changes in SERPS


09/24/2013 11:15 am

I don't get hertz and subway in my search results for "barbara gibson bedford ma"

Rahul Saxena

09/24/2013 11:33 am

You are right sir. i am agree with you.


09/24/2013 11:46 am

Problem with social media is that you can not have referrals traffics if your community is low


09/24/2013 11:57 am

I am pretty sure we want as few hands controlling the flow of information as possible. Google is a company and offers a specific set of products which you can easily find working alternatives to... ...regulation from a government (or coalition of governments) doesn't just affect a singular set of products and platforms, it affects the entire thing. You don't want government getting involved as a gate keeper anymore than it is already attempting to. And why should Google be regulated in the first place? Why should the government be concerned about those who built a business model that failed to be forward looking? Should the government get involved when a diner hooks its entire business to destination tourists and the destination stops bringing profit to the owner? Should a government get involved to pick up after business owners who didn't think things through/failed to secure alternate means of customer acquisition? No, it shouldn't. The government isn't here to kiss boo-boos.

Patti Paz

09/24/2013 11:58 am

Yea, Google is really flying high for now, but just remember at one time, General Motors, IBM, etc etc were once king of the hill. Google is really advancing itself, i.e. profits, growth, etc etc, but leaving an awful lot of dead bodies along the way. The search results being shown now is all over the board and, in many cases, totally irrelevant to what the searcher is looking for. Let's all begin the count down til Google simply goes the way of G.M., IBY, Kodak, etc, etc, as their day will certainly come.

Austin Larson

09/24/2013 12:10 pm

Something is going on and I think it's the same Multi-Week Update rolled out on June 27th. looks like there is an update every week, the graph on rank ranger clearly shows continuity and some of my websites impacted by the weekly updates


09/24/2013 12:18 pm

Your backlink profile (irrelevant directories everywhere) and the linking network you are in would seem to account for some penguin slaps. Maybe, not to sure as I couldn't take a good look through...but a lot of those domains linking into your site seem to be made for getting a penguin slap. Perhaps all those links were simply devalued and you are ranking where you would without their help. Perhaps you had a boost in rankings historically from having the EMD. That boost in rankings is also gone. Your site is hard on the eyes, hard to understand where you want the visitor to navigate to, and seems to be really...scammy. Everything is screaming at me to call you and pay you by the minute for...something which we both know is a scam. The homepage constantly reads like the 'mystic mamma ruth' type ads that are in the back of the farmers almanac. Hell, perhaps your customer interaction on site is horrible for people coming in from Google organic search. The site is confusing, regardless of the content type, and I could see it having poor user interaction and lots of people coming in and hitting the back button right away. Combine this with link devaluation and EMD devaluation and maybe the beginning of your answer is starting to be made in a crystal ball. Funny that a group of psychics couldn't see this coming. ::eye roll::

Brian Mease

09/24/2013 12:31 pm

...and by generating suicidal guys. Google needs to inform websites about a change that will probably wipe out all their traffic. With all of their tools, this shouldn't be a problem for them to create, and at least they will save what's left of their integrity. We are sadly stuck with them and we should consider organic traffic as a stock market, win and lose it in a day.

Brian Mease

09/24/2013 12:34 pm

I agree. I do see several websites that SERPS keep improving for the past month and i also find websites that got hit by these updates.

Craig Hamilton-Parker

09/24/2013 12:45 pm

Thanks for your feedback Ethalon - it is really appreciated. The irrelevant directories are what is left from the content pages that I have now completely moved to Wordpress. I got initially hit by Panda so I'm not sure it's the EMD. I'm also not sure what you mean by the linking network - I guess that's the multitude of crappy sites that seem to want to point at me - I think I got a penguin hit as well though used the disavow to strip some of these out. I'll think carefully about what you say about the navigation, confusing message and the 'pay per minute' stuff that you say over-dominates the site. (Maybe move this to just one page?) Oh and we are not a scam - we do genuinely believe in what we do... and we did see it coming! I was given a confusing message via a medium about pandas some years ago but could not make sense of what it was about at the time. (I wish I'd listened more closely!) But thanks for the tips. God knows how I'll ever sort it out.


09/24/2013 12:59 pm

Cutts is punishing spammers! Finally many spammy websites removed from SERPs! no more link spamming, and yes this will continue every week, spammers be prepared!


09/24/2013 01:22 pm

Yesterday it was there. Do you not see still?

Karl-Heinz Müller

09/24/2013 01:53 pm

Strange. Why would Google ask you not to ask them if there was an update? I just cannot imagine any motivation for such a request. If they don't want to answer they can just simply ignore your question, not? Maybe you can tell me why they don't want you to ask?


09/24/2013 02:30 pm

I have been noticing a lot of google bot traffic to my site today and my stats are all over the place (as has been the past 2 weeks). Can someone verify the google update - end date 26th Sep?


09/24/2013 02:35 pm

Bah, I wish disqus would let us know when a message is too long for them to decide to display it! I am going to try and break this up into two posts, apologies if the original gets posted later: It is hard to tell from a sparse comment section conversation, but it seems like you think that the EMD thing is a penalty of any sort. It isn't. Think of the EMD you have as once giving you a boost in all searches related to 'psychic'. You once had a stool that put your head above the crowd and devaluing EMDs simply took that stool away. They didn't come in and dig a hole, they simply removed a boosting factor for your chances to rank because EMDs had become horribly abused. The navigation is, in my opinion, your biggest hurdle. You need a site that doesn't scare people away, has a call to action, and doesn't throw that call to action at the user every time their eyeballs move around the screen. This is the really hard part, but having a site that brings users in and keeps them there goes a long way, in my opinion, in ranking success.


09/24/2013 02:38 pm

2/2 of response to Craig: Also, as these last few months/years have taught you, don't rely on organic Google traffic. Find alternate means of advertising and alternate funnels to bring potential customers in. Hell, maybe start off by setting up some AdWords for one or two of your most-converted keywords and then some other ads for your long tail keywords that convert. The big money words may be to expensive to bid on consistently, but the long tail queries with compelling ad copy can become, if managed actively and experimented on often, a nice way to trickle in 'pay the bills' business while you work on making your site great. All of this is just my opinion. PS: Spend hours and hours going through various link 'finding' tools and build up a list of domains to disavow. Work to have the links removed before submitting a disavow and be sure to document your progress in that file. There are a lot of jewelry directories that are probably hurting you, among others.

Barry Schwartz

09/24/2013 02:40 pm

Guys, this may be linked to a link network that was hit. I have an updated story at


09/24/2013 02:51 pm

I'd suggest you to re-think your business model at first. Something is wrong in it, if you must pay $100K for servers and hire employees to manage just 60k of traffic. This should be "one man" website.


09/24/2013 02:51 pm

You might be right, but surely be a minor contributing factor to something bigger. Just speculating...

Craig Hamilton-Parker

09/24/2013 02:57 pm

In the far past the site was just my articles and the community. It was done because we felt we could help people for free. Then one of the phone line affiliate services spotted I was getting hundreds of thousands of hits a day, proved to me that their readers were accurate and sincere and the site went commercial. The advert was just at the top (or side) of each page but not the front page. It was a good balance between helping people for free in the community and also making a living. Then Panda came along and to make any money whatsoever from the trickle of traffic that was left I had to shift to hard sell mode to survive and keep the site open. Maybe this was a mistake? Thanks again Ethalon - maybe I could buy a few hours of your time? And sorry Barry - we have gone way, way off topic. A problem shared is a problem halved.


09/24/2013 03:15 pm

I don't see hertz, but subway is #7 on page 1 for that search and is the only result that doesn't match a keyword from my query.


09/24/2013 03:32 pm

No need to buy my time, I work 45+ hours a week and my available time is far to sporadic to make me feel comfortable accepting money. I dropped you a note at your site (the little widget that says 'send Craig a comment') with my e-mail address. Drop me a reply here if you didn't receive it, otherwise send me an e-mail and we can talk.

Craig Hamilton-Parker

09/24/2013 03:48 pm

Got your email! Jewellery directories - that's a good insight! Loads of sites copied my pages about the spiritual meanings of crystals and gem stones then must have linked back to me. I submitted hundreds of DMCA complaints about this. Interesting...


09/24/2013 05:06 pm

Of all the updates, I find the EMD update most difficult to understand. You can have a perfect website that can get hit for just being an EMD even if there are only half a dozen websites linking to you with the same/similar anchor text. Even links from relevant websites will not help you. However, if you cross a certain threshold, the EMD website will be OK. If you are EMD and small website, your website won't even show up in the SERPS.


09/24/2013 05:11 pm

My rankings for my choice keywords are fine... however my traffic took a nose dive for sure. No phone traffic since Saturday (other than a couple of BS calls that aren't sales related)


09/24/2013 05:12 pm

also my Google local directory listing data got deleted someway some how.... it shows i have no store hours, and no description... hello ? I never touched it. I called Google Places and they all tell me the same thing... "we cant control it, it's all algorithem".. yeah yeah... Im tired of this mess.


09/24/2013 07:59 pm

they hide from us what normal sites now also web spam.


09/24/2013 08:03 pm

because all money making sites is web spam for google now


09/24/2013 08:04 pm

it just one from examples of google serp quality now. where google pre-2012? really the best search engine!?


09/24/2013 08:08 pm

yes, i also love google. it show us perfect example how to pass big way from "excellent" to total "evil" company. Things you never must do. now they even fighting with death with their upcoming health portal (and will remove all health sites as web spam).


09/24/2013 08:15 pm

That's what I said and more guys feels the same, it's a spam war... and also the reason for heavy traffic changes, sites wiped out completely from index


09/24/2013 09:24 pm

Google "update" has hit me in Northern Virginia (USA). Initial screen carries only Google name and search window. Takes entering something (anything apparently) before you get useful options such as images, maps, etc. Only noticed Tues., Sep 27th as I was doing other things over the weekend. This is a bummer! My philosophy: Updates are a colossal pain! I hate updates. Updates do not equal better, at least for the user. My 2 cents.


09/24/2013 10:41 pm

The word is 26th of Sep is the end date regarding their update. So technically we should see our actual rankings and clear up any mess it has left behind. Viva Google!


09/25/2013 05:06 am

Is this update limited to some geographical locations or to some sites or is the update "universal " in-spite of geo-locations and to every site

Jitendra Vaswani

09/25/2013 06:48 am

Google is just putting us in fear :(


09/25/2013 05:50 pm

The update has affected mostly US and EU sites, based on the comments left in forums.

the sniga

09/27/2013 05:36 am

Is that major update in Google ? 45% traffic dropped from last day. I know Google won't suggest us for update but does anyone knows?


09/27/2013 05:57 am

LOL! This very page ranks immediately under Subway because of your post.


10/03/2013 07:01 pm

Hey GOOGLE, WINDOWS 98 called and they want their design back. Now that you're paying attention, is it just me or do GOOGLE earches suddenly feel weirdly difficult? I used to use GOOGLE search tools with confidence.. I was always satisfied, and we always got along. But it seems these mutually-beneficial hook ups just weren't good enough to satisfy GOOGLE.. it waited for me to go to sleep, and then it betrayed me in the cover of the night. I can't even make a simple video search without feeling awkward and frustrated. I no longer enjoy our time together, and try my best to avoid using it. I dread the thought of its senseless font, erratic spacing, & blatant disregard for responsible font-sizing. SHOW SOME HUMANITY YOU ANIMALS. When I see google taking over and destroying every good thing on the internet with their UPDATES, HARASSING LOGINS/LINKED CRAP AND UNRECOGNIZABLE REDESIGNS (youtube cough cough)... I get so mad that I have to lay down and count to ten. This recent update is like WTF drugs are you on GOOGLE? I liked when the links were all displayed at the top, not in a drop down crap box. The youtube link is gone, and now there's some dumb "videos" link, which sucks because no one is interested in watching videos outside of youtube for reasons. So now we have to fumble around with search filters just to get the same buzz as before. Aesthetically speaking, it looks unfinished. I think their theme here is "simple, clean, with a little twist" .. just like an uncircumcised wiener.This must be how my parents felt when they couldn't figure out how to attach files to emails. Nothing makes sense anymore. GOOGLE, PLEASE STOP TRYING TO FIX THINGS/MAKE FUNCTION ASPECTS OF UPDATES OPTIONAL/PERSONALIZABLE (you know what I mean). KNOCK IT OFF.

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