Google Says There Was No Update, We're Dreaming

Dec 18, 2012 • 8:53 am | comments (50) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google Update DreamSometimes people dream up stuff they really want to be true - but is there ever a time where masses of people have the same dream and they are told that dream was not real? Okay, I am pushing it here...

On Friday, we reported pretty significant and convincing signs of there being a Google update on December 13th. I emailed Google to get confirmation for a post on Search Engine Land and Google initially told me it was not a Panda update and then finally confirmed with me that there was no update at all.

No update! So the webmasters and SEOs in the forums noticing huge ranking and traffic changes were wrong. That can be, it is a small sampling.

But what about the three major automated Google update portals including MozCast, SERPmetrics and They all showed huge signs of a Google update and they track things pretty objectively.

Maybe there was a bug? Maybe something else is going on.

But Google went on record with me - there was no Panda update, there was no other update as far as they are aware of.

Believe it or not - there was no update.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld & Google+.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto.

Previous story: Watch Google's Matt Cutts Get Fired Up


Iain Bartholomew

12/18/2012 02:06 pm

It's interesting that they wavered from "There are over 500 updates a year, which works out at more than one update each day".


12/18/2012 02:17 pm

I always appreciate your checking for an official response to update rumors, but the conclusion to this post ("Believe it or not - there was no update") doesn't seem like much of a conclusion. It seems pretty clear, as clear as we can fit together with the information we have, that there was an update of one kind or another. Granted, they don't really need to tell us anything, ever, so breadcrumbs in the forest it is. Do they not call the 'refreshes' updates? That would seem like enough of a semantics game to pass the corporate PR sniff test -obfuscation when you need to, obfuscation when you might need to, obfuscation in the morning, and in the afternoon; obfuscation in the evening and underneath the moon.


12/18/2012 02:18 pm

Well if there was no update, then it must have just been part of the normal algo right? So can we assume that there is a chaos factor in the algo now? Just to stir things up so that no one will follow or track their rankings?

Rjan Camoro-Mark Hervias

12/18/2012 02:31 pm

All the four Local SEO keywords I have been trying to ranked where all number one! Even the clients emailed to thank me!

Ben Milleare

12/18/2012 02:49 pm

I would hazard a guess that a few of the normal 500+ per year algo tweaks actually just resulted in a bigger impact than Google had anticipated. Not releasing a specific 'named update' doesn't necessarily mean that nothing happened at all. I especially love the "as far as they are aware" bit; as if somebody else might have snuck in and made an algo update but forgotten to tell them or something.

Michael Feiman

12/18/2012 03:30 pm

These aren't the droids you're looking for.

Seo Hop

12/18/2012 03:36 pm

Google must have taken the month off for the holidays because something big definitely happaned twice this month already as i have wrote about this on my blog

Peter Elmhirst

12/18/2012 03:41 pm

I noticed that anything which dropped I hadn't done much work on recently and the ones that went up I had been more active on so maybe it was just a refresh of a previously implemented algorithm.

Philip Boyle

12/18/2012 03:52 pm

I'm absolutely certain that there was a change that affected our site (positively) last week. It looks like it happened on Wednesday rather than Thursday though. We were affected by the most recent confirmed Panda update on November 21st. I had was waiting for confirmation that this was a Panda recovery of some sort. Guess I'll have to keep waiting. Here's a suggestion though. Could Google have rolled back the last Panda update? That way technically they didn't do an update...


12/18/2012 04:02 pm

I don't get it. Why are people looking for Google to validate their efforts. Is it that hard to accept your SEO improved because you're doing a good job? Or your SEO tanked because you're getting crappy links and using outdated tasks? I think the rumors, these casts/weather reports of Algo changes, etc are all bogus. Just focus on your goal and your SEO and the rest will fall into place. The time and energy speculating and debating updates is just a waste of time. /rant :-)


12/18/2012 04:03 pm

Is it possible you're just doing a great job in SEO and not a algo change that gave you a boost?

Steven Lockey

12/18/2012 04:10 pm

How is that Wavering? They didn't say 'These is an update everyday', I have no doubt they release a lot of their updates in batches at the same time, other times multiple updates in a single day. I would guess rather than a change to the algorithm it may well be something as simple as a new chunk of links been devalued or discovered. It may well be a previous update hit something in it's sweep that had drastic consequences. Remember when Google release an update, it doesn't always display instantly, a lot of the time it has to go through the index and process all the sites then modify the index from there. As there are literally billions of sites in the index, this can take a while.

Philip Boyle

12/18/2012 04:12 pm

I'd take your point if there weren't quite so many people crying "Wolf!" right now. As it stands, understanding the cause of a major rankings change gives me better information to do a great SEO job with in the future.


12/18/2012 04:15 pm

True enough. But what's the ratio of SEO's who know what they're doing vs. SEO's who read blogs and have no idea what they're doing? :-) No offense to you or anybody else.

josh bachynski

12/18/2012 04:39 pm

hey josh, josh here, lol, it is matter of diagnostics. if they say it is panda and your site tanked then we know exactly what to fix (or at least I do). If they say it was penguin then we know exactly what to fix (or again, at least I do). It is a matter of transparency and professional courtesy on their part to not be punitive and at least let us know what algo it was so we can fix what is not to their liking. We can't fix it if they do not tell us.


12/18/2012 04:42 pm

True that; however, if SEO's were doing proper SEO there wouldn't be such an adrenaline rush of fright and panic when Google announces updates or they see their rankings tank. It's like getting pulled over by a cop for speeding, smoking a joint, throwing trash out the window and not wearing a setbelt. Then, when you get pulled over you say "which offense did you see?"

Iain Bartholomew

12/18/2012 04:56 pm

If they're going to offer no information at all, it's interesting that they've chosen to do it this way.

Jaan Kanellis

12/18/2012 05:43 pm

Why is Google not announcing these updates through their own blog(s) anymore? Like the update on November 19th. It was confirmed here and never announced by Google. Strange.


12/18/2012 09:09 pm

Since rankings can change based on how other sites perform and it's not all just about your own SEO work so it can be important to monitor these things in competitive niches. If no tactics against google's TOS worked then I'd agree with you but they do and they're common place (I use white hat techniques but my goal like everyone is to manipulate results which is against googles TOS)... to change your analogy a bit... It is like getting pulled over for speeding (seo) because everyone does it so that's why if there's a speed trap (algo change) since it will help you avoid the cops (google) who can fine you (decrease your serps).

Peter Elmhirst

12/18/2012 09:10 pm

Since rankings can change based on how other sites perform and it's not all just about your own SEO work so it can be important to monitor these things in competitive niches. If no tactics against google's TOS worked then I'd agree with you but they do and they're common place (I use white hat techniques but my goal like everyone is to manipulate results which is against googles TOS)... to change your analogy a bit... It is like getting pulled over for speeding (seo) because everyone does it so that's why if there's a speed trap (algo change) you want to know about it since it will help you avoid the cops (google) who can fine you (decrease your serps).


12/18/2012 09:15 pm

Good point. I'll agree to disagree. :)

stop spamming ahole

12/18/2012 09:22 pm

sure you do. Stop spamming comment boards with your "knowledge," you know jack. You are trying to take money from poor and desperate webmasters.


12/18/2012 09:54 pm

The princess is in another castle...

Guy E

12/18/2012 10:33 pm

And I'm Santa Clause! Surely Google knows something... whilst I understand that this could all be because people are increasing their SEO efforts coming into the new year - it surely couldn't be this vast.

Dr. Peter J. Meyers

12/18/2012 11:19 pm

I don't think most people should chase the algo, but I think it's very hazardous to ignore Google's changes and mindset, especially if 60%+ of your eggs are in that basket. Look at 7-result SERPs or rich snippets or paid inclusion - if these impact your niche, they could have major repercussions on your bottom line, even if you're doing everything right. Panda hit big sites that weren't doing anything black-hat but just had less than ideal architecture (and the definition of "ideal" changes all the time). Definitely focus on your business first, but if search is any chunk of your livelihood then the changes Google makes, and the accelerating rate of those changes, definitely matters.


12/18/2012 11:21 pm

Being aware and obsessing are two different things.


12/18/2012 11:28 pm

" or at least I do " - really ? Surprise us ... Show your top-ranked website. What monthly amount of traffic do you manage ? 1 mio ? more ? P.S. Never saw SEO guy who knows how-to and owns top-ranked web property, built based on this knowledge.


12/18/2012 11:45 pm

Could be the holiday impact.

Bharat Buddhadeo

12/19/2012 04:32 am

Thanks Barry, As an SEO guy we can always keep track on Google update.

Khalid Irfan

12/19/2012 06:30 am

Don't trust, expect the unexpected things from Google :)


12/19/2012 06:47 am

hi Barry! Thanks for the post. I personally believe that being an optimizer myself, we should not be bothered at all about updates/refreshes or any other changes in algo! We just need to be aware about the same. After all bringing more SE traffic is our ultimate goal. ;)

12/19/2012 11:07 am

That's great you have explained this.Thanks for this information.Keep it up.

jack johan

12/19/2012 11:53 am

I found every time my comment was deleted insistently,but why.Is there any tell me the reason why my site goes down from one page to 74th page.yesterday it was on 1th page and now on 74th page.Why this would happen with me all the time.

Nick Ker

12/19/2012 12:01 pm

Sometimes the updates do have a big enough impact that the quality of a site (or its SEO) does not really matter. However, it seems the rise in algo chasing does make people forget about the basic things like on page SEO, and the not-so-basic things like getting legitimate links. But I guess that is natural - people tend to look for someone else to blame when things go wrong.

Nick Ker

12/19/2012 12:06 pm

For those who like to name updates, I propose "Roswell". Lots of people saw something. The authorities deny anything happened.


12/19/2012 12:11 pm

Personally I feel if there wasn't an update there could have been a 30, 60 or 90 penalty that we weren't aware of "cool down" - so actually all the chatter are sites that may have recovered from this penalty.

vivek gupta

12/19/2012 01:02 pm

There is Google Great Online Shopping Festival on 12th Dec inIndia. So there is huge increase in traffic for each website accessed in India, it may have so me impact globally. So, In my view there is rise in traffic.


12/19/2012 01:36 pm

Maybe what they mean is that they were only testing. I saw major changes in rankings on Friday but rankings returned to what they were the next day.


12/19/2012 02:15 pm

I agree. Very political with SEO. The "me" is always right it seems ;-)


12/19/2012 02:54 pm

No one cares anymore


12/19/2012 03:24 pm

this is a 3rd article about "no update issue". like you are running some kind of rewrite article software...


12/19/2012 07:53 pm

Maybe this Google Chrome change (or test?) is the cause of the variation you're all seeing:

Upendra Kumar Chansoria

12/20/2012 04:53 am

No Updates ,,, thanks god

Turkish Thyme

12/20/2012 10:36 am

My rankings reappeared today 20 Dec 12. :)

Ranking Signals

12/20/2012 11:36 am

I don't believe it. BIG fluctuations in certain keyword categories (mostly broad / high value terms). Lots of companies emailing us that traffic from organic search is down 50-200% (some people started dropping 12/14/2012 - others 12/19/2012)

Mike Pannell

12/20/2012 01:54 pm

Something happened on Dec 4th and something on the 12th.. On the Fourth I lost a website that i had recovered again.. Google has hit this site 3 times and every time I get it to recover they hit it again.. The one on the 12th wasn't so bad but I do see several keywords that had huge drops.. Some of recovered but most haven't yet..


12/20/2012 04:35 pm

but my website's visitors are going down and my posts are not showing on the first page page of Google as it before come i know that what happned to my site if there is no google update.?

Peter Sundstrom

12/20/2012 08:21 pm

I'm sceptical. My main marketing site has had steady rankings for sometime now (including the Panda/Penguin) updates. Just over a week ago, my rankings dropped like a stone for most of my keywords. Interestingly, they have mostly recovered as of 21 Dec. Wonder if the right hand knows what the left hand is up to at Google.

Sanju kmr

12/21/2012 11:35 am

No one knows...? what the hell is this going on.....

Jeff McGregor

01/15/2013 04:19 am

Fully got an update and woo-hoo. Some of my clients . . . well they should pay me for management :)

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