Update: 12:00 p.m. EST
Google has FINALLY acknowledged the situation in a tweet, and it appears speculation that this was an unintentional “issue” was correct.
On Monday we detected an issue with our indexing systems that affected Google search results. Once the issue was identified, it was promptly fixed by our Site Reliability Engineers and by now it has been mitigated.— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) August 11, 2020
Thank you for your patience!
Now what I’d like to see is some transparency regarding what happened, and more importantly how.
All I know is Douglas Adams’ advice definitely still applies to any major SEO upsets: “Don’t Panic.”
What we know so far
Full disclosure: as of writing, Google has not annoucned or confirmed anything officially. This is based off of speculation and discussion within the SEO community and will be updated as we learn more.
It appears that Google begain implementing a roll-out of an SEO algorithm ranking update at around 2:00 p.m. EST today (August 10, 2020). What is most confusing - and concerning - to many of us is that it:
- Has not been confirmed or discussed by any official Google channels as of the time of writing.
- Does not appear to be following any particular pattern as other algorithm updates have in the past.
- Regardless of what is actually going on, something is, and the general reception is that it is not good.
Some community members are speculating that this is the result of a test gone awry, a bug with the updated algorithm, or something else that was unintentional; it’s hard to believe that Google wanted this stark of a shift in the SERPs. Many very well established and authoritative websites are reporting that they’ve found themselves falling from SERP1-P1 to pages beyond SERP5.
What Can & Should You Do
It is far too early to make any decisions or draw any conclusions, all we know is that from looking at the trends today something big is going on. And since Google has yet to give us any indication as to their role or knowledge of the situation it’s incredibly hard to pinpoint and detail exactly what that ”big thing” is.
It could be an unbelievably radical algorithm update.
It also could be a bug or mistake that accidentally was pushed into production.
All we can all do right now is monitor the situation. Take care to monitor your rankings, but do not under any circumstances go and make any sweeping changes (or any changes) to your content and SEO strategy. Just like with any algorithm update, it’s vital to wait, watch, and let the dust settle before formulating a plan. We always need all the information to form and execute a strategy, and right now we have very little.
We’re all in this together!