Rumours began to spread earlier this month that Google had updated its search algorithm but the speculation looks set to continue: the search titan still hasn’t confirmed that a change has occurred.
But something’s in the air. Those rumours and speculations aren’t baseless: content marketing and SEO platform SearchMetrics showed results on 8th February strongly indicative of an algorithm change. It looked very much as though Google had altered rankings for brand keywords that had been misspelt, allowing some websites to rank highly even if the spelling had been mangled.
Some big brands have clearly benefitted from the change: Adidas still managed to rank highly even with search terms like “adiddas” or “addidas.” Other brands, especially those specialising in the fashion industry, appear to have been hit quite hard with appreciably lower rankings.
In his blog, SearchMetrics CTO and founder Marcus Tober warned that it was too early to draw hard and fast conclusions on the total impact of the changes at this stage. He mentioned “several sources” which had reported Google denying any relation to changes in Penguin or Panda.
As Tober put it:
“Things seem to not have calmed down yet, therefore be careful driving conclusions. We cannot speak of a Google update yet. What we have noticed is an impact on e-commerce keywords that affects brands and retailers, shops, price comparison sites and even (small) ad sites.
“Brands seem to profit from the development, while other have lost a good chunk of rankings, e.g. sites in the fashion industry. Google seems to be optimizing brand searches.”
Basically, while the changes don’t amount to the kind of shifts that take place when a full Panda or Penguin update rolls out, the impact registered by Searchmetrics was still measurably larger than the usual algorithm adjustments Google implements.
Even so, all Google would officially say was that in its quest to give users the most relevant answers as fast as possible, it was involved in the “constant tuning of algorithms.” In a statement to the Drum, Google insisted that it had nothing “big” to announce, but told Search Engine Land that it was “continuing to make tweaks.”