Latest update decimates smaller sites

google-blogpost
The last week of October has thrown up some extremely interesting data that looks like it will impact search as a whole.

In the final week of last month, and specifically on 24th October 2013 our tools picked up some major drops and rises in Google’s search results in multiple countries. For the sites that have dropped many have seen spectacular falls, going from page one to outside page 10.

It seems that the sites that dropped in positions were homepage URLs and those that prospered were the deeper and sometimes more content rich pages.

There were reports of an Update in early November, but this we believe hit on 24th October. Whatever Google want to call it, this has decimated some sites.

UK and Beyond

This isn’t just in the UK either. Discussions pointing to a world wide algorithm change (see here in SEO Round Table where the comments suggest this is a Panda update) have seen similar patterns across Spain too where very foccused sites are losing their positions on homepage themed search terms.

Who has failed?

It looks like small, low level content sites with overweighted themed homepages have dropped. This is not to say that all homepages are dropping, as some have prospered. Also it is not to say that some sites that have dropped have poor content, as some highlighted below have very nice sites with good social integration. This is not necessarily good news for the local provider of services who have minimal content on their sites. We have seen for localised hotel searches that the small hotel (with their small sites) have been eclipsed by the larger national operators.

Who has prospered?

Notably some big boys have benefitted. Sites with deep content have prospered. Others have simply filled the void of the sites that have dropped. Trip Advisor (see below) is an example of a site that has benefitted significantly.

Example 1 – Multiple Site Drops for a single term – UK (telephony)

Below is a position chart showing the positions of several URLs for the term “Business Phone Systems”. On October 24th we see a major drop of sites previously languishing on page 1 to outside page 10.

Chart 1.1

Search Term: Business Phone Systems
Search Engine: Google UK
Day of Major Drop: October 24th 2013

Business Phone System drop Google Panda

Business Phone System drop Google Panda

Below shows the full URLs for this search term on 23rd October. This search term had multiple homepages returning in Google UK.

Chart 1.2 

The “Before” – The top 10 Serps 23rd October 2013
Search Term: Business Phone Systems
Search Engine: Google UK

23rd Oct - Top 10

The Top 10 returning URLs in Google UK for search term “Business Phone Systems” Oct 23rd

Below is the top 10 returning URLs for the day after the algorithm change. Gone are many of the homepage returning URLs and in the void they have been replaced by deeper pages from arguably bigger sites. However there are still two homepages that have been returned for this search, at position 5 and position 10.

Chart 1.3

The “After” – The top 10 Serps 23rd October 2013
Search Term: Business Phone Systems
Search Engine: Google UK

26th Oct - Top 10

The Top 10 returning URLs in Google UK for search term “Business Phone Systems” Oct 26th

Example 2: Single Site drop for multiple terms – UK

Below we see position falls for a single London based website where its homepage has dropped for many related terms in the “video production” sector. After appearing high on page one in Google UK for some time until the 24th October, it suddenly takes a drastic fall. The chart shows that the site has dropped out of the top 100 positions for several search terms (video product service, London production companies) with great turbulence inflicted on the other search terms.

Chart 2.1

Search Terms: Corporate and London Video product terms
Site: Scorch London
Search Engine: Google UK
Day of Major Drop: October 24th 2013

Google UK drops October 2013

Drops for a single site across multiple search terms in Google UK

 

Example 3: Multiple Site Drops for a single Search Term – Spain

Below we see position drops for multiple URLs across a single search term for holidays in Malaga. Three websites that previously featured well for the term (coloured in green, pink and yellow) in Google ES fell on 24th October. Each site’s returning page was the homepage. The sites that prospered (coloured in blue, light blue and purple) each had deeper pages returned. At least one of the fallers, (coloured in pink) has a nice looking site, with good social integration and was definitely relevant to the search.

Chart 3.1

Search Term: Vacaciones Malaga
Sites: Multiple
Search Engine: Google ES
Day of Major Drop: October 24th 2013

Homepage drops in Google ES

Homepage drops in Google ES

 

Example 4: TripAdviser prospering across localised search terms – UK

Again we see smaller sites take the hit on localised searches and larger nationwide sites prosper. Here is an example for “York Hotels”. Three dedicated single hotel sites have fallen significantly for this search term. TripAdviser and Travel Supermarket rise in their wake.

Chart 4.1

Search Term: Multiple site movement for single search term
Sites: Multiple
Search Engine: Google UK,
Day of Major Rise: October 24th 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.11.54

 

This is repeated across the much of the UK. Where each city had dedicated local sites offering their hotels, many have now dropped. We see below that Trip Adviser has prospered across the nation rising generally from the bottom of page 1 to the top of page one.

Chart 4.2

Search Term: Single Site movement across multiple search terms
Sites: Trip Adviser
Search Engine: Google UK,
Day of Major Rise: October 24th 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.23.58

 

We will be publishing more international data on this in due course. Any more information on what people have seen with their sites or clients will be welcomed and we can have a look.

But is this Panda or some Hummingbird tinkering. Or indeed is it a refresh rather than an Algorithm update?