Algorithm Update At Google?

Aaron Wall reported earlier today that there might be a potential algorithm update underway at Google. He thought calling it an update might be a little strong, but he noticed that the results for some keywords he follows were showing less authority sites and more smaller niche sites in the SERPs. Naturally I was interested in knowing more and found a few other places discussing a possible change.

Here’s what I found during my search.

As usual when people start to see sudden rises and drops in the SERPs there’s a lot of sharing of information, a lot of speculation, the usual complaints from those losing traffic, and a certain amount of Google slamming. And like usual there’s very little solid knowledge about what might be going on.

I see two main theories emerging as to the possible cause for any shakeup that’s going on. The first is that this is just fallout from the recent decision by WikiPedia to add nofollow to their links. Sites that were getting links from the Pedia would naturally lose some good links and ranking and consequently would also be passing on less link juice than they had been before the nofollow. Continuing on sites along the chain would drop in the SERPs and pass less link value and so on.

The second theory comes from a comment Cygnus made on SEO Book. Aaron pulled the comment and added it as a quote to his post so I’ll let you read it in full there, but the main idea is the change might be a relaxation of the sandbox/trustbox in regards to age and theme allowing sites with less authority to climb in the SERPs while sites that were getting some trust bonus points have dropped. Cygnus also mentions thinking this is Google’s way of fighting .edu spam links and expects things will tighten back up again.

I don’t track a huge number of keywords and sites and for the ones I do I’m not noticing major changes, just the normal shifts that are always going on. Most of those sites have neither .edu nor links from the WikiPedia and are probably so far down the chain that these kind of changes wouldn’t affect them. Oddly enough the one possible major change I did come across was for Aaron’s site. One phrase I looked at I’m currently ranking #1 and #2 (It’s not a big sender of traffic, but I happen to rank well). I’m going on memory, but the last time I looked I think a page from SEO Book was #1 and I was #2 and #3. I couldn’t find the SEO Book page anywhere for the phrase when I looked this afternoon.

I haven’t seen any significant changes in traffic to sites where I have access to the analytics data either. Things have been pretty consistent for me and my clients.

Is anyone seeing any big shifts in SERPs and sites you track? If you find any more info about the possible update drop a link in the comments and I’ll add it to the list above.

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