30 . 11 . 15

Algorithm update just before Black Friday? Surely not

There has been surprisingly little noise around a potential new algorithm update that Google may have released on November 19th. Monitoring search rankings across a range of competitors we noticed some very positive movements around that date and a recovery for a number of sites which had been impacted by the Phantom (Feb) and Quality (May) updates earlier in the year. Suggestions and evidence lean towards a core algorithm update with a focus on quality and content. These thoughts are corroborated by a few others in the industry, namely Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) and Dan Sharp (@screamingfrog).

All updates can be cause for uneasiness depending on the outcome, the alarming point about this update is there has been little discussion or speculation outside of a handful of industry experts when the impact could potentially be huge for the retail sector. A number of large retailers have seen a dramatic drop in visibility right before the biggest online weekend of the year where expectations are high and investment into marketing and offers has been stepped up following the success of last year. The consequence of the update on such a key strategic weekend will run into the £1,000s for some of the larger retailers and this will need to be compensated via other channels to meet the expectations on demand. Paid search is the one channel that can be used to directly recapture the loss in visibility but will need a reactive approach and an awareness of the specific ranking movements.

So, who has been hit and who has won big? Below are a couple of examples of the impact of the update on some of the largest retailers:

River Island





“We track 000’s of phrases across a range of verticals and have seen pretty major fluctuations in-line with what you’d expect to see by a large algorithm update like Penguin (which tends to affect between 2-3% of all queries).  Although, not been confirmed by the wider community, we are seeing clients that have done extensive work on improving content quality, design and the optimisation of user journeys over the last 6 months, generally being well rewarded.” Scott Tehrani – twentysix SEO Director

Has anyone else seen an impact from the update on the 19th November?


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