The State of Search: Google's "Birthday Update"

On September 11, algorithm monitoring tools reported high volatility in the search results indicating a “silent” or unconfirmed update to Google’s algorithm. Silent algorithm updates are common and generally occur without official confirmation from Google. Search marketing industry leaders also suspected an algorithm update and took to forums and Twitter to discuss noticeable changes, both positive and negative, to their sites’ organic traffic and rankings.

According to the tools that we use to monitor algorithm updates, sites that fell within the real estate and travel industries experienced more significant fluctuations in search rankings in comparison to other industries during the time of the update.

Representatives from Google did not comment on whether an update did, in fact, take place on September 11. The release of a small algorithm update on September 27 was confirmed by Google but no details regarding the update were disclosed. This smaller update has been coined the “Birthday Update” as it took place on Google’s Anniversary.

Google routinely updates its search ranking algorithms to provide the most relevant and useful search results. Like previous algorithm updates, the Birthday Update is likely a refinement by Google intended to improve the search results for better quality in general.

What does this mean for our clients?

With any Google algorithm update, it is best to not make drastic changes to a site until we are able to see the residual and more lasting effect of the update. During this time, we will continue to monitor your sites’ organic traffic and keyword rankings for major changes.