Early yesterday morning, the SEO underground was buzzing with alarm, as webmasters posting on the Black Hat World and WebmasterWorld forums shared horror stories of dropped rankings, tanking keywords, and halted traffic.
Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz reported chatter occurring in the wee hours of March 8th, with several forums proclaiming “massive” drops in traffic. Over the course of the morning, users commiserated with each other and shared news of the statuses of their sites, which laid out a pretty bleak landscape in the wake of the possible algorithm update. Here’s what people were reporting:
- 90% loss of keyword positions
- Sites disappearing while others stayed – or even improved
- 20,000 visits down to 2,000
- Mobile pages being deindexed
Some webmasters even reported their rankings returning by the afternoon. “Things are in massive flux right now,” says Schwartz, who continues to keep his ears and eyes open for changes.
Granted, these are just some examples of what people were experiencing. They are in no way meant to describe what this algorithm update/ranking change may exactly entail. However, they are significant enough that we felt the need to share it so you’re aware.
Is it link-related?
Perhaps. Many webmasters have admitted to their sites having spam links (“from competitors,” they have said), which, depending on the severity of the links and the potency of the update/ranking shift could affect their site. Still, to drop the sites entirely from the SERPs, as some have claimed, seems very extreme. Even so, sites have been disappearing across a wide variety of niches. It would depend on the types of sites before we could make any sort of guess as to why this could be happening.
One common theory seems to be that Google is making a major move against private blog networks (PBNs). These are a set of blog sites under a single owner that link to the same owner’s “money sites,” effectively spreading link juice back to the sites that make money. PBNs have been considered grey hat territory for a while, but this algorithm update could prove how Google really feels about them.
My website has been hit – help!
Stay calm. It’s possible this is a bug in Google’s systems or simply a “dance,” as some have phrased it, going on with rankings. Whatever is happening, the fluctuations we’ve seen seem too extreme for Google to stay quiet for long.
As soon as we learn anything concrete, you can be sure we will say so here. Be sure to stay informed on our social media pages, or call us at 877-736-0006 if you have any questions.
Read the WebmasterWorld thread here, or the Black Hat World thread here.