Over the past few months, search engine optimization (SEO) communities were experiencing numerous changes with Google search results, specifically with local results and Google Maps. Then on May 4th, 2020, Google released an announcement indicating they had made a core update to their algorithm.
Core updates can involve various and substantial amounts of changes to Google’s algorithms which subsequently impact search rankings, this update focused on Google’s local search and Google Maps.
Yet that did not hinder many companies from experiencing a dramatic shift in their rankings. Some companies that ranked in the top 5 for their keywords in local searches now dropped down to the 20 to 30 range, and some industries noticed an even more significant drop. Many SEO experts and business owners also noticed that while their rankings decreased, the number of spam listings increased subsequently pushing their rankings down further.
While it is not uncommon to experience a noticeable shift in rankings due to core updates, it did leave the SEO community in a perplexing position.
A few weeks later on May 28th, 2020, it was discovered that a volatility bug caused all the baffling changes with local results and Google Maps. That’s right, a bug!
Danny Sullivan from Google tweeted later that Google had located the bug and resolved the issue surrounding local search and Google Maps, and since then, rankings and Google maps have stabilized.
Google was able to discover the bug after releasing that while there were no major local search updates, they encouraged users to provide examples of the infrequencies in search results that the SEO community and business owners had been experiencing. For example, BrightLocal’s local algorithm tracker noted significant rankings changes happening after May 5th, 2020 across all industries. A pattern that could not be ignored.
Shortly afterward, with the help of the SEO community and other users, Google was able o pinpoint the bug and fix the issue. While we understand Google as an ever-evolving and complex platform, it is the SEO experts and users that are able to keep Google accountable and provide value to businesses across all industries. It is always helpful for businesses to have an SEO team in their back pocket because as demonstrated, the online world will always be uncertain yet our SEO friends make it their goal to add back some predictability.