How Google Search Ranking Algorithm Updates Impact the SERPs

With every update Google makes on their search ranking algorithm, we don’t just ask ourselves “Did any of my websites get hit?”, but also “Did anyone else get hit?”.

Knowing how broad each update gets and how many websites got impacted helps us better understand Google’s search ranking strategy. It helps us get an overview of how SERPs are evolving with every update and how we keep up with the new trends.

In the lack of transparency from Google, we’re left to get this information on our own.

For the past 5 years (and counting), AWR has been processing SERP data and computing SERP volatility metrics to highlight the rhythm of Google’s dance and reveal just how intense each update was.

The data is available for free, to anyone, through AWR’s Google Algo Changes Tool.

With the latest enhancements added, the Google Algo Changes Tool enables you to:

  • Track & compare SERP volatility across 29 countries
  • Monitor algorithm changes on both mobile and desktop
  • Access 5 years of historical data on algo changes’ impact on SERPs
  • Set your own preferred time frame for the analysis
  • Get SERP volatility stats for both organic and SERP features
  • Receive email notifications for high SERP volatility

In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the tool’s functionalities and draw out how the most recent Google search ranking algorithm updates have impacted the SERPs.

Let’s dig in.

March 2018 Google Update was larger than Panda, Penguin or the Mobile Friendly Update

Let me give you a bit of context here.

One of the most important things you’ll need to understand about using the Google Algo Changes Tool is how the daily volatility score is calculated.

The formula is pretty straightforward. We look at hundreds of thousands of SERPs and track daily the amount of position changes that take place in top 50 Google results. And that gives us a daily SERP volatility value.

However, that will not be the score that you see on the charts.

On the charts you will always see the daily score on a scale of zero to ten, where 10 is assigned to the highest volatility value within the selected time frame, and zero would be for no SERP changes.

Therefore, by looking at the entire data set, from 2014 until 2019, we’ll see that the highest SERP volatility score recorded in this time interval was on March 18th, 2018 a couple of days after a Core Google Algorithm update.

As compared to that update, which gets the full 10.0 volatility score, Panda, Penguin and Mobile Friendly updates fall behind:

  • 7.7 Volatility score on Mobile Friendly Update
  • 7.4 Volatility score on Panda 4.2 Update
  • 3.6 Volatility score on Rank Brain Update
  • 2.8 Volatility score on Penguin 3.0 Update
Advanced Web Ranking, Google Algo Changes, Google updates timeline

Now let’s switch focus to the more recent Google algo updates, and change the time interval for the tool to the last 6 months:

Advanced Web Ranking, Google Algo Changes, 2019 Google updates

For the new time interval we selected, a new 10.0 volatility score will be determined: April 8, 2019. That’s when the most SERP changes occurred during one day, for this 6 month time frame, and therefore it’ll be a 10.0 volatility score.

In this timeframe, all 3 algorithm updates that Google confirmed – Valentine’s Day Update, Florida 2 and the latest, Core Algo Update from June 3 – determined some immediate SERP movements, but the apex of SERP volatility was recorded each time, a few days later.

SERPs appear to be more turbulent on mobile than they are on desktop

Since search results are conditional upon the search device they are performed on, it’s always a good idea to find volatility stats that are specific for the device – mobile or desktop – you are targeting. Sometimes you’ll find that the differences between the mobile and desktop SERP changes, are quite consistent.

For example, when we compare SERP volatility between search devices, we get to see that over time, mobile results appear to be more volatile than those on desktop:

Advanced Web Ranking, Google Algo Changes, Desktio vs mobile serps volatility

And if we zoom in, for instance, on the data around the Mobile Friendly Update, we see that the peak in volatility was actually on mobile:

Advanced Web Ranking, Google Algo Changes, Mobile friendly update

RO and MX – highest volatility levels during June 2019

And just as with devices, the SERP dynamic is distinctive for each national search market, Google algorithm updates having different impact on each of them.

With the AWR free Google Algo Changes tool you can track SERP volatility in 29 countries and stack them up, one against the other, on the same chart, to compare their evolution.

For example, we see that June’s 2019 Google algo Updates have had the greatest impact on the Romanian and Mexican search markets, with double or triple the amount of SERP volatility recorded on the US search market.

Advanced Web Ranking, Google Algo Changes, Romanian and Mexican keyword volatility levels

Please note that serp volatility data is available in the Google Algo Changes Tool for US, UK and DE since 2015, while for the other 26 countries, statistical SERP volatility data has been computed since June 2019.

As compared to the US, we’ve also seen sizable volatility values during the same month, June 2019, in the Indian and the Finnish search markets.

Stay updated when the daily volatility score spikes

I’m going to stop there but I encourage you to explore the countries and time intervals that are relevant to you and see what you can take from this tool.

Also be sure to keep an eye on the volatility score we compute daily. It shows the global SERP volatility score from the data we gather, determined in correlation with the last 30 days.

Advanced Web Ranking, Google Algo Changes, Keyword Volatility scoare

The “Today” and “ This week” changes panels also help you get a quick understanding of the SERPs recent movements, or better yet, you can subscribe to get email notifications whenever SERP volatility spikes and be sure not to miss anything big.


Author: Dana Loiz

Dana Loiz is an Online Marketing Strategist at Caphyon. She is passionate about her job and always in a mood to chat about SEO, Internet Marketing and Social Media. She tweets the news at @awebranking and @dana_loiz.

28 thoughts on “How Google Search Ranking Algorithm Updates Impact the SERPs”

    1. I cannot say at this moment anything specific about what we’ll be adding next, but I will make sure to keep everyone update on this as soon as I have the info! Very glad you like it, David!

    1. Yup, you can access the tool from any project in your AWR Cloud account. You will find it in AWR Cloud under the “Research” menu listed as “Google Algorithm Changes”. Check it out and shoot us an email if you encounter any difficulties with it 😉

  1. I love it. The presentation is very beautiful and creative. This tool in combo with the others is an awesome way to check for updates really quickly and with surety. Thank you so much AWR.

  2. I don’t get the graph, only the screen that shows the date & globe. I inserted the widget in a simple .html file in my local directory. What am I missing?

  3. This is great Dana! Really interesting to see the impacts on visibility on a graph. Super keen to see the results for Australia – and how far behind the States it is!

    1. We’re excited as well, Catherine! 😀 We’ll make a list with all your suggestions and see how we can make things happen. Thanks!

    1. Gosh, of course it’s Penguin!!! The zoo got mixed up in my head, ha ha Thanks for pointing it out, Craig! Very glad you like the tool 🙂

    1. Can’t promise anything yet, Dennis. We need to analyze things in order to see which countries can be implemented next. I’ll keep you updated on that. We’re happy you find the tool useful! And hopefully, we will be able to make it even more useful for you 🙂

  4. This is a great way of presenting clearly how a site is affected by general trends – one thing that would be really useful (as an AWRCloud user) is the ability to show both overall visibility trends and those for a specific website on the same graph – as it is we can only view the visibility and traffic for the specific site in AWRCloud, if we want to compare that with overall trends we have to go to the public version of the GAC and put the two graphs alongside each other.

        1. You’re welcome, Alexander. Yes, we want to bring in more country-specific data, but don’t know at this moment which countries we’ll be adding next. Netherlands has already received another few votes, so, let’s hope for the best! 🙂

  5. That is such an amazing information regarding Google’s Algorithm updates. I used to do SEO for my website by myself, this information is so useful for me to make necessary changes to my website’s SEO. Thanks a lot. Highly appreciated.

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