There has been a lot of chalk talk about last week’s mysterious Google update, but up until now we haven’t been able to bring forth anything more than the obvious: major shifts were cropping up in rankings. We decided to roll up our sleeves and get any insight we could from the data we have; after a good amount of data-slicing, we’re back with some answers.

Definitely a Google Update

Just like Mozcast and Algoroo, our Google Algorithm Changes tool reported extremely unusual ranking changes around the date of June 19, 2015.


More precisely, 35% of all 583,140 URLs tracked changed their ranking by more than 10 positions. There’s no doubt that this is huge. “Colossal”, as Dr Pete so eloquently put it.

Changes were major in all three countries we’re tracking:


Nevertheless, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the cause of all that shifting. A couple of very good theories were expressed over the past week. Dr Pete dove into their data and found that there is a strong connection between the update and HTTPS. He was also first to form the hypothesis that it may all be a consequence of the giant Wikipedia’s migration to HTTPS.

But according to Google representatives, the update was neither Panda, Penguin or HTTPS. They said that this was just one of their continuous tweaks to the core algorithm. No indications on what was changed in particular.

More insights came from Searchmetrics’ quick analysis of their data, which pointed out that “this update seems to be primarily concerned with trending keywords as well as temporary search intentions related to informational (shorthead) keywords.” According to their data, media websites were most favored by the update.

The research we carried out is based on the data we’re tracking with the Google Algorithm Changes tool, and relies on SERP data for approximately 10k keywords and 580k URLs, across various industries.

Here’s what we found:

Wikipedia only accounts for 0.34% of changed URLs

On June the 17th, 92.54% of all the URLs we’re tracking changed their rankings. One third of all these URLs got shifted by more than 10 positions.

Although Wikipedia is at the top of the list of domains who changed their rankings, their URLs account for only 0.34% of changes in our data set. That means that at least for this set of data, the giant website is not responsible for the entire movement in SERPs. While it may have caused other URLs to shift as well, it would be nevertheless very unlikely that 0.34% of changes have shaken the entire SERPs by themselves.

Insights on Google Update

As Wikipedia continues its transition to HTTPS, we’re keeping an eye on the SERPs hoping to observe any changes that may result from this development. For the moment, the past few post-update days were extremely quiet in all three countries we’re tracking.

Nothing unusual among the most affected domains

By looking at the list of most affected domains for this update we were not able to spot any unusual patterns, or to find additional clues to support Searchmetrics’ hypothesis. While Wikipedia leads the changes list in our data set, sites like or have amassed more than three times the amount of changes felt by news publications such as or


Most HTTPS URLs have changed their position

Here comes the most interesting part. Most of the HTTPS URLs we’re tracking have changed their position in search; not only that, but 68.13% of these shifted with more than 10 positions!

Tweet this: 2 out of 3 HTTPS URLs changed their rankings with at least 10 positions

For comparison, here is the ranking behavior we saw for the non-secure HTTP URLs:

http versus https

With that many changes and hundreds of HTTPS URLs dropping out of top 50 results, the hypothesis of a Google update focused on HTTPS becomes extremely plausible, regardless of Google’s contradicting statements.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we have something new to share on this.

  1. Hi Dana, could you please check the last part of our article? It seems you have http and https mixed up, in “With that many changes and hundreds of HTTPS URLs dropping out of top 50 results”. I thought the whole idea was that https URLs were going up 🙂 I also don’t really get the captions in your infographic …

    1. Hi Arne, thanks a lot for the observation. It seems that I didn’t make a clear point here, It’s a good opportunity to set things straight.

      The change in our research shows only the number of positions a URL has changed with, regardless of whether it went up or down. We’re only measuring fluctuations, not gains and losses. So it only means that rankings for HTTPS urls had been extremely volatile at this update.

      It is also true that we have seen a large amount of HTTPS urls dropping out of top 50 results. For that reason and more we’re suspecting that HTTPS urls might have been rather disadvantaged by the update, but there isn’t enough proof for such conclusion.

      The last graphic was supposed to help you get a quick sense of how many drastic changes (red) were seen for HTTPS URLS as compared to HTTP.

      1. That really puts things in a different perspective! Guess I was preconditioned because all the recent talk about Google promoting https 🙂
        Anyway, thanks for taking the time to explain once more.

        1. I know, we were just as surprised to see those https pages going down. Who knows if that wasn’t the last tweak Google made on https and there is more to adjust?! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

  2. Article says July 19, 2015 – definitely supposed to be June

    ….unless of course this article portends something similar to come in 4 weeks 😉

  3. FYI there is a typo in the paragraph immediately above the first graphic where you say the date of the update was July 19, 2015…. you may want to fix that. 🙂

  4. I agree with your last statement “regardless of Google’s contradicting statements.”. Over the years I have seen evidence contradict what google states. I have learned to listen to the evidence produced by our industry leaders and take with a grain of salt what google states about a ranking update. Great article

    1. Exactly. I guess we just need to be aware that Google cannot always disclose their ways, so it’s best to remain wary about the messages they put out. So glad you enjoyed the read Erik.

  5. Thanks guys for the sharp eye, it’s fixed now. Don’t you think that this is a good way to get people to comment? haha Just kidding, I can’t foresee the future :))

  6. The post is confusing. My understanding from reading it is that https domains got damaged, and http urls were given a boost, while when reading the Moz posts it appears https were given a boost, and http urls took a hit.

    There is something odd in the way this data has been presented, regardless of the last reply by Dana below.

    It would be good to make it clearer in the post itself, rather than relying on people reading the commentary.

    Also worth noting that people associate red with DANGER, while green is GOOD.

  7. Just looking for a little clarification. (BTW, I love that this post is from the future – as it says it’s from July 19, 2015 :)) Are you saying that hundreds of http URLs dropped, or hundreds of https URLs dropped? Just want to make sure I’m reading what you are saying correctly. And shifts of more than 10 positions – were most of these shifts downwards – or upwards? Thanks in advance for the clarification.

    1. Hi Tony. There is no error there, we did see a great amount of HTTPS urls dropping from top 50. As I also told Arne earlier, that would be an indicator that HTTPS was not favored by the update, but not enough reason to conclude the opposite either. We simply cannot say anything about who has been given a boost and who has been pushed down.

      The Google Algorithm Changes tool, just as Mozcast and Algoroo, shows fluctuations in rankings and nothing more. Both up and down movement in SERP is counted as change. And since the tool is only compiling the stats, not saving the entire rankings history (imagine what that would mean in terms of resources), we cannot go back and investigate what happened – who moved up and who went down.

      I hope this clears things for you.

  8. During this few weeks I almost loosing lots of hopes because I might say I have been following what google want for my websites. Amazingly my website visitor is drop almost 60% and drop from page two to page 5 and some of them are gone and not even in top 100.

    I am using https like google said last year, this website who are using https will get high ranking on SERPs. I can say this is bullshit because so many spammy websites are on first page and even that website not related to the keyword type on.

    The funny thing is, google now deleting so many sex content. Specially in Indonesia, so many sex and porn website now available on Indonesia SERPs and sometimes I have to report to our goverment to block that sites



    1. Indeed, trial and error remains the best way to go forward online. Thanks for sharing your experience Joe!

  9. Thanks Dana for this post and putting some more data around the discussion. I was one of those who thought it was probably just Wikipedia. Thanks again for the info!

  10. That’s interesting, I didn’t notice much changes in particular to https though, but there was definitely at least a slight shake up in the SERPS.

  11. HTTPs drop might have been caused by all the bad setup out there. It is not enough to have https implemented, it should also be correctly implemented. I’ve seen too many invalid certificates. Of course that is the reason.

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