Search Engine Volatility

The graph below shows the ranking volatility for hundreds of thousands of keywords. If your website ranking is changing, and the number here is high, then there’s a chance there’s something going on at Google.

Google updates

When Google pushes an update, it can affect your ranking. Here’s a list of major updates, check to see if your symptoms match the description. If they do, we may be able to help you to fix it.

Jul 2014


This update made local search more important. If you had a local business, then you were more likely to be found simply because of your proximity to the person searching.

Aug 2013


Another huge update, this time targeting people who had been using keyword stuffing as a tactic or had lots of low quality content. This update also helped Google understand the context of an article better, meaning a page could rank for certain keywords, even if those keywords didn’t appear in the text.

Apr 2012


Links were easy to buy, and if you bought enough of them, you could improve your site’s ranking, however, this update penalised a lot of sites who had used these dodgy tactics. Link farms and spammy blogs were hit hard.

Feb 2011

Google Panda/Farmer

At this time in Google’s evolution, content farms were a problem, this update removed those sites and was devastating to owners of spam sites with “thin” content. It was the start of Google making a concerted effort to boost content quality and a move away from links as the most important ranking factor.

Jun 2010


One of the first really big updates which affected Google’s overall structure. The name came from the fact that search results were faster, as were updates.

May 2010

May Day Update

A general search quality update.

Oct 2005


These updates (there were many), targeted low-quality links and reciprocal linking. That’s when people said “I’ll link to you, you link to me”, not so clever now. Paid links also got a spanking.

Jun 2005

XML Sitemaps

Webmaster Tools was becoming useful, and you could now submit a sitemap. Not that it would make much difference to anything…

Jun 2005

Personalised search

This is where Google got all “Big Brother” and started to skew search results based on your history.

May 2005


This was *probably* something to do with duplicate content, which created all sorts of myths regarding what you could write and where you should publish it.