Google Confirms Mid-December Search Changes

Google has now confirmed that it made a number of changes to its search ranking algorithm during the middle of December 2017.  The movement which first appears on the 14th December sparked controversy amongst SEO who were left scrambling to find the reasons behind disruptions to search patterns at the most financially crucial time of the year for retailers.

Whilst the Christmas season has disrupted the flow of data, initial reactions in the SEO community appear to show that sites without schema data and those relying on doorway pages have been most affected.  It also seems that the changes have had more effect on users of Google’s various mobile search platforms, although a number site also saw a disruption to the desktop SERP positions

A Google spokesperson told the Search Engine Land website that they had “released several minor improvements during this timeframe [December], part of our regular and routine efforts to improve relevancy.”

The first spike to occur on the 14th December impacted on the car and car accessory retailers, a second spike occurred on the 19th affecting listing in the hobbies and leisure, jobs and education, home and garden and telecom services verticals.  The effect was first noticed in the USA but quickly spread to other regions including the UK, Germany, France, Australia and Spain.

Whilst many companies would have been able to offset the SEO loss with PPC, the timing of the changes will be unfortunate for many in the industry, as it occurred just before the peak shopping period, when many retailers prefer to lock down changes to their systems to prevent expensive outages and subsequent loss of online sales.  As we move into the post-sales period of January, now may be the time to work on correcting any problems caused by the move and evaluating any changes that are necessary for your clients continued business success in natural SERP’s listings.