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Did your website get hit by a Google algorithm update? Here’s how to find out

Google updates are coming thick and fast.

In the last couple of weeks alone, we had the helpful content update and the September core update rolling out, both threatening to shake the SERP like a snow globe.

But not all updates impact website performance. And even if there’s volatility, it may not be the updates’ fault…

So how to know whether an update hit your website’s rankings?

Nichola Stott wrote a thorough guide that can help you identify the signals.

Let’s tune in…

First, check primary and secondary sources. Google announces every algorithm update, but you can also follow John Mueller, Google’s Search advocate, or Danny Sullivan.

Besides official news and spokespeople, look for secondary sources of information, too…

Sometimes Google releases updates that only impact specific content, like product review updates that only affect review websites, and so on.

Understanding the update itself and the impact it can have on your content is the first step.

Then, find out if the dates of your volatile traffic periods overlap with the update rollout.

If your analytics start acting bonkers a few weeks after a particular update… and you can’t find any other possible cause… Well, now you know why.

And when you suspect it’s not the update’s fault? Check the usual SEO signals:

  • Unaware social media and other media promotions can bump your traffic signals.
  • Spam traffic will cause Google to push your website down on the SERP.
  • Lost links can weaken your domain rating and give the edge to your competitors.
  • Front end changes and website updates can unintentionally sink rankings.

If Google’s updates make you dizzy, we recommend going through the entire guide. It will help you understand them better.

And if you’re working with clients, it can also help you paint a clear picture to the people you’re reporting to. Good luck!