May 2013: A Massive Algorithm Update at Google?

It started in Australia as many webmasters and SEOs noticed a Venice-like update and now it looks like we’re looking at a global algorithm change.


Mozcast shows a very turbulent 5th of May.

Jim Stewart was one of the first Australian SEOs to spot the change saying “ They’ve replaced places for organic…”. Today we’re seeing a massive surge in ranking turbulence reported by Mozcast and expecting fresh results from Algoroo as well which for now shows just another quiet day.

Although rolled out in sequence some believe the latest update is unrelated to Aussie Venice, “I’d say that last week’s Venice is unrelated to this [update].” said Martin Reed.

Could this be a new Penguin?

Last time Google rolled out a Penguin update was more than a year ago. Some webmasters believe that changes they’re seeing in search results in the last few days may be related to another Penguin push. As stated by Googlers in the past Penguin is rolled out manually and does not run along all other automated algorithms. This used to be a case with Panda, which now runs continuously.

Combination of Various Updates


As expected Dr. Pete joins the discussion and explains why Mozcast showed such a huge day:

“Heavy Google algo flux yesterday, but the patterns aren’t clear and other tools (3rd-party) aren’t confirming yet. It does look like Google is testing some new carousel formats on hotels and restaurants.” Source: Google+

In the discussion following Dr. Pete’s post it was concluded that this update is likely a combination of various changes rather than one massive algorithm iteration.

What are you seeing?

Let us know if your website(s) have been affected in the last few days.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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33 thoughts on “May 2013: A Massive Algorithm Update at Google?

  1. As far as I analyze my site there is nothing much in it but may you are write and it happened but still its not killing those who are doing the correct SEO.

  2. Thanks for the mention Dan. Actually it was one of first year’s who thought that places had been replaced. What we are seeing is that Google seems to be removing results that have little geographical/location relevance for the user and replacing them with ones that do. There also seems to have been backlink penalties. We have seen at least one major Melbourne retailer lose rankings and we know they had a links profile from sites that sold links. Things are still fluctuating though. It kinda feels like the Google dance days.

  3. I’m seeing a hybrid type listing showing modified places data as a natural result. The main website result itself looks to have gone altogether and has been replaced with the hybrid. It looks like G has attempted to reward the site with this hybrid listing but now it appears 4th, down from #1. Also seeing some big jumps for old PDF catalogues going to the top. I’d be surprised if this is the result G is looking for so I’m expecting further moves over the next week.

  4. The moment I saw this post, I immediately checked my SERP rankings and all are performing better than last week. Last week, some of the results were at 10th page and beyond but today as on 7th May, 2013; these results have moved to 5th and 6th pages. I wish and hope this is not the “silence before a big storm” like last year’s October Penguin update, which hit us badly.

  5. Further to my earlier message. Switching ISP’s from Sydney to Melbourne shows the old natural webs search result at #2, no places listings and the old PDF catalogues moving down and off page.

  6. The ‘new venice’ has been going on since Feb, at least here in the UK. Where as before the geolocated results were typically limited to 3-4 places in the middle, I’ve got SERPS where a sites position changes from 2nd in London all the way down to 14th in Glasgow. Looking at the analytics, traffic plummeted around early February. (Fortunately for this business, it was London based anyway, so it’s actually no great loss, but if they were national it’d be a disaster)

    Perhaps this is an international rollout of that update. Venice sorta flew under the radar though since most people don’t think to check results from other cities, so I’m not entirely convinced this isn’t just folk noticing a big update, discovering the results of an older one and making an assumption.

    As much as the ‘New Venice’ update is a pain in the ass to me personally, it’s a hell of a bone thrown to small businesses. My sister and her partner have just started a fireplace installation company, an they’ve been able to get in front of the local audience far, far easier than they could a year ago, so I can’t say it’s a bad decision.

    Again, I don’t think this update is down to Venice though, since as I said, this behavior has been seen since February, unless it’s an international rollout with is uncharacteristic of Google.

  7. Given the massive spike showing in MozCast, I’d expect that Dr Pete is currently pulling the change apart and we can expect some more detail from them on what they think is happening shortly.

  8. I perosonally know a group of Blackhaters and they are all in trouble. My sites are all ranking well. A couple of kws went 2 or 3 position down which is normal…. still no official words from Google but i think, it s Penguine

  9. I have been seeing some positive results for clients over the last week, probably due to all the additional hours work we have been investing. But yes seems to be a lot of testing going on from Google’s end in regards to Google Places changes, I don’t really have many clients who rely heavily on Google places any way. Will wait for further research and investigation come’s to hand.

  10. Мирослав Иванов

    In my case I was focusing on SEO for inner page……something. Now Google removed this result and shows only main domain Ranking have changed from page 2 to page 4. It’s a bit strange decision, because many websites don’t have many information on their homepages.

  11. We’ve seen some fluctuations in ranking in Australia over the past couple of days – One of our main keywords which had a national audience Google had ranked number 2 last week, and now for the same keyword Google is ranking the page we dedicated to Melbourne – number 3 (and I am located in Melbourne). Looks like Google is really trying to pickup local listings and specific pages on sites to make things more specific.

    We’ve also seen some sites drop a couple of rankings over the weekend but our main site which is ranking number one hasn’t moved and our competitors haven’t seemed to move either. Be interesting to see this unfold to see if it’s the much awaited penguin or not!

  12. worth noting that they did say at some point penguin maybe integrated with other updates and become part of the normal updates sequence … this isn’t that time but just needs highlighting it maybe next time

  13. I have also noticed a significant decline in traffic for many of my sites over the last 7-10 days. However this is the first site that i could find talking about an algo change.

  14. We have seen sites with good Social Media interaction just shooting up in their online visibility with a higher influx of traffic from non-brand k/w

  15. Guy Alexander Bell

    Hi. I think something is definitely afoot. I saw huge drop in hits and traffic on one of my sites yesterday. Nothing wrong with the site, good original content, shared a lot, got some fairly good links in to it,. we dont spam etc etc. So why it has dropped is anyones guess. Do sites drop during the update and go back up, the google dance everyone talks of?

  16. Still trying to figure out the reach of this change, if it was just Bris, Syd and Melbourne or Aus wide, it’s rather bizarre the way Google is serving results in some regions, but im not seeing it in others, or niches for that matter.
    Cheers Dan

  17. The way to reverse this and see this is the “HOMER” update. Look at your analytics by region and see the changes in organic google search traffic by city & state. Be prepared to compare this past week with previous ones.

  18. my site has plummeted from ranking number 4 on page 1 down to page 2 number 11 for specific search words, anyone know what is going on?

  19. We’ve seen some big ranking changes in the last two weeks – some up, some down, but all by pretty significant amounts.