Google Algorithm update March 9, 2018

Updated on Apr 23, 2018: John Mueller confirmed that this update was primarily about relevance. This makes sense to us. Now, after reviewing several sites that were negatively affected by this update, we can see that many of them had issues where they were not the most relevant site to a query. More on this below.

Updated on Mar 23, 2018: This month has been crazy. We have now seen significant updates on March 3, 9, 14 and 23. It looks like Google is tweaking a lot of things. We will likely see even more turbulence over the next couple of weeks.

Updated on March 20, 2018: Google confirmed that this update started rolling out on March 7, 2018. While we don’t have a name for the update, I’m still going to call it March 9 as this is the day on which I saw a lot of changes. 

 

 

Google doesn’t confirm a lot of algorithm updates these days, but they did confirm that they made a significant change to their core quality algorithm last week.

I have been traveling as I am speaking at SMX West this week. (Coincidentally, I will be speaking on Google algorithm updates.) When I finally found time to check my data, I was thrilled to see several sites for whom we have done site quality reviews, with incredible improvements. I don’t have clearance to share direct Google Analytics data for each of these, but here are some screenshots from SEMRush.

 

This first site was one that was hit hard in an algorithm update on February 7, 2017. In my opinion, that update was primarily about demoting sites that lacked good E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust). We have been working with them to improve their E-A-T and it appears to be helping!

mar 9 quality update

 

This next site is an eCommerce site that has been gradually improving content over the years. We did a link audit for them a few years ago and they saw a beautiful increase with Penguin 4.0. They saw a significant increase on March 9 as well. I believe this increase is likely due to site quality rather than links:

 

March 9 quality update

 

This is an eCommerce site that we reviewed that was absolutely loaded with quality issues. We recommended a large amount of canonicalization, and removal of huge amounts of thin content plus quite a few other things. So far those changes seem to be helping quite nicely:

 

March 9 Quality update

 

And here is one final one. This site is in one of the most competitive verticals on the internet. In our review of the site we found a bunch of user frustration issues, ad problems and also significant E-A-T issues. They have been working really hard to improve the site dramatically and the results are showing. Wheeeeee!

mar 9 google update

 

We have several more clients as well that saw good or modest gains starting on March 9, 2018.

What Google says about the Mar 9 algorithm update

Our new Google Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan had this to say about the changes:

So, we know that this was a “broad core algorithm update”. While Google does make several changes a day to the algorithm, every now and then they make bigger changes like this one.

 

I found this tweet interesting. What Google is telling us here is that Google found more ways to identify high quality.

Danny also confirmed what most of us already know and that is that there are significant algorithm updates that Google pushes out a few times a year:

He also said that this was a “broader general change to the core algorithm”:

And finally, Danny shared with us that Google is not giving this algorithm a name. It will be interesting to see whether the search community ends up giving it a name as it really was a big update:

What kind of sites were hit by this update?

I find it interesting that in my data so far, I am seeing some big wins, but very few obvious losses. While the braggy side of me would like to say that that is because all of our clients is winning, in reality this doesn’t make sense as I also have access to a lot of Google Analytics profiles for sites that I know are low quality and have not made any changes.

I did see a few losses in my GA data, but they were all mild.

The few sites that I saw that had hits looked like this:

March 9 update hit

This makes sense to me as Danny said previously that this algorithm change was not one that punished websites, but rather, one that benefitted high quality websites. As such, those who are seeing losses are not likely seeing losses across the board. Instead, they are likely losing a position or two to on just some keywords, to sites that were recognized as higher quality.

I also spent time reviewing that last 24 hours of posts in the Google help forum and did not find anyone crying about being negatively affected by an algorithm change.

If you were significantly negatively affected by this update, I would love for you to either leave a comment below or to share the site with me.

 

Added April 23, 2018: Google confirms that this update had to do with relevancy

John Mueller said the following in a hangout:

The updates that we made are more about relevance where we’re trying to figure out which sites relevant for certain queries and and not so much quality overall. It doesn’t means its a bad sign, we may just be finding that your site isn’t relevant for these particular queries.

Since originally publishing this article, the team and I have been able to review several sites that were hit on March 9. We noticed an interesting pattern. Many of them were relatively big brands that lost rankings across the board on articles that were “near duplicates” of other site’s content. For example, one site existed almost completely of rewriting content that was found on Reddit. Another was a job site that contained listings that you could find on many other job sites.

I am fairly certain that what Google did here was make it harder for sites to rank well unless they truly have the most helpful content on the web.

 

What do you do if you were negatively affected by the March 9, 2018 Google update

As Danny Sullivan mentioned, this is not a situation where your site was demoted. Also, it’s not like you can fix a couple of things and expect to see improvement. The drops you are seeing are likely because Google recognized quality in one or more of your competitors. As such, in my opinion, the only way to recover from this is not really to recover, but to improve your site greatly so that it truly is the best option for searchers.

Here are my thoughts on how to make those improvements:

  • Start with a site audit. While we don’t know whether this update focused on technical issues, many technical issues can frustrate users. If you have broken links, redirect loops and page speed issues, then these are all things that must be fixed!
  • Read through the entire Quality Raters’ Guidelines. Yes, the QRG are 160 pages long. It’s worth the read though. These guidelines teach Google Quality Raters how to determine which websites are high quality. If you have E-A-T issues, this book has pages and pages of advice on what Google considers high E-A-T. There is also information here on what ads are considered annoying and what types of pages are considered high or low quality.If you don’t want to read through all 160 pages, I have written a book on the Quality Raters’ Guidelines that summarizes the important points and also includes the checklist that my team and I use to assess websites for quality.
  • Have someone who is not intimately familiar with your website do some competitor comparisons. It is really hard for you to assess your own website to determine whether it serves users better than your competitors do. One of the best ways to determine if you truly are the best site out there is to ask actual users for their opinions.Ask your volunteers to look at three competitors that are ranking well, plus your site and tell you which site they would be likely to buy from. If they don’t always choose your site, then figure out why. What can you add to your pages that will make users want to buy from you? Could you make a buying guide, add a video, add reviews, or do something else to help the user in their journey? If you are not an eCommerce store is there content, tools or images/video that you could add to your pages to help searchers get more information on the subject?
  • If you have a lot of “near duplicate” content that is sourced from other places, beef it up substantially. It is not enough to just reword content. As you look at your articles, look at the site that is ranking #1 for your terms and ask yourself, “Is my article dramatically better?”. If the answer is no, then big changes in content creation need to happen.

When improving site quality, it is important to know that you can’t just be a “little bit better” than your competitors and expect Google to rank you better. Google wants to rank sites that truly are the best choice. Our clients who have seen nice improvements with this update all worked extremely hard at improving overall site quality. In the past, if you knew enough SEO tricks and loopholes you could rank well. But, with every update Google is getting better at closing loopholes that don’t actually improve the user experience.

What about links?

At the time of writing this, I do not think that this update is related to link quality. As this is a boosting algorithm rather than a demoting one, it does not look like Google demoted sites for having unnatural links. If you were hit by this change, doing extra disavow work is not likely to help.

 

Need help?

If you were negatively affected by this update feel free to leave a comment below and I’d be happy to take a quick look at your site.  Or, you can contact me to request a site review.


Want to stay up to date on Google algorithm changes?

Our newsletter will keep you posted each week (every Monday) on the latest Google algorithm activity from the previous week, including real-world examples of the impacts we’re seeing with our clients and fresh insights on what may have changed with Google’s algorithms.


 

Google update newsletter

Want an update when Google makes a big algorithm change or other announcement? Sign up here!

This is a weekly newsletter. We will never send spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Dr. Marie Haynes is recognized as a leader in the SEO industry and has 10+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their site quality. She is a frequent contributor to Moz.com and Search Engine Watch and a regular speaker at Pubcon and SMX. Marie was named one of the top five industry influencers by Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, and constantly stays up to date with changes to Google’s algorithms to the benefit of her clients. To contact Marie, visit the contact page. For media Inquiries, click here.
114 Comments
  1. I am seeing a heavy boost in my website traffic increased by %120 according to Google analytics. But my other website traffic dropped to -%60. This website has hardly 3 contents with each having 3500+. Are the updates was about Rankbrain? U said it isn’t related to links right?

    • It’s really early to say with certainty whether this was a link related algorithm, but my guess is that it is not. I really think it is an update where Google got better at assessing true quality. I’ve been telling sites that have been hit to look at technical issues, user experience issues and to objectively compare the site to competitors to see if they are possibly doing a better job at answering users’ queries.

  2. My site suffered from this update (it doesn’t seem to do anything else). For the search I target (HTML5 charts) I was ranking 7/8 but now I’m ranking 10/11. Mostly 11. So I guess I should try and identify the pages on my site that Google doesn’t think are high quality. Which, with my success rate at SEO, will be a mountainous task.

    • Oh Richard, I am sorry to hear that you have been hit again.

      I really do think that much of this update is about E-A-T. I would recommend looking at the search results for brand searches for your competitors to see if people are talking about them more than you. My goal would be to do everything I could to get people talking about your site.

  3. Hello Marie! Well.. i am one of the persons affected by this update.. i lost positions :/ exactly on march 9, in my case a recipes website in spanish..
    i am looking for possible reasons and improvements!

    • I’m sorry to hear that your site has been hit. It’s early to say exactly what needs to be done to see improvement, but in most cases when a site suffers during a quality update, there have to be drastic improvements in quality.

      If your site dropped with this update, it means that Google is thinking that one or more competitors is a better fit for users’ searches. I would recommend having a few people who are not closely connected with your site look at your site as compared to competitors and tell you which sites they prefer and why. Often the answers are surprising.

      While E-A-T is probably not as important for a recipe site, I still do think it’s a factor. Take a look at the search results for the sites that are ranked well for your keywords now. Are people on other websites talking about them? Do you see people on other websites such as forums talking about your site?

      I’d also make sure that your site is technically sound as well.

      Good luck!

  4. Hi Marie
    Thanks for the article
    I’ve noticed a drop in traffic in the last few days
    Probably about a 20-25% fall
    I own a financial publishing site and I’m finding it’s not ranking as well in Google News or Search, but possibly too early to confirm
    Thanks
    Robert

    • I’m sorry to hear this. Since writing this article I have had several emails from sites that suffered big drops. Every one of them was in a very competitive vertical…many were in finance.

      I would focus on making sure that your E-A-T is really good. In finance, Google really wants to rank sites that are known authorities in the space.

      • Thanks Marie

        More like a 50% drop now, which is very disappointing

        Thanks for the info re E-A-T. I’m an Equity Analyst and CFA Charterholder, so I’m not sure how else I can display my credentials to Google in terms of E-A-T?

        Thanks
        Robert

        • Hi Robert,

          There is much more you can do to improve upon E-A-T as well. A lot of it has to do with off-site mentions. If I’m looking for an Equity Analyst in your area, are you known as one of the best in the business? Have news publications quoted you or written about your company? Do you have positive reviews online?

          There is much more we look for as well. My team and I have decided to offer a review that simply looks at the Quality Raters’ Guidelines and gives advice on how to specifically improve your E-A-T. If you are interested, let me know.

          • Hi Marie

            If you could have a quick look at my site then that would be great!

            It is investomania.co.uk

            Thanks
            Robert

            • Hi Robert,

              I believe I responded to an email from you just recently. For a financial site like this, I’d definitely be looking at E-A-T as compared to the top ranking sites. Also, there are some basic SEO changes that you can do that should help as well such as even just optimizing title tags.

  5. Hi Marie,
    I am a person who have been affected drastically by this update. My site have been hit very hard. It was ranking in third position for past 6 months and now suddenly it dropped down to rank 7.
    I don’t know the reason. I have been updating our sites regularly with fresh contents and our link building strategy is also well, I think.
    But this update really astonishing. I’am requesting you to point out our faults and suggestions to improve. Please…

    • I’m sorry to hear that your site was affected. My first piece of advice would be to look at the sites that gained rankings for your keywords. Have someone who is not emotionally connected to you or your site look at both your competitors and your site and determine which they would be most likely to use and why. In most cases, when sites have dropped in rankings on or around March 9, 2018, it is because other sites have been deemed higher quality by Google.

      If you are interested in having my team and I assess your site and give you some recommendations for improving quality you can contact me here.

  6. My site traffic affected almost 50%… Why this is happened please give me some suggestions… I’m doing daily updates ….

    • It’s almost impossible to say what is going on without doing a thorough investigation. If you have dropped with this update, it means that Google has deemed competitors as higher quality than you. I’d look at the following:

      -E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust)
      -Off site reputation
      -Customer experience – Is it super obvious that your site is the best choice for them?
      -Technical issues.

  7. This update has seriously affected my website. On march 9, I noticed a sudden boost of visits, about 75% more than usual. I was really glad because I thought all my hard working would finally pay off. Unfortunately, my happiness lasted for only a couple of days. Since yesterday, the site dropped five positions for our main keyword. The hardest part is to realize that the sites on top are brand new ones with popups and popunders and lots of ads, while mine has none of those, only some tradicional ad banners. Besides, I spend a lot of time working on improvements everyday. I dedicate special attention to the quality of my content. My website is also much faster than the competitors, loading under 1 sec most of the time. This change makes no sense to me. I hope things get back to normal in the next days.

    • It does seem that there was more algorithmic movement on March 14 (and possibly March 12). I saw a number of sites that had their boost clawed back. But I also saw more sites that saw even further gains on the 14th.

      It’s hard to say why the ad heavy sites are beating you without doing a thorough investigation. While it’s true that there is a lot about ads in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, there are many other factors at play as well. One thing I’d look at for sure is E-A-T. Do you have authoritative websites in your niche, or related news sites talking about you? Do your competitors?

      Our investigation into this type of thing is extensive as there are so many factors. It does sound like you’re doing some good things, but the number one question is whether a searcher truly would prefer your content over every else’s.

  8. Hi Marie!

    I also was stroke hard by this update on several of my minor sites. Seems that G is rewarding the blah, blah, blah… sites where the most words and links related with the theme appears the most interesting looks for the “AI” algos of G (please note the quotation marks).

    I’m on the course of a test where fulfilled a site of plenity of very own natural speaked text but encourage with a rhinestone red banner to users to do not read the content as it is absolutely rubbish, a time waster and a repetition of the same concepts that appears on all competitors ’cause the niche do not give for more stupid and obvious concepts.

    It has been atonishing that the site has been rwarded with a 1st page 2nd place from the “AI” algo of G on a master KW.

    Those words of “increase the quality for the user” from G engineers seems near to void.

    I guess if for any user is really interesting to read the same concepts taking more than 5 mins its lecture for each page and page after page across the serps.

    Perhaps G wants “more and more content” (without any cost of course) for the web at any price for ours the bloggers or webmasters the real creators of content? (feed for its Adsense-DoubleClick, “AI” and Big Data algos)

    Interesting compare the current SERP results of Bing, Yandex or Baidu against G for the same KW or LT. Loooking for real quality and variety for the user, perhaps the result were a real surprise.

    Regards.

    • I totally agree! There’s something very wrong with those algorithms. In my case, my website is now losing to sites that don’t even belong to my nich. For example, one of new competitor’s features mostly images, while the nich is text based. Not to mention other problems, like a website that shows popups with those virus messages that forces you to update your antivirus.

  9. I just want to say I got hit by Google algorithm. One of my websites has been falling since Feb 27th I think this is the time when they must have started to add new things to the Google algorithm. Already did a few things and hope that will help. Thanks for the info.

  10. Hi Marie,

    Thanks for sharing detailed information.
    My website was hit by this update in terms of visits and rankings as well. Weekly visits dropped around 22% but I am more concerned about target keywords which from 1/2 pages went to 8/9 pages. Considering 70% of our visitors come from organic search, we need to take quick actions. Can you suggest changes?

    • I’m sorry to hear about these drops. It’s hard to say much without knowing the site. If your main keywords have dropped a lot, I’d really look at what type of experience the top ranking pages are giving users as compared to your site. Ideally it’s best to have someone who is not emotionally connected to your site do this as often it’s hard to objectively judge your own website.

  11. I think it’s rankbrain related. I’m seeing less problems with internal competition because I think that Rankbrain is getting smarter at sorting the nuances between terms. I am a dentist so there are, for example, porcelain veneers, composite veneers and composite bonding. I’ve never really ranked for ‘veneers’ as a main term because it’s competing so heavily with composites and porcelain. But now we’ve shot right up to top three nationally for veneers (where we belong – as it’s top drawer content written and assessed by dentists and specialists) and retained the rankings for composite and all the other subtypes.

    I have seen a worryingly long time to index my new pages though. I’ve been used to having pages indexed in 5 minutes or less but have been waiting days for my latest additions to show and some still haven’t. There’s this limit on crawls that’s annoying because I want to get my new content up and running ASAP for my patients.

    • Thanks for this interesting comment! I wouldn’t doubt if there is a RankBrain component to this change…but I have no idea how that would actually work. My understanding of RankBrain is that it uses machine learning to better understand user’s queries and what type of results they want. If you truly are one of the best sources for veneers, then it sounds like the algorithms are doing a good job here.

      It’s also interesting that you recognized that new pages are taking a long time to index. A couple of months ago I was finding that for any of our clients, if we submitted a page to the index Google would index it incredibly fast. But now it is taking much longer. I almost wonder if Google turned off that “instant indexing” feature for some reason.

      One thing that you could try is making sure that new pages have a followed link from your home page (or any other page that gets crawled frequently). That may help speed up indexing.

  12. Hello,

    My website also got stung by the Google’s new core update.

    A very exciting trafic boost happened the first days after the changes. A positive change that led to a trafic increase of 30%. The next days it started decreasing.
    A nearly 60% drop from now on.

    The site name does not figure on the first page were it used to be for several years.

    :'(

    • March really has been crazy in terms of algorithm updates. It looks like we have had significant changes on March 3, 9, 14 and 23. In some cases sites are getting hit by every one of these. Others see gains and then drops and we have a few clients that have gained repeatedly.

      I really think that Google is tweaking things and turning dials.

      • Yes I confirm. The organic trafic stepped up again last Friday to finally go back to the normal + an extra decrease to the visits stability of last week. This is very unpleasant !

  13. Thnks for sharing Marie – I haven’t noticed much in the way of changes for most of my clients, one way or the other – will be keeping a close eye though 🙂

  14. oh my blog is worth a little decrease in traffic this March

  15. Hi, Marrie.
    I thought you might be interested in a quick update on how my website is performing now after the desaster. Maybe this information will be useful for you somehow. This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ for your kind reply.
    Today I noticed my website is recovering. It is now at position 4 for my main keyword. Some days ago it was almost out of the first page. I have worked on some weak points, but I doubt that’s the reason for such a fast recovery. Maybe Google is finally recognizing the changes were wrong, I don’t know. The improvements I’ve made so far: I’m getting rid of all thin content and adding more text to some pages. I’m also ‘getting rid’ (adding noindex, nofollow) of pages like the ‘log in’ page, which have little content and is not important for my visitors in general. I’m not gonna mention everything, but I’m working pretty hard on almost all aspects of my website, being content the main goal.
    Please, if you think I’m doing anything wrong, I’d love to have your opinion.
    Again, thanks a lot!

    • That’s great news that you are seeing some recovery. There has been so much turbulence this month and I would guess that we will still see more fluctuations soon.

      It sounds like you are doing good stuff. I am generally a fan of removing thin content. However, be careful not to be too aggressive as I have seen some sites remove really good content in an effort to recover.

      I think though that most sites that are seeing drops with these March changes have significant issues that go beyond thin content. I would focus highly on E-A-T and anything else that is mentioned in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.

  16. The website I am working on has gotten hit pretty hard because of this update and I am think the amount of low quality content on the pages that just don’t go in depth is the reason I am experiencing significant drops. The website is herroom.com . If you have any insight I would love hear.

    • Sorry to hear that you are not doing well with these updates. Our site quality reviews tend to take us a couple of weeks to thoroughly complete, but I did spend just a few minutes having a look.

      First of all, I had a large popup that recommended I visit the Canadian version of the store. Google is not a fan of IP redirection and it can really frustrate users. The popup also covers the entire screen on mobile…that’s a big no-no as Google’s mobile interstitial algorithm is likely to see this and demote the site.

      There is almost no text on the home page. Much of the text is in images, which means that Google can’t see it.

      A really worrying finding is a search for reviews for your site. You generally have a poor star rating on sites like sitejabber, trustpilot, resellerratings. There are several sections of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines that mention that if a site has an overwhelming number of negative reviews then it is to be treated as a low quality site.

      If I was able to find these quality issues in just a few short minutes, there are likely quite a few more as well. Let me know if you are interested in having us do a site quality review for you to give you specific information on how to fix these issues.

  17. Hi, Marie. For me this update was even worse … suddenly a post I posted on the LinkedIn site, it simply surpasses the searches. What do you think I can do in this case.

    Follow the link for analysis: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/livro-o-segredo-da-conquista-pdf-download-silvia-lopes/

    Note: Another post similar to mine, still keeps appearing in the searches.

    • In place of surpasses is * disappeared.

    • I’m not sure if I am understanding your question properly. Are you saying that when you post on LinkedIn, the post tends to rank more highly on LinkedIn rather than on your own site?

      John Mueller has said before that if republishing sites tend to outrank you for your own content it may be that your site is being suppressed by a quality algorithm.

  18. Sorry … The translator translated it wrong. I wanted to say that this post I made on Linkedin has disappeared from the searches after the update of 03/03/2018 and so far it is not showing up. I believe it was on this date that Google started to tweak the algorithms. This post is recent and was receiving multiple visits, but after the update it simply disappeared from the searches.

    • Ah, I see. It’s hard to comment on just one page that lost rankings as that could be the result of many things.

  19. Hello Marie,

    Great article, and I love your disavow tools. The company I work for actually suffered pretty big rankings losses for 1 keyword (from rank 10 to 100). I initially thought it was a algo-penalty, but the timing seemed to match up right during the update. Not sure what was the cause, just thought you might find it interesting (hopefully interesting enough to have the exact answer to my problem lol).

    • Sorry to hear that this is happening for your company. That sounds like a really large drop. I’d be wondering if there is perhaps a technical issue causing the problems. Hopefully things resolve soon!

  20. Hi Marie, thank you for this informative article, it was very helpful in answering a lot questions. My traffic has been negatively impacted by these recent changes. At first I wondered/was hoping it just had to do with Spring breaks across the country but it seems apparent that it’s because of these recent Google updates. My traffic has steadily increased each year and last year it sky-rocketed. It was still soaring up until this month when it took a significant hit. Instead of leveling out my traffic has been continuing to get worse. From what I can tell my top posts are all still ranking high in Google search results, and I haven’t been able to identify the specific culprits, so I’m puzzled by what has caused the downturn in traffic.

    • Hmmm…if your rankings for your top terms are still good, then I’d wonder if perhaps you were previously seeing bot traffic. Are you able to look at just Google organic traffic in GA? (Go to Acquisition –> Source/Medium –> Google/organic). If there is a drop there, then it likely *was* a Google update that affected you.

      Next I’d want to look at individual posts to see which ones saw traffic drops. Sounds like an interesting case.

  21. Hello Marie – this is the first time I have visited your site and I am very impressed with your knowledge on the subject(s) of site quality. My eCommerce sites are niche and hence low traffic volume but they rank well – I have seen significant increases in crawl rate in WMT (25 March) – vertical in fact, which I will equate to what high traffic sites would see in traffic increase. Rankings are static (happen to be #2 and #10) so movement is restricted.

    Question if I may – you have mentioned E.A.T. often on this page – on the subject of positive customer reviews – what emphasis would you put on these in respect to a good E.A.T. assessment (accepting other aspects also need to be good)?

    cheers,
    Harmony

    • There is a good amount of information in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines on product E-A-T. While we don’t know exactly how Google measures this, they do instruct their raters to look at the overall sentiment of reviews on sites like Amazon and Google shopping.

      The other thing that is important for eCommerce E-A-T is that your business is well known and has a good reputation online. The QRG ask the raters, “Is this a YMYL (your money or your life) site with no external reputation?” If so, then the page is supposed to be given a low rating. All eCommerce stores are YMYL as they take financial transactions.

      So, anything you can do to get people talking positively about your business online is good.

  22. Stumbled upon your site Marie — it’s a great resource. Thought I’d chime in and hopefully lend a hand to people using SEMrush who may or may not be in panic mode…

    In any case:

    Have to say, I’m kind of disgusted that SEMrush didn’t at least mention the fact that they were cleaning out their database.

    I saw you said (https://www.mariehaynes.com/algo-changes-and-more/):

    ===

    March 23, 2018 – This is shaping up to be a big update. It is confusing as well because SEMRush.com also did updates to their database at this time. The SEMRush update was one in which they cleared out a lot of “old” or unrelated keywords. As such, many sites that see a drop in SEMRush are not seeing a corresponding drop in analytics.

    ===

    Especially since they’re throwing a big warning in my dashboard that I’ve lost a ton of traffic this month and that I best audit my site or that perhaps Google has manually penalized me.

    So I dug deeper:

    *There were some news articles that overtook me for a couple days and sent several of my posts down to page 2 (happened on multiple pieces of content)

    *Analytics shows a slight drop but nothing too alarming

    *Most of my rankings have not fallen off, again, nothing alarming

    But the most worrisome for me was all the keywords I was de-ranked for on SEMrush.

    They fell off a cliff, on multiple sites.

    We’re talking 30, 40, 50% drop.

    After digging through all my analytics (which have had a slight drop but nothing major), it looks like the massive “drop” is just a bunch of lost keywords that, if I’m reading your analysis correctly, SEMrush cleared a bunch of their old junk keywords out.

    And upon digging deeper, most of my competitors have had similar cliff-dives.

    ***Question is, why is SEMrush not letting their *paying customers* know about something like this?***

    Why is there not an announcement bar at the top of the dashboard? Why did I not get an email detailing these changes? Why am I finding it through your blog after scouring multiple resources instead of the people I’m paying $100s a month to?

    Anyways, rant over 🙂

    • So SEMRush did mention a few months ago that they were updating the way they track keywords. But, this was in January and they said it would take a month to be completed.

      I see the predicament they are in though. For one of my sites, the SEMRush traffic estimate (which is based on how many keywords are ranking well) was 5x what the actual numbers were. So, they had to make changes.

      Still, it’s all very confusing, I agree!

  23. Hello I am related to the E-commerce site and my site is continuously dropping every day and I don’t understand what I will do for the better ranking and indexing kindly please check my site and tell me what will be the best option to increase backlinks and getting more sales waiting for your response

    • It usually takes my team and I a good two weeks to do a site review and determine what the quality issues are. Still, I had a quick look at the site you linked to here and have some thoughts:

      -There is no text above the fold whatsoever. That needs to change.
      -A huge popup greeted me before I could see the content.
      -Then I was asked whether I would allow notifications from you. Users don’t like that.
      -When I Google your brand name I see another site first and can’t find much external reputation on your company. Granted, I didn’t have time to look into this (we usually spend a few hours on this part), but if you aren’t known as a recognized brand, it will be hard to rank well.

      Let me know if you’re interested in having my team do a proper review to give you tips on what you can improve.

  24. Hi Marie,
    My site traffic dropping continuously and I can’t find the issue. Can you help me out?

    • Sure. Let me know if you would like to have my team and I do a full review. On a quick glance of your site that you linked to here, I noticed the following:

      -There is almost no text above the fold.
      -I didn’t see much evidence of E-A-T

      There are likely more issues as well. I’d really focus on reading the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.

  25. My website has decreased since the first week of March, when viewed in google analytic, the number of visitors my website per day almost fell 50%, is this due to an update from google? To restore the website position, what should I do? please help him

    • It usually takes my team and I a couple of weeks to determine the quality issues for a site and help it recover. I’d really recommend reading the Quality Raters’ Guidelines and making sure that your site is by far the best of its kind. Let me know if you’d like a review of your site.

  26. My site drops dramatically from Serp 5 to 11 for my 2 main keywords ( in one day! 12th March to 13March)
    I read your article and it was great,but I really don’t know where to start
    Can you help me?

    • I’d start by reading Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines with a critical eye. A thorough site audit is always a good idea too. Next, I’d have a few people who aren’t intimately connected with your business tell you what they prefer in your competitors’ sites rather than yours. That kind of feedback is tough, but Google is getting better and better at determining which sites truly are best for users.

      If you would like to hire my team to have a thorough look, let me know.

  27. am really disappointed. lost most of my keywords and my traffic is down.

  28. hello, thanks for good post, we also were hit by algorithm but don’t exactly know why, we have some subpages and some text on homepage, but maybe we should have more ? can You tell me if there is problem with this site rather links ?

    • That’s tough to answer without taking a deep look. The answer really lies in how valuable your site is as compared to competitors. Do people recognize you as an authority in your field? Have you (or your competitors) won awards or been written about in authoritative places?

  29. Hi, my site Is going to the most deep in the Matrix!
    Day to day its More low the traffic, jetpack track have a lot of datos in 0 visits.
    Can you help me?

    • Let me know if you’d like a site review. We usually can help most sites that have been negatively affected by quality updates, provided you have a site that truly is useful to people.

  30. Yes even I could see a sudden raise in traffic on and after 9th March on my website.There is definitely an algorithm update from google.

  31. Thanks for your good article. My site is very troubled. I do not know. I’m reading a lot of work. So far, my site was named by the keyword site designing Google Page 4, but now I completely deleted it.

  32. Hi Marie

    My site (https://www.gempundit.com) drops dramatically from SERP 4-5 to in top 200 in USA and from 2 to 9-20 in India for main keywords (like- Yellow Sapphire, Blue Sapphire, Emerald Stone, Ruby Stone etc.)

    Also there is big drop (around 30 to 40% drop) in organic traffic in the March month.

    I read this article and its great, but I really don’t know how get back keywords ranking and traffic as well.

    Can you please help?

    • It sounds like you are in a really competitive industry. I can’t say much without doing a review, but I’d pay close attention to E-A-T. Are you known as an authority in the world of diamonds? If not, it will be hard to rank for these terms.

  33. Hi there – I have been hit as well…. lost about 60 – 70% of impressions.

    I’m now working on adding noindex marks on pageinations, filling in more content, improving canonical/hreflangs across the site.

    It’s been really, really painful to get hit like this.

  34. Hii,

    Thanks for the great post,
    I have issue some related to meta title.
    On my website there are many post who’s meta title is not visible on Google.
    Can you help me out.

    • Do you mean that Google is not displaying your title in the search results? This can be normal. Sometimes they rewrite it if it is perceived as spammy or keyword stuffed. Or, they can rewrite it if they think there is a better title for the query. I just looked at the title of your page linked to in your comment and it’s definitely at risk for being keyword stuffed.

  35. Hi my Website has dropped a lot too.
    My seo company are telling me my site us technically sound, has great content,

    From being position 1 or 2 fro my keywords i an now at the bottom of page 1 or top of page 2.

    Frustrating as i have spent a fair amount of money with this company who have done i think a really good job
    Will this correct itself or is it a case of more relevant content?

    Russ

    • Hi Russell. My apologies for the delay in responding to you.

      The link in your comment doesn’t appear to work so it’s hard for me to comment. Most of the recent updates have had a lot to do with the information in the Quality Raters’ guidelines so I’d recommend starting there. Let me know if you’d like to book a review as we usually can help.

  36. What is the date do you think sites should see gain or loss in serp? I am seeing a drop on one of my site from 13 April. Is this an affect of this update or it’s could be something else.

    • There was a significant update around April 16 although it’s not uncommon to see algo related movement a day or two around this time.

      • Thanks for your reply. I am still trying to analyse what and which pages we’re affected

  37. I think from last week also google updated it,s algorithm.

  38. Sometimes when a site drops, I just wait a couple of days before I do anything.I also look at the date of the drop and try to see if iI added or deleted anything around that time frame.

  39. Hey Marie, Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article. I was greatly confused that why some of pages jump up and some down even though i didn’t update them. Do you think still long tail keywords play a pivotal role?

  40. my site traffic dropped March 2018 google algorithm update

    Traffic from my website is continuously decreasing due to the March 2018 Google algorithm update. The design layout of my site is fine, the content is also fine and the backlink is also fine. But I do not understand why this is happening.

    Site Name Indastro.com, which is a very respectable astrology site.

    please check my site and suggest me what can i do for my site. i am waiting for all expert answers.

    Thank you

    • It’s tough to comment without doing a full review. On first glance, the site does look a little dated. Now, a dated design is probably not a ranking factor, but it can cause people to click away which could indirectly affect rankings.

      I’d recommend reading the quality raters’ guidelines and pay close attention to the parts on E-A-T. I can’t say this with certainty as I haven’t looked at your E-A-T, but I think this could be part of the puzzle for you. Let me know if you want a review.

  41. My site ranking went up on march 9th it went from for about 30% and then on april 20 started to dro. By now the traffic dropped by 50% is it the algorithm??? How do i stop this?

    • Hi Poli,

      It’s hard to say much without doing a full review. My recommendations would be thoroughly read Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. I’d pay close attention to E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trust). A good chunk of E-A-T involves getting mentions on authoritative sites. If you’re not known as a leader in your field, then this can hurt a site for sure.

  42. Hi mam,
    i have been seeing since march 2018 my webisite is going down on google rank why please let me know if it have any issue for improvement.

    • Hi Rahul,

      I had a quick look at the website linked to in your comment and immediately had several concerns. It is in English, but the English is quite broken. This likely causes algorithms (and people) to have less trust in the site. There certainly may be other issues, but I’d suggest having a native English speaker rewrite the content.

  43. Hello Marie and thank you so much for this article and for keeping it updated. Any advice for sites that aren’t blogs and don’t really have articles? For example, like an artist website or a software website? It seems that sites without blogs and regular publications are getting hit.

    • Interesting observation. We have definitely seen sites that aren’t blogs that were hit although most had many pages of information in the form of an encyclopedia, etc.

      It’s hard to give specific advice without digging in, but I’d recommend starting by reading the Quality Raters’ Guidelines as most of the recent updates seem to cover issues that are addressed in there.

  44. Hi Marie,

    Good info about recovering from that March 9 unnamed G update. Before the March 9 update, my traffic bumped like 3 folds on March 2. It slowly went down and even dwindled lower than the normal traffic before the March 2 spike at around -30%. These days, traffic is worse at -60%. I will do that E-A-T improvement on my site and see how things will work two to three months from now. Thank you!

    – Red

  45. Hi Marie,

    My website ranking result were mixed affected. Now, its very tough to say what to do !!

  46. Thank you very much for this detailed post. My keywords dropped drastically and am glad that you have talk about E-A-T concept. I will definitely check this issues out and see whether there will be any improvement on my website.

  47. Hello,
    I noticed something strange about one phrase. It was hanging around 16-18 position in Google search but 2 days ago it dropped to below 100 and yesterday it returned to 18 position but only for mobile devices. For PC is stays below 100 since that day… WTF happened?

  48. Marie, thanks for this really insightful and useful article. My site has been around since 2011 and we were cruising along pretty well until these recent algo changes. We provide high quality recipe and wellness advice. Now our organic search traffic is down 55% with no signs of recovering. I feel like we’re in freefall here and not sure what to do. I had an SEO audit done last fall and we addressed several of the site issues but it sounds like it was all too little, too late.

    • I’m sorry to hear that things are not going well for your site.

      I did have a very quick look and my first concern for your site would be E-A-T issues. It looks like there are quite a few articles on medical topics. It may be that Google wants to prefer ranking articles from medical professionals in this area. I’d definitely recommend reading through the Quality Raters’ Guidelines and paying special attention to the E-A-T sections.

  49. Marie your article has helped me understand the fluctuations of that period. Fortunately my sites benefited in the main. Is a large spike in pages crawled a good indicator of an algo adjustment? I have seen some big spikes recently around 18-20 May – are you aware of any rumblings recently?

    cheers,
    Richard

    • Glad to hear that these updates were good to you!

      I know that some have theorized that a big spike in crawl activity means you are likely to be affected by an upcoming update. But, I don’t think it has been proven. A while back I looked at the crawl activity of sites that were and weren’t affected and couldn’t see any obvious patterns.

  50. Hi great article as always. My site had been hit by the December and March updates leading to a huge traffic drop (50%). I’m not sure what I should be looking at as I’m confident with the quality of the resource on my site but not sure about the way I present them to the users. Any insight would be much appreciated. Thanks again for your insights and articles.

    • Hi Jack,

      I took a quick look at the site you linked to and have a few quick thoughts. First, the home page has no meaningful content above the fold. You may be suppressed by the Page Layout algorithm.

      Next, do you have content that originates with your site? If you are mostly aggregating other people’s content, then this is a tactic that is not working well these days.

      • Hi Marie

        Thanks for the quick reply! By no meaningful content above the fold, do you mean my ads are taking up too much space above the fold? Or something else?

        My site serves a type of download in the form of Windows theme packs. There are also some articles and guides on desktop customization.

        • You’ll find more information on this here:

          https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2012/01/page-layout-algorithm-improvement.html

          Google says the following: “sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”

  51. Hi,

    i facing a problem, my website is not cached from 16-may-2018. what should i do for caching it, i also use fetch as google from google webmaster. Please help me on this.

    My website is :-> http://www.myforeignstudy.com/

    • Have you by chance received an email from Google telling you that your site has moved to mobile first indexing? If so, all sites that we have seen that have received that email have blank caches. I wouldn’t be too worried about this unless you are seeing a big drop in rankings.

  52. Great article. In one of my project works, one of them is tours and travels. I didn’t get any rank for one month. After that, by doing some research I got improvement. Now it is visible on google 9th page. I would like to improve the keyword to 1st page. what I have to do? please suggest me. Thank you.

    • The answer to this is way too long to write as a blog comment in detail.

      Ranking in travel is challenging because you’re likely competing against some big names with brand recognition. My general advice would be as follows:

      -Find niches in travel where there is room for long tail traffic. For example, you may not be able to rank for “travel to canada”, but you might rank well for searches that are specific to where to go skiing in Canada.
      -If you’re writing content for subjects that are already covered by other sites, in order for you to rank well you have to find ways to truly be BY FAR a better option than those sites that already exist.
      -Do all you can to improve technical issues such as page load time, etc.
      -Read every word of Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines
      -Work at establishing your site as a recognizable brand. This may mean doing interviews, podcasts, etc.

      Ranking is hard work!

  53. Nice article. I was looking for a reason why my page-views had decreased. Cause there was a 15% drop in sessions. Now, I am quite clear and will run a site audit.

  54. Thanks Mary, been looking for more information on this 🙂

    Cheers,
    Christopher

  55. Hi Marie,

    I have been looking for answers and help my website ranking and traffic has dropped since March until now “thunderstik.com”. My website keyword and anchortext choices is very direct to what my business is about. Most of the search terms that I got hit is also relevant to my website, checked it via Google Console. What else could possibly go wrong?

    I appreciate your help Marie.

    Cheers,
    Kyle

    • Hi Kyle,

      When you say, “anchor text choice” this implies that you have control over the links pointing to your site. If this is the case, many of those are likely considered unnatural links by Google as they really only want to count links that are true mentions of a site and not self made.

      One quick thing that I can see on your site is that there is very little “above the fold” text on your home page. This can sometimes cause an algorithmic demotion.

      Let me know if you’d like a quote to have my team and I do a good review of your site and give you ideas on how you can turn these ranking issues around.

  56. Our ecommerce sites have been hit very hard by this. Traditionally our main website has always ranked very highly for our keywords holding a top 3 position and our rankings have now dropped across the board and in some cases to position 10 or completely. It has levelled out this month to an overall 50-60% decrease in organic traffic. As a small company in a niche market this has been difficult.

    After finding your article, we have done a lot of work looking at a SEO audit and are adding new content on a daily basis, but looking at the websites ranked above us we cannot see how they would suddenly be considered more relevant than us. Given that the rankings were dropped across the board, we feel that there is something about the site as a whole that Google have suddenly taken a dislike to, so apart from general advice, would the fact we have a multisite structure be a problem? We always had a main e-commerce store and the other two sites focused on just part of the range, providing a more focused experience for customers. The site architecture means that the product content will be the same and you can view catalogue A on site B. Is it possible that this is our biggest problem?

    I have messaged you separately with the URLs, any help you can give would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Alex,

      I see your email so I will respond to you there, shortly.

      • Yes alex, my partner sites also experience this, from ranked 1/10 , now into ranked 0/10, i am just aware that this new algorithm is killing old sites, but rising the newest but unrelevant news.

        pretty sad to see it. hope can fix the links now.

  57. what is the name of google new algorithm .

  58. I was getting good amount of traffic few days back but suddenly a huge drop came into my traffic. I think my site traffic affected almost 50%. Please suggest me what should I do????

  59. Actually the update seems to be good on my side. Fast blog post index. Traffic increase by 5%.

    But am finding it difficult to ranks on first page again.

    A friend shared your url to me. Nice work keep updating us.

  60. After 9th March my website got a spike in traffic.There was definitely an algorithm update from google. However, for this update you need not to make any special technical changes on your website.

Leave a Reply

Address

300 March Rd., Suite #300
Kanata, ON
Canada
Website: https://www.mariehaynes.com
Email: Contact the MHC team at help@mariehaynes.com

Privacy Policy
Referrals

HIS Web Marketing

Marie Haynes is the founder of HIS Web Marketing, formerly at www.HISWebMarketing.com. In 2015, she rebranded the company to Marie Haynes Consulting Inc.
Stay updated on Google algorithm changes and search news. Sign up here for Marie Haynes' newsletter.