Spotting Google’s Algorithm Updates

  • SEO
  • |
  • May 25, 2023
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  • Read Time: 4 minutes
Sean Hegarty - MD of Jigsaw Digital, Manchester
Sean Hegarty

Hey there, it’s Sean here, bringing you another instalment from my SEO experiences. Over the past decade, I’ve been hands-on with some of the biggest eCommerce brands in the UK and Europe, trying to crack the SEO code. One question I’m often asked is, ‘how do you know when Google is launching a new algorithm update?’

Well, the honest answer is I don’t have any concrete proof – no secret insider at Google slipping me notes under the table. However, in today’s blog I’m going to share an important insight which I found during my time at AO.com that will help you understand when Google is about to launch a new algorithm update.

Google’s ‘Tell’ Before the Storm?

AO.com has a mammoth of a website – the kind Google seems to love crawling and indexing. Over time, I started to notice a pattern in Google Search Console, under the ‘Crawl Statistics’. Just before Google would roll out a new update, there was a big spike in ‘Total Crawl Requests’ and ‘Total Download Size (Bytes)’.

Then, something even more intriguing – around 10-14 days after the initial spike, there was another spike. This would happen just as the update was winding down.

Now, before I get ahead of myself, you might be asking, ‘Sean, how can I see this data for myself?’ Good question! If you have Google Search Console installed on your website (and you really should if you’re serious about SEO), here’s how you can check it out:

  • Log into your Google Search Console Account
  • On the left-hand menu, click on ‘Settings’.
  • Under ‘Settings’, find and click on ‘Crawl Stats’.
  • Here, you’ll see charts for ‘Total Crawl Requests’ and ‘Total Download Size (Bytes)’.

Keep an eye on these charts, especially if you’re running a large website. Look for any significant spikes – these could be your early warning signs of an upcoming Google algorithm update.

My Theory: Google’s Data Comparison

So, what’s going on with these spikes? This is my take: Google visits your website just before an update, gathering as much data as it can. Imagine it as if Google’s doing its homework before the big test. After the update rolls out, Google gives it about two weeks to complete the algorithm update, then pays your website another visit, collecting a second round of data.

Why would it do this? My feeling is Google wants to compare the ‘before and after’. It’s like Google’s making sure the algorithm worked as intended, by comparing the data from before the update to the data from after the update.

How This Can Help You

Whilst this isn’t going to give you the specifics of the update. Google’s not about to give away its secrets that easy. But what it does do is give you a heads up that an update is on the way. This little advance warning can be a godsend for some digital marketing managers. It lets you tell your clients to brace for possible ranking fluctuations and potential changes in the SERPs.

Remember, SEO isn’t just about understanding the algorithms; it’s also about spotting patterns and being ready to adapt when those algorithms change.

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