It is becoming more and more evident that Google is making some serious changes to their algorithm. Webmasters around the world are seeing very inconsistent results. It appears that most webmasters agree that wholesale changes began on June 4th 2008, and have been going on ever since. I personally agree with the general population on webmasters. I have been seeing some major changes in results, on a multitude of websites. Some sites that were in the top 10 for say 15 to 20 keywords, bouncing all over down to 30 back up to 2 and so on. Other sites, maybe number 4 now, in 1 hour will be number 9 and then 15 minutes later back to number 3. One day last week, I was just hitting refresh on my browser and I could see the rankings changing real time, I also noticed the search results changing from IE to Firefox although I assume this was just the rapid changes in results being diaplsy only a few seconds apart, although you never know?
One thing I have noticed is, that the shuffling going on seems to be primarily from number 3-10, sites with number 1 ranking are staying put and the number 2 seems pretty solid, but after number 2 your guess is as good as mine as to where your ranking will be in the next 5 minutes.
I have two primary theories, the first one is that this is the new way Google will be displaying results, nearly real time shuffling. This will be with the hopes that people and seo (search engine optimization) companies, will not be able to really track a website’s search engine results. It is quite disturbing to see a site ranked number 3 one minute and number 10 the next. The difference in traffic from 3 to 10 can be 1000%.
My second theory is that Google is making major changes, and attemtping to implement a large scale change to their algorithm. While they are doing this they are constantly tweaking, testing and changing and this is causing the massive swings in results.
On a different topic, I am seeing penalties being potentially thrown around a lot more often, I am quite certain that in the last month I have seen or spoke to website owners and webmasters that are certain they have gotten penalties for certain keywords. They wake up one day with a -30 or -60, the problem is they appear to be somewhat short lived. The next day they will be bouncing all over the place, at times they can be 9 and 15 minutes later -90. I am not sure if this is also tied to the algorithm changes or if this is the “new way” of Google doing things.
In summary some crazy things are going on in Google’s search results and personally they are not good. It really seems that Google is more interested in staying in control, then they are in giving their users a good experience. I think they better keep their eye on the ball, as their search engine directory (remember what Google is) is only good as long as users like it and continue to use it. With these types of results, I think most users will start to become disenchanted with Google results bouncing all over the place. Personally I often search for a keyword (say cars), and make a mental note that the 3rd result was the website I wanted to go back to, but now I can do the same search and that site might not even be on the first page.