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Google Brand-eCommerce “Update” causing fluctuations

In the recent days the rumors of a new Google update went viral. Many webmasters have seen ranking fluctuations, but so far Google has not provided any detailed information. We had a look at the changes on search engine results pages, which mainly affect brands e-commerce and apparently mobile rankings. Both developments seem to not be completely rolled out yet and might not have a clear connection with each other.

Searchmetrics Insights

Several sources, including SearchEngineJournal and Barry Schwartz of Seroundtable, reported Google denying a relation to Panda or Penguin. Also to me it looks like that’s a valid statement, especially since the changes seem not to be related to links.

Biggest shifts in e-commerce industry and for traffic-heavy keywords

If you expect a winner / loser analysis, I have to disappoint you. It’s way too early for that, since the roll out seems not to be complete. The SERPs are partially still changing. Secondly, we noticed some changes to be pulled back. Some sites that lost rankings for example, got them back meanwhile. Some rankings for traffic-heavy e-commerce keywords fluctuate so heavily that they appear on position 1, then 5 to 9 and then completely vanish.

This development is mostly concentrated on e-commerce and keywords with measurable CPC. Affected sites are mostly retailers, shops, price comparison etc., but of course not limited to that. We noticed two things: first, a loss of a few positions (affected most “loser keywords”), and secondly a total kick-out from the top 100 (affected a small amount of rankings). The pattern is dominated by losing just a few rankings, which of course is reflected in traffic losses.

Since the data is fresh, the repercussions can be comprehended here (don’t forget rankings are still fluctuating):

But not only those generic keywords were affected by the changes, once again brands were part of the game.

Search results of and with brands affected

When you look at keywords that come with big changes, you’ll find a lot of brands. It looks like in the first instance they won, but as we already mentioned the results are just conditionally fixed.

1. Example: Typo SERPs like “addidas”

One interesting observation we made was for search results for brand keywords with typos, like “addidas” or “adiddas“. Before the recent change, mostly price comparison sites, shops and small ad sites ranked here. Then Google started to treat the keywords equally as brands. “As usual” the brand ranked on position 1 with Wikipedia right behind – which represents the typical search results for a brand. Now the SERPs look brand new. We took a snapshot of that data in our software. You can also see in the Trend column that all rankings are new.

Keywords Rankings for adiddas

This is the ranking for “adiddas” a week before:

Keywords Rankings for adiddas week before

But in the meantime, you can see most of these SERPs look already like they did before:

SERP Google - adiddas

Other examples are: “ebbay” or “zapos

2. Ranking exchange for correct brand searches

For correct brand searches smaller providers gained positions, whereas some (also bigger) domains have tremendously lost. Look at the rankings for “under armour” for example: this week Dickssportinggoods is ranking on #5 and has therefore gained +96 positions., everything else has not changed. It seems like a “brand exchange”. Some of those rankings have changed meanwhile up to domains dropping completely out of the SERPs, or being pushed to the bottom.

Other examples are: “nike” and “samsung”

It appears quite possible that Google tries to clean-up brand searches and therefore tries to adjust also typos. Since the development seems to not be finished, we will keep an eye on that.

What about mobile algorithm changes?

Since neither Panda nor Penguin played a role within the recent developments and the fact that Google has recently sent out warnings to sites that do not appear to be “mobile-friendly” lead to the conclusion that the fluctuations (maybe partially) can be traced back to changes of the mobile algorithm.

Both aspects – e-commerce / brand and mobile – are probably not interconnected. At least samples included e-commerce “losers” that are mobile friendly.

Conclusion: It looks like a very granular update, even though Google might not admit it

The recent changes are not necessarily allowing the conclusion of being a full update like Panda or Penguin, but the impact is bigger than usual algorithm adjustments. Things seem to not have calmed down yet, therefore be careful driving conclusions. We cannot speak of a Google update yet. What we have noticed is an impact on e-commerce keywords that affects brands and retailers, shops, price comparison sites and even (small) classified ad sites.

Brands seem to profit from the development, while other have lost a good chunk of rankings, e.g. sites in the fashion industry. Google seems to be optimizing brand searches. An interesting side effect: for keywords with typos the SERPs seemed to be strongly edited – and adjusted to the “correct” SERP.

When it comes to mobile search results, we will keep on analyzing the impact. Status of ranking changes: to be continued…

Marcus Tober

Marcus Tober

My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze all kinds of online data, we can give you more insights than any other company in SEO, SEM and Social Media. It’s not a job, it’s passion.

27 thoughts on “Google Brand-eCommerce “Update” causing fluctuations

  • كلام اليوم 2015/02/08 at 3:06 pm

    Is the website’s reliance on good content only, without building backlinks is something good?

  • You are right that classified sites are affected with recent update. my site is getting 60% less organic traffic from google since 6th feb

  • Can you please guide me how to recover from this situation?

  • I did also notice a small fluctuation when I look for my brand in Google. The results were different a month ago.

  • We at have been hit quite badly and we are a brand. What’s super weird is we’ve seen a number of the SERPS for “contact lenses” having multiple listings and ASDA results improving when the pages don’t match the description.

  • There are still some typos like “nikke” which have not yet been adjusted. A very granular update that favors big brands.

  • Thank you for this Marcus, but if it is only a granular change I bet we will see in the nearest future.

    Anyhow, have you managed to get the mobile search analysis yet? It would be interesting to see whether the impact was indeed the same.

  • Yeah I hope Google will look on responsive eCommerce site to rank well. Haha is a responsive eCommerce site. And we have more traffic nowadays. Thanks for sharing!


  • Exactly what I saw three days ago. Google, for sure is testing out a new update because not only searchmetrics and other seo blogs, but some of my webmaster friends reported this, too. Is this really a granular update or something big?

  • Hi Marcus,
    I’m finding some SERPs fluctuations also here in Italy. As far as I can see during these first weeks, the responsive websites gained some traffic while websites which had a separate mobile version are not performing such good.

    Probably this could be one of the consequences of the new algo.

    Take care,

  • I hadn’t heard anything of this update until now – didn’t notice anything across rankings for ecommerce sites I watch but it certainly looks like it from this post!

    I did see shuffling for other sites, though. Very interesting.

    Great stuff SM!

  • Hi Marcus,

    I saw some Google dance in my website too, but is this the sign that my website is also affected with this. I m little confuse what to do and what is the solution please help me.

  • a great post. thanks you

  • Ecommerce Platform in India 2015/03/20 at 7:54 am

    @Anubhav Do not bother about Google Dance,it will again get their position only you need to be working on daily basis for all your keywords.

  • We saw traffic loss of up to 25% on some ecommerce sites after February, not recovered yet either. Not sure what was done wrong so can’t fix it :/

  • this is a good info. i will keep update my site to mobile friendly. thanks

  • Is this update only for or overall Google, I mean Google UK, Google Canada, etc . One more thing, i am losing my traffic from 1st of April not from March.

  • Thanks Marcus for such informative stuff. I am actually a little worry about this update of Google. Hope it doesn’t affect the ranking factor. i am actually looking for some solutions from you. Can you help?

  • I have noticed that too. E.g and many sites like it lost tones of traffic while brand like surged to the top. It’s incredible.

  • 2015/06/24 at 3:28 am

    Yeah, that’s affecting local business too. Google is always evolving thus SEO is also dynamic from time to time

  • Any new insights what was penalized? I’m fighting since 4.2.15 against a Black hole, because i don’t know what google has downrated….

  • Out of the several websites in which I look after only one of them was affected by this update in February and since this point the website has continued to struggle from what was a very strong position.

    The company in question is a retailer which is supported by the brands as a Google Trusted store and the ranking of these key brand pages and therefore the sales volumes in which they generate help them gain greater discounts from the brands themselves. Therefore the impact of this algorithm has hit them quite hard and any follow up or further analysis to this situation would be beneficial and appreciated.

    From the data I have gathered and access to and through reading numerous articles across the internet the finer details of this update are still widely unknown, however, there does appear to be some quite common occurrences with the websites I have viewed that have been affected. These tend to be stuff like confusing site structures, faceted navigations, the lack of OEM brand acknowledgement via a link or clear citations and issues with sitemaps. If anyone could shed any further light on this algorithm update then I would be very interested to here them.

  • Online Business India 2015/12/21 at 11:19 am

    the results fluctuates for me too somehow. I see it on my Webmasters and Analytic reports.

  • Hi there, just become alert to your blog via Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate for those who proceed this in future. Numerous other folks shall be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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