Over the years Google has rolled out countless updates, some that don’t mean much to Webmasters, some that make a huge difference, some at the same time, and some that are so small they don’t even go reported. Regardless of the update we see, however, just about everyone would agree that a little warning would be nice. This is especially true with Panda and Penguin updates because not only can they have a big effect on a website’s rankings (and subsequently conversions), but once you make changes to improve your rankings you have to wait until the next update to see if your efforts worked.
Naturally, this whole game keeps people on edge. You may have heard that last week we saw Google roll out their Panda 4.2 update, so now seems like a good time to review how you can tell whether or not a Google update is coming. Many were surprised by this update, but if you follow the trends and visit the right websites, it was actually right on schedule.
Top Ways to Predict an Upcoming Google Algorithm Update
Below are a few different tools and tactics you can use to check to see if an algorithm update is on the horizon for Google or any other major search engine:
This is one of the oldest and most popular tools that Webmasters use. It essentially gives you a weather forecast everyday that will coincide with whether or not an update is coming. For example, if the weather looks very hot or very stormy, you can expect an algorithm update to come soon because the weather is so intense. If there is mild weather, you’re probably not looking at any changes for that day. As you can see in the screenshot below for today’s weather, it saw a lot of up-and-down over the past 5 days, but it is slowly calming down today at a mild 68 degrees:
The tool works by tracking thousands of keywords everyday on the same specific websites. In doing this, the tool can create an analysis of all the data together to see if there were major changes across the board. If so, they’ll likely be the first ones to find out because they’re monitoring so much data. This report is completely free if you just click the link above, and you can even put a MozCast widget on your desktop (probably along with the real weather) so that you never miss a beat.
SERPs Volatility Index
Although this tool isn’t as popular as MozCast, it actually appears to track more keywords and be more accurate. You will get a graph representation of all of the data they gather from thousands of keywords on thousands of the most popular websites and Google and Bing. You can see 30-90 day results and then compare averages, so it makes it easy to visualize what’s really going on with the engines. This site will also give you charts for both Yahoo and Google.
The tool is free, but if you want to pay for their service you can also see how your website rankings are affected in comparison to the data that they gather. This will help you see when and if an update will affect you specifically. You can see a screenshot from the paid version of the tool below:
You can really make this argument for every SEO blog and website (even this blog), but MarketingLand is probably the top blog to consistently report about an algorithm update. Unfortunately you won’t always hear from this source before an update happens, but they come about as close as you can get. MarketingLand and their sister site Search Engine Land have contacts with Google, Bing, and Yahoo, so they are often the first to confirm if something has happened and can tell us why and who was affected. They’re even responsible for naming many of the updates before Google can even get to it!
So what will having this information ahead of time do for you?
If you’re really monitoring with these different methods, you can make sure that any changes you wanted to make before the next update happens are ready to go. It’s important that you are prepared as soon as possible to improve your rankings; otherwise you’ll have to wait another potentially 6 months (or longer) to see any changes. Rankings are huge when it comes to online success; so the more prepared you can be the better.
Do you know of any other ways to be prepared for an algorithm update? Let us know in the comments below.