Last week on Wednesday the weather report on MozCast was in high gear, reporting huge ups and downs in search algorithm update activity. Most immediately suspected there was a Panda update on the horizon, but according to a Google statement to Search Engine Land is was nothing more than a “core” search algorithm update. Core updates happen all the time, so why all of the commotion and why the spike on MozCast? And furthermore, who was affected and what does this mean for the average small business’s website?

What a Core Algorithm Update Means

As it turns out, the update wasn’t as significant as it seemed last week, but it’s still an important change to keep in mind in case you see any slight shifts in your rankings. According to Barry Schwartz of SERoundtable and his analysis of the forums and talk around the update, “the chatter is simply not that high around individuals complaining about ranking changes.” Schwartz originally called this a Google Cricket Update because it was so insignificant, but he has gone back on that name as more and more buzz circles the industry. Below the official Google statement:

“This is not a Panda update. As you know, we’re always making improvements to our search algorithms and the web is constantly evolving. We’re going to continue to work on improvements across the board.”

In other words, as of now the changes are a Core Update and nothing more. Some suspected this had something to do with HTTPS, but Google too nixed that too (learn more about HTTP vs. HTTPS for SEO here).

So why was there so much activity on tools that detect algorithm changes, such as MozCast, SERP Metrics, Algoroo, and SERP Watch? Some thought it was because this week Wikipedia changed all of their search results to HTTPS, which caused many 1-5 Google result changes. This is very possible as Internet Strategist Jan Dunlop shows in his tweet:

Another likely explanation in my opinion, however, is that a Panda Update is coming—which experts have agreed upon—so these tools thought this might have been it. Of course we now know that the changes were not nearly significant enough to be Panda, but that doesn’t mean Google isn’t trying something or getting ready for more changes in the future. Below are a few resources to help you get ready for the next Panda:

Panda and Penguin Penalties with Eric Enge

The New Age of SEO: Why Your Approach Must Change

Google Panda Update Basics

In the end, Core Updates happen all the time, so chalk this one up as a normal day in the SEO world while always preparing for the next Panda. Quality content, quality content, quality content!