2018 updates to Google’s algorithm (so far)


The Untitled February Update — February 20, 2018


Rankings showed a spike in volatility (across a number of tools) around February 20th, which quickly settled down, sometimes signalling a targeted algorithm update. Google did not confirm any update in this time period.


“Brackets” Core Update  —  March 8, 2018 Confirmed

The “Brackets” name was coined by Glenn Gabe; no details were provided by Google. Google confirmed a “core” update on March 7th, but volatility spiked as early as March 4th, with a second spike on March 8th, and continued for almost two weeks. This may have been multiple updates or one prolonged, rolling update.

On a small set of Knowledge Cards, including some time/date queries and unit conversion calculators, Google started displaying zero organic results and a “Show all results” button. A week later, Google stopped this test, but we believe it is an important sign of things to come.

Mobile-First Index Roll-out  —  March 26, 2018 – Confirmed

*This update is being deployed in waves and we are currently part-way through the complete roll-out*. Google announced that the mobile-first index was finally “rolling out.” Since the index has been in testing for many months, and Google has suggested they are migrating sites gradually, it’s unclear how much impact this specific roll-out had on the overall index. Webmasters should begin to see notifications within Google Search Console.


The ‘Roll-Back’ Update: 20 April 2018Confirmed

Just over a month after Google confirmed the broad core update, webmasters reported their suspicions of a new change to the Google algorithm in April 2018. Official confirmation from Google arrived on the evening of 20th April: Searchmetrics data for UK websites, published four days after those initial suppositions showed of the 20 domains with the greatest improvement in visibility, 10 were amongst the biggest losers from the initial update.

Domains including express.co.uk (+12%), mirror.co.uk (+8.2%), and thesun.co.uk (+5.9%) benefited from growth in organic visibility, though not to the levels enjoyed prior to the original broad core update in March.

Conclusion: The April 2018 update was a partial rollback of March’s Google broad core algorithm update.


The ‘Medic’ August Google Update —  August 1, 2018


Google Broad Core Update

Broad quality update. Google gave their line about it being a broad core update, but with that, Google says with these broad updates, they won’t share anything specific webmasters and SEOs can do to fix anything if their site was negatively impacted.

This was a massive update likely related to Expertise Authority and Trust (EAT). A large number of sites selling diet or nutrition products or medical devices were hit hard. There was likely also a local component to this update as many local pack rankings changed. There are also reports of non-YMYL sites being affected as well. In my opinion, this is the biggest update we have had in a long time.

August 7, 2018 – A large number of sites were moved over to mobile first indexing at this time. Note: John Mueller has said that when you get the message saying you’ve been moved to MFI, the move likely happened a few days before.

August 17/18, 2018 – This was possibly a tweak to the August 1 medic update.

August 22, 2018 – Barry Schwartz picked up some chatter about a possible quality update.


September 4, 2018 – Stat reported seeing more image carousels in the SERPS. This could possibly impact traffic for some sites, especially if the presence of an image carousel causes your organic positions to be pushed down the page.

September 8-11, 2018 – There was possibly a small update on this date. It might have been a local update. The local search forum has a good thread on it. I did not notice a whole lot of change other than a slight increase for one of our local clients. Dr. Pete from Moz originally posted that Mozcast was showing huge changes, but later said that it was a glitch. It is debatable whether there is a quality component to this update or not.

September 17, 2018 – This appears to be a significant quality update. It is possible that this update has a link component as well. We saw nice gains for a client for whom all we had done was a link audit. But, we also saw really nice gains for clients that did not have link related issues.

September 24-27, 2018  (and continuing into October) confirmed Danny Sullivan from Google confirmed that this was indeed an update, but called it “small”. Many sites who saw big gains August 1 had those gains completely clawed back.

This wasn’t a complete reversal though – some sites continued to see gains/losses. This looks like Google tweaked the Medic Update that we saw on August 1.

Danny Sullivan did confirm that this was a broad core quality update and that it would roll out into October. We saw most sites that were affected saw changes on September 27.


October 1-8, 2018 – Continuation of September 27th update – it looks like these may be link related changes. Almost all of the sites that we saw significant changes in were sites with link quality issues. However, this still could be further tweaks to “Medic”.

Danny Sullivan confirmed that they started a core algorithm update September 24 and that it would take a while to roll out. This update was all about trust – links are one component of this update relating directly to trust.

October 15, 2018 – Unconfirmed Tracking tools and webmaster chatter indicated heavy algorithm flux, and MozCast spiked to 109.7°F. No confirmation from Google.
google algo cartoons


Dylan owns and runs SEOYates.


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