While November 2019 only saw one major event happen in the form of Google’s “Bedlam” update, that singular event left the SEO community far from quiet. This update caused several shifts and swings in rankings and traffic, although its exact application is still up for debate.
What’s was the Bedlam Update?
The Bedlam update was an unannounced update to Google’s core algorithm. While Google has a small streak of announcing updates recently, like the BERT update back in October, this update was not named or announced by Google and wasn’t even confirmed until the 13th of November. The update was dubbed “Bedlam” by Joy Hawkins for the panic and confusion it caused.
The update seemed like it started on November 5th and went into full swing by November 7th and 8th. Most of the feedback in the SEO community has been negative.
Who was Affected by the Bedlam Update?
Core algorithm updates sometimes result in a clear industry or characteristic that the update affected, like the Medic and Penguin updates respectively. However, most of the time – and in the case of Bedlam – the SEO community can only speculate and make broad guesses as to what the update changed.
At first, the speculation was the update affected sites mostly in the Travel industry or Recipe niche. However, a stronger case seems to be made for the update affecting various enhanced features (including recipes) like the local packs of companies often accompanied with Maps results in Google search or Knowledge Graphs.
Assessing the Impact
The impact of this update is a bit hard to determine for two reasons:
- It coincides with Thanksgiving, a historically low traffic time for most sites that spans for up to a week.
- The update seems to share similarities with the Diversity update in that it seems to reduce the number of placements a site can appear in but doesn’t necessarily impact its ranking.
Most of our clients came out of this month with growth reflective of historical trends. No client has appeared to have lost significant rankings or incurred any penalties (manual actions) as a result of the update.
To determine if you have been affected by this update, look to a few key indicators in Google Analytics and Search Console:
- Look at your impressions in GSC around November 6th to the 8th. Was there a significant and sudden drop-off – or increase – around that period? Is there a change there that stands out from what you normally see?
- Look at the Organic Channel in GA over the same time period. Do you see sudden changes in traffic?
- Look at your traffic from mid-October to mid-November and view by week, comparing to year over year. Do the patterns that each time period follows look similar?
Of course, a change to the algorithm can have deeper affects than just traffic to your site, namely your engagement metrics. If you’re uncertain – or it seems like you have been hit by the Bedlam update – contact Deep Footprint and see how we can help your site and business.