There was a rumor about an update among the webmasters, but no confirmation came from Google. The SERP tracking tools didn’t notice big fluctuations, either.
Google Core Update
Although the effects weren’t visible until 8th and 9th, Google actually confirmed that the update happened on the 7th. According to the search engine, its purpose wasn’t to punish bad websites but to reward the good ones, by pushing them up in rankings. Google officials also stated that there is nothing that website owners can do about this update.
Extended January 2018 Update
On January 10th, the Rank Risk Index began showing increased rank fluctuations on both mobile and desktop. Moreover, the RRI has tracked everything from moderate to extreme fluctuations.
Google speed update
Websites with slow mobile pages are being downgraded in rankings.
Page Speed to Become Mobile Ranking Factor
On January 17th Google announced that page speed will become a mobile ranking factor. This has been a significant ranking factor on the desktop since 2010. However, this official announcement confirmed it was going to be an official part of a mobile page’s placement on the Google SERP starting July 2018.
The expected update will target extremely slow loading pages. The search engine, on the other hand, does not predict that a substantial number of pages will be impacted once the ranking factor becomes finally incorporated into the algorithm this summer.
The so-called “Speed Update” has brought up a series of questions as to how the pending ranking factor will impact a mobile AMP page, too. One such concern specifically revolved around sites using fast loading AMP URLs with the canonical URLs being noticeably slow. Barry Schwartz of SERoundtable reported that Google had informed him that page speed would be measured according to the AMP URL if that were the case.
According to Google, the pending mobile page speed ranking factor is entirely independent of the mobile-first index, though what that means precisely is yet to be determined.
This is independent.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) January 18, 2018
Google confirmed that many smaller updates set out on December 12. The most significant SERP decline was noticed among the sites targeting multiple keyword permutations. Also, pages with low-quality content and plenty of ads/affiliate links were lowered in rankings, same as the ones without Schema.org microdata.
Guidelines update – Penalization of the sites using event markup incorrectly
Google will penalize any site that is using markup for uses other than intended. They have explicitly given examples of websites offering discount coupons, selective discounts or free delivery. The penalization will be manual, and the said websites will be omitted from the rich snippets results.
Guidelines update – AMP teaser penalization
From February 2, Google will start penalizing websites using teaser content on their AMP pages and sending visitors to the main web page to read the full article. These sites will be processed manually and removed from the top stories section.
There has been a new, unconfirmed update spotted both by webmasters and SEOs. Tracking tools have also recorded considerable fluctuations. It seems to target low-quality content, ad-heavy websites mostly.
A new update has been rumored through the webmaster community since reported fluctuations are outside of the normal. However, the tracking tools are inconclusive – half of them report huge volatility in rankings, while the other half haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. Nothing definite can be said about this one for now, well, except that is weird.