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It's not always an Algo change that affects SERPs

I think there's a furore over nothing right now

     
2:24 pm on Jun 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's not often I can talk about Google SERPs in the Website Tracking and Analytics forum.... but whatever SEOs are seeing might not be what they think.

Over on Mozcast, the weather looks a stormy 80 degrees... which in lay terms means Moz thinks that there are huge changes going on in the SERPs. I think they are probably right, even though I have not looked at a single SERP in the last 48 hours. I do NOT, however, think that this is caused by a change in Google's algorithm.

Over the last 24 hours, Majestic started receiving more than average support tickets about sites whose Flow Metrics had suddenly dropped - usually to zero. I got so concerned that I even had to trouble the team team to check things... but absolute examples were a bit hard to come by. The issue seemed intermittent. We eventually put the problem not down to our systems, but down to one or more DNS failures on the web. When the DNS servers (wherever they were) recovered, so did our stats and at the next Fresh Index update (which was in the last hour as I wrote) the metrics I was checking seemed to recover. I assume any we missed will get sorted in the next 24 hours.

But... if Google's crawlers were also affected by the same DNS server outage, then they will also have found large numbers of websites offline. This will also have affected their graph and thus affected not only the sites offline, but others downstream that they link to.

So is today the Google Algo Update update that never was?
4:15 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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That's an interesting point of view. I'd however argue from what I've looked at in terms of the keywords that I'm tracking, is that I've seen improvements from the 11th of June (as with others), which have progressively increased up until today. This isn't just a single day we are talking about, but a period of almost 6 days. At the time same time, another site that I work on saw decreases in rank in the same time period. We did make a few changes to the site that was impacted by the quality update in May and removed a large user generated section of the site which managed to increase the size of our website by over 100%. We removed that, saw in Search Console that that Google were starting to de-index that section at the beginning of June, and then saw our rank improve on the 11th.

Now, it's all conjecture, as for me, that's not conclusive enough. But I'm patiently waiting to see if whatever has happened sticks. I hope it does. :)

Edit:

Here's an example, of a very big keyword (can't say which), that we've moved up for:
[i.imgur.com...]
4:45 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have to say I'm with Dixon on this one. None of us are going to know for sure, but...

If a large section of the internet is controlled upstream by a few DNS servers, and those DNS servers are attacked and taken out, then all the domains, and in other instances the domains on the Nameservers that fall under those domains, means huge swatches of the intawebz will be offline...

EG

DNS Server
|
lots of domains
|
| lots of domains acting as nameservers
|
|
obscene amount of domains

If If DNS Server was taken out with an attack, then it will be carnage and IMO it seems to match up with what we're seeing and has been reported DNS server attack wise.
5:11 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Interesting, but then would it not get national news/attention? Would it not be easier to identify if it was on the scale that I think you're saying?

Not saying what you guys are saying is not true, but some sort of evidence on this would make this theory more believable.
5:42 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for highlighting this, Dixon.

It's worth checking for issues which may contribute to the the DNS problems: Internet Storm Center, or Internet Traffic Report can often help indicate problems, You'd be surprised how many routers go down! Much of the time we wouldn't notice, but there are times when a critical path affect more than just a local area.

DNS issues and updates can occur at the same time, too, making it even more intriguing.
6:07 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Vlexo, check Twitter for DNS DoS attacks over the last few days. It does tally and based on the work we do, which includes LOTS of DNS lookups etc (billions per day) it seems to be the case. It's not definitive of course, but the knock on effect does seem to be real, especially when you realise that so many of the domains under the DNS servers affected are in fact name servers themselves...
6:22 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Good information Dixon! I've been noticing sites not loading, as if they were offline.
7:00 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@JasonD: Do you have any dates of when it started happening? I'm also not finding anything on Twitter, do you have a particular feed you can share?
7:06 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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7:56 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Interesting, but then would it not get national news/attention?


Are you kidding? Most people wouldn't know a DNS outage if it turned around and bit 'em in the butt. I had a conversation with Comcast once about 15 hour DNS outage where I could get anywhere via IP number but nowhere via domain - finally told them I coulda BUILT them a DNS server in the time it took them to diagnose and fix it.

It's a good point Dixon made, and I bet it happens a lot more than it's given credit for.
 

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