Another Unknown Update – This Time It Hit Well Known Brands

(1) Visibility index for on

The past month has seen a lot of movement in the Google SERPs and – once again – nobody really knows what is going on. Google is keeping silent as to the changes they made – as usual. All we can do is try and spot patterns within the winners and losers of the past two weeks. It seems rather likely that this update is related to the Unknown Update from February. Just as in February, this Update had an impact on different countries and languages for both desktop and mobile versions:

(2) Visibility index for on

As you can see in the chart at the top of the post, we have a domain that managed to win Visibility in February and also won additional Visibility this time around. The chart for shows a domain where Google taketh the additional Visibility away again. This would strengthen the hypothesis that Google updated the mechanisms related to the February Update.

It does not seem to be the case that Google is blanketly reducing the Visibility for specific sectors as we can find some where there are winning as well as losing domains. Let’s take a look at a sector where Google is reorganizing the SERPs: Online dictionaries.

Visibility of vs

After analysing over 800 winning and losing domains from Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA over the past week there has been something that especially caught my eye, apart from the similarities to the February Update:

Many losers are big and well known brands but you will also find little news websites – particularly regional news. So, what do all they have in common?

An Interestingly Socialistic Touch

Many losers like Amazon, Facebook, Expedia, Indeed, Newsnow, ElconfidencialBunte, Auto Motor und Sport, etc. have two things in common: First, they have a large quantity of backlinks and therefore a lot of authority, which enables them to rank for everything, if they want to. And second, their Domain Popularity is rather low (meaning that relatively few domains send a large amount of backlinks to them).

Let’s take Expedia as an example. If we put the number of domains in relation to their links we get fowling results:

  • 150 for (US) – 5,710,000 links/38,061 domains.
  • 141 for (ES) – 465,268 links/3,284 domains.
  • 40 for (GER) – 614,221 links/15,124 domains.
  • 57 for (UK) – 648,865 links/11,245 domains.

Comparing these ratios to very popular domains like – which has 33 points – or the – which has 48 points – we see that 150 and 141 is very high. Coincidentally Expedia lost Visibility in both the USA and Spain.

Visibility Index for Expedia on Google US and

Looking at Germany and the UK we see quite a different picture, in that Expedia did not lose Visibility:

Visibility Index for Expedia in Germany and the UK

I have some more interesting examples for losers: The German website has 111, 127, 130, the British jobsearch 330, 351, 693 and the Spanish news website has 2,009!

Many of the losing domains managed to gain a lot of authority through the large amount of links they got and thereby were able to rank for everything. Amazon even managed to rank on the first Google result page for products they did not even sell. It may be hard for Google to always get the search intent for each keyword right, but it is good to know that they are working on it, turning the dial on how they evaluate user signals.

Amazon’s country domains for Germany, Spain, the UK and the USA have lost Visibility. Taking the size of Amazon’s Visibility into consideration they might not have lost much, for Germany the loss is a measly 5%, but in absolute numbers Amazon lost as much Visibility as the entire IKEA domain has in Germany!

All in all, this update seems to have taken Visibility from the few (with large amount of Visibility) and given it to the many. An interestingly socialistic touch with one exception: managed to win Visibility across the board in all countries, even though Youtube’s ratio is 401 points. This might best be summarized by the last surviving commandment in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”:

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

I hope you like it 🙂

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