Google search update: what we know

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On 2nd September 2016, MozCast — the tool that tracks Google algorithm activity — charted a temperature of 108°, showing significantly higher ranking changes than those recorded over the previous days. This has triggered lots of industry chatter around a large core web search update and a further local rankings update.

While Google is still yet to confirm the update, we talk you through what we’ve seen so far:

Core web search update

As word about the potential update spread, more and more SEO professionals took to social media to confirm changes to their organic rankings. At the moment, from our own investigations, it doesn’t seem like the update has targeted a specific industry so-to-speak (changes have been reported across all sectors) but a large shift has been seen in local oriented niches.

Of course, it’s difficult to say how this update will impact your website, with both positive and negative changes reported until more information is available.

Local Pack ranking update

The speculated Local Pack update is related to quality. Local SEO experts have reported changes and shifts to local search results, as Google removes low-quality, spam results. Because some ads have been removed altogether, the changes are more noticeable on the SERPs.

While the initial feeling is that this is purely a quality update, industry chatter also suggests that this is a change to the local ranking algorithm.


Could this be Penguin 4.0?

Penguin 4.0 was promised in March 2016, yet it never materialised. As Penguin takes aim against sites with spam-tactics and shady link profiles, the reported changes have set alarm bells ringing that a new iteration of the Penguin algorithm is upon us.

However, on 6th September 2016, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that the changes aren’t the first signs of a new Penguin update. He didn’t provide any more information about the changes, other than that Google is always trialling new updates.  However, he did allude to the fact that a Penguin 4.0 update is being prepared.

Should I be worried?

Google’s overall aim is to improve the search experience for the user. You should only be worried if your site isn’t following SEO best practices and is failing to meet the user’s needs. For example, if you have a questionable link profile, you may see a negative change in your organic rankings. If you’re doing it right, you have nothing to worry about.

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