Over the past month many people, including ourselves, have observed abrupt changes to search rankings and website traffic, suggesting Google has been making changes to their search algorithm. Although they haven’t confirmed any.  

Talk on forums and Google Algorithm Change tools measuring the volatility of search results point to changes to the algorithm taking place on: 

  • 16th and 18th of September
  • 24th and 27th of September
  • 2nd and 3rd of October

Line chart detailing the spikes in Google Algorithm Volatility over October 2021 and September 2021

Our own results also corresponded with these dates. The initial change saw our clients in the travel, construction and business sectors make huge improvements in their rankings as they increased by up to 15% for terms moving into top 3 positions. The changes on the 24th and 27th of September saw our results go back to normal levels, but on the 2nd and 3rd of October our results increased back to the levels they were between the 16th and 18th of September. The October change was particularly volatile, with Barry Schwartz commenting that the volatility level of the update was similar to an update that changes core vitals and others also suggested that it could be due to a new MUM update. 


Although Google hasn’t confirmed any changes to the algorithm during this period, these sudden fluctuations in our results suggest that they are tinkering with something. It would be guesswork to try and nail down just what Google changed, but we can share our insights into what worked well for us during this time period. 

Firstly, clients that had refreshed and relevant content added to the site in Q3 and fast loading websites with well-performing Core Web Vital metrics saw the biggest increases in ranked results. These points are in line with the aggregated search results we have seen Google implement, where search engines will list search results from the same website on the SERP if they are related. We also suggest that our focus on building higher authority backlinks relevant to the clients’ niche had an impact. We found that building these at a page level as well as at a domain level in order to create a natural looking profile has proven to be a valuable technique.