MozCast spike: Is there a Google update? — March 2016

MozCast Spikes Is there a Google Update March 2016

The MozCast weather report showed a massive spike in volatility on the 28th March, which, amid some minor chatter on various webmaster forums, indicates that a Google update may be rolling out. Despite this, we are struggling to notice any volatility ourselves, or anything significant on other SERP trackers.

Let’s Take a Look at the SERP Trackers

For such a big spike on MozCast, you would expect at least some of the other SERP trackers similarly show a significant spike. Unfortunately, while it is evident there is some volatility, most other SERP trackers only show relatively small movement. Firstly, though, let’s take a look at the MozCast spike:


As you can see, volatility started on the 27th March, with the main movement taking place on the 28th March. For movement of this nature, we would expect significant chatter in the SEO community and many professional SEO’s chiming in with confirmation of an Update. Apart from a few isolated instances on the webmaster forums, we haven’t yet seen this. This could indicate that we are at the early stages of an update, or that Google is testing something.

Rank Risk Index


While the Rank Risk Index shows a modest rise on the 29th March, it is nowhere as significant as the MozCast rise. This could be due to a delay in reporting, and we will need to wait another day to be sure. That being said, it is clear that some change has been rolled out by Google.

Google Grump Rating


The Google Grump rating is usually quick to update, and they have been known to bring particular fluctuations to their user’s attention in the past. The good thing about Google Grump is that you can filter the graph by Country and device type (i.e. desktop and mobile). The above graph shows fluctuations for the USA on a desktop, but we did check other countries for differences and found none.



The Algaroo SERP tracker shows no fluctuations on the 28th March, but it hasn’t updated to show today’s figure yet. It is possible that there is a delay due to how Algoroo tracks positions.

What does the SEO Community Say?

Here are a few comments from the Webmasterworld forum:

I ran some searches today and, wow, the SERPs look awful. So many non-relevant sites appearing. .ru, .com, .fr, appearing and none were what I was looking for. How strange, i haven’t seen it this poor for a while, yet the AdWords were right on the money. No need to be cynical but the organic SERPs needs some work.

RankBrain happening? My swebsiteis with a great traffic flow, unusual for a Monday night.

Or penguin coming?

Here are some more comments from Blackhatworld:

I just lost significant ranking from one of my sites!
I had few keywords #1 and poof! Under one night some dropped, that’s really wwalk
Is there anything going on with Google ttodayor it seems to be “normal dancing”?
Just checked AAlgorooand its like everyday…

This comment is quite interesting as their include a graph of their ranking drop for a couple of keywords but also state the domain is only one-month-old. It is quite possible it just relates to the expiry of the freshness boost new domains get, so not sure we should read into this one too much. This point was mentioned in the thread.

Some other comments:

1100 percentpositive there is some sort of update/change rolling out and it’s not a little one.

I also experience some SERP dances, but doesn’t look like any major update at all.

You have various webmasters confirming an update happened, with others playing down the significance, saying it is relatively minor in scope. With these mixed signals and the significant volatility shown in MozCast, it is not easy to understand what may be affected.

Final Thoughts

It is still too early to tell what is going on, if anything. There is some chatter on the forums, but some complaints may be unrelated to the recent spike.

Indeed, we would have expected a little more chatter for the spike shown by MozCast, which indicates that either it was a test, or it affected many webmasters in a subtle way, or in a way that’s hard to notice (i.e. some keywords rose while others fell).

We will keep an eye on the trackers and SEO chatter, and will update this post as necessary.

Have you noticed any ranking changes? If so, please let us know in the comments.

  1. Reply Nik Smith April 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Have you factored into the equation that it was Easter that weekend?
    For b2b, the extended weekend would have had a massive negative impact, for b2c potentially a rise. Looking at a number of our analytics for multiple clients, we can see a marginal drop, but come on – it’s hardly worth getting excited about! Seasonality and historical data should always be considered.

  2. Reply prasil April 6, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Hi SEO’ns
    My site also got drastic drop in the sense of visitors(not by ranking) on 24/03/2016 onward’s. No:of dip to 20-30 from 300-350 as earlier. Can anyone suggest how long it will takes to recover once we cleared the issues associated site?

  3. Reply Nate March 31, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    I have a local plumbing client who’s rankings significantly dropped on 03/17/16 from an average position of 12 all the way to 36 with no changes made to the site.

    Another local client had rankings drop dramatically around the same time, then spike, and this Thursday, the 30th, the rankings dropped again.

  4. Reply josh March 29, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    lot of serp change in uk i see massive change in my keywords something is rolling

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