Unconfirmed Update for Google Search Ranking Algorithm Hit on February 17th

Google algorithm update

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The SEO community has been seeing some early signs of unconfirmed Google Search ranking algorithm update on February 17th, 2021, as there were constant and mass movements in the Google search results and many websites witnessed ranking fluctuations. Suggesting a possible algorithm update, some of the tracking tools – such as SEMRush, Cognitive SEO, SERPMetrics, RankRanger, SERPwoo and Mozcast – have already picked up on the changes to the Google Search rankings.

That being said, on February 8th, there was another unconfirmed update reported, which then on Wednesday, February 10th, Google confirmed rolling out the passage ranking update -formerly known as passage indexing. As a reply to a tweet by Barry Schwartz, Google’s Danny Sullivan shared that “passage ranking launched yesterday afternoon Pacific Time for queries in the US in English. It will come for more countries in English in the near future, then to other countries and languages after that. We’ll update this thread as those further launches happen.”


According to Search Engine Roundtable, the update that hit on February 17 seems new and unrelated to the passage ranking update. However, a WebmasterWorld thread was filled with posts regarding the ranking fluctuations. Many noted that they have witnessed massive drop in the US. Some share the thought that this update is a fix for last week’s update.

Whatever it is, until we get any confirmation from Google, we can’t be sure if this is a regular Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update or a glitch.

What we know is that Google’s search results are always changing and new pages come into the index, new signals are being refreshed and Google makes a number of changes each year. More often, Google releases a core Google algorithm update every few months or so. Such core updates are meant to provide users with the best results in all countries and in all languages. This is because, in the past, it has been noticed that Google’s trend is to continuously emphasize features such as mobile-first indexing, speed, content quality, and relevance.

When a core update is rolled out, it’s common for websites to notice drops or gains in search rankings. However, these changes in search rankings are generally a reflection of content relevancy, implicating that if content has gained relevance since the last update, it will be moved higher up in rankings. Similarly, if there’s newly published content that didn’t exist at the time of the last update, it has to be reassessed against previously existing content.

However, if your search results vary due to Google algorithm updates then it can be handled very well by following the best practices Google has prescribed in their webmaster resources. Moreover, reliable companies offering search engine marketing in Long Island can also help marketers or webmasters deal with algorithm changes by updating the strategies as needed.

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