November 2018 Google Algorithm Updates

Below is a recap of some of my observations on Google algorithm updates throughout November 2018.

November 1, 2018

On October 31, 2018, some webmasters saw fluctuations in search results. A few people wanted to name this the Halloween update, but I don’t think that came to fruition. If it did, it probably didn’t merit a name. I did see sites which lost traffic on August 1 and September 27 impacted once again, and most were indeed hit 10/31 or 11/1. That means this update was related to quality, trustworthiness, or both. I only have access to a few sites impacted by this algorithm tweak and they happen to all be medical information sites which Google is really cracking down on. If you ask me, it’s very likely due to the type of backlinks (or lack thereof) that these medical sites have. (YMYL Medical sites are held to extremely strict standards and from what I’ve observed, they need links from extremely trustworthy sources such as government entities.)

Here’s a screenshot of a medical information site which lost (more) traffic on 11/1/2018. They have made no changes to their site since the initial August 1, 2018 impact:

November 6, 2018:

From November 4 – November 9, 2018, RankRanger picked up on ranking changes, as did many other monitors. This is rare, but it appears that I do not have any data on this one. If you experienced a gain in traffic or a traffic loss around November 5 or November 6, I would love to hear from you.

Here’s a RankRanger screenshot of changes throughout November:

November 10, 2018 – Split Test? Quality Update?

There was chatter online of an algorithm change taking place on November 10, 2018. I personally am not seeing it, and neither are most SERP trackers. That’s not to say something didn’t change for some people. Some people in the SEO world believe that Google is performing split tests. Others think this was a quality update.

Here’s a site which I don’t have access to but I do track. It’s a health site that reached out to me after the August 1 update, so I won’t mention it of course, but it is an interesting site to track because it has significant quality issues and the owner just isn’t “getting it”. This is almost always what happens when a doctor tries to do SEO. Isn’t that like me accepting medical patients? hehe. Anyways, their slaughter continues. I don’t know if this was directly related to 11/10/2018 or not, but I do know this site has major quality issues on a large number of pages on their site. They did move to WordPress and go to HTTPS, and that’s dandy, but the underlying problems have not been resolved. At this point, Google has lost almost all trust in the site and it appears that they’ve actually been completely removed from many search results:

As I’ve consistently stated, if you have YMYL content it HAS to be perfect and having some bad pages will destroy an entire domain. They’re also missing the links needed for the type of content they’re trying to rank, and there are major quality problems on site as well.

This is their traffic since March 2018:

Ouch.

November 15 – 16, 2018:

As can be seen in the RankRanger screenshot above this was a significant change on this date. I believe that this update had to do with the evaluation of backlinks. For more information, I cover this a bit in my article on the September 27, 2018 Google algorithm update.

November 22, 2018 – Thanksgiving Quality Update:

On some random article on this site back in 2017 I predicted a Thanksgiving update. Well, here it is. 🙂

On Thanksgiving Day, most websites experienced a big drop in traffic. This is completely normal, “seasonable traffic”, as most people are busy stuffing themselves with turkey, stuffing and pecan pie. Most rank trackers aren’t picking up anything major, but some people who were impacted on 8/1/2018 are indeed saying they had a change in search visibility.

I do have one site that reached out to me after 8/1/2018 with quality issues. Unlike the medical site listed above, they corrected their quality problems and have seen increase after increase in traffic the last couple of months. It’s only been a few days, but it appears that they received a 25% boost in traffic. They’re now actually getting MORE traffic than they were back in July. This is not a medical site, but it is a site which had content problems. Fortunately for them, they were very receptive to making their site as search engine friendly as possible. This is a great site that is a true blog and the owner literally has no idea what SEO is. It’s a totally natural site, so I love observing how it performs in search results.

November 30, 2018:

Hours after publishing this article, I confirmed that this update began rolling out. I’ll circle back when I have more information on this. At the moment it does not appear tied to 8/1.

Were You Impacted by any Google Algorithm Updates in November 2018?

If so, please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

These updates generally do not affect most of the niches I work in, but I still find them interesting. Not all of the changes made these last few months have gone over that well and Google knows this. Maybe once the algorithm is working well, they’ll expand into more niches.

Expect more changes in December.

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.

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