Google’s search algorithm suffered an indexing glitch that affected search results.
Many in the search community believed it was an update.
The disruption in Google search was not an update.
Google’s John Mueller tweeted:
“I don’t have all the details yet, but it seems like this was a glitch on our side and has been fixed in the meantime.”
I don’t have all the details yet, but it seems like this was a glitch on our side and has been fixed in the meantime.
If someone could fix the other 2020-issues, that would be great.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) August 11, 2020
Tuesday August 11, 2020 Google’s Webmasters Twitter account tweeted an explanation.
On Monday we detected an issue with our indexing systems that affected Google search results. Once the issue was identified, it was promptly fixed by our Site Reliability Engineers and by now it has been mitigated.
Thank you for your patience!
— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) August 11, 2020
Google’s Gary Illyes: Caffeine Index
Google has a web crawling and indexing system called Caffeine. Caffeine allowed Google to process data faster than ever before.
This Caffeine indexing system empowered Google to continually index the entire web in real-time.
With a fresher index, Google could then show more up to date search results.
Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted an explanation of how complex a search index is, with a caveat that the list he published was only a partial list.
“The indexing system, Caffeine, does multiple things:
1. ingests fetchlogs,
2. renders and converts fetched data,
3. extracts links, meta and structured data,
4. extracts and computes some signals,
5. schedules new crawls,
6. and builds the index that is pushed to serving.”
Followed by this tweet:
“If something goes wrong with most of the things that it’s supposed to do, that will show downstream in some way. If scheduling goes awry, crawling may slow down. If rendering goes wrong, we may misunderstand the pages. If index building goes bad, ranking & serving may be affected.”
Then he concluded with this:
Don't oversimplify search for it's not simple at all: thousands of interconnected systems working together to provide users high quality and relevant results. Throw a grain of sand in the machinery and we have an outage like yesterday.
— Gary 鯨理／경리 Illyes (@methode) August 11, 2020
Google Caffeine Index?
It was kind of surprising to see the Google Caffeine system cited.
It was officially announced in 2010.
The announcement stated that it was a foundation for indexing that was meant to scale for the future.
This is what the official 2010 Caffeine announcement stated:
“We’ve built Caffeine with the future in mind.
Not only is it fresher, it’s a robust foundation that makes it possible for us to build an even faster and comprehensive search engine that scales…”
Google Search Glitch Was Worldwide
The Google search glitch was keenly felt in Europe as well as Asia and all English speaking countries.
Google’s search glitch appeared to affect all languages, countries, and niches.
It affected everything from local services to recipes.
Ecommerce sites reported extreme fluctuations in rankings.
Bad Search Results
Recipe Blog SEO Casey Markee tweeted a screenshot of how bad the recipe search results were.
The carousels are f**ked. Look at this one for "baked beans" it's all over the place. I have several other examples. Good times. pic.twitter.com/avxxu10Fed
— Casey Markee (@MediaWyse) August 11, 2020
Joe Youngblood tweeted that he saw a Minnesota company ranking for a Dallas search phrase.
A Minnesota company ranking for "Dallas SEO" lol
— Joe Youngblood (@YoungbloodJoe) August 11, 2020
Google Search Glitch Created Poor Search Results
Google’s search results became incredibly bad, some to the point of being useless.
I tried searching for an article from a specific site and Google wouldn’t show it to me, even when I used the name of the site that contained the article.
It felt somewhat like in the old days when PageRank had a stronger influence.
WebmasterWorld had great real-time coverage of the glitch as it happened.
A member from WebmasterWorld, webdev29, noted how the big sites like Amazon seemed to dominate the SERPs.
“huge update also in France ATM, no word to describe the mess, its simply crazy ! there is no more ecommerces in my SERP (decoration) and mine has just lost everything…6 years destroyed in just one minute and the lives of several employees at stake! it’s not possible that it continues like this, in the SERP, there are only the big marketplaces (cdiscount, amazon, laredoute, aliexpress…) and some more or less recent sites without much interest…all the rest has disappeared on the deep pages of the search engine.”
Report from Italy
WebmasterWorld member teokolo shared:
“Seems like a big update in progress here in Italy.
Every niche I follow is messed up. Shops are gone, affiliate sites have disappeared, serps are full of Amazon, ebay and news sites.”
Google Glitch Impact in Norway
“wow insane big update here in Norway, never seen so big change.”
Massive Fluctuations in Google Search Results
Whether it was on Facebook, WebmasterWorld or Twitter, the common observation was that there were massive fluctuations in the search results.
This report from WebmasterWorld member Whoa182 is typical:
“What the hell is going on?
Just noticed my articles have gone from page 1 to page 7+
Seems to have just happened in the past few hours! Quite a few of my competitors have all disappeared from the SERPs.
Edit: Okay, it’s just massive fluctuations in page positions. One minute it’s on page 1, next it’s page 7 or whatever, and then back again.”
Google Has Explained the Cause
Google Webmaster Trends Analysts, Gary Illyes and Mueller confirmed that the issue was not from an update. .
Google suffered a massive indexing glitch that caused the search results around the world to become less usable.
The cause of the glitch, according to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes appears to be related to Google’s indexing system.