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SEO Web Design / SEO  / A Google Search bug wreaked havoc on the search results last night

A Google Search bug wreaked havoc on the search results last night

Monday afternoon, the SEO community began to notice massive ranking changes in the Google search results. Initially it looked like the Google algorithm updates[1] from the old days but as time went on, it just looked like something was really off — as if there was a glitch.

It was a bug. Turns out it was a glitch, a Google spokesperson told us last night, “I confirmed with the team that this is a bug that we are fixing but still in the process of fully diagnosing, so we don’t have specific details to share right now. “

John Mueller of Google also posted about the glitch after my preliminary report on this issue:

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[2]

The timeline. The SEO community started to notice changes to the Google search results rolling out as early as 1:30pm ET on August 10. Then by 5:00 p.m. ET on August 10, it seemed to have really started to roll out more fully[3]. By 11:55 p.m. Google confirmed it was a bug and by 12:40 a.m. ET on August 11, Google said it had been fixed.

So the issue seemed to have last several hours in total.

Beware of your analytics. If you see massive Google organic search traffic changes in your analytics or your SEO tools from yesterday afternoon through this morning, you should disregard it. Make an annotation in your analytics noting that organic search reporting should be ignored for that whole time period. Looking at it can really cause you some serious stress and it is unwarranted. Everything should be back to normal this morning.

It doesn’t mean your rankings did not change. Rankings change all the time in Google, but whatever happened at a large scale yesterday was reverted and fixed, according to Google.

Things are fixed. Yes, not only did Google say things are fixed. We are seeing[4] SEOs confirm this as well. Here are some tweets confirming that:

My (anecdotal) guess is that this lasted up to 4 hours from 9am-1pm AEST. I suspect it might not be as severe as many may think if they did spot checks, mainly because I was seeing different results each time I checked. Either way, I’m glad this was just a glitch.[5]

— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) August 11, 2020[6]

2 good exs of the volatility that happened yesterday evening when the glitch rolled out. Checking hourly trending in GA for Google organic traffic shows a surge that came back down w/in 6 hours. The other shows a big drop in hourly trending (10-15K per hour), which also reverted.[7]

— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) August 11, 2020[8]

And here’s a good example of a SERP during the glitch versus the live results. Notice the same domain showing up many times and the support-origin xbox urls don’t resolve. The live results shows major publishers with articles about streaming on an xbox. I marked each screenshot:[9]

— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) August 11, 2020[10]

What is next. Google did say it is now “in the process of fully diagnosing” the issue. Google did tell us the company will give us more information on this issue today. We will report back when we hear more. Google has had some search bugs over the past year, mostly around crawling[11] and indexing[12]. This one, felt different.

Why we care. Again, if you see massive changes in your Google organic traffic and analytics and reporting tools, you can disregard that. This was a temporary glitch that lasted several hours last evening.

You may have lost a lot of traffic, new customers, revenue from this glitch — or you may have benefited. But things should be back to “normal” and your previous rankings and expected Google traffic should be back to where it was.

Postscript. Google updated us saying these issues were[13] caused by “indexing issues.” Read our full coverage here[14].

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[15]

About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick[16], a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable[17], a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry[18] and he can be followed on Twitter here.


  1. ^ algorithm updates (
  2. ^ August 11, 2020 (
  3. ^ more fully (
  4. ^ seeing (
  5. ^ (
  6. ^ August 11, 2020 (
  7. ^ (
  8. ^ August 11, 2020 (
  9. ^ (
  10. ^ August 11, 2020 (
  11. ^ crawling (
  12. ^ indexing (
  13. ^ updated us saying these issues were (
  14. ^ here (
  15. ^ August 11, 2020 (
  16. ^ RustyBrick (
  17. ^ Search Engine Roundtable (
  18. ^ Cartoon Barry (

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