Behind the Scenes of an SEO Team during an Algorithm Update

As many of you know, Google began roll out of their latest Penguin algorithm update change this past weekend.  We had quite a busy and in some ways exciting day, so we thought it would be fun to let you in on how it all went down from inside WME.

Text messages start flying between our team members.
  • “It’s here!”
  • “Did you start running reports? How do you know?”
  • “Yes, and the buzz has picked up, Twitter’s on fire, Inbound thread started …”
  • “And?”
  • “ … and all the GSA spammers are crying.”
  • “Yep, that’s it!”
Our rank checking tool is in complete meltdown.  So what if we pushed “run report” on 200 clients at once? That’s normal, right?  (That’s not even normal on a Monday morning, no.)
Reports start trickling in …
  • “Whew!”
  • “OH WOW, look!”
  • “What do you think happened here?”
  • “Wait, who did we do disavows for?  Get the list!”
Ok, enough rank checking is scheduled for the next 200 hours, we’ve had 2 hours sleep, and tomorrow is one of the busiest days of the last 6 months.  Back to bed.
Couldn’t wait to start at 9 so most of us are in early. The rest will show up at their regular time and we realise they don’t check their phone very often.  These guys are easy to spot.
    • “Why’s everyone in so early?”
    • “PENGUIN!”
    • “Are we sure?”
  • Yes, we were sure 6 hours ago. Turn your phone on, grandma.
By now the whole office knows that the algorithm change is rolling out.  We are scouring the web for info, bookmarking the relevant discussions, starting all the processes we’ve planned and executed before.  We’re ready for the deluge of phone calls to start in T-minus 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

Deep breath.

  • Nothing’s happening.
  • It’s like Y2K all over again. Are the computers down?  What’s happening?
  • Wait, client sites are up … and not just up, way up.
  • The first wave of last night’s reports are done.  We quickly collate the data and make sense of it.
We start calling all our clients. This process will take several days but we will dial every single client and have a short conversation about what’s going on and what to expect.We also check the usual suspects – fluctuation trackers, SEO forums, SEO news blogs, and such.  We check in with our friends & contacts who do SEO-related work to see how things are shaping up for them as well.
By now the whole company is busily handling the change.  We vary between data collection, sharing results, happiness at the big recoveries, confusion over the disavow/non-recoveries, and trying to balance regular work tasks with the changes.
It’s slowly becoming apparent that this Google update is going to be very good for our clients. We start to exhale and breathe again, happy that months of hard work is starting to pay off.  Troubled clients are recovering, immovable sites are moving, and we have a fairly good idea what’s changed.
  • I check in with the rest of the team.  Somehow it feels like 3 days have passed but it’s not even 11 am.  They all look as tired as I feel.  Surely this day is over, right?
  • Nope. I think I need a nap, though.
Another great result and we’re not tired anymore!  Put away the caffeine, put down the coffee and throw the sugary food in the trash.  We’re wide awake and celebrating!The rest of the morning proceeds much the same.  We now have a couple thousand reports being generated and data flowing in quickly now.
We can start to think about the afternoon now. Campaign managers make their calls, techs work away at sites, and sales are back to selling.  The whole thing almost seems surreal now that the moment is passing.We walk toward the door for lunch and hear the familiar words from an algo change:“Busy day?”