It would appear that Google are today (and have over the past 24 hours) been rolling out an update to their algorithm which is causing significant problems for webmasters and site owners. Initially reported by Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable Barry highlights that the Google Webmaster Help forums have seen significant activity from panicked site owners where rankings and site traffic appears to have fallen off a cliff. This has occurred not only for non-brand organic search traffic but also for many websites that have historically been ranking for their own brand names.
Receptional are no different in this respect where we have observed some clients losing in excess of 70% of site traffic today. The root cause of these issues are unknown at this stage and although the traffic drops mentioned in the forums are in some instances being suggested as symptoms of a Panda update, our initial research has suggested that this is unlikely to be the case.
In recent months Google have been making noises and various announcements via Matt Cutts about an impending "over optimisation" penalty being applied to websites (read the transcript or listen to the audio on search engine roundtable here). There has at this point in time however been no official announcement from Google that this algorithm update is live so again this may or may not be the cause of site problems.
Historically with Google algorithm updates these are often rolled out gradually therefore the full extent of this latest algorithm change is yet to be seen. Receptional will certainly be monitoring the situation over the coming 72 hours to assess the extent of the issue.
Has your site experienced a huge drop in traffic and rankings over the past 24 hours?