Throughout January, we saw a lot of dramatic shifts within the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). In particular, we saw very fluid movement within our keyword rankings. Keyword rankings can be defined as search engine rankings based on the particular keyword being searched.  Search engine ranking refers to the position at which a particular site appears in the results of a search engine query. A site is said to have a high ranking when it appears at or near the top of the list of results.

Overall, these January shifts have been mostly positive, but we did have a few days that spiked rather high. When we see large jumps like that, it usually indicates a change in the Google search algorithm. For example, we saw a jump on the 24th of January.  This is thought to correlate with a potential Google update.

Many algorithm monitoring sites saw the same jump around the same time, which supports the theory of a possible update.  You can see the variation in reporting through the three samples below.

Although nothing at this time has been officially announced by Google, another trend we saw in January was the continual rise in HTTPS domains, or secured domain types, ranking higher and higher in search engine results.  Where HTTPS over HTTP sites didn’t make a huge impact before, it appears to be a more valuable impact now.

The graph above shows the total percentage of our keywords and how they moved on a daily basis. For the most part, we saw generally positive movements across the board. However, as you can clearly see above, we saw a large amount of movement on the 24th of January. Speculation has it that this could be related to a massive increase in hacking events globally, or a possible test from Google. The current theory floating around the massive churn within first page results (both good and bad) is that content further back on the search engine results pages (SERPs) were temporarily given a boost with usability (dwell time, clicks, pages/session) being the key factor of the impacted sites maintaining rankings.

The graph above shows the movements we saw, and how severe the drops/gains were. Highlighted are the 3 days that saw the most movement within our data. The shifts do align with the possible search algorithm update theory (mentioned above) for the 24th of January.

This graph shows the most popular verticals that we track, and what percentage are HTTPS results. As you can see, the number continues to grow day by day. We did, however, see a big jump during the month for Plumbers, Real Estate, and Construction/Contractors, leading to the general assumption that home services are getting a bigger boost for being secured.

Those are the major SEO spotlights for the month of January. If you have any question or want more detail to feel free to always reach out @BigCSEO on twitter or leave a comment below!


Colton is the former Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He was part of Boostability for over 8 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.