August 2022 Google Search Outage: Its Impact on Search Quality and Rankings 

On August 8, users experienced brief but widespread issues with Google Search as well as other Google services such as Maps, and Images search.

Users performing a search in Google were met with either a 500 Internal or 502 Error. If they were able to access Google, many complained of the slow loading times of Google’s homepage. 

Google is broken.

— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) August 9, 2022

Outage reporting platform Downdetector said that it had received about 30,000 reports from users at the peak of the outage.

User reports indicate Google is having problems since 9:12 PM EDT. RT if you’re also having problems #Googledown

— Downdetector (@downdetector) August 9, 2022

Never experienced a Google search outage before… 🤯

— Rachael Piotrowski (@RachaelPiotPR) August 9, 2022

Many initially speculated that the cause of the outage was the electrical fire at a data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa that left three Google electricians severely injured. However, a spokesman for Google confirmed that the outage was caused by a software update issue:

“We’re aware of a software update issue that occurred late this afternoon Pacific Time and briefly affected the availability of Google Search and Maps, and we apologize for the inconvenience. We worked to quickly address the issue and our services are now back online.”

Impact of the Outage

Not only has the outage affected accessibility to, but many have complained that it has also impacted the quality of Google search results. Publishers and SEOs reported a wide variety of issues with search indexing and odd reshuffling of rankings. 

Some reported seeing top-tier authority websites vanish on the top page of the search results for some keywords while others claimed that major traffic pages from their website have dropped out of the index over the last few hours entirely.

Can confirm. Last night some of our pages got de-indexed from top positions out of blue.

— U. Daniels Leimanis (@uggdaniels) August 9, 2022

This SEO posted on Twitter that “average position of tracked keywords in SEMrush have gone off a cliff today.”

Average position of tracked keywords in SEMrush have gone off a cliff today. This is not good 😬 Huge losses in top 10 on high quality pages with good organic CTRs. Hoping most will rectify and revert back.

— Seán McGee (@SeanMSEO) August 9, 2022

Others said that their websites have disappeared in keywords they were previously ranking for.

We were going crazy about this. Suddenly all of our clients’ sites were vanishing from Google SERPs for 100s of keywords. Thank God we’re not alone in this.

— Amit Rathi (@Silvercloud9) August 9, 2022

Not sure if this is related or not, but something is definitely going on with the SERPs. Checking various queries and many sites are omitted from the results OR are ranking lower for a different paginated page, or hi-jacked by a category page that displays the same KW. Unusual.

— Vlad Rappoport (@vladrpt) August 9, 2022

Some reported Google results showing pages for the queries. This user was seeing image search results of drink and beverage names for the search term “SEO Manager.”

What a Joke!

For search term “SEO Manager” #Google #autocomplete shows “Drink and Beverage” names under “People also search for” section. C’mon Google.
Could it also be related to fire at the data center?

— Ranking By SEO (@rankingbyseo) August 10, 2022

It appeared that for some queries, old data was used to populate the search results.

Google Search is very broken right now: Outages, indexing issues, old pages dropping out of search and more – Google’s @JohnMu thinks things will come back to normal at some point – so hang on…

— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) August 9, 2022

Due to the Google Indexing Issue SERP’s are facing high volatility

Have you facing any issues? #seo #google #googledown #twitter #seonews #searchengineoptimization #GoogleNews #DigitalMarketing #rwnihal

— Nihal PS (@rwnihal) August 10, 2022

What Google’s Outage Means for Your Site?

While this unusual Google outage was resolved quickly, the ranking fluctuations extended well into the morning hours the following day. Some say there are still lingering issues with the search indexing and ranking of their websites.

If your site was affected by this issue, whether you noticed your site disappeared in Google search results for some keywords or that your ranking was pushed down, just sit tight as the issue is expected to resolve itself eventually. 

This outage clearly showed that any drastic change in traffic from Google – whether planned via an algorithm update or unplanned like this software update issue – can be a huge scare for any publishers.

Let Growth Skills guide your search strategy to ensure that your website ranks strong in the search engine results and quickly recovers from outages like this one. Request a proposal today and let Growth Skills help increase the quantity and quality of your traffic organically.

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