On August 10, 2020, Google’s algorithm went haywire. This was corrected and the issue was confirmed by Google.

Traffic fluctuations on August 10, 2020, and August 11, 2020 were temporary. The issue resulted in several very odd results surfacing on the front page of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

On Tuesday, August 11, Google Webmasters tweeted:

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!

Another Google rep stated:

The indexing system, Caffeine, does multiple things:
1. ingests fetchlogs,
2. renders and converts fetched data,
3. extracts links, meta and structured data,
4. extracts and computes some signals,
5. schedules new crawls,
6. and builds the index that is pushed to serving.

If something goes wrong with most of the things that it’s supposed to do, that will show downstream in some way. If scheduling goes awry, crawling may slow down. If rendering goes wrong, we may misunderstand the pages. If index building goes bad, ranking & serving may be affected.

Don’t oversimplify search for it’s not simple at all: thousands of interconnected systems working together to provide users high quality and relevant results. Throw a grain of sand in the machinery and we have an outage like yesterday.

We still had the index (the index db), but something was wrong with it, because of how it was built by Caffeine. That’s why we said it was an indexing issue, which manifested as a ranking issue externally. Also, we can rebuild the whole serving index (db) within hours, yes.

August 10, 2020 Google Algorithm Glitch Recap:

Something at Google broke and Google fixed it. Not much else to see here. Caffeine is a web indexing system which was initially released in 2010. You can read more about it here.


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