On January 22, 2024, Google confirmed there was a search engine bug that affected a small number of websites, as reported by Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz. These websites would disappear from Google Search over the weekend and reappear on the weekdays.
A Google spokesperson told SEL,
“We’re aware of a very narrow issue that caused temporary fluctuations in search results for a small number of websites. The issue has since been resolved, and the sites should no longer be seeing its effects.”
The bug impacted websites on exotic vanity top-level domains (TDL). TDL refers to what comes after the final dot in a URL. For example, .com and .org are TDLs. Specific TDLs affected by the bug include those ending in .club, .consulting, .life, .care, .info, and .energy.
SEL reported that the first person to notice was Tomasz Rudzki at ZipTie. He was reported stating,
“On weekends, something strange kept happening – the website would completely lose rankings and traffic. People couldn’t even find it when they searched for it by its name.”
Additionally, Schwartz observed that the ranking issues coincided with several unconfirmed updates that happened over the past few months.
Others have noticed strange goings on since November 2023. Many SEOs have lamented about the ongoing SERP volatility that has plagued Google for the last few months.
However, the ship seems to have been righted. No one has reported volatility or dropped rankings for the past week. Could the bug have been a side effect of the unconfirmed Google updates?