Yes, it happened…well an update for sure that is. As Google hasn’t (at this point in time) publically announced what the update was it’s hard to say exactly what the target was for them and if this was a Panda or Penguin update that we are now seeing.
In retrospect, Google has been hinting/trolling heavily towards a Panda update for a number of months…
The reports floated up on the web on the morning of the 22nd, noting that something had happened for US based websites. Looking at my portfolio, I can confirm that in Canada the update rolled in likely on the 19th or 20th of October with a clear impact.
Normally we see anywhere from a 2% – 3% impact on KW positioning on a daily basis, anything beyond that triggers alarms. As of the 20th we saw a 5% – 7% range and that’s consistent with past updates.
My speculation is that this is Panda focused. I say this as we have seen a few sites benefit initially from this that have horrific link portfolios (unbalanced, dirty sites, etc). As Panda is focused on thin or garbage site content, I’d tend to lean in this direction at this point in time.
To fix this is fairly simple and nothing that can’t be quickly addressed, just create solid and valuable content on your site. Don’t skimp, don’t cut corners and create something of value for the user and you should “fingers crossed” recover quickly.
On that particular topic, Google’s new Search/PR figure head Gary Illyes (https://twitter.com/methode) has commented recently that Google is working on improving the way their algorithms adjust following action being taken by a domain. With that in mind I think a lot of people in the industry will be watching this one very closely to see if those comments over the last 8-10 months are finally coming to fruition.