Based on the heavy local impact and minimal general impact I believe we saw a Google update drop due the Pigeon update that changed the local search results including pulling in more Google Places listings that pushes our organic listings down.
I believe we are also seeing a transitional ranking issue or time buffer – We are seeing a mild increase over the last few days and I expect it to not only recover but increase past where we were before the update.
I may have mentioned this before but Google has added multiple time buffers and ranking change assessments into the algorithm. Basically it is looking for you to show yourself as changing ranking metrics based on ranking changes – transitional ranking – info here – http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&S1=08244722&OS=PN/08244722&RS=PN/08244722 .
This page has a good explanation – http://white.net/blog/how-will-googles-transition-rank-patent-affect-seo/
Here’s Google’s description within its patent:
When a spammer tries to positively influence a document’s rank through rank-modifying spamming, the spammer may be perplexed by the rank assigned by a rank transition function consistent with the principles of the invention, such as the ones described above. For example, the initial response to the spammer’s changes may cause the document’s rank to be negatively influenced rather than positively influenced. Unexpected results are bound to elicit a response from a spammer, particularly if their client is upset with the results. In response to negative results, the spammer may remove the changes and, thereby render the long-term impact on the document’s rank zero. Alternatively or additionally, it may take an unknown (possibly variable) amount of time to see positive (or expected) results in response to the spammer’s changes. In response to delayed results, the spammer may perform additional changes in an attempt to positively (or more positively) influence the document’s rank. In either event, these further spammer-initiated changes may assist in identifying signs of rank-modifying spamming.
An apt description for SEO’s courtesy of Bill Slawski :
The patent focuses upon changes where the methods for those changes can’t positively be identified as spam, but a suspicion exists that they might be. It could apply to changes made by someone intending on web spam, or a site owner, or even an SEO. It’s in the response to the transition between an old rank and a target rank, where rankings may climb extremely slowly, or drop before rising, or even behave in random and unexpected ways, where Google will look to see what kind of response is made by the person in control over the site:
In my testing the time period on these changes (mostly high value outlinks) the typical buffer period runs 21 to 28 days before recovery and true ranking change. I.e. Our first test – we placed the outlinks on the index page March 1st – the site drops 230 spots across 50 keywords as soon as the page is crawled again. Then we waited and after roughly a month the drop flipped and the site ended up 425 positions and remains there without further work.
We made a number of changes, out links and heavy content additions over the summer to CC, as well as your own changes. I recommend we keep creating great new content and let the dust settle on the ranking changes before anything new.
Web Strategist | TSG