I always wonder why Google will confirm some core ranking algorithm updates and not others. So I asked John Mueller of Google if he knows the behind the scenes decision making process on when Google confirms a core algorithm update. He said it is mostly around if the non-SEO community is confused, Google may decide to comment.
I asked John Mueller about this at the 9:55 mark into yesterday’s Google hangout. John explained that they do preannounce some algorithm changes, like the speed update, mobile-friendly, mobile-first indexing, etc – because those are specific things that webmasters can take action on. But my question was specific to core relevancy and ranking changes and he said it was more likely around if the non-SEO world is confused by a ranking update – they may decide to confirm something changed and explain that there is nothing a webmaster can do to change things.
The conversation was a bit funny, so here is the embed to watch it all, it should start at the right place, so just click play:
So obviously you guys have said you confirm updates related to maybe like I don’t know page speed and stuff like, that that you could kind of pre announce. So there are some cases where you will confirm algorithm updates have happened that are not necessarily pre announced that are related to just core search rankings.
Obviously there’s been a lot of rumors spread by some people around algorithm updates in the past a couple months or so, a lot of them, that have not necessarily been confirmed.
I guess you you know behind the scenes what goes through the decision process with the search team whomever is confirming these updates, in terms of all we should confirm this core algorithm update and not confirm that core algorithm update. When do you decide there’s a certain type of percentage of change that happens in the search results, depends on who you’re asking, is it a certain type of mood it happens to be, what the religion, what’s the answer?
I don’t think for the most cases there is no kind of explicit guideline where we say if it crosses this specific metric and it goes this far that we would announce that explicitly. One aspect that from my side plays a strong role here is whether or not there’s something really actionable from the site owner point of view, with regards to this change. So things like like page speeds or like the mobile friendliness update, the mobile indexing changes. Those are all things where we do make changes in ranking and it’s something that a webmaster can explicitly influence. So if we tell them about this like hey we’re going to do this because we think it’s the right thing. Then they can take that and say ok I can work on this and I can make changes to my website to make sure it matches these expectations. That’s something from our point of view that definitely makes sense to announce.
The general kind of relevance updates that we have in search, the core ranking updates that happen those are things that happen all of the time. And they they happen I guess on a daily basis more or less. And for a large part these are just small shifts that happen in search and it’s not something where we’d be able to tell people hey we think your site is less relevant for this query therefore you should make it more relevant. Because that’s that’s not really that useful of feedback. So it’s something where we tend not to announce those too broadly. And sometimes when a lot of people start talking about these kind of updates, and we see that people are really confused and sometimes I’ll say ok fine we we said we wouldn’t talk about this but maybe we just want to confirm that actually we did make some changes here, it’s not that you’re seeing ghosts. And there’s nothing explicit that you can kind of work on directly with regards to these changes. So that sometimes comes into play there.
Follow up question:
So generally the more noise the community is making the more likely you’ll go ahead and confirm that yes he did what it may have done an update that day?
I wouldn’t frame it as as the more noise, I mean it’s like obviously community can be really loud at some times. But when we see that people are genuinely confused and when we see that the people that are confused or really people who who aren’t kind of this SEO bunch that understands that changes happen all the time and Google made this other tweak here and change that. Then that’s something where I think it makes sense to talk to those people and let them know about this for the most part the normal kind of ranking changes that happen all the time. Like people talk about them in forums and their sites go up and some of them go down. That’s not really something where we really have something useful to say. And even confirming that would be essentially like yes we made changes again it’s like we make changes every day because we’re not always playing pool all day were actually working.
In continuation of this story, I then drill into Google saying they do hundreds of updates per year.
Forum discussion at Google+.