SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Should Google be more transparent with its updates?

Last Updated: May 2, 2017 1

It might seem hard to recall now, but there was a time when Google would regularly announce updates to its ranking algorithms, confirming what they were and how they would affect websites. During these halcyon days, information about Google ranking updates was generally delivered via Google engineer and head of Google’s Webspam Team Matt Cutts, who was to many marketers the public face of Google. As someone who was involved in helping to write the search algorithms himself, Matt Cutts was an authoritative voice about Google updates, and could be depended on to provide announcements about major algorithm changes. Since Cutts’ departure from Google, however, things have become a lot more murky. Other Google spokespeople such as Gary Illyes and John Mueller have been less forthcoming in confirming the details of algorithm updates, and the way that Google makes updates has become less clearly defined, with regular tweaks being made to the core algorithm instead of being deployed as one big update. Occasionally Google will go on record about an upcoming major change like penalties for intrusive interstitials or a mobile-first search index, but this has become the exception rather than the rule. A glance down Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History shows this trend in action, with most recent updates referred to as “Unnamed major update” or “Unconfirmed”. The world of SEO has adapted to the new status quo, with industry blogs fervently hunting for scraps of information divulged at conferences or on social media, and speculating what they might mean for webmasters and marketers. But does it have to be this way? Should we be taking Google’s obscurity surrounding its updates for granted – or, given the massive influence that Google holds over so many businesses and websites, are we owed a better level of transparency from Google? A “post-update” world At last month’s SMX West search marketing conference, the topic of ‘Solving SEO Issues in Google’s Post-Update World’ was a key focus. But even before SMX West took place, the issue of Google’s lack of transparency around updates had been brought front and centre with Fred, an unnamed and all but unconfirmed ranking update from Google which shook the SEO world in early March. Fred had an impact on hundreds of websites which saw a sudden, massive drop in their organic search rankings, leaving website owners and SEOs scrambling to identify the cause of the change. But Google consistently refused to go on record about the algorithm update and what was causing it. It only gained the name ‘Fred’ thanks to a flippant comment made by Google’s Gary Illyes that “From now on every update, unless otherwise stated, shall be called Fred”. @rustybrick @i_praveensharma @JohnMu sure! From now…

Source: Should Google be more transparent with its updates?

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Rebecca Sentance

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