Google Explains The Processes & Thoughts Behind an Update

May 16, 2008 • 8:24 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google updates their search algorithms and indexes fairly often. Results change all the time. The goal for Google is to make this transparent for searchers by providing relevant results. But when a change happens, typically the webmaster will notice and may be impacted strongly by the update. So what are the Google processes and thoughts behind an update?

Google's JohnMu has an interesting post at a Google Groups thread in response to a webmaster being upset with a recent change in which results Google is showing for a particular term. In JohnMu's response, he explains why Google makes changes, for how long the changes may appear and so on. Let me explain that we do not learn much about how the changes work technically, but we do learn the thought process behind Google making these changes.

The premise behind all Google algorithm and index updates are to "improve the users' experience on our [Google's] sites." Google's "engineers are constantly working on" that, day in and day out. So Google is often trying "new things and run experiments" to collect data to help Google come up with new ideas on how to "improve" the search experience.

John explains that these "experiments" and "new things" can "run for a day or for many months." The thing is, these experiments "generally evolve over time," so although the experiment may do one thing, it can evolve to do other things (hence the constant Google flux). These changes to the experiments are "mainly based on that data" Google collects as they run tests.

Google is constantly changing their algorithm because "world around us is changing rapidly, our users' expectations are changing equally," as John explains. John adds that "sometimes," these experiments can "lead to changes which not everyone likes." "Not every site can be listed in all search results, or even in the top 10," John adds.

I personally don't have much to add to this. It all makes logical sense, but I thought it would be good to document and have for later.

Forum discussion at Google Groups.

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Jaan Kanellis

05/16/2008 01:57 pm

Nice pick up Barry.

Rob Abdul

05/17/2008 09:06 am

Yes it does make logical sense. Just as in Mother Nature, Google’s algorithm is evolving to adapt itself to the ever changing environment. I think that Google like to leap frog its evolution by these experiments. A bit like mankind genetically enhancing him/herself. Google’s bread and butter so to speak has been to deliver highly relevant results each time. This is something they have in my view mastered. Google is very good in indexing new content, far quicker than yahoo or msn. For example I created a new page on my site barely a week ago and it is already getting top SERPs from Google. If you look at how much the World Wide Web has grown in size over the last 10 years one can appreciate the billions of pages that are out there; that are changing. New pages are being created; by the blogging and social networking communities, news content, etc are all generating content. More people are online since 1995, broadband and always on connections have played its part in that people contributing to content and searching more. The task is immense to craw so many pages and keep results relevant, and week out spam content. Google will always be a constant flux for this reason. Google have some of the brightest people on the Earth working for them, I have no doubt that they will get evolve to become even better in time.

No Name

05/17/2008 07:08 pm

This makes a lot of sense, I see wild flucuations in the SERPS for my sites at times, which can't otherwise be explained.

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