Danny Sullivan Posts His Google Search Presentation On X

Nov 17, 2023 - 7:05 am 4 by

Danny Sullivan Brightonseo

Last night, Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, shared the presentation he gave at brightonSEO online on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. The presentation covers Google Search results not being perfect, how Google updates aim to improve those results, and how Google's guidance to creators needs to improve.

Here is what he posted:

Google's results aren’t perfect. Google does make mistakes. Google doesn't always get it right. Google will never get everything right. But what Google can do is keep working to show the most helpful content that we can. More here

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Google's helpful content system is an example of improving Google Search. It launched last year with the goal to ensure people see more original, helpful content created for people. In September, Google improved the system. That sparked some creator questions & concerns.

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Some Sullivan interacted with over the past few weeks believe Google's guidance about success with Google Search is new, that they now have to do something different. But for Googlers at Google, that’s confusing, because it’s not new. It's is based on years-old and even decades-old guidance...

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That led Danny to do a lot of retrospection. If the guidance isn’t new, why do so many feel confused? Quite simply, it seems that Google's long-standing advice of “Don’t do things for Google” is counter-intuitive to anyone who is trying to be successful with Google.

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Google's guidance is generally about a broad goal. For example, Google advises people to think if they product content in a way that *makes you want to trust it* (not Google, you – or a reader) with examples of what might cause people to trust content, such as background about an author...

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What’s heard are specifics. People focus on Google talking about an author page as being something that people might expect from people-first content & believe Google itself wants that specific thing, as if Google is going to check for it and rank content better for having it (Google doesn't).

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Further complicating things, some read Google's guidance & make definitive recommendations that Google is not saying. “If you have an About page, you rank better!” You don’t. Doesn’t work that way. Which leads to some critical thinking to consider when getting advice on ranking well in Google.

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If “One weird old tricks” don’t work, then beware “one weird SEO trick.” Nothing with Google ranking – or in life in general – is that simple. If someone is telling you “this is what Google says to do,” are they making clear if it’s what Google have said or if their interpretation?

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There is great third-party advice about ranking in Google. @iPullRank, @lilyraynyc, @Marie_Haynes, @ajkohn, @MediaWyse, @glenngabe are some Danny named in his talk & many more & in languages beyond English. Hallmark is tend to make clear when something is what they believe vs “Google says”

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The gap between what Google says to creators and what creators hear about being successful in Google Search needs to get better. That’s largely on Google; something Google will be working on. People-first content remains path to success. Hopefully can find better ways to communicate this...

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For example, instead of saying “Don’t do things for Google” our guidance might say “Yes, do things for Google if they are the things you’d do for people” There’s still much to think though, but the “don’t do” likely needs to change to “do do” to close the gap...

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Perhaps Google needs to speak more clearly that oGoogle'sr systems are chasing what people like, so if you “chase the algorithm,” you’re behind. If you chase what people like, you’re ahead of the algorithm.

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While Google's communication with creators needs to get better, that doesn’t take away from the fact some well know if they’re creating content that’s not really satisfying. Google Search needs to keep improving because people want a satisfying experience when they search with Google...

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Google Search needs to keep improving, because we’ve all seen the headlines of dissatisfaction. Here, in Danny's talk, he brought up 3 slides that were from a talk Matt Cutts gave in 2013 when he was at Google, about dissatisfaction and made-for-search content. This leads to cycles...

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Search and content can move through cycles. You can have a rise in unhelpful content, and search systems evolve to deal with it. We’re in one of those cycles now. We went through one in 2011 (the “Panda” days), and in 2003 (the “Florida” days) and even before. Like 1998...

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In 1998, long before Danny joined Google or Google existed, he wrote about how search engines of the day were trying to understand how to deal with content “designed primarily for search engines, not for human beings.” In particular, rise of what we now call cloaking & doorway pages...

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The search engines back then had never seen this type of content before. The concern then, as it is now, was how might impact showing great results to users. Not surprisingly, the search engines soon took action against it. (Google also considers it spam)

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Google's systems, as always, will keep evolving to increase satisfaction with its results. Google is and will continue to develop new systems and improvements to our existing ones.

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It’s not uncommon after Google releases an update some may point to flaws/problems with search. “But what about!” As said, Google Search isn’t perfect & never will be. There will always be some bad examples to point at. Feedback *is* appreciated & it doesn’t mean Google is ignoring it...

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Bad examples don’t mean that an update didn’t generally improve results overall. They may also involve other systems Google needs to improve. Google looks at bad examples, try to understand underlying issues and move forward with figure improvements. More here.

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Danny also mentioned in my talk that they have seen some of the issues people have raised and there are all types of ranking improvements already in the works to deal with these. This is the source of the “buckle up” posts some may have seen. Danny kind of said the opposite...

Google does have lots of ranking updates coming. Danny said something like “I don’t want to say ‘buckle up’ because for people making great content, these really shouldn’t be a concern.” Really shouldn’t be. Point is, Google appreciates feedback, take bad examples seriously & do look to improve.

To close, Google Search wants the open web and content creators to succeed. It’s the foundation for the result we show. Google appreciates all of those who are making great content, and Google will be looking at ways to better communicate with creators and reward that great content.

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Now if Elon ever kills off this content, it is preserved here.

Forum discussion at X and image credit to @landonmooreseo.


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