Google Again On Difference Between Algorithm Updates & Data Refreshes

May 13, 2024 - 7:51 am 3 by

Google Code Data

Danny Sullivan, Google's Search Liaison, posted on X explaining the differences between algorithm updates, like core updates, and then data refreshes, the data that goes into those ranking systems. This is actually something Matt Cutts, former Googler, did back in 2006, on his blog and now Danny Sullivan did a short version of it on X.

In short, Google has coding updates to how algorithms work and then Google is constantly doing data refreshes to the signals that the algorithms use for ranking. Sometimes those data refreshes don't happen without a manual process. For example, before the Penguin 4 - where it became real time and like when Panda needed manual data pushes.

Sullivan wrote:

Core algorithm update: "Sometimes we update how a particular system operates. That's typically what a "core update" is about. We've made notable changes to one or more core systems, in how they process signals, weigh things up, interact with each other. It's like a coding update."

Data refreshes: "Then the systems themselves, they're running. They're taking in new data. They're understanding "hmm, I've got fresh inputs that I've churned, let me process that" and the results can change not because the system has been updated but what's going into the system is refreshed."

He added, "So the folks going "it's a never ending update" or "the update isn't over," search is always being updated. This isn't new. The web is always changing. It's not a static environment." That is why it is hard to confirm changes to ranking because a lot of it is just real-time data updating.

Compare this to what Cutts posted in 2006 - over 17 years ago:

Algorithm update: Typically yields changes in the search results on the larger end of the spectrum. Algorithms can change at any time, but noticeable changes tend to be less frequent.

Data refresh: When data is refreshed within an existing algorithm. Changes are typically toward the less-impactful end of the spectrum, and are often so small that people don’t even notice. One of the smallest types of data refreshes is an:

Index update: When new indexing data is pushed out to data centers. From the summer of 2000 to the summer of 2003, index updates tended to happen about once a month. The resulting changes were called the Google Dance. The Google Dance occurred over the course of 6-8 days because each data center in turn had to be taken out of rotation and loaded with an entirely new web index, and that took time. In the summer of 2003 (the Google Dance called “Update Fritz”), Google switched to an index that was incrementally updated every day (or faster). Instead of a monolithic monthly event, the Google would refresh some of its index pretty much every day, which generated much smaller day-to-day changes that some people called everflux.

Now, obviously, index updates are no longer but it was a nice piece of history.

Sullivan later added, "I mean again, systems are updated to often both with launches and data refreshes that I'm not sure that type of barrage is helpful, but I hear you. And in case you missed it, we do have a status dashboard where updates that really seem to warrant noting are posted here."

Here are those posts:

Forum discussion at X.


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