Google: We Want To Reward The Best Content No Matter Site Size

Feb 21, 2024 - 7:51 am 337 by

David Vs Goliath Google

For the past 20 years, probably even longer, the debate about Google giving preferential treatment to large sites over small sites has been a huge topic in the SEO world and that has not changed in 2024 from 2004. Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, recently said on X, "yes, we should be rewarding the best content, regardless of site size." He added that he hopes Google will get better at that, saying, "I hope we'll get better here."

This response came after a piece named How Google is killing independent sites like ours was published on House Fresh by Gisele Navarro and Danny Ashton. Go read it, I know many of you have already.

Danny Sullivan responded to the criticism saying, we will do better. Yea, Google has been saying that for a long long time now and we are still waiting for that next update. Sullivan wrote:

Thank you. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the post, and the concerns and the detail in it. I've passed it along to our Search team along with my thoughts that I'd like to see us do more to ensure we're showing a better diversity of results that does include both small and large publications.

One note to an otherwise excellent write-up. The article suggests we do some type of "manual check" on claims made by pages. We do not. That reference and link is about manual reviews we do if a page has a manual *spam* action against it, and files a reconsideration request. That's entirely different from how our automated ranking systems look to reward content.

Somewhat related, just making a claim and talking about a "rigorous testing process" and following an "E-E-A-T checklist" doesn't guarantee a top ranking or somehow automatically cause a page to do better. We talk about E-E-A-T because it's a concept that aligns with how we try to rank good content. But our automated systems don't look at a page and see a claim like "I tested this!" and think it's better just because of that. Rather, the things we talk about with E-E-A-T are related to what people find useful in content. Doing things generally for people is what our automated systems seek to reward, using different signals. More here.

Thank you again for the post. I hope we'll be doing better in the future for these types of issues.

Gisele Navarro responded saying:

Regarding Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines, I completely understand your point and the reason why you have developed them. My point was perhaps more geared towards how these guidelines have become a box-ticking exercise for many, where the focus is on 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒘𝒊𝒏𝒈 these qualities more than actually developing them.

I didn’t expect this post to magically fix all these issues, but it’s encouraging to know that you agree that there is a lack of diversity of results at the moment, with large publications cannibalising vast sections of Google results off the back of their well-known brands (and their all-encompassing factories of content) more than the quality of the content itself.

Danny Sullivan responded again, hope to do better:

I agree that too many interpret the self-assessment questions on our key page here.

As some type of box-ticking exercise rather than focus on the bigger picture of "are you doing things that are generally helpful for people, because that's also what's helpful for Google. It does mention those questions about how people might self-evaluate, not how Google evaluates. But, I've mentioned before that I'd like to see that page further updated, and it's one of my top priorities that I keep voicing internally. Unfortunately, changing our docs can take time, so it's probably going to be a few more weeks or months.

As for the broader question of, let's call it, "big site versus small site," I've also raised this concern over the past weeks, because it shouldn't be that way (and it's not always, either). But yes, we should be rewarding the best content, regardless of site size. As I said, I hope we'll get better here.

It reminds me a bit of when Matt Cutts, former Google spam cop, a decade ago, asked SEOs to tell Google which small sites should rank that aren't ranking.

That form is still open but I doubt anyone has access to it anymore.

I know a lot of you are tired of hearing the "we will do better" from Google's search team:

Heck, last night when I covered this at Search Engine Land I showed how Reddit outranked the original article from HouseFresh!

Housefresh Outranked By Reddit

And then as expected:

Sad to see...

Forum discussion at X.


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