Over the past week or so, Google has been getting some heat around various anti semitic and racist sites ranking well in their search results. One of those queries getting a ton of attention is [did the holocaust happen].
I am Jewish, but I am in a rare position to not personally have direct family who went through the Holocaust. Most of my friends had/have grandparents that did go through the Holocaust and I've spoken with them and saw the numbers burned into their arms. So I hate writing about this topic and honestly, I won't.
I do want to point out that in Danny Sullivan's latest story, Google sent him a comment that said they "recently made improvements to our algorithm." Here is that comment:
Google was built on providing people with high-quality and authoritative results for their search queries. We strive to give users a breadth of diverse content from variety of sources and we’re committed to the principle of a free and open web. Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right.
When non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one-by-one. We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges.
But when was that? It seems to have happened before this controversy hit the media? I mean, it really hit around December 16th but we have tracked our last Google algorithm update as happening before December 15th.
So I am not sure when Google did this update. I don't see any significant update between December 15th and now. Of course, the search results for [did the holocaust happen] are in major flux, but that seems to be mostly because all the news stories about it. A site like this or Search Engine Land may rank well for a week or so and then drop off because it is no longer newsy.
So now, I see denial sites ranking:
So again, did you see any algorithm update after the 15th? I really did not and the tools that track this, all except one, show no major fluctuations. Plus the metrics I follow to see if there was a Google update has no real signs of an update since December 15th.
I wonder if Google made any real change here or if it was limited to a really small set of queries related to these types of queries and sites?
Forum discussion at Twitter.