Google Changes: Liz Reid New Head Of Search, Pandu Nayak Steps Down As Search Quality & Rankings Lead

Mar 19, 2024 - 7:11 am 2 by
Filed Under Google News

Liz Reid Pandu Nayak Cathy Edwards Cheenu Google

Google announced some executive changes last night with Liz Reid being named the new head of Google Search. Pandu Nayak stepped down as the lead of search quality and ranking. Cathy Edwards stepped down as the lead Google Apps, Google News, Google Discover and other ecosystem efforts. Finally, Cheenu Venkatachary has stepped up to lead our quality and ranking teams, in place of Pandu Nayak.

Liz Reid was leading up core search experiences for the past few years. Now she is leading up all of Search, still reporting to Prabhakar Raghavan, who replaced Ben Gomes in 2020. Prabhakar Raghavan leads up all of Google Search, not just core search but also Knowledge & Information (K&I), which is inclusive of a number of different areas, including Ads, Assistant & Gemini, Geo, Commerce and more.

Here is what Liz posted on LinkedIn:

Today, I’m taking on a new role leading Search, and am humbled by the opportunity to shape the future of this important product.

I joined Google in 2003 as one of the first engineers building Google Local, which laid the foundation for the local information you find in Google Search and Maps today. In my early days, I focused on solving the technical challenges of surfacing high quality, accurate local information in our products. We may take this for granted now, but back then, it wasn’t so easy to find a great local pastry shop near you in an unfamiliar city.

People trust Google Search to give them accurate answers, and to provide the best links to explore on the web. And it’s an exciting time for Search. We're seeing positive Search query growth in all of our major markets. People’s information needs continue to grow, so we’ll keep evolving and improving Search - earlier this month we updated our spam policies and ranking systems to improve quality significantly. We’re helping people search in entirely new ways -- whether that’s searching what they see with Lens or what they scribble with Circle to Search. And we’re piloting AI-powered overviews with Search Generative Experience (SGE).

In fact, people have already issued billions of queries with SGE since we introduced it as a feature in Search Labs last year. We’ve had incredibly positive feedback on the combination of quick answers and the ability to dive deeper on the web. With SGE, we are able to serve a wider range of information needs and answer new types of questions, including more complex questions, like comparisons or longer queries. More coming soon!

I'm incredibly grateful to work with an amazing team at Google that is working tirelessly to improve and evolve Search. As I step into this new role, I can’t wait to continue our mission, helping people everywhere find answers to even their most challenging questions.

Here is the statement Google sent me:

We're pleased to share that we're unifying the Search org under Liz Reid – a longtime and well-respected leader at Google with deep product and technical knowledge. We have great momentum in Search, with recent improvements in search quality, new ways to search like Circle to Search, and features using gen AI to help with even more complex questions. For example, SGE, still only a Search Labs feature, has already been used for billions of queries. We’re excited to bring our Search teams together under her leadership.

Pandu Nayak is staying with Google but moving into what seems to me less of a hectic role. He is becoming Chief Scientist, Search. In this new role he continue to advise and focus on technical challenges in Google Search. Pandu will remain deeply involved in our broader efforts around content understanding, ranking and exploring how new AI technologies can enhance Google Search, Google told me. We've written a lot about Pandu Nayak on this site, he has been incredibly influential over the years at Google Search, specific to core search.

Cathy Edwards who I interviewed for SMX on SGE is moving back home to Australia to be closer to their family. Cathy Edwards has had an incredibly successful and impressive career, having created start-up successes that were acquired by Apple and then Google. Apple acquired her company named Chomp in 2012. She will be moving to to the Long-term Bets team in Knowledge & Information (K&I), where they'll help incubate new product ideas in partnership with leaders across K&I. It fits her start up career.

Cheenu Venkatachary will step up to lead Google's Search quality and ranking teams. Venkatachary worked at Google from November 2009 through December 2014. He then co-founded Laserlike in July 2015, which was acquired by Apple in 2018. He then left apple to go back to Google as a VP of Engineering in October 2022, to then be promoted to lead Google Search quality and ranking in March 2024.

So there you have it - those are the executive changes impacting Google Search right now.

Here is some of the SEO reaction so far to this news:

Forum discussion at LinkedIn.


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