Google Can’t Provide Details About Core Algorithm Updates

Announcements about core algorithm updates are unlikely to become more detailed in the future, as Google says it can’t provide specific information.

Google owns the details internally, but cannot release the information publicly.

This was revealed in the latest episode of the Search Off The Record podcast with John Mueller, Martin Splitt and Gary Ellis of the Google Search Relationships team.

Ellis is particularly frustrated by the fact that the team can’t provide more information to the community when announcing a core update.

He wonders what value there is even in announcing basic updates if they can’t provide any guidance other than telling people to check out the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Based on the discussion, it appears that each core update announcement will repeat the announcement that preceded it.

The Google Search Relationships team sympathizes with all involved about the Essential Updates, and hopes they will be most beneficial to those affected. But their hands are tied.

Here are some highlights from the discussion about the core updates.

Google knows what’s in the core update, but it can’t tell you

Ellis says the team responsible for core updates knows what’s in it:

“Well, our team generally knows what we do when we do core updates or what the stuff in core updates does, more specifically. And in the vast majority of cases, things just focus on the guidelines that we’ve been publishing for the last 20 years.

So, basically, write good content, right, don’t buy links, whatever, I don’t know. So every time we do one of these core updates, we’re basically saying that… follow our guidelines, and that’s also our advice.”

Ellis questions the benefit of announcing core updates when the team can’t provide specifics.


“…if we could provide more guidance or more information about what is in the update or how…or what kind of sites it affects or what content it affects, I would be willing to, but at the moment we can’t .”

And right now, we’re just saying, ‘Hey, there was a core update or core update coming in a couple of hours. And four weeks later, we’re like, “Yeah, we’re done with that major update.”

In short – communication about core updates is limited to when they start rolling out and when they end up rolling out.

That’s the way it’s always been until now, and that’s probably all Google will be able to talk about in the future.

Misconceptions about core updates

Since there is very little information available about core updates, there are a lot of misconceptions about them.

It is a misconception that core updates are designed to punish websites.

Ellis wants to make it clear that this is not the case:

“And the thing I wanted to say is that there’s also a misconception about core updates. I think it’s a punitive thing. It basically penalizes sites. That’s not the case, but instead we improve relevancy algorithms, for example, or quality, or algorithms That evaluates the quality of the site/page/content. And what we’re trying to do is give users better results in a sense, right?”

Inevitably, core updates will have a positive impact on some sites, while a negative impact on others.

When a site is negatively affected by a major update, Ellis says, it doesn’t necessarily mean they did anything wrong:

“So, it could be that those sites were negatively affected by a major update that actually didn’t do anything wrong but instead our algorithms changed and that’s hard to explain, and I also imagine swallowing it.

Because if you’ve been posting and publishing content for five years already, and you have a follower base and whatever, all of a sudden you rank lower and some competitors rank higher because Google made a change. This is not easy to accept, I guess.

If you find that your site rank lower after the major update, it doesn’t mean that you are posting bad content, or that there is anything on your site that you need to fix.

Other sites have been “honored” for posting better content. Such as articles with greater depth or articles most relevant to a particular query.

For more information on recovering from essential updates, see this tip that Google has given in the past:

  • Google says it optimizes content for recovery from core updates
  • Google provides details about Core Update Recovery Times
  • Why do some sites lose rating in Core Update

Source: Search outside the registry

Featured image: salarko/Shutterstock

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