What Goes into Making a Change to the Google Ranking Algorithm?
Recently it seems that Google has fallen a little short when it comes to coming up with ideas that are really going to make a difference and improve the quality of the search results it delivers. But there’s a lot more that goes into making a decision than you’d probably have thought.
From a meeting between ranking and search evaluation teams from around the world Google set up 8 video cameras and 16 microphones to capture what happens in one of these meetings.
According to last week’s blog post on Google’s own webmaster blog, even relatively subtle changes go under intense scrutiny as can be seen in the video of a December 2011 meeting, which discussed improved spelling suggestions for search queries of over 10 words, which impacts just 0.1% of all search traffic – yet it goes under close scrutiny by the whole room of search specialists who are also joined remotely by people in Moscow, New York, Zurich, Seoul, Haifa and Tokyo.
Not only that but every single change gets its own dedicated search quality analyst to stud what impact the change has on the search results.
” This analyst is not part of the engineering team building the change, but instead offers a separate opinion on whether the change is good for users.”
Of the video, Amit Singhal – the software engineer and Senior VP who rewrote the Google search ranking algorithm – says:
“The search team relies heavily on the results of experimental data to make decisions. During the meeting, we rely on detailed analyst reports including the results of click evaluations and side-by-side experiments. These reports can sometimes be more than 25 pages long.”
Now that’s pretty intense! And it shows that anything Google does is closely monitored and reported on, no matter how small the change, to ensure that the changes being made all result in a positive impact on the search results.
With this level of scrutiny there definitely is method behind (what occasionally seems to be) madness and I think we can be pretty sure that the changes they make definitely are intended for the better – not just to upset SEO consultants the world over, as it often seems.
How far can Google go with the algorithm? Will they ever run out of ways to improve it? Likely not, with the constant battle against spam and the move towards signals that are much less easily manipulated.
Their next big update targets over-optimisation and forms a penalty against those who have tried too hard to get positions by optimising their website ‘too much’.