Google On Algorithm Updates: The "Web Changes. Content Changes. People's Expectations Change"

Google Change Morph

Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, defended why Google pushed out search ranking algorithm updates, saying on X, “The web changes. Content changes. People’s expectations change. That’s why we keep looking at ways to improve the search results we show.”

This is a really good long rant by Danny Sullivan that I wanted to highlight, so here it is:

I don’t know if this helps, but I’ve been in the search space for over 25 years now, since 1995. I have seen search engine updates from even before Google existed, where some have wondered if small sites no longer have a place. And yet, some years go by, there can be more updates, and some then express the same worries — even though in order to have those worries, clearly the small sites didn’t go away as was feared the first time.

New small sites appear all the time. They do grow. They do thrive. Some “big” sites today, they were small sites. More important, some small sites are the best sites. They are the experts in areas. They provide the best information out there. I know this intimately as someone who ran two small sites of my own before I retired and began in my role with Google.

We want to reward great content. We want the open web ecosystem to succeed. If there’s great content, we can point to great content. People who search with us are happy; people who receive visitors are happy; we’re happy.

But the web changes. Content changes. People’s expectations change. That’s why we keep looking at ways to improve the search results we show. If people are valuing more content from places where people share experiences, such as forums and so on, it makes sense for us to understand how to better include that as part of the overall mix of results. But if we don’t make improvements, then if people aren’t as satisfied, no one benefits as I described above.

In your situation, don’t fixate on the idea that there’s some type of “expert arms race” where we somehow evaluate a page and think “Hmm, there’s a better expert at this big site than at this small site.” It doesn’t work that way.

What you or anyone should do — and I know no one wants to hear me repeat this, sorry — is stop thinking about what you think you should do for Google in terms of producing content. “Should I have an author bio for Google?” No. No. No. You should have an author bio *for your readers*. It’s what they probably expect. It tends to be aligned with other things that are about having quality content.

Just be the best you can for your readers. For people. Everything we do in ranking is meant to reward that. The more people try to things they think are just for us, the more they’re likely doing all the wrong things to align with how our ranking work.

This guidance is really important, but it’s not a “checklist” in terms of things you should or shouldn’t have specifically: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/fundamentals/creating-helpful-content

It’s meant to help people better assess if they’re actually producing content that’s people-first. First thing on that list:

“Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?”

If you have a passionate team that knows your space, you’re probably doing this naturally. You’re aligned with what you should be doing. That’s true for the other things we ask people to consider. Just — am I doing stuff that if people new to me came to my content would go “Wow, that was great. I learned. That was helpful. That was an enjoyable, helpful visit.”

That’s what you anyone should do. It’s not about rewarding “experts” or bios or some great About page. It’s about rewarding great content.

Here is the partial embed, but you can click through to see the full one (which I copied and pasted above):

Danny has been around a long time and he has written a ton of content, built a few news websites and conferences and now works at Google.

Forum discussion at X.


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