Google Confirms Search Ranking Updates But Calls Them Minor & Many

Google Algorithm Update

That update we’ve been tracking for over a week that I nicknamed the Maccabees Update, well, Google somewhat confirmed it. They sent us a statement to Search Engine Land saying “we released several minor improvements during this timeframe, part of our regular and routine efforts to improve relevancy.”

So in my Maccabee analysis from yesterday, we saw just that. I specifically wrote, the bulk of the sites in my small sample size were around doorway pages, we also saw Fred like issues, such as low quality content and ads and we saw other types of sites get hit as well. This coincides with Google’s statement that they “released several minor improvements during this timeframe.”

Danny Sullivan, now at Google, gave us more insight on Twitter yesterday afternoon. He wrote:

Various reports are out there that Google had an “update” to search last week. This is our statement that says nothing about a *single* update:

“We released several minor improvements during this timeframe, part of our regular and routine efforts to improve relevancy.”

In any given week, there are various changes that happen with Google’s search algorithm. Many are unnoticed. Many are minor. Last week was like that. After a few publishers reported changes, we checked and didn’t see any major or single change on our end.

Reports calling this a single “update” or calling it “Fred” don’t reflect what we actually said: there were several minor changes that happened as they routinely do in any particular week.

Google is clearly calling this several updates, all of them are “minor” and it even is going as far as saying when they looked into the reports of an update they “didn’t see any major or single change on our end” that they can pinpoint to this.

So clearly Google is downplaying this update. We all know this update is no where near the impact or ramifications of a Panda or Penguin update, but there is no doubt that many sites saw changes, some for the better and some for the worse. How big of an impact was this is hard to say, but Google thinks it is minor.

I am excited for others to do deeper dives in their data, I know Search Engine Land had some early on data about this but all the data providers are saying they need more time to see patterns. I only reviewed 100+ sites, so the sample size was small but the patterns in most of those sites were clear:

  • Doorway page like sites targeting many keyword permutations
  • Low quality content with lots of ads or affiliate links, like Fred patterns
  • A lot of e-commerce sites for some reason, maybe Phantom related issues

But again, a limited sample size.

So honestly, I’d pin this Google confirmation to the typical, “we’re always making updates” style of a messaging.

Here are Danny’s tweets:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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