Google highlights its ranking systems and updates

From Panda to Penguin to BERT, the algorithms that govern the site ranking system are the subject of much debate, particularly in the SEO community.

As a guest on the Google Search Off The Record program, Danny Sullivan provided some clarification on the main site ranking algorithm.

In this article, I’ll highlight the most pertinent points from this 34-minute episode.

Google podcast provides information on ranking systems and updates

The“Google Search Off The Record” podcast show provided information on Google’s ranking systems and updates.

Google Search Off The Record

The following key points can be taken from this program:

  • Google uses several ranking systems, not a single algorithm.
  • Google now considers its updates to be continuous, rather than one-off modifications.
  • Increased transparency from Google does not mean more frequent changes.

In the most recent episode, Danny Sullivan, Google’s search liaison, is invited to discuss this hot topic.

As Google rolls out its core algorithm update in August 2023, Sullivan addressed common questions and misconceptions about ranking systems.

Google’s ranking systems

The important thing to remember is that Google has not one, but several ranking systems working in concert.

“A lot of people think that there’s the Google algorithm and that’s it, that it’s one big giant thing. But, as we all know, there are many systems that come into play.”

Mr. Sullivan

Ranking updates and ranking systems

Google has transformed the way it approaches its algorithm updates, moving from a simple reference to specific names, to a conception where these updates are envisioned as ongoing ranking systems.

For example, the update formerly known as“Panda” is now considered an integral and persistent part of the ranking system.

This demonstrates how these algorithm changes are now fully assimilated into Google’s search results and thus contribute to their ongoing optimization.

The podcast also addresses the erroneous beliefs held by SEO professionals about ranking algorithm updates.

Google lists its ranking systems in a document. This document contains examples of the ranking systems it currently uses or has used in the past, allowing us to see how search has evolved.

I thought it would be useful to list these systems for people to understand and, in particular, I think, for SEOs and designers to understand some of the ones that are involved in ranking on a recurring basis.


The biggest misconception

The podcast also talked about the misconceptions that SEOs have about updates to the algorithms that rank websites.

One of these misconceptions is that you have to change your SEO strategy every time there’s a new update. Sullivan disagrees.

When it comes to reacting to a new ranking update, Sullivan says:

If you’ve seen a change after the launch of one of these systems or the launch of an updated system, it’s probably a sign that you may not be as aligned as you should be with what these systems are searching for and what Google is generally trying to search for.


More transparency from Google

Google wants to be more transparent about its ranking systems, but Sullivan said that doesn’t mean it’s making more changes than usual.

When asked how SEOs might react to Google’s greater transparency, Sullivan joked that some might try to “cheat” or manipulate things to rank higher.

But he also said that Google was giving out this information to help people make better, more useful content for web users, not just to rank higher.

I think today we focus less on the specific elements and more on the mindsets you should adopt.


Sullivan says that if SEOs use the guidelines to make better, more useful content, there’s no problem.

The future of SEO: Authentic content

In conclusion, Sullivan shared this recommendation: make quality, interesting content tailored to your audience.

According to him, the most successful websites are those that manage to create content not only to rank in search engines, but also to provide real added value for users.

Now more than ever, authentic content that you’ve created because you have a real audience in mind that you know will come directly to you, is the best strategy when trying to adapt to this world of changing ranking systems.


While it’s important to stay current, Sullivan says most updates don’t require radical changes to your overall approach to SEO.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that Google combines several algorithms to process search results and rank websites. The search engine wants to be more transparent and sees its updates as an ongoing process.

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