Other than announcing when core algorithm updates have been out, Google is unable to disclose particular specifics about them.
Google says it can’t give particular details, so announcements on core algorithm updates are unlikely to get more comprehensive in the future.
Internally, Google knows the details, but it is unable to share them with the public.
This was revealed in the newest episode of the Search Off The Record podcast, which included Google’s Search Relations team’s John Mueller, Martin Splitt, and Gary Illyes.
When a core update is revealed, Illyes is particularly irritated by the fact that the team is unable to provide more information to the community.
He wonders why they bother publicizing core updates if they can’t offer any assistance other than directing people to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Based on the conversation, it appears like each core update announcement will be a replica of the one before it.
The Search Relations team at Google empathizes with everyone who is concerned about the core updates and hopes they could be more helpful to those who are affected. But they can’t do anything because their hands are tied.
Google Knows What’s In A Core Update, But Can’t Tell You Illyes claims that the core update team is aware of what’s in them.
“Well, our team generally knows what we are doing when we are doing core updates or what the things in the core updates do, more specifically.
And in the vast majority of the cases, the things are just focusing on the guidelines that we’ve been publishing for the past 20 years.
So basically, write good content, right, don’t buy links, whatever, I don’t know. So every single time we do one of these core updates, we are basically saying that… follow our guidelines, and that’s also our advice.”
Illyes questions the benefit of announcing core updates when the team can’t provide specific details.
“… If we could give more guidance or more information about what’s in an update or how… Or what kind of sites it’s affecting or content it’s affecting, then I would be all for it, but at the moment we cannot.”
“And at the moment, we are just saying that: ‘Hello, there was a core update or incoming core update in two hours.’ And then four weeks later, we are like: ‘Yeah, we are finished with this core update.’”
In other words, communication concerning core updates is confined to when they’ve started and when they’ve finished.
That’s how it’s been up until now, and it’s probable that’s all Google can say about them in the future.
Core Updates: Common Misconceptions
Because there is so little information regarding core updates available, there are a lot of misconceptions about them.
One of the common misunderstandings is that core upgrades are intended to penalize websites.
Illyes is quick to point out that this isn’t the case:
“And the thing I wanted to say is that there’s also a misconception about core updates.
I think that it’s a punitive thing. It’s basically punishing sites. This is not the case, but rather, we are optimizing our relevancy algorithms, for example, quality, or algorithms that assess the quality of a site/page/content. And what we are trying to do is give users better results in some sense, right?”
Core updates will almost always have a good impact on certain sites while having a negative one on others.
It’s not always because a site did something wrong when it’s negatively impacted by a core update. Illyes explains:
“So, it might be that those sites that were affected negatively by a core update didn’t actually do anything wrong, but rather, our algorithms changed and that is very hard to explain, and also swallow, I imagine.
Because if you are publishing content and you’ve been publishing content for five years already, and you have a follower base and whatever, and suddenly, you rank lower and some competitors and ranking higher because Google made a change. That’s not easy to accept, I guess.”
If your site’s ranking drops following a core update, it doesn’t necessarily indicate you’re posting poor content or that something on your site needs to be fixed.
It’s more like other sites were “rewarded” for producing higher-quality content. Articles with more detail or articles that are more relevant to a given query.