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Google Documents Its Ranking Updates As Systems; Labeling Live Or Archived Notable Algorithms



Google Documents Its Ranking Updates As Systems; Labeling Live Or Archived Notable Algorithms

Google has published a new document named a guide to Google search ranking system. That document outlines the “notable” ranking updates that are currently live and running for Google Search and also some of the historical updates that are either no longer in use or incorporated into other algorithms.

Also, Google’s Danny Sullivan said these should be called ranking “systems” and not “updates.” “Going forward, we’ll be more precise with our wording when differentiating systems from updates. Yes, we’ll still have things like a “helpful content update” or a “product reviews update”, but when possible we will explain those as updates to the respective systems, such as the “helpful content system” and the “product reviews system.” We’ll also be refreshing our help pages to reflect this terminology change, over time,” Danny wrote.

Also note, Google has added a new spam policy named policy circumvention.

Currently Live Google Ranking Systems

Here is the list of currently live Google Search ranking systems that Google documented there. I will note anything I think it new or interesting, otherwise, we covered these before here and you can search this site for our past coverage of each update/system.

  • BERT: A system that Google uses to help them “understand how combinations of words express different meanings and intent.”
  • Crisis information systems
  • Deduplication systems
  • Exact match domain system
  • Freshness systems
  • Helpful content system
  • Link analysis systems and PageRank: Google noted “how PageRank works has evolved a lot since then, and it continues to be part of our core ranking systems.”
  • Local news systems
  • MUM
  • Neural matching: Google uses neural matching to “understand representations of concepts in queries and pages and match them to one another.”
  • Original content systems
  • Removal-based demotion systems
  • Page experience system
  • Passage ranking system
  • Product reviews system
  • RankBrain: Google said it helps them “understand how words are related to concepts. It means we can better return relevant content even if it doesn’t contain all the exact words used in a search, by understanding the content is related to other words and concepts.”
  • Reliable information systems
  • Site diversity system
  • Spam detection systems: Mentions of spam updates, SpamBrain, spam policies, etc.

No Longer Live Google Ranking Systems/Updates

Here is the list of Google ranking systems or updates that are no longer in use or incorporated into other systems.

  • Hummingbird
  • Mobile-friendly ranking system
  • Page speed system
  • Panda system
  • Penguin system
  • Secure sites system

Danny Sullivan of Google answered a question from Lily Ray in the Google Webmaster Help forums. The question was “Is it possible to get clarification about how the different ranking systems play into the core update system (or not).” Danny replied:

As the page explains, it covers:

“some systems that are part of our core ranking systems, which are the underlying technologies that produce search results in response to queries”

So in terms of the “core update system,” it’s not that we have such a thing. We have core ranking systems, multiple systems, which get help us produce results generally. Occasionally, we update these ranking systems. When we do, we share about that as a core update — the core systems are updated. Our blog post today talks about also why we’re going to be talking about “systems” apart from “updates” to help better clarify such things.


Marie Haynes did a deep dive on Twitter on some of these changes, here are some points I thought were cool that she pointed out:

Forum discussion at Twitter and Google Webmaster Help.



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Daily Search Forum Recap: April 12, 2024



Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Google says indexing systems and algorithm update systems are independent and don’t impact each other. Google clarified its structured data carousel beta to add feature availability and where the markup goes. Google says ranking well in product results, images, etc does not impact how well you rank in web search. Google is testing mentioned in section within the knowledge panels. Google Maps updated its suggest an edit workflow. We have a recap of the Google Search Central Live event in Romania from Mihai. And I posted the weekly SEO video recap.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:


Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps


Mobile & Voice



Search Features


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.


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Google Search Results Can Be Harmful & Dangerous In Some Cases



Google Degrade Robot

Over the past few weeks, Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has been replying to complaints about some examples of search results being not just low-quality but also potentially harmful and dangerous. The sad part to me is that a couple of years ago, this was not the case with the Google search results (for the most part).

When I interviewed Hyung-Jin Kim, the Vice President of Google Search, at SMX a couple of years back, he told a touching story about this topic. He explained that a family member of his was going through a medical issue and that he went to Google Search to find answers. As a VP of Google Search, his goal was to make sure that the Google Search results never led anyone to information that can end up hurting that searcher. That is where EEAT came from, partially, to ensure the search results did no harm and were not dangerous.

Now, we have way too many complaints about the Google search results offering up dangerous and harmful results. Google has responded to some of those saying they are taking in the feedback and will do better in the future. A lot of it stems from Google showing more Reddit results because they say searchers seek it out. But as Steve Jobs use to say, “Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.”

Danny Sullivan wrote, “Appreciate the feedback. Aware of these concerns. Have passed them on. Have been talking with the team about them.”

Here are some examples, some we shared before, of Google responding to some of these examples:


It is actually something we spoke about a bit on our daily recap video (a new series) yesterday.

Maybe Google needs to show this warning more often these days when Reddit shows up as Higman points out:


Google No Matches

While Google continues to say search quality is better and unhelpful content will be reduced by 40% or so, while also promising quality improvements time and time again – most SEOs don’t expect much change.

I didn’t embed a ton of examples but I do expect Google to work on this issue and for this to be a thing of the past at some point… I hope…


Forum discussion at X.

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More Google March 2024 Core Update Ranking Volatility



Google Core Explosion

As the Google March 2024 core update hits the 36th day of its rollout, we are seeing more ranking fluctuations and volatility being reported both by the Google tracking tools and within the SEO community through a spike in chatter. Maybe this is the last wave of the update before it is done?

This is a weird update with lots of ranking systems within the overall Google core ranking system is being updated. So we are/were expecting numerous big ranking volatility throughout the rollout. We were also expecting the update to take 3-4 weeks to roll out but now we are into week 5!

SEO Chatter

That being said, here is some of the chatter around the new volatility spotted over the past 24-hours or so from WebmasterWorld, social media and the comments on this site:

The update is still in progress. There are still small and medium-sized sites left to disappear or replace with expert forums

Similar here. It seems that tracking tools out there are still seeing instability going on though, so….. :

german serps are now flooded with Kleinanzeigen ( former ebay Kleinanzeigen), Aliexpress, marketplaces from big companies, shops i would never ever buy from.

Very high volatility on all my sites. Local and global websites, in several languages. End of the march core update?

Looks like USA and UK traffic are clamped down hard again this morning…-54% and -30% at 9:30am. Traffic to my home page is -76%! Let’s see if it suddenly shoots upward toward the latter part of the day as has been the trend. These ‘updates’ are killing off my business for weeks at a time…

Yesterday,Tuesday 9th April, my global site had three very unusual occurences. It is very rare that it has a one hour period of zero traffic whatsoever, yes it has occurred in the past especially on Xmas Day however yesterday three times in 24 hours it had zero traffic at 00.00 – 01.00, 11.00 – 12.00 and 22.00 – 23.00.

Furthermore its traffic looked very similar to the mess it was a few months ago i.e. mostly single page views. USA / Canada traffic was way down and looked very spammy whereas most of the other traffic looked normal.

So far today it’s looking messy as well plus US trafic is almost non-existant, hmmm…In-depth logs here I come.


we are seeing this lack of traffic too. But not this long time periods. More 10 to 15 min.
And we see a traffic pattern that has not been seen for some month now: a short rush on a single item. Like 10 to 15 visitors in one second. In most cases it is safari browsers

I’m noticing the same too. Mass visits on a single post for a few weeks now. However, the traffic is very unstable even today, one hour is good or higher than last week, while the next hour the traffic is much lower than the previous week. The AI Disaster Continues

Ditto here. The roll on continues.

I see the same thing here. In addition, the pattern is currently emerging that traffic generally drops from 2 p.m. and suddenly rises very sharply from 6 p.m. onwards.

What is unfortunately also noticeable is that the number of posts in Discover that are pure advertising is increasing significantly. Especially about strange medical products

Google is definitely cooking something new. It’s not your regular shuffling. They haven’t rolled it out yet as I can see that version of the SERPs maybe once every 15 times I search but in the past, when that happened, that version became the real thing after a few days. Hard to explain it but I am bracing for another hit

this is for my other site that wasn’t hit. I checked it and for the main keywords, it was on the bottom of 2nd page. Again, if I check the sites normally on Chrome or Firefox that is the latest version, I see no changes. But a very old Firefox shows the change every few times I search, like something that is propagating but not rolled out completely yet.

Google Tracking Tools

The Google tracking tools show some levels of volatility over the past day or so but it does not seem as extreme as the level of chatter within the SEO industry. Here is what the tools are showing now:





Advanced Web Rankings:


















Cognitive SEO:


More Google Update Stories

Here are our previous stories on these updates:

Maybe this is the last wave of this core update?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.


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