Q and A: Do search engines announce when they make algorithm changes?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve been slowly teaching myself SEO for about 2 years now and I think I am finally getting quite good at it. The only time I find myself completely out of my depth is when big algorithm changes like Panda hit my client web sites and they lose ranking. Then I find myself clambering to work out what’s happened and how I can fix it.

I can usually claw things back a little bit, but my clients are understandably confused as to why the drops occur and why I wasn’t prepared for them.

Do search engines like Google announce when they are about to make algorithm changes or provide a list of tweaks and fixes like software companies do after a new version is released?

Thanks
Galen

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Hi Galen

It’s not in the interests of search engines like Google to reveal full details of their algorithm adjustments, as this would not only impact the security of their servers, but also affect their shareholder price! Search engines need to keep vital parts of their technical infrastructure private as they form a large chunk of intellectual property. Apart from that, they need to protect the quality of the search results from hackers and black-hat SEO operators who would seek to compromise them for their own benefit.

That said, Google DO provide a monthly blog post on algorithm changes called the Search Quality Highlights Series. The first post in the series was published shortly after the Panda II algorithm tweaks were made last November (which caused a fresh round of frustration and confusion for webmasters). The latest post in the series was made earlier this month and features detail of 17 new quality improvements made to Google’s algorithm in January 2012.

The blog series is part of Google’s ongoing effort to be more transparent about how search works and to share the methodology and process behind their search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes.

I’m not sure if other major search engines offer a similar algorithm news service, but if anyone knows of any, please post in the comments.

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