Google Oct. 2005 Update "Jagger" & Contacting Google About It

Noticed changes to Google results? Many have, and now it's official. An update is on, and Google's Matt Cutts gives advice in his Update Jagger: Contacting Google post on how to contact Google with any concerns in terms of spam, bad relevancy, whether you think your site was penalized and so on.

But wait a minute! Didn't Matt downplay earlier that an update was going on in his More info on updates post? Yes, I'd say he did -- but he later added with this:

Just to clarify, these days with lots of smaller and larger changes happening at different points in time, it's a little arbitrary to decide when to call something an update. That decision has usually fallen on Brett Tabke's shoulders over at WebmasterWorld (WMW also chooses what name they want to call it when Brett decides enough has changed to call it an update.) Given that there should be new PageRank/backlinks visible in a few days (assuming no issues at our end), I wouldn't be surprised if Brett slaps a name on it pre-emptively, even though there will still be some flux to come.

Absolutely, WebmasterWorld has been the traditional mechanism for naming updates. But whether something is an update or not isn't a unilateral WebmasterWorld decision, though Matt admittedly does qualify his statement to say this is "usuallly" rather than "always" the case.

Last month is a good example of how this is becoming a bigger issue. There was debate over whether a Google update should be declared. WebmasterWorld initially declared one was underway, dubbed it "Gilligan," then after Matt downplayed if it really was an update, a "false alarm" was declared by WebmasterWorld.

I cover this more in my Google's Cutts Says Not An Update - I Say An Update, Just Not A Dance post from earlier, which also explains why even if Matt and WebmasterWorld didn't feel it was an update, I certainly did -- nor was I alone.

Now let's skip forward to this update.  We'd been having scattered posts on our forums about Google changes last week. On Monday, catching up on weekend posts, I saw a new flurry of them coming in. It was enough that I consolidated some threads into a single Oct. 2005 Google Update thread. As far as we were concerned at SEW Forums, an update was on. I went with the naming system we use, just the month and year. Certainly one was in the minds of several members, so having a thread just for them to discuss the issue helps.

Over at Threadwatch, it effectively declared the same in the Google Update drops SEO's in it post that Brian Turner started (he also posted early with us, kicking off our thread). Brian pointed over to a Digital Point forum discussion, Google seems to be dancing, where people were effectively declaring an update last week. He also pointed to much WebmasterWorld talk here (link currently down due to WebmasterWorld routing problems, see new live thread here), though this was before an "official" update was declared.

All this chatter was enough to get Matt to make his More info on updates post, which was a great weather report/confirmation that things officially were going on. However, he stopped short of saying it was an update, leaving that declaration to be WebmasterWorld's call.

It's just silly. Matt and Google know if they are doing an update, especially one that might generate a lot of forum chatter. I love that we're getting weather reports from Google, Yahoo and others now, but we need them issued ahead of time.

It's like standing outside in the rain then deciding to tune in your radio to a weather forecast to see if it's raining. Of course it's raining -- you can feel the drops. Since the search engine decide if rain will fall, give us the heads-up before -- and if you think it's going to be a signficant downpour, then proactively declare an update underway. And err on the site of caution.

I'm totally cool with the idea of WebmasterWorld then continuing to assign a fun, memorable name to declared update. That's been the tradition, and WMW deserves to continue to have that honor. I just want the search engines themselves to declare that the weather might be rough and give the official word that something is coming before it hits.

By the way, Changes and Paranoia - the sky is falling from from Jim Boykin out today is worth a read for some fresh perspective on the insanity that can erupt in dicussions out of update and how to stay focused on things to care about.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our Oct. 2005 Google Update "Jagger" forum thread.

About the author

Danny Sullivan was the founder and editor of Search Engine Watch from June 1997 until November 2006.

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