Does Google Listen To SEO Feedback

On Friday, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, shared on X some internal documents showing how he compiles some of the SEO feedback from SEOs online and then prepares that feedback to share with the Google Search teams.

He has done this a couple of times before, in terms of publicly showcasing how he provides SEO feedback to the internal Google Search teams. In fact, the photo above is from 2018’s snippet review team where Sullivan provided a lot of feedback to that team from SEOs and searchers. Danny Sullivan also shared examples from the internal Google ranking fair of notes and presentations he put together from SEO feedback and searchers for consideration in future Google Search changes.

In his new post on X, Danny showed how he is providing feedback to the search team on the helpful content update, parasite SEO, writing for Google and not users, improving Google’s documentation, and a wild idea to provide a tool to us to tell us what is considered helpful content.

Here is that tweet:

Someone asked me this week for examples of how I bring the feedback people have outside Google back into Google. Good question. I’ve done this in the past. Here’s a fresh one. After the discussions I’ve had over the past two weeks at an in-person event and online, I compiled a…

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

Here is what the document says:

This is probably the fundamental stumbling block so many have. It’s also understandable. They want to be found on Google, so they want to please Google, and the concept that the best way to please us is to actually not think about us is difficult to grasp. But it would be well worth the effort for us to find new ways to approach this and reiterate this guidance.

We also need to recognize that our search results are, indeed, an effective part of our documentation.  People do look at them to see what works – or what they can get away with. Our guidance even encourages people to compare themselves to other pages in our results – something we probably need to amend to say something like I covered in this post:

Do a search, look at the sites that come up. Those are what our systems find helpful. That said, the systems aren’t perfect. So if you see a site that seems to be doing things against our guidelines, it might not be successful in the future.

Over and over, people noted large publishers that seem like they can write about anything and get rewarded. A compilation of such complaints is here.

Does SEO Feedback Matter?:

Related is the idea that “parasite SEO” sites win, sites that lease themselves out to third-parties and then content ranks on these sites that would never succeed on a different. This is different from big sites winning for original (but not necessarily people-first) content, but the two get conflated.

Can we have a helpful content tool?

As mentioned above, there’s a desire (such as here and here) for some type of tool or examples to help people better understand what we mean by helpful content or something that identifies if a page or site has been impacted by the helpful content update.

For those asking if they’ve been impacted, I tend to give the advice we already say on our page – if we said there was a helpful content update and you saw an impact, yes, that was from it. So look at what page might have dropped and assess from there.

I also floated the idea of taking our self-assessment questions and turning them into an interactive tool (this is a very rough idea of how that might work) Possibly, we could begin sharing some actual examples (such as here) or generic/stylized examples like this:

I’ve had publishers worried that one single page of whatever “unhelpful” content is will cause them to drop in rankings. Some are fearful they can’t have anything that’s “off-topic” for what their blog or site is about. Some think even having a part of a page be unhelpful might doom their entire site. All this is despite our page saying that a site needs to have “relatively high amounts” of unhelpful content to be impacted and that things are weighted.

Some of the engagement may be helping. Certainly there’s more we can probably do. But even the more calm people are confused. They don’t know if there are swathes of content they should drop, how to identify that, or what. Some worry that content just being “old” isn’t useful. Others worry that if people aren’t coming to their content from search, then it’s clearly not helpful – and yet, they view it as archival content they don’t want to get rid of.

We certainly don’t want people dropping content just because it’s older. It’s something I reiterated in my in-person talk. I stressed it’s more about dealing with content that wasn’t created for people-first. But it remains a hard concept for some to grasp.

Here are more posts on this after some SEO feedback:

I have different document I shared with our search team dealing with some of the issues that have come up in relation to schema and recipe sites, based on recent feedback. Stars don’t boost rankings. I also don’t think they’re that useful given how anyone can “rate” a recipe in…

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

I can’t guarantee that what I bring back into the search team will happen. There are lots of things that are taken into account for any type of thing that’s considered. But yes, things I’ve lobbied for (along with others) do get adopted.

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

It is hard. It’s contradictory to what people would naturally think of. It’s also key to being successful, because so many people go wrong starting from the other direction. So if we can figure out a way to better communicate this, and live us to this, the better.

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

The best way to decide what to do with your older content is to think about your readers. If you think it’s helpful to them, leave it alone. If you think that a date helps communicate that it was helpful at that time, that you made it for people at that time, and it’s helpful for…

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

If someone thinks their content is useful for their users, that’s it.

That’s what Google is using signals to align with. The more you try to think “But what does Google want,” the more you’re getting away from what Google wants, which is that you should be doing things for your…

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

Here is some of the SEO feedback from the SEO community on this post:

If you missed this thread from Danny yesterday, it’s well worth a read. He covers feedback he brings back to the Search teams about the HCU, parasite SEO, writing for Google versus users, Google’s documentation, possibly getting a helpful content tool (yes, tool), and more:

— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe)

Danny just confirmed that Google are in fact reading tweets for info in the SERPs… it shows how they still need our insight into improving their Algo, and that Google aren’t the all being, all knowing entity that some in this industry have come to believe.

— Charles Floate 📈 (@Charles_SEO)

Google is listening to our SEO feedback. TY Danny for this.

Danny shared his notes that he brought to Google after talking to site owners re the helpful content update.

I really like his idea of Google creating an interactive tool for people to use to go through their self…

— Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes)

Seems like recent twitter discussions have actually been noticed. It’s nice to feel heard.

Will we still see CNET ranking for best multivitamins in 2024?

Imagine if a domain could only rank for those subjects it built it’s authority in? And not just push it’s pagerank across to…

— Mike L 😊 Entity & Semantic SEO (@mikey1090)

Thanks for the question. Here you go:

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison)

Here are screenshots of those notes in case they go missing in the future:

It is good to see Google taking our SEO feedback and at least discussing it internally.

Forum discussion at X.

This content was originally published here.

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