How Danny Sullivan shares SEO issues with Google’s Search team

Ever wonder how Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, compiles feedback on issues related to Search and then shares those details with the wider Google Search team?

Sullivan regularly does this work but has only shared examples with the public a few times. He shared some of the latest feedback he’s received Nov. 3.

What Sullivan shared. In a recent post on various social platforms, Sullivan wrote:

  • “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 write-up that runs about nine printed pages long, covering themes, thoughts, concerns and suggestions that were shared with the search team. A sampling from that.”

The notes. Here are interesting excerpts from the notes, although he posted screenshots of them as shown above:

Everyone is doing things for us. all If you tell someone to make people-first content, it’s not uncommon they fall back into thinking how they show us – Google – that it’s people first. “So you’re saying I should have an author bio to rank better?” No! They should have bios because their own readers would expect that!

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.

Related is the idea that “parasite SEO” site 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.

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. 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:

Past examples. It’s been more than four years since Sullivan publicly shared examples of him sharing feedback from SEOs, creators and users with the Google Search team. Here are two of those posts:

Why we care. On some level it is nice to know that we do have people inside Google that do take our feedback seriously and share them with the wider Google Search team. I know it is not just Sullivan who does this but also other teams at Google, such as John Mueller’s Search Relations team.

We also know that it takes Google time to compile, review and process the feedback and then sometimes even more time to decide if they should take action on that feedback. Finally, programming that feedback into the various search algorithms and search interfaces can take even longer.

So don’t expect any of this feedback to result in changes in Google Search in the next week or two. These changes take time.

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