This morning I got in a heated debate with Danny Sullivan over the topic of, should search engines update their algorithms during the big holiday season.
It started when I posted about the Yahoo! Search Update that is confirmed and taking place right now. I told Danny, that if Google confirmed the update that some speculate they are doing now, that webmasters and SEOs would be up in arms.
I respect that Google is holding off on an update at this time (or at least trying to).
In any event, Danny told me that he doesn’t feel search engines need to push off updating their algorithms for the holiday season. His main reasoning is that search marketers should not be 100% dependent on organic search traffic and dependent that search engines won’t make changes at this time. It is bad business practice. I agree with that.
The question then came up, why is Google avoiding an update now? What is the primary intention here for Google?
(1) They don’t want site owners to get hit hard at this most important time for their business?
(2) Google doesn’t want to get slammed by webmasters with complaints and bad PR over an update at this time (like they did with Florida three years ago).
I suspect the answer is both of them, but I seriously wonder what is the primary reason…
My reporting style is to take a look at the community reaction to changes in the search space, and report based on that buzz (pulse) at the Search Engine Roundtable. So if Google did an update, I would probably have to take a hard stance on Google, scolding them for such an update at this time. Why not scold Yahoo!? Well, currently, the threads (two of them) are not large enough and tempered enough to warrant that. Why is it not large, probably because Yahoo! is not on the top of SEOs radars (like Google) and possibly because the update is not a big one… Time will tell.
When it comes to Danny’s reporting style… I would guess he tries to separate himself from both the SEO, webmaster, site owner and search rep side of things and give an unbiased opinion. That being, do not base your whole business on organic traffic – you need a security blanket. Shame on you for not doing your due diligence. (FYI – I am not quoting Danny, just trying to anticipate his thoughts).
Overall, I think search engines should not do updates during this time. They can do a lot of work behind the scenes, and push them through January 1. But between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1 – I would hold off. I believe Danny disagrees with me on that.