In September 2005, several webmasters reported changes in the rankings which led to speculation about an algorithm update. The fake update was named Gilligan, which stuck even when Google insisted that they didn’t tweak the system.
Matt Cutts, a Google spokesperson, did admit that the index was updated with new pages, backlinks, and PageRank data. These factors may have contributed to the purported changes in the algorithm that led to shifts in the SERPs. June’s updates with personalized search, mobile web search, and XML sitemaps may have also played a role in the stir that was felt by the webmaster community.
While Google was adamant about the fact that they didn’t update the search engine, a majority of webmasters were in consensus that there was a change. A forum thread in WebMasterWorld initially dubbed the phenomenon as Gilligan, but the title was then changed to “False Alarm” after Cutts denounced the unconfirmed update.
Some webmasters, though, still believe that it was an update because they define one as an event that involves a significant change to the search engine’s underlying index; whether it’s noticeable or not. Google may have added a considerable number of new pages to its index or changed the way it reports visitor counts, which affects the rankings of websites in one way or another.
One website reported that what had begun as five indexed pages suddenly became 120. Meanwhile, another company had to have their SEO contract rewritten since it was based on how competitive a keyword is in Google when the counts for those search terms shot up.
Cutts clarified that Gilligan was not a real update; it was merely backlink and PageRank data being noticed by the webmaster community. Until today, Google is constantly changing up its algorithm and, consequently, keeping SEO specialists on their toes. No digital marketer can predict what future updates will entail. The only sure thing, though, is that Google is focused on providing relevant information to its users.
Google currently has 200 ranking factors which include:
Focus on these core principles instead to stay afloat even with Google’s regular algorithm updates: