Search is Science or Not – John Mueller

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Search is Science or Not – John Mueller

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    Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller advises SEOs not to look at search ranking as specific science with an absolute wrong or right way of doing things.

    In Search Off the Record Podcast, the recent episode of Google’s Search, the search team discusses the importance of various elements for the ranking.

    John Mueller from Google discusses the defects he sees individuals’ attitude toward elements. Mueller talked at length with this topic in episode three of the Search of Google Off the Record podcast. Mueller advises SEOs to not look at exact science with an absolute wrong or right way of doing things.

    Highlights of the Discussion

    Listed below are a few highlights in the discussion on search positions of the Google Search team.

    • John Mueller has just two frames of mind when it has to do with factors

    1. Search is not a science
    2. Things can change over time

    Obsessing over the strength of one position variable compared to another is a flawed approach.

    Mueller says there can be ways to achieve the desired result. Every website does not need to follow the same routine, so to speak.

    “I think that’s really important to keep in mind in the sense that there is no absolute truth out there with regards to which page should be ranking for which query…

    So it’s not that every site has to do the same thing, but rather there are multiple ways to get there and you don’t have to blindly follow just one ranking factor to get to the end result.”

    • There’s not just ‘one’ deciding factor in search ranking

    While there is no way to guarantee a stable position, Mueller says that the best thing SEOs can do is optimise for a variety of factors.

    “… the best way for a website to kind of remain in a stable position, which is not guaranteed at all, is really to make sure that you have a wide variety of different factors that you work on and kind of keep this diversity of your website upright.”

    Google Cares About Users Opinions

    Gary Illyes added into the discussion, stating Google takes user opinions into account when shaping its algorithm.

    Before getting pushed live, all algorithm updates are tested on actual users.

    Tests are conducted through experiments where one set of users receives the new algorithm, and the following set doesn’t. Google will determine whether the upgrade is either bad or good for customers based on the way they responded to the outcomes.

    “Anyway, I would also like to add there that we also take quite a bit of user voice into shaping the algorithm because when we evaluate new launches, then it is tested first on humans.


    Pretty much all the launches – be that live experiments, where actual users are getting the new algorithm, or a piece of the algorithm, into their search results and they can see different results, differently sorted results. And then we look at things like clicks, like how they reacted to the new results to understand whether the launch is good or bad.”

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    Search is Science or Not – John Mueller