Matt Cutts Gives A Google Algorithm History Lesson

    March 13, 2012
    Chris Crum

Most webmasters these days are probably more concerned with more recent Google algorithm updates. While you certainly want to acknowledge the things Google has had in place for years, Google puts out big lists of changes on a monthly basis, and if you want to stay on the cutting edge of what the search giant is up to, it’s good to follow these lists.

That said, it’s also interesting to jump in the time machine and look back at how Google has handled changes in the past. This video doesn’t have any real SEO value to webmasters of today, as far as I can tell, in terms of providing fresh ideas for how to rank better in Google in 2012, but again, it’s interesting if you want to learn more about the inner workings of Google.

Matt Cutts has posted one of his Webmaster Help videos, but this time addresses a question about Google’s history (submitted by a user):

According to “In the Plex,” the last Google Dance and everflux switch came with update “Bart” but, in an earlier post you said it was “Fritz”. Did the last Google Dance and switch to everflux come with update Bart or Fritz?

Today’s webmaster video covers ancient history: Google dances, BART, and Update Fritz: 3 hours ago via Tweet Button ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

“It’s critical that we nail down all these last little bits of ancient search engine history,” says Cutts.

“Bart was the internal code name. It was actually, if I remember correctly, named after a particular salesperson, who was especially fresh, so if somebody comes to a Halloween party dressed as Barry Bondage, that’s pretty fresh, right?” he says. “So…named after a salesperson internally, Bart. It was known as Fritz externally, because whenever the Google Dance would happen, it would happen about once a month, and basically you’d have several data centers, and each night we would take one data center out of the rotation, and we would put new data on it.”

“So for about a week, we were swapping now old data versus new data, and so for that week, you’d have the Google Dance, because you’d hit either old data centers or new data centers,” he continues. “So once a month, people would look for the Google Dance to happen. They would name them alphabetically like hurricanes. You start with A early in the year and then B the month after that, and so summer, which was F, you’d have gotten to Fritz. So they called it Update Fritz.”

“And I remember, Fritz lasted all the way through the summer of, I believe, 2003, because it was really Everflux,” Cutts says. “That is, it was changing to an incremental update system. So rather than a batch system that would update once per month, it was, OK, we’ll update a certain percentage of our index every night, and so the index was always changing. So internally, that system to have very fresh results was called Bart. Externally, people called it Update Fritz. So I hope that explains the difference between those two names.”

The story does illustrate that internal and external names can sometimes cause confusion. Google, in its monthly lists these days, always shares its internal names alongside the changes. This will likely help keep the names straight as points of reference for commentators as time goes on.