The team over at Google have published a new guide to their ever-changing ranking system & algorithm updates. The page has been published on Google Search Central and will keep you informed and updated on the relevant systems used to rank search results and which ones are no longer active.

Core algorithm updates and spam updates are made throughout the year which ultimately are one-time changes to the ranking algorithm, but the main takeaway of the guide is the introduction of new terminology and phrasing with “systems” being the stand-out word from the report.


A system is different from an update. The system is constantly running in the background to help Google deliver better search results and will receive updates to help further improve it.


What are the current Google search ranking systems?


Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or simply BERT for short is Google’s AI system that is designed to understand how a combination or combinations of words can have different meanings and intent.

Crisis information systems

Google has developed a system to provide timely information during times of crisis. This is mainly centred around Personal Crises or SOS alters.

Deduplication systems

This is Google’s search system that is designed to detect duplicate or near duplicate content or web pages. The system is in place to only show the most relevant results and avoid unhelpful duplication.

This system is also directly involved with detecting duplication on featured snippets. If a site appears on the SERP (search engine results page) this system makes sure the listing is not repeated later on the first page and makes sure the results page is decluttered.

Exact match domain system

This system ensures that Google does not give too much credit to a website or domain that uses a search query or keyword-heavy name. The exact match domain systems works to make sure an advantage is not gained by creating a domain designed only to match a popular search query.

An example would be someone creating a domain containing the words “best SEO agency in Leeds” for the purpose of exploiting the phrase or keyword. This system combats that to ensure only relevant quality content would rank for the SEO Agency keyword.

Freshness systems

This system is to make sure Google displays fresher content for queries where it would be expected. For example, if someone was searching for a particular World Cup game the information displayed would be based on the recent or upcoming game ahead of any historical matches.

Helpful content system

The helpful content system is designed to make sure that users searching see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results, rather than content made solely to gain search engine traffic.

Link analysis systems and PageRank

This system understands how pages link to each other as a way to determine what pages are about and which might be the most relevant response to a query. 

Local news systems

This system is designed to identify and show local sources of news whenever relevant to the user’s query.


Multitask Unified Model is an AI system that is capable of understanding and generating language. It’s not currently used for general ranking in Search results but it does improve featured snippets.

Neural matching

This is another AI system that Google uses.  It is designed to help understand representations of concepts in queries and pages and match them to one another.

Original content systems

The purpose of this system is to help show original content in search results. 

Removal-based demotion systems

This system allows Google to punish and demote websites if they receive a high volume of content removal requests.

Page experience system

Google uses the page experience system to assess a variety of things, such as how quickly pages load and mobile-friendliness. Ultimately this decides if a website provides a good user experience.

Passage ranking system

The passage ranking system is an AI system Google uses to identify individual sections or “passages” of a web page to help understand how relevant a page is to a search query.

Product reviews system

A system designed to reward high-quality product reviews that provide insightful analysis. 


RankBrain is an AI system that helps Google to understand how words are related to concepts. This means Google can show more relevant content even if it doesn’t contain all the exact words used in a search, by understanding the content and concepts.

Reliable information systems

Google has indicated that they have multiple systems designed to work in various ways to show the most reliable information possible. This works to reward authoritative pages with high-quality content and punish low-quality sites and content.

Site diversity system

The site diversity system makes sure that Google won’t show more than two web page listings from the same site in the top results for a query. 

Spam detection systems

The system works to detect content and behaviours that would violate Google’s spam policies.

Work the system? 

Despite what you may have heard or read elsewhere there is no quick way to beat the system or get ahead of Google. Google continually evolves the system to clearly reward quality sites and content.

The best way to ensure you maintain a competitive advantage over your competitors on the SERP is to keep up to date with the latest best practices or engage an agency with expert knowledge in On Page SEO , Off Site SEO ,  Technical SEO & Blog Writing 

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