Google Algorithm Update: Big Daddy December 1, 2005

Google has done a lot of algorithm updates over the years, but one of those which caused the biggest stir was the Big Daddy Algorithm.

Unlike many of the changes which been done over the years, this 2005 update to the systems was done mostly in the open so that there was sufficient warning for SEO experts.

While it’s so far in the ever-changing world of the past as to be almost irrelevant, it’s a great case study for those who are looking to understand how Google does their algorithms.

Read on and discover what made this a special moment in Google’s history.

What Was the Big Daddy Algorithm Update?

The main focus of the Big Daddy was the propagation of new servers which Google was using. It was announced as an infrastructure update for Google.

Due to the open announcement of the update itself, it was easy for SEOs to give direct feedback.

Two IPs were announced which were rolling out the changes.

The main focus of the Big Daddy Update was to affect the SEO power of low-quality links. Anyone who’s been in the game for a while knows that link quality is often more important than the number of backlinks you’re receiving, especially once you begin to get your numbers up.

As always, Google’s updates are almost mystical. Without confirmation and with the inherently complex nature of the algorithm everything but what is confirmed directly by the search giant is always speculation.

Confirmation was only given on link quality, but the feedback asked for from SEO experts included the following:

  • Inurl as a search operator
  • Redirects, including 301 and 302
  • URL Canonicalization

So it likely included a lot more than what Google has let on.

What Wasn’t Included

Some places discussed Google’s “supplemental index” as if it were the same thing, but that was actually a different update entirely. The supplemental index, for those unfamiliar, was essentially a “second class” of pages which marketers affectionately called Google Hell for the years it was active.

By 2007 the supplemental index had been mostly phased out. Its relevance is now mostly a footnote in Google’s history.

It wasn’t part of the Big Daddy update, although you’ll sometimes see it listed as part of it if you go back far enough in internet history.

What Was the Result?

The Big Daddy Algorithm update turned out to be one of the more painless Google algorithm updates for the most part.

This is partly due to the fact that the infrastructure change was announced and feedback was given through the experimental servers before the update went live.

Matt Cutts announced the update at Pubcon in 2005. From here, more information was slowly fed to those who were interested, including the two IP addresses for the new data center where the updates were going live.

The update went fully live on March 29th of 2006 to a bit of fanfare in the SEO community.

Thankfully, most of the results seemed to be relatively benign. Unlike some of the other major updates in Google’s history, there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about for the average SEO expert.

Since feedback was collected before the initial launch of Big Daddy, Matt Cutts claimed there were only two major complaints:

  • Some sites weren’t indexed due to low trust links
  • Pages crawled by AdSense showed up in the index

So, overall it was a success for everyone involved.

Looking back on the update it’s clear that many issues were raised by SEO professionals at the time but the majority of these weren’t actually related to the infrastructure upgrade that ended up being referred to as Big Daddy.

For the most part, however, the Big Daddy Algorithm was the kind of update which was more behind the scenes than anything. It wasn’t any kind of world-shaking madness like the Jagger update but it made enough of a difference to be of concern.

Thankfully, most SEOs of the day found that it wasn’t something which broke their business or busted up their SERP rankings too badly, although some of the concurrent updates that were mistaken for Big Daddy certainly caused a bit of chaos.

In the end, the improved user experience and relatively “under-the-hood” nature of the update meant that it didn’t require a lot of action on the part of those who made their living through understanding search engines.

What We Can Learn From Big Daddy

Google has always been a relatively strange company. Since their service is used by almost everyone at this point, it’s not surprising that they opened their update to feedback.

Since SEO became a thing, however, there have always been people trying to manipulate the algorithms through underhanded means.

While this inevitably gets shut down, it’s just a reality for the tech giant so it’s pretty rare that they’re open about the exact nature of their updates.

So the Big Daddy update and its changes to the algorithms, as well as changing the way that sites were indexed were relatively minor. Instead, it was the call for feedback and the early launch of the data centers before they went live on Google proper that was a game changer.

Google has since gone back to being relatively silent about their algorithm updates, but they’ve continued to pull in their users in one form or another for feedback.

Take Building Maker for example, which was a temporary subprogram of SketchUp where users created buildings for use on Google Earth. Basically, Google is known to incentivize feedback for many of their products, even if their search algorithms are often thrown into the wild with little or no warning.

Moving Forward

The Big Daddy Algorithm update remains an important milestone in Google’s algorithm history, although not for the same reason as some of the more infamous updates which occurred.

The truth is, however, that each update incrementally changes the game for SEO and marketing professionals.

There’s a reason that we’re still around after all if SEO was easy and never changed then everyone would be doing it.

If you’re looking for an SEO expert who understands Google intimately and wants to help your business climb the SERPs, then check us out!