To keep you all updated, we made some crazy changes to the search results on Monday afternoon. Google later confirmed it was a bug and things were back to normal. Google then explained the bug stemming from the indexing system. But what does that mean?

Here is Google's response on Twitter with the events: "On Monday we encountered a problem with our indexing systems that was affecting Google search results. Once the problem was identified, our Site Reliability Engineers promptly addressed and resolved it fixed in the meantime. "

On Monday, we discovered an issue with our indexing systems that was affecting Google search results. Once the problem was identified, our Site Reliability Engineers immediately fixed it and has since been fixed.
Thanks for your patience!

– Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) August 11, 2020

What does that mean? Well, I assumed that everything is connected. An error occurred with the indexing system that caused a ripple effect in the search results you saw on Monday evening.

Google's Gary Illyes shared more details on how things are connected on Twitter:

The caffeine indexing system does several things:
1. records fetchlogs,
2. renders and converts retrieved data,
3. extracts links, meta and structured data,
4.extracts and calculates some signals,
5. plans new crawls,
6. and creates the index that will be moved to serving.

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 11, 2020

Don't over-simplify your search because it isn't easy at all: thousands of interconnected systems work together to provide users with high quality, relevant results. Throw a grain of sand in the machine and we'll have a downtime like yesterday.

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 11, 2020

Okay, got it. But tell me more Gary …

There was something wrong with the index he said it had to be rebuilt and it is rebuilt quickly:

We still had the index (the db index) but something was wrong with it because it was made by Caffeine. This is why we said it was an indexing problem that manifests itself externally as a ranking problem.
Plus, we can rebuild the entire serving index (db) within hours, yes.

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 11, 2020

The problem with the indexing system resulted in really different results being rated. Now I saw that the ranking of new content was fine, so it was some kind of different indexing problem. It wasn't that Google couldn't index new content. Perhaps it has lost signals or something in its index that is causing ranking problems?

Gary added that the index database was not damaged, but the results were incorrect. Why? An error occurred with caffeine. Let me take you back to 2009 when Google launched caffeine. It was Google's new infrastructure for its index. It was a faster way to get content in the index. Well I think Google is still using it 10+ years later. In any case, something went wrong:

ス と い う こ と は 、 ル ー ト ① で 、 イ ン デ ス ス DB

The index db, from which the results are delivered, was wrong because caffeine built it up. Therefore the ranking was affected

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 11, 2020

It wasn't "weird data" but a "strange index," he said:

"strange index" would be more correct I think

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 11, 2020

Gary said this diagram, showing how data got into the system, was why things weren't working. Whatever Google has done has resulted in bad data getting into search results and being displayed by searchers. The following was shown:

That is very good!

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 11, 2020

Does this clear anything for all of you? In short, it looks like something went wrong when Google created the index that resulted in strange search results for searchers. But I know it's a lot more complex.

Forum discussion on Twitter.

Gary commented this:

Just to be clear, this is still a gross oversimplification and just an example of how one thing can affect something else. Butterflies, anyone?

Thanks also to everyone who pointed out that we were wrong and that this was indeed a ranking problem. 🙄

– Gary ly 理 / 경리 Illyes (@ethod) August 12, 2020


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