wingslevel - 3:05 pm on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)
Call them algo updates, data refreshes, tweaks or whatever. 2012 has started off with a flurry of these -almost weekly it seems.
We may not all agree with these changes, but, I think there seems to be a consensus here that the implementation of them has been really sloppy. There are so many signals crossing each other and then different indexes (like primary and then longtail) - that so many of us are seeing periods of obviously low quality traffic. The whole algo has just become so complex that it just may not be manageable for google engineers anymore. Imagine a panda team, other old quality score indices, oop, -50, toolbar data, GA data and then all of the on page stuff (which seems to matter less and less in my experience). So when a team changes one of those dials, it sends shockwaves through the serps. I can't imagine anyone could be smart enough to get their arms around all of these signals and teams and coordinate sensible SERPS.
I think another thing might be at play too. Imagine the processing required to run what must be hundreds of thousands of lines of code through billions of pages of data in separate indices.
Whatever the reason, the engineers at google are seeing the same garbage that many of us are. They are aware of those huge swings in conversions and traffic quality. I think it has just spun out of control and they are just lost.