To be core, the algorithm needs to be consistent enough to run by itself without much worry that it won’t work right.

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Last week’s news that Panda is part of Google’s core ranking algorithm has gotten SEOs buzzing about what exactly being part of the core algorithm means. Now, Google has shared some more information about that, saying that the algorithm is consistent enough to not require many changes in the future and can run with less hand-holding.

In a Q&A with Google’s Andrey Lipattsev, he spends a good amount of time explaining the confusion around what it means to be part of the “core” algorithm, and also why it is hard to sometimes define a Google update.

It is less about the functionality, which means it probably doesn’t change that much over time and it is more about how we perceive it, in the context of the algorithm. Do we still think this is an experimental thing, it is running for a while and we aren’t sure how long it will last? Or is it likes PageRank, it is part of it, it will always be there, at least in the foreseeable future and then probably call it in certain context part of the core algorithm.

He also cites how Gary Illyes from Google tried to explain it on Google+ with this analogy:

I think this is really the worst takeaway of the past few days, but imagine an engine of a car. It used to be that there was no starter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starter_ [engine]); the driver had to go in front of the car and use some tool to start the engine. Today we have starters in any petrol engine, it’s integrated. It became more convenient, but essentially nothing changed.

For a user or even a webmaster it should not matter at all which components live where, it’s really irrelevant, and that’s why I think people should focus on these “interesting” things less.

Andrey Lipattsev explains that Gary meant here that Panda is now part of the core ranking algorithm, and it means they do not need to know how it runs any more. It’s been tested, it works, and it can now run by itself without much worry.

Ammon Johns, in the hangout, then said, “Once they forgot how it works, it is core?” To which Andrey Lipattsev replied, “That is exactly right.”