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facts, myths, and questions about google se rankings
facts, myths, and questions about google se rankings
pbmadman




msg:3195170
 10:22 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hey all,

I've been lurking this forum off an on for a couple of years. Thanks to the experts for the great information. I also have a hobby site that I've had for a couple years to try to learn about SEO. I've tried many of the ideas discussed on this forum... I get about 200 google referrals per day on my hobby site... which is chump change compared to others here. Here is my opinion of what the FACTS, MYTHS, and OPEN QUESTIONS about search engine results ranking for websites. I welcome comments, corrections, answers or additions to the three lists.

FACTS:

- number incoming links from other sites is most important factor by far, the higher PR the incoming site, the better

- buying tons of incoming link can trigger a "-30" penalty, in which your ranking will be 30 below where they would be otherwise

- KEYWORDS, DESCRIPION, URI directory name, and clean HTML contribute to higher rankings, but not as highly as

- There is a "google sandbox" in which a site can take some time before google starts listing a site highly. This sandbox period can range from weeks to more than a year.

- The longer your site is live, the better your rankings will be.

- Google's proprietary method for determining rankings is dynamic and continues to change. Google engineers are interested in giving people what the search for, and they continue to work on the algorithm to that end. They are constantly looking for new ways to determine a site's quality and relevance to search terms.

MYTHS:

- google has a mass list of sites that are manually determined to be penalized by google employees

- incoming links from lowly rank sites can hurt your ranking

- incoming links from a page named "link.html" can hurt your ranking

UNKNOWNS:

- Duplicate content does not hurt you per se, except for the fact that the pages with duplicated content compete with each other for rankings

- Incoming links from a site that is ranked lowly can hurt your ranking

 

ratzmilk




msg:3195241
 11:38 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

"MYTHS:

- google has a mass list of sites that are manually determined to be penalized by google employees "

Nope, that's a fact.

You fill out a spam report, a Google employee inspects the site, and has the power to ban/delist/remove the page/site/domain/IP Address/C-Block etc.

Ergo, the (mass) list of these sites that have been removed by a Google Employee for what ever reason must exist.

leo11877




msg:3195255
 11:52 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

How about affiliate links on your site?
I think a few doesnt hurt. but too many does

How about too many errors encountered by Googlebot?

fibalogger




msg:3195325
 1:21 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

- number incoming links from other sites is most important factor by far, the higher PR the incoming site, the better

---> Yes, I think also....

- buying tons of incoming link can trigger a "-30" penalty, in which your ranking will be 30 below where they would be otherwise

---> It depends also on the time period in which they are bought/added

- KEYWORDS, DESCRIPION, URI directory name, and clean HTML contribute to higher rankings, but not as highly as...

---> ... external links. Thats true.

- There is a "google sandbox" in which a site can take some time before google starts listing a site highly. This sandbox period can range from weeks to more than a year.

---> Correct. It depends of the severity of the key. With baby keys, there is no sandbox needed and thus not present.

- The longer your site is live, the better your rankings will be.

---> I would say, the more easier is it to optimize, but thats the same ;o)

- Google's proprietary method for determining rankings is dynamic and continues to change. Google engineers are interested in giving people what the search for, and they continue to work on the algorithm to that end. They are constantly looking for new ways to determine a site's quality and relevance to search terms.

---> I think, Google is able to afford the best software engineers and are continously working for a better quality of the search results.

MYTHS:

- google has a mass list of sites that are manually determined to be penalized by google employees

--> Maybe they have that list, but not enough employees to check them all. I think, the software is intelligent enough, to mix many factors together and if preset limits are crossed decide then, if a manual check is necessary.

- incoming links from lowly rank sites can hurt your ranking

---> No! Maybe they have no influence, but never a bad one.
Otherwise you could kill your conmpetitors with your cheapest pages.

- incoming links from a page named "link.html" can hurt your ranking

---> Why not? Its an indication for nonnatural links and easy detectable with good software engineers. I would do so as I am a google member.

UNKNOWNS:

- Duplicate content does not hurt you per se, except for the fact that the pages with duplicated content compete with each other for rankings

---> Ok, but at least DC is unnecessary, and tell me one reason to list the same XXit for several times within the Top 10 :o)
In case of different domains, it should be googles job to find out who's the original owner of the content, but Google will prefer the strongest of them. So PR keeps still a little bit of its authority :O)

- Incoming links from a site that is ranked lowly can hurt your ranking

---> Yes, and Santa Claus repairs Google in time ;o)

Haecceity




msg:3195418
 3:43 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

- incoming links from a page named "link.html" can hurt your ranking

---> Why not? Its an indication for nonnatural links and easy detectable with good software engineers. I would do so as I am a google member.

I don't see why link.html would be a sign of nonnatural linking. It's natural to call a contact page contact.html or a search page search.html, and in the same way many people will call their links page link.html or links.html. The file name doesn't tell you anything about the naturalness or artificiality of the links.

RedWolf




msg:3195425
 3:56 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

- incoming links from a page named "link.html" can hurt your ranking

---> Why not? Its an indication for nonnatural links and easy detectable with good software engineers. I would do so as I am a google member.

Actually, it is very natural. Think back to the times before Google and this who idea of PageRank came up. It was very common for sites to have a links page usually called links.html where the webmaster would put links to other sites he liked. I still have that on several of my my sites and it doesn't seem to hurt them or the sites they link to.

helpnow




msg:3195467
 4:57 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I speak from experience - Duplicate Content is not a myth: it will kill you rankings, and once you fix it, 3-8 weeks later, your rankings are restored. It happened to us TWICE this year, due the first time to our own stupidity in which we actually created the duplciate content, and then a SECOND time due to a server port that omitted the dup content fixes.

The negative effect of Duplicate Content is NOT a myth. Please trust me. You do not want the pain I went through this year.

I've seen it affect us up and down twice, and thus have been able to unintentionally simulate the effect by basically deleting the fix and watching what happened ; ) ...

fibalogger




msg:3196164
 5:29 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

@ Haecceity & RedWolf, I've expressed it wrongly. I don't think it will be penalized, but maybe they ignore link.html-links in the future. But anyhow I think endless lists with links are nonnatural and not corresponding to the googles idea of a natural linking.

Possibly:
A preventive measure to avoid that "COULD" be, - but must not be - another titulation. But it costs me nothing to take another name, thus why not?

Down to earth:
I think, Google watches the page independendly from the titulation and watch the relations between number of links / content / anchor and is able to recognize a pure link-page anyway, but realistic it depends on the power of the domain. If Wikipedia links within a list, each single link is stronger as some single links from other sites.

Supplemental: The strenght of each link decreases which any further added link on a page.

Finally, I would say: I' don't know, but it doesn't hurt to take another name for a link page.

sem4u




msg:3196177
 5:32 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

How about affiliate links on your site?
I think a few doesnt hurt. but too many does

Well they never hurt Amazon...

jwc2349




msg:3196201
 5:48 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

helpnow:

Thanks for your post. It is great to hear from someone who has experienced the pain. That is credibility.

I have experienced the pain myself--for the past year--with the minus 30 penalty. We just fixed a ton of duplicate content. Based on your experience, do you think duplicate content can trigger the -30 penalty?

egurr




msg:3196281
 6:31 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>> incoming links from lowly rank sites can hurt your ranking

Yeah this one can certainly go in the myth stack. The google bomb is proof of that.

SEOPTI




msg:3196563
 10:20 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

MYTH:

If you search for Sergey Brin followed by a search for your domain your site will receive extra bonus.

fibalogger




msg:3196572
 10:30 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've tried it out and hoping... ;o)

helpnow




msg:3196775
 2:39 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

to jwc2349:

Please forgive me for my tardiness in replying - it's the holidays! ; )

The notion of a minus 30 penalty is new to me. I must confess, I wasn't watching for it specifally at the time of my woes. I do not know if it is true or not, but I do not suspect so - it may just be a coincidence. It seems to me that a minus 30 penalty woudl be unmanageable on a grand scale. Might seem consistent for a webmaster here or there, but I bet in the end, it does not hold true unfailingly for everything with a problem. I might be wrong. I know some people here with dup content have suggested their site dropped hundreds of ranking spots, so that seems to betray the notion of a minus 30.

However... Since I became aware of the minus 30 concept, I have SPECULATED that perhaps what I did see when we were in trouble was something _close_ to a minus 30 ranking shift. But it wasn't like that with all keywords, and rankings jumped aroudn enough that it was sometimes minus 20, sometimes - 40 (gulp!), and so on. Never always minus 30, which is why I suspect it is not a hard and fast rule. Just a coincidental anomaly.

Let me quickly elaborate. Our site is huge, and we have tens of thousands of pages. We are awesome ; ) at the long tail, and we "own" many keywords in that we are #1 / #2. Now, I know for a fact that for some of the keywords I watched daily (and even more often that that ; ) ), we slipped from #1 to bottom of page 1, or maybe top of page 2, or maybe from #1/#2 to a single at the top of page 3, or the bottom of page 3 or even page 4 (which always caused even great duress as we wondered what is happening now!?). So, it was not always minus 30, and it jumped around. In the days and weeks we were in the toilet, a keyword would shift around between page 2 to page 4, in a variety of positions.

But when we got our rankings back, it was instant and across the board in a 24 hour period, and once back, our rankings were secure and stable. They swung back like the switch had been turned back on the magnet, and it would not let go. Since we got our rankings back most recently, we have survived every data refresh etc. etc. spoken of at this board. Absolutely no movement, and I must say, I see very little movement close to us. In one case, BBC is #1, we're #2, and that has never changed. In other cases, we're #1/#2, and I recognize very well #2, because when we fell, they grabbed our #1 spot. So, the shift in our ranking was specific to our site, and not a shuffling of the keywords in the sector. We dropped, fixed our problem, and regained our former positions.

We have improved our site as well, adding content like crazy, so, it is reasonable that in doing so, we have decreased the possibility that we are affacted by data shifts. However, our fix on dup content was a very specific quantifiable problem, and once fixed, we simply waited with abated breathe, and then one magical afternoon, we shifted back. Enough to make a grown man cry. ; )

In terms of time to return, when we first went down, it took us about 2 months to figure out what heppened, then about a week to implement the fix, then 6 weeks to regain our rankings.

In the second instance, it took about 6 weeks to lose our rankings when we crazily deleted the fix during a port to new servers, and then once we realized what had happened <shaking head at the memory>(for 6 weeks on the new servers all was well, so we never imagined we had trouble brewing), it took us about 10 minutes to revert to the previous fix (we just neded to copy over the correct httpd.conf file and restart apache). <shaking head again> Anyways, we then prepared ourselves for another 6 week wait, which was brutal, but to our great relief, we regained only 3 weeks later.

So, there is another potential SPECULATION that the amount of time the dup content exists may affect the amount of time it takes to return, but that is JUST SPECUALTION, but it is consistent with our experience. We are crawled every day constantly by google and the others, so, I don't know... But there may be something to _this_ particular notion...

Other specualtion about adwords affecting things, etc. etc., may be true (I greatly doubt it), but were not consistent with what we experienced. It was straight up, a duplicate content issue, which, when fixed, caused our rankings to return.

Fix the problem (if you know you have dup content, then that is probably the problem, and you need to eradicate it TONIGHT!), then relax as much as you can, and wait.

Meanwhile, subscribe to the only viable point of view that you need to build a great site for visitors. Forget worrying about incoming links, and meta tags, and so on - we don't. Our site ain't perfect, and I don't even know if it HTML validates properly, etc. Though the value of incoming links is true, they are _symptoms_ of a great site, and not what defines a great site. A great site gives users something of value, and all the metrics will betray this.

You can fool google some of the time, but you won't be able to fool google all the time. It will catch up to you.

Build a great site, and everything else will follow.

(And make sure you have no duplicate content and do not engage in anything below the table, the acid test of which is, would you proudly tell your mom what activities you've engaged in with your site?)

I wish you all the best, hang in there, and season's greetings to all!

helpnow




msg:3196793
 3:04 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

"MYTH:
If you search for Sergey Brin followed by a search for your domain your site will receive extra bonus. "

Woo-hoo! I get 2 results for my site! ; ) <LOL> Not in the same sentence, but, same page, good enough for me! ; )

Cheers!

tedster




msg:3196922
 7:01 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

For readers of this thread who might have missed it, we had a related discussion at the end of October

Google SEO Mythbusters - what is proven and what is guesswork? [webmasterworld.com]

steveb




msg:3196928
 7:19 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

FACT:

Facts and myths listed in facts and myths threads are equally likely to be a fact or myth, regardless of how they are categorized.

Haecceity




msg:3197286
 3:50 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Fibalogger:
Finally, I would say: I' don't know, but it doesn't hurt to take another name for a link page.

Agreed. At one point [webmasterworld.com] some people were finding that pages called links.html were getting PR0ed. This happened to me, so I changed the names of my links page to "resources" and got my PR back. But this phenomenon didn't seem, as I recall, to be very widespread and I'm not sure if Google continued with that particular filter.

fibalogger




msg:3198446
 9:12 pm on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the proof :o)
It is technically no problem to detect pages which are named
links / hyperlinks / partners / friends etc.

MThiessen




msg:3198571
 12:35 am on Dec 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

One of the greatest + I have seen is length the site is owned by the same person.

I have seen countless times relatively "crappy" site rank number one simply because they have been on the web from the beginning basically, like 1994 or so. Sites that have been around a LONG time and have NOT changed owners, IP or registar "seem" to me to carry the MOST weight.

Now, I could be wrong on this, but there are page-o-link sites that fit the above that STILL rank very high and have no real value. Why they rank high is a mystery, but a common denominator is the age of the site and the stability of ownership.

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