Does anyone have a handle yet on what quality signals Google are using or may be using to rank sites? I can't get my head round this from my fairly wide sample of sites.
I have very odd results. For testing on a throwaway domain I have 25 identical spam pages just with keyword changed, 6 rank really well still the others do not rank at all! None of these pages have external links to them and both have equal amounts of internal links.
Two quality sites for different towns in the same region, one has good search traffic and very strong positions the other just isn't listed in SERPS. Both have the same type of information, a map, history, lists of hotels, places to visit etc... and all on site optimisation is identical. The design and layout of both sites is identical. The ranking site is much much older than the non listed site.
It just seems pretty random to me! I must admit that some sheer spammy auto generated drivel is ranking better now than it every has before! This is just plain wrong!
I'm seeing really ugly hard to read and navigate sites dominating some niches. I'm noticing some formerly strong sites suddenly missing or slipping down.
I applaud you for trying to test and to learn from the results firsthand.
There is a wide range of quality signals that Google is looking at. Not all quality signals are calculated into the formula at the same time. The algorithm is not a simple equation where a+b+c=ranking score. Even if the algorithm was as simple as this, unfortunately your test seems to have some flaws. It does not take into account the level of competition that can vary greatly for each keyword.
Also your test does not take into account Google's Rank-Modifying Spammers Patent. I am not saying they are using it but webmasters should remember it could be used and would skew tests results.
When I build a content page here are some things I like to include: -H1 tags (not for spamming but usability) -Synonyms (Google probably isn't using LSI but synonyms helps users and manual reviewers) -Relevant content links (I don't rely on run of site links, I favor links within content) -Inbound links from wide range of relevant sites on different IPs going to relevant deep content
These test pages have all been up and unmodified for over 2 years now so I doubt the Rank Modifying is at play here but I suppose you never know!
I'm seeing normal businesses with no SEO coming to me asking for help because their site has dropped out of Google! A few have sadly just gone to the wall but you can't put all your eggs in one basket (although the other baskets BING YAHOO ALTAVISTA and MSN are only small players now)!
It would just be really handy to get a feel for what makes a site stand out as quality. I'm finding it almost random from my own extensive research!
Well Google originally became the leading search engine by creating an algorithm that judged a site's quality mostly by its ability to attract natural backlinks. Evidently that's still a big factor in the algorithm albeit with complications.