tedster - 5:41 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)
I'd like to refocus this thread on Traffic Shaping. I'm so happy that Shaddows shared his data and his analysis. The idea helps understand many ranking mysteries webmasters have been reporting - mysteries that don't make sense if we only think Google uses on algo, one ranking method, for all queries and all websites.
Here's my summary of the Traffic Shaping idea:
Google has a number of classifications (taxonomies, profiles) in several areas:
1. user histories
3. query terms
These categories are dynamically created (so they may be revised and refined) and also dynamically assigned. There appears to be a way of testing websites as to whether they are in the correct bucket or not. And sometimes Google tests this profile assignment - shifting it around over short periods, which can wreak havoc with traffic quality and/or volume.
If I were to guess what this means for SEO in a practical sense, I'd say:
1. Make your signals as clear as you can on every page, and avoid having one page (or site) be double focused.
2. If some kind of yo-yo starts up in your case, don't panic and don't make changes willy-nilly, but study how things are when they are at their best. Then if things settle out at their worst, you have an idea of what kind of profile Google thought you were. If that really is what you intend to be, go back to #1