tedster - 7:59 pm on Aug 18, 2012 (gmt 0)
Patent hawk Bill Slawski has published an article [seobythesea.com] about a newly granted Google patent - one that seems to explain a lot of the odd ranking behavior that has been reported in recent times. The patent is named, quite simply, Ranking documents [patft.uspto.gov]
As I understand it, the idea here is to identify, by algorithm, what looks like an attempt to manipulate rankings in a spammy way. The patent details things like keyword stuffing, invisible text, link-based manipulations and so on.
Rather than allow the rankings to respond immediately and directly to those changes, the patent explains a system that would change rankings in unexpected, counter-intuitive ways - while the rankings change from a first position through transition positions and to the final "target rank" position. In other words, significant changes in position continue to happen even though there is no change in page's ranking factors!
During the transition from the old rank to the target rank, the transition rank might cause:
a time-based delay response,
a negative response,
a random response, and/or
an unexpected response
If these transitional ranking shifts are followed by what looks like a responsive action from the website, the URL or website which was previously only SUSPECTED as spam, might now be positively tagged as spam.
Read Bill's full article [seobythesea.com] (or the patent itself [patft.uspto.gov]) and see if it doesn't explain some of the odd behavior people have been reporting in recent months: