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Google ranking secrets revealed - Part 1

Google has recently filed a patent that details many points that Google uses to rank web pages. The title of the patent is "Information retrieval based on historical data" and it confirms the existence of the Google sandbox and that it can apply to all web pages.

In this article, we're trying to find out what this means to your web site and what you have to do to optimize your web pages so that you get high rankings on Google.

Part 1: How your web page changes influence your rankings on Google

The patent specification revealed a lot of information about possible ways Google might use your web page changes to determine the ranking of your site.

In addition to web page content, the ranking of web pages is influenced by the frequency of page or site updates. Google measures content changes to determine how fresh or how stale a web page is. Google tries to distinguish between real and superfluous content changes.

This doesn't mean that it is always advisable to regularly change the content of your web pages. Google says that stale results might be desirable for information that doesn't need updating while fresh content is good for results that require it.

For example, seasonal results might go up and down in the result pages based on the time of the year.

Google possibly records the following web page changes:

  • the frequency of changes
  • the amount of changes (substantial or shallow changes)
  • the change in keyword density
  • the number of new web pages that link to a web page
  • the changes in anchor texts (the text that is used to link to a web page)
  • the number of links to low trust web sites (for example too many affiliate links on one web page)

Google might use the results of this analysis to specify the ranking of a web page in addition to its content.

Section 0128 in the patent filing reveals that you shouldn't change the focus of too many documents at once:

"A significant change over time in the set of topics associated with a document may indicate that the document has changed owners and previous document indicators, such as score, anchor text, etc., are no longer reliable.

Similarly, a spike in the number of topics could indicate spam. For example, if a particular document is associated with a set of one or more topics over what may be considered a 'stable' period of time and then a (sudden) spike occurs in the number of topics associated with the document, this may be an indication that the document has been taken over as a 'doorway' document.

Another indication may include the disappearance of the original topics associated with the document. If one or more of these situations are detected, then [Google] may reduce the relative score of such documents and/or the links, anchor text, or other data associated the document."

This means that the Google sandbox phenomenon may apply to your web site if you change your web pages.

What does this meant to your web site?

First of all, you should make sure that your web page content is optimized for Google. If your web page content is not optimized, all other ranking factors won't help you much.

Try to find out if the keywords you target on search engines require static or fresh search results and update your web site content accordingly. Make sure that you don't change too much at once so that your web site won't be put in the sandbox.

In upcoming newsletter issues, we'll discuss other important factors that can influence your ranking on Google and that are mentioned in the patent specification..

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August 2005 search engine articles