Again, it’s been a long time since our last Blog article has seen the light of day. We’ve decided to write about a very vaguely known Google ranking factor: the website track record. Before we enter into any details I would like to state that this is by no means a working name, “Google Website Track Record” is just what we thought would make the most eloquent name for such a ranking factor.
So… to the point: did you ever wonder why sometimes, when you make changes to a website, changes as big as a redesign, the website usually holds it’s positioning in the organic results? Unless you have done something terribly wrong, the redesigned website gets the same/almost the same positioning. We have to emphasize that if you were to launch the old site and the new one at the same time under a different domain name, chances are that their ranking would differ a lot. Ok, many of you might argue that content is King, and that’s the same, but we are talking serious redesign, as in text and design both changed, updated, improved. Now on the other hand, have you noticed that however hard you try to do on-page SEO xhtml/wording changes to your site, they seem not to have any short-term influence whatsoever on your ranking/positioning?
Webmasters and SEOs have long been playing with the idea of a Google website positioning change delay. What this means is that whenever a webmaster does changes to his/her website’s copy or html structure, it’s effect on the general ranking in the Google organic results is being delayed. This is very plausible, since before this delay was introduced, most SEOs could just do ABX Trials and see what technique really improved the overall ranking of the website. Now, much like a brute-force protection on login interfaces, seeing the result of a certain SEO change lasts tens if not hundreds of time more, so it is not feasible to tamper with it. SEOs must rely on much more exact knowledge than just trial and error.
So what about errors that persist even after months, like 2-3-6 months? Let’s take for instance a case where someone copies the entire content of your website. We’ve been through this twice, once with our own website and another time with a customer’s website. The effect was very bad, if not disastrous. I guess Google still can’t tell who copied who for certain, and they never stated they could, at least not for sure. A good website has good copy, which grabs top positions in Google, and that is a sign for other, not so well-informed webmasters to copy your website simply because it has good content. Now, the truth is that it’s simply a red flag for Google, because when content is the same 1. the website has nothing original/new to say, the content gets diluted 2. Google can’t rely on text to determine the quality of the site compared to the copied site and must rely on the rest of the factors which is actually kind of an error on their part. In our case recovering took at least 6 months.
Google penalty – many might say in an instant, but no, we managed to determine the webmasters to delete the copied content, changed much of ours, filed for a reevaluation of the site and received an answer stating there was no manual action taken. Automatic penalties don’t last this long, maybe 30 days, but not this much…
This is just one example of the many things that make us think there’s more to this than a simple delay. We at Marconi Media think that just as a legal system, Google has it’s own track record mechanism for each and every website out there. Google employees have publicly stated numerous times that there are cases when one is better off acquiring a new domain name and creating a totally new website than cleaning up the bad backlinks and what they did wrong on the website. There are many webmasters out there who “Repented” and disavowed all bad/paid for links and changed their site, adding great content, and we don’t see a clear pattern of their sites recovering after being demoted. Some recovered, some didn’t. Thus, the site was cleaned, the track record wasn’t.
The idea of a track record brings up many many questions. Is it like a point-system, like some states/countries have a driver’s licence point system, where the driver loses his licence after having received a certain number of “bad” points? Or is it like a file, with custom scales to measure the good and bad things the site has seen so far? If I were Google, I would certainly have track records for websites, because even if a website is doing fine now, maybe they bought links in the past and maybe they are just going by the “Content is King” right now, but at the first glimpse of a chance to trick Google, they will relapse.
So, the question is not whether the Google Track Record exists, because it most definitely does, how else would they keep track of penalties after all. But more like how do they keep track of our websites. Do everyday changes matter? Do we get positive points for things like updating the content of our website more often? Do we get minuses for abandoning our blog for too long? How soon do penalties expire? Do penalties add up, as in: is it worse having 2 penalties on my track record than one? And, which is the point of no return, when a new domain is the only answer.
-by Negulescu Matei