Ever notice how your recent blog posts have great SERP for a week, and then gradually disappear from Google? This has been happening like crazy for ValueWiki, so I decided to take a closer look at the Google PageRank Algorithm.
Digg Effect = Google Effect
It all started two weeks ago when Politics 2.0 and Interview With PayPerPost VC Dan Rua were Digged and Slashdotted on the same day. This prompted a wake of incoming links to our domain. The following week, Google began sending ValueWiki.com four times our regular traffic – to a bunch of pages that have nothing to do with this blog.
And now, this week, ValueWiki domain traffic has shrunk back to normal. What happened?
The Google PageRank Algorithm
PageRank was developed at Stanford University by Google founder Larry Page (hence, Page-rank) and Sergey Brinn. In a nutshell, PageRank determines a web site’s authority by how many other pages link to it. A high pagerank site will receive top search returns on Google.
The top secret Google PageRank algorithm is constantly updated and ammended, in order to make Google search better, and to prevent blackhat SEO guys from gaming the system! I did some digging and found this 2005 Google Patent submitted by noted Google engineers such as Matt Cutts. Sure enough, freshness is a part of the algorithm:
26. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more types of history data includes information relating to freshness of links; and wherein the generating a score includes: determining freshness of links associated with the document, assigning weights to the links based on the determined freshness, and scoring the document based, at least in part, on the weights assigned to the links associated with the document.
27. The method of claim 26, wherein the freshness of a link associated with the document is based on at least one of a date of appearance of the link, a date of a change to the link, a date of appearance of anchor text associated with the link, a date of a change to anchor text associated with the link, a date of appearance of a linking document containing the link, and a date of a change to a linking document containing the link.
Anatomy of a Google Surge
My current theory is that all of the fresh links from our random Digg/Slashdot day assigned ValueWiki an unnaturally high pagerank for about five days. As the “freshness” tapered off, our pagerank and Google traffic returned to earth.
According to the patent, one of the fundamental determinants of pagerank is inception date – the age of the website. For instance, this is why Slashdot has a higher pagerank than Digg.
ValueWiki is a very young URL and we have a baby-sized pagerank. Yahoo shows us with 29,219 inlinks. Google shows us with 340. Nyarg. Technorati shows 349 links to the blog alone. Where’s the love, Google? Hopefully with time, our authority will improve.