Google Ranking Document Patent Explained

My site was indexed on the first page of Google until I made a few minor adjustments. Within days my site fell to the to the third page of Google. What happened? Should I undo the changes I made?”

First:  “Take a deep breath and relax.”

Second:  “As long as you have not done anything that violates Google’s Quality Guidelines, your website should bounce back. Be patient and DO NOT undo or make any other changes or you could be in for more trouble.”

Googles Ranking DocumentGoogle’s “Mess with the SEOers Head Patent

In July of 2012, Google was granted a patent that could have impacted your ranking; officially it’s called the “Ranking Document” patent.

However, for those of us who are active in the SEO Community we have been referring to it as “Google’s Transition Rank”, the “Rank Modifying Spammers Patent” and my favorite “Google’s Mess with the SEOers Head Patent”.

According to our peers in the SEO Community, below is how the algorithm has been documented to work:

  1. You make onsite or offsite changes to your website.
  2. Google’s Document Ranking algorithm then activates and “messes” with your position in its SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
  3. Google monitors to see if there are any other additional changes made to the document; if there are, Google may then designate your site as being spam.

Google illustrates how their patent would work in the following scenario:

When a spammer tries to positively influence a document’s rank through rank-modifying spamming, the spammer may be perplexed by the rank assigned by a rank transition function consistent with the principles of the invention, such as the ones described above. For example, the initial response to the spammer’s changes may cause the document’s rank to be negatively influenced rather than positively influenced. Unexpected results are bound to elicit a response from a spammer, particularly if their client is upset with the results. In response to negative results, the spammer may remove the changes and, thereby render the long-term impact on the document’s rank zero. Alternatively or additionally, it may take an unknown (possibly variable) amount of time to see positive (or expected) results in response to the spammer’s changes. In response to delayed results, the spammer may perform additional changes in an attempt to positively (or more positively) influence the document’s rank. In either event, these further spammer-initiated changes may assist in identifying signs of rank-modifying spamming.”

What is Rank-Modifying Spamming?

In Google’s application they identify rank-modifying techniques such as:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Invisible text
  • Tiny text
  • Page redirects
  • Meta tags stuffing
  • Link-based manipulation

What Happens if Google’s Algorithm Kicks In?

According to Google’s patent your old ranking is referred to as “old rank” and your new rank as “target rank”.

Now comes the fun stuff.

The changes you made maybe all legitimate but Google doesn’t know for sure.  Therefore, during your transition you may see:

  • a time-based delay response
  • a negative response
  • a random response
  • an unexpected response

This transition may only impact the one page you made changes to or it could impact all the documents hosted on the entire server which share a similar trait such as the site’s theme, the images, the content, and authorship.

Next, Google sits and waits for your response….

If it detects further changes, Google may do a manual site audit, ignore your changes or degrade your ranking if it suspects spam.

What Should You Do?

Relax and be patient…..

How long?

It’s anyone’s guess at this juncture, but in another illustrative scenario in Google’s application, they suggest that a document could lose rankings for 20 days before beginning a 70-day climb to the new rank.

What Are Your Thoughts/Comments?

What are some of your thoughts and comments about Google’s “Mess with SEOers Head Patent?”

Please share them in our comment area below:

Certified Master SEO Instructor by the Search Engine Academy and CEO and founder of SEO Training SW.
Roy Reyer
Roy Reyer
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19th February 2013 3 Comments

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