Testing Google's Quick Ranking of New Content
A recent article by the Google Operating System blog resulted in quite a lot of excitement in the SEO world although I'm not entirely sure why. The observation that the author of the article shared is that Google is promoting new pages to the top of the SERPs despite that new content not having any authority because it is new. This phenomenon is 6 months old though and that's why I'm confused about the current excitement. I've seen new posts go to the top of the SERPs right after they were published including a recent experiment with auto-generated content. Such news posts would then drop away after a few days and then follow the normal process of climbing the rankings just like any other page.
What I'm curious about though is whether Google's supposedly new ranking behavior can be tricked into giving high rankings to same content that would otherwise require a lot of effort. That is, if I have a page where the content doesn't change, but the URL does every couple of days, will that content maintain relatively high rankings because it appears to be new whenever the URL changes? To that end, I've put some code together to create a single new URL every couple of days along with 301 redirects from previously used URLs to the latest URL. Hopefully such a test with just one page won't cause my site any harm -- it's all in the name of experimentation after all!
Here's the initial link to the static content page with lovely, keyword-rich anchor text: seo ranking checker.I chose these keywords because there isn't much competition for them, but the SERPs do include a few authoritative sites in the top positions. Also note that the URL will change with the passage of time and not with the number of clicks so you won't see anything different if you keep refreshing. I'm not going to guess at the outcome, but here are the possibilities as I see them:
- Google ranks the page highly as it does with other new content, but the page drops away after a day or two. This decrease in ranking happens regardless of the new dynamic URLs I'm using.
- Same as above except the ranking never drops presumably due to the constantly changing URL which makes the page look new every couple of days.
- The page doesn't rank well enough or at all in which case I'll have to come up with another test.
If, after a week or two, it appears that item 2 describes what is happening, I will disable the new URL functionality. This should result in a reduction in ranking as the page stops being new. And if the ranking does drop, it'll also add support for the whole new URLs get bumped up theory.
If instead the page behaves as described in item 1, I don't think I'll have conclusive proof of anything so I'll have to put some more thought into another approach to testing. Perhaps just watching the behavior of new content published by other blogs would suffice, but where's the fun in that?
Update: January 8, 2008
My experiment page debuted in Google at position 68. That's unfortunately too low for me to conclude anything from my experiment. I think my mistake here is that I linked to the experiment page from a blog post rather than making a blog post the experiment page. As such, I gave up the benefits from pinging/rss feeds.
Update: January 18, 2008
It looks like my test page has dropped to around 150 in Google. That's a little interesting. It suggests that I did get a bit of boost when the page was new. I'm doing a manual update of the URL now and redirecting to the new URL to see if I can increase rankings.
Update: January 21, 2008
Checking rankings this morning and I see a bump in rankings. The page is now at position 42 which is better than the ranking of the original URL. Same content, same anchor text, but different URL plus a redirect from the old URL.
Update: January 22, 2008
The page is now at position 30.