By Ben Hollom

Have you ever wondered why there are certain pages that rank at the top in search results and then over time their ranking drops? Have they done something wrong or was it down to Google? The search engine´s head of spam, Matt Cutts, explain why this happens more often than you would think.

One of the reasons for such a drop is the fact that Google may find it hard to track the original source of freshly added content and, as Cutts puts it, Google takes its “best guess” to rank the page. As time goes by, the search engine gets to index more signals that help it figure out the most relevant result for a query and search results settle down days or weeks or months after the first appearance of a piece of content. That is why, new pages may rank higher in the beginning but as relevant signals pile up, things settle down and a page may start slipping down.

According to Cutts, this occurrence may take place only with certain queries. Some queries deserve freshness and this is where QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) comes in. QDF is a mechanism that Google uses to determine what is hot in search and in blogs and ranks it higher. However, there are other queries that would rather search for more settled, “evergreen” results and the time factor is not very likely to play a part in ranking, he explained.

Google´s algorithm cannot be static, as it has to deal with limited information at a certain point in time and this information changes either in terms of content or in terms of links. The search engine takes into account local search, personal search history and many other factors which make search results dynamic and moving over time, he concluded.

Ben Hollom

April 11, 2013