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Mueller says Google estimates the signals for the ranking of new sites

In a Hangout Webmaster, Google’s John Mueller was asked if new websites should rank only content-based, competitive keywords. The answer given by Mueller provided details of how Google’s algorithm handles new websites.

Google Estimates Signals?

Mueller shared interesting facts about how Google estimates the signals about a new website and will start rank it in the search results.

Mueller suggested that Google often gets it right, and the signals ultimately confirm that their estimate of the utility of the new website is proven correct.

He also said their estimates can sometimes indicate a site might not be worth ranking. But that will start rank the site once the signals kick in and based on those signals Google will.

That is information that is interesting.

This is the question:

“Theoretically, could a website that’s only one to two weeks old rank for top positions on Google for ultra-competitive head keywords say for example for shoes With significantly better content only, considering it’s the most important part of the core algorithm?

If not then clearly time is a factor when it comes to ranking pages for highly competitive areas no matter how good they are unless new pages are created on already established websites.”

The question is based on the premise that content is “the core algorithm’s most important part” and therefore if a new site can not rank then it means that time is a factor.

There are, of course, other factors beyond time, such as links and likely when users send signals to Google that a website is useful, topical or trending.

In his response, Mueller covers those factors but then goes further and provides more details He starts by stating that there is more than one answer to a theoretical question.

This is the answer of John Müller:

“So… I think these kinds of theoretical questions are always a bit tricky because the answer is: Theoretically lots if things could happen.

But… in practice things are not so theoretical. So I don’t really know if there’s a good answer that would be useful to give for something like this.”

How to Google Rank New Websites

Google ranks with several factors

Now here’s the part where Mueller offers details on how Google might choose to rank a new website, or not. The point is that there are more factors to rank a new website than just the time.

John Mueller:

“So… I think these kinds of theoretical questions are always a bit tricky because the answer is: Theoretically lots if things could happen.

But… in practice things are not so theoretical. So I don’t really know if there’s a good answer that would be useful to give for something like this.”

Does Google estimate the ranking of New Sites signals?

This is the interesting part as he is thinking about the estimation of signals. There are algorithms in what’s called the Score Modification Engine that do that type of thing.

The following is from a Google patent titled Search Results Ranking.

“The search system… also includes or can communicate with a score modification engine… that generates modification factors that are applied by the search system… to initial scores generated by the search engine… for resources that match the query…

The search system… also includes or can communicate with a score modification engine… that generates modification factors that are applied by the search system… to initial scores generated by the search engine… for resources that match the query…

The score modification engine… can generate the modification factors based at least in part on modification data that associates a respective modification factor with each of a number of multiple groups of resources. The modification data is stored in a repository accessible to the system, e.g., a modification factor database…”

The patent above made no mention of the rating of new websites. That makes it important is that it describes a system where a “score modification engine” based on factors outside the ranking engine, can re-rank the web results. That sounds a lot like what Mueller describes when he is talking about estimating a site.

Here is where Mueller speaks about estimating:

“In particular, with completely new websites, one of the difficulties that we have is we might not have a lot of signals for those websites so we have to make estimates.

And depending on how we make estimates, it can sometimes mean that in the beginning we show this website a little bit more visibly than like it turns out that the signals tell us in the end.

It could also mean that in the beginning we show this website a little bit… less visibly than the signals might tell us in the end.

So that time period of understanding the website and understanding how it fits in with the rest of the web, that’s always kind of a factor there.

But that can go both ways. It can go in the direction of like you’re shown very visibly in the beginning.

And it can also be that maybe you’re shown less visibly in the beginning and as we understand your website and how it fits in with the rest of the web then we can kind of adjust that.

And we do have different algorithms that pick up on things really quickly. So for example, some news item happens and we try to pick that up within seconds.

Sometimes it’s also new websites that show up that we try to pick up really quickly.

So it’s not like time is the only thing that matters or time doesn’t matter at all. There is lots of nuance.”

Takeaways

Google is including estimates of ranking signals for new sites. Mueller has not said on what those estimates are based.

But since there are no factors other than on-page factors for a new site, one can only guess that on-page factors are what Google bases its estimates on.

Certain possible factors which could be used are historical data about sites which shared similar content profiles and became useful and non-spammy websites.

Another perspective is that time isn’t a key factor in ranking a site. The belief that time is a factor in the ranking is very old. It’s called a Sandbox for Google. Google has consistently denied that new websites are being held back by a time-based factor.

John Mueller’s response shows that there are many algorithms at work which determine whether or not a new site will rank immediately.
Holding a site back to test whether it is trustworthy isn’t one of those algorithms. Google’s concept of a Sandbox has long been discredited. The answer given by Mueller gives an idea of why some new sites will rank and why others won’t, and how the process is too complicated for a yes or no response.

As Mueller asserted, “There is lots of nuance.”

Watch the Hangout webmaster here:

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