Google Algorithms Operate On A Sliding Scale - Office-Hours Notes

Key topics from Webmaster Central Office-hours Hangouts with John Mueller.

1. For all our algorithms we try to have a sliding scale between how they react to a site.
2. But wait, can't TRUST be turned Off through a Manual Action?

Google Panda, as well as Google Penguin, all operate on a sliding scale, in the sense that these algorithmic penalties are not used as on / off switches. Some websites with serious issues may get heavily filtered, others with only moderate quality problems may get filtered lightly.

+John Mueller's regular Webmaster Central Office-hours Hangouts have been helpful & informative as usual.

This week I'd like to share some points from his Hangouts that have recently been the subject of discussion on whether certain of Google's algorithmic penalties operate on a sliding scale, or are just all "On, or Off".

Apparently interest in this topic started 2 weeks ago with a tweet from Matt Cutts...

"@chipnicodemus I'd recommend continuing to clean backlinks though. You still have a very mild case of Penguin."

That topic was continued here at Search Engine Watch on April 8, 2014, A Very Mild Case of Google Penguin? as well as quite a number of other SEO blogs.

We do pretty much for all of our algorithms, we try to have like a sliding scale between how they react to a site. And it's never the case that something is either "on," or "off," because there's always this lot of room in-between. - John Mueller


Agent Rank is here! The Google+ Verified Entities Authority Blueprint

Google+ was built on Agent Rank's link based reputation score template - AgentRank+ Part ①

1. Agent Rank the Patent Vs. Author Rank the shifting baseline.
2. Separate Google Author Credibility Score based on authenticity.
3. Back to square one for answers in the Agent Rank patent.
4. AgentRank+ is the Plus in Google+! The blueprint for G+ authority.
5. All ⑭ Claims of the Agent Rank patent already active as described.
6. The Million $ question: Does AR already affect ranking in Search

Agent Rank Plus - Part 1 - The Google+ Verified Entities Authority Blueprint Exactly one year ago I published, Is Google+ Page Rank the culprit behind the current suspicions of active Author Rank? The first of my PageRank in Google+ series titled. The story came about during a period of much analysis & discussion on the topic of what could be giving the noticeably strong ranking authority in Google Search to certain reputable Google+ Profiles, which tended to easily outrank all others, even outranking profiles with reshares of their own posts.

These reputable authors did not have nearly as high numbers of followers as some others, nor even as many +1's & comments overall, yet their uncanny ability to receive high exposure both in the Google+ platform itself & high ranking in personalized & non-personalized search were noticed by many.

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.” – Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (Feb, 2013)

For quite some time I had noticed that the Google+ Profiles (which are Authors) and the Google+ Pages (which are Publishers) all have their own PageRank score (viewable under certain conditions), which I referred to as Google+ PageRank or G+PR and that the entities with the highest G+PR score always had the strongest ranking authority.

How Google Plus SEO Affects Posts & Search Rank - G+ SEO 2014 ④

How does engagement affect the ranking authority of individual Google+ posts?

1. Mystery of the social media post's ranking roller coaster.

2. Google+ content changes authority with the flow of the stream.

3. In search of the elusive Google+ post authority source.

4. G+ rocket booster gets pages seen, but then pages must carry it.

Google Plus SEO - Part 4
The biggest question about our Google Plus SEO topic is probably, "How does Google+ content behave in the Search ranking, both the posts themselves & the website pages shared on G+ in post links? Does sharing links to our pages in posts help the ranking of those pages in Search?"

Many of us who've been sharing our blog articles, or website pages almost exclusively on the G+ platform, have seen excellent results for the same content in search time and again. While others have seen inconclusive or no improved search ranking results at all.

So why is there still quite a variety of opinions on this & why isn't everyone seeing the same results? It is often not well understood that there are a wide range of factors & habits that affect optimal results for every profile, page & post, including but not limited to the following...

PageRank Crawls & The Missing G+ PR Phenomena - G+ SEO 2014 ③

Jump into the Grid of Information Retrieval Technology for Answers

1. The phenomena of the missing Google+ profile PageRanks.
2. A deep dive into PageRank Iteration Optimization for answers.
3. Recrawl Scheduling Based on Information Longevity.
4. Google Realtime - the social search break up in favor of Google+.
5. John Mueller speaks out - on not using G+ just to build PageRank.

Google Plus Authority is Powered by People - G+ SEO 2014 ①
My Google+ SEO Ideas Confirmed At 322 Days - G+ SEO 2014 ②

In this article I'm going to explore several phenomena, the first being an older mystery and then a new one, and by delving into answers for the first, see if we can find the answers to the later. So let's jump into the into the Information Retrieval technology grid to see what we can find.

Phenomena #1

Most of the PageRank Toolbar (TBPR) updates show considerable lag between the time rank appears for pages & the time new pages are created. When TBPR updates occur the data there is never entirely current & usually appears to be a few months old.

Question: Why do all the TBPR "updates" not show the most recent PageRanks?

Phenomena #2

After December's PageRank 1213 update, as many as 2 thirds of Google+ profiles & pages are no longer showing any TBPR, their ranks formerly showing from the PR 0213 update, have now been blanked out from all available PR viewing tools.

Question: Where did the G+ profile TBPR's go and why? When will we be able to see them again?

Phenomena #3

While new PageRank collected for pages never appears immediately in the TBPR updates, penalties that have been manually applied to websites & pages even just prior to the update, can be reflected there immediately. And there are stories from afar (now confirmed) of other phenomena, that manual actions lifted might be quickly reflected in the TBPR, without even having to wait for the next update.

Question: Is some of the data in the TBPR more current than other data?

[Due to limited space, for Phenomena #3 I will continue that story in a follow up article, for which there are still many Google+ details to share. Be sure to follow me on G+Joshua Berg and SHARE THIS BLOG.]

1. The phenomena of the missing Google+ profile PageRanks.


In phenomena #2 I have observed that, after December's PageRank 1213 update, as many as 2 thirds of Google+ profiles & pages are no longer showing any TBPR, their ranks formerly showing from the PR 0213 update, have now been blanked out from all available PR viewing tools.

I recently did an in-depth analysis of PageRank of Google+ profiles & pages, comparing over 700 profile PR's from the February PR 0213 update, with the recent PR 1213 update, so you are welcome to look at those comparisons here.

My Google+ SEO Ideas Confirmed At 322 Days - G+ SEO 2014 ②

John Mueller: "if it's not nofollow... then we can forward the PageRank we have there."


1. My G+ SEO principle: Apply basic rules, don't create new ones.
2. Facebook and Twitter down. That just leaves... "Oh! It's us."
3. A year later, I talk with John Mueller & confirmation arrives.



Following are just some of the Google Plus SEO principles I've written about, or will yet cover, that are important to explaining how & why my ideas about G+ ranking work. Many of these are common formerly known principles of indexing, ranking & passing authority within Google's Search index. Then based on my observations (now it's confirmed knowledge) that Google indexes G+ content & ranks it the same as any other, I have applied these ideas to my following Google+ ranking principles.


1. Google's index algorithms treat Google+ Profiles, Pages & content like any other site on the web.

2. Google+ Profiles, Pages & Posts, pass / receive PageRank once indexed by Google Search.

3. The effect of Google+ links on search ranking? "We treat that as any other link that we can find."

4. The index passes appropriate PageRank to Google+ content by the same follow or nofollow rules.

5. Any Google+ profiles, pages & content not indexable (ie. set private), will not pass PageRank.

6. Google Plus does not have, nor give, authority of itself at all.

7. The authority given and received in Google+ comes from people (in the form of shares/citation).

8. Google bots reach & then follow on from Google+ content just like any other web.

9. Crawling is done by spiders who like to crawl on webs, they don't like orphaned dead-end pages.

10. Google+ content is not parsed and then ranked in Google's index by independent algorithms.

11. We don't have to test/theorize about new G+ algorithms, this all happens in the current indexing.

12. Plus 1's are not a ranking signal, but can help find content if +1 pages are public (indexable).

13. I was wrong insinuating earlier that G+ PR might not be "extremely similar." The PageRank throughout the web & Google+ are actually one & the same, what my wording should have emphasized better is that, it's only the G+ structure that's different.

While I'm discussing PR here, let's not forget that traditional PR would be associated and passed on based on particular pages, but G+ [profile] streams are not pages at all. So we can presume they will have similar results, [Emphasis here for what I meant] but obviously the structure would be different.  I also think that PR has evolved considerably and comments Matt has made [regarding Penguin & Disavows] also prove it, within the last year, or so. [Crossed out as inaccurate] We should not expect G+ PR to necessarily be extremely similar to PR as we have traditionally perceived it." Mar 11, 2013 - Joshua Berg

And I'm bringing this up about the structure of the G+ unidirectional stream being quite different than traditional webpages as a point of note, because I'll be explaining in another article why this also causes considerably different behavior in G+ post search ranking from traditional pages.

So how did we get on this story of PageRank in Google+ & its significant implications for SEO?

Google Plus Authority is Powered by People - G+ SEO 2014 ①

How Google+ SEO works from engagement with real people.

1. What are the powers of Google+ SEO for ranking in Search?
2. The power of engagement on Google+ for Social SEO.
3. What does Google+ PageRank authority have to do with SEO?

To introduce this 2014 G+ SEO series I will answer an important question I think many people and businesses came go Google+ with. Where does the power of Google Plus SEO comes from?

It is not in a Google algorithmic preference for this social media platform. It's not the Profiles, the Pages, the Communities, the Hangouts, the hyperlinks, the structure, or even the Authorship. The authority given and received in Google+ comes from the people.

Throughout this series I'm going to cover a lot of the new technical aspects of Google+ optimization, but I wanted to start with emphasizing the most important point of all, so that we don't get too close to the forest to see the trees.

Back in September I wrote the following which will be most pertinent throughout this subject:

Google's Penguin Brings Arctic Weather To PageRank

What are Penguin & Manual Actions doing to Google PageRank? - New PR Analyzed Part 2.


[Update: 8. Has second generation Penguin gone upstream to deny link value?]
[Update: 9. Can you Disavow Penguin if you haven't received manual penalty?]

1. The PageRank TB Update, December 6, 2013 Analyzed.
2. The Toolbar PR directly affects search rankings... NOT!
3. Using the PR 1213 for analyzing link removal & disavows.
4. PageRank penalties - as visible indicator of lost trust in a domain.
5. Long before Penguin, we had manual action PageRank penalties.
6. Is the PR Toolbar beyond redemption as a reputation metric?
7. Recovering from Penguin, or Manual Actions with Eric Enge.


Penguin has brought Arctic weather to PageRank for quite some time now, putting the freeze on many formerly prosperous industrial fishing ventures (aka. link schemes), which had overrun many local habitats. While this environmental phenomenon has been disastrous to some, others rejoice at the balance to resources the happy feet bring.

In part 1of this series A Bird of Another Feather, I asked the question, "Will PageRank again become a reputable symbol of authority?" as it clearly has not been for quite some time. So here I would like to examine the details of what Google is doing for better or worse to change that.

  • How much have the PR Toolbar ranks changed over almost a year?
  • How does this affect, or does it not affect actual search ranking?
  • How well is Google's internal PageRank algorithm reflected in the PR Toolbar?
  • Is there any real life usage we can get with the TBPR data? 
  • Are there any better authority ranking tools than the PR Toolbar?

The first part of this series Bird of Another Feather, may have ruffled just a few feathers, but not inconveniently provided an interesting interlude to below topic on the disputatious nature of the PageRank. While some of the related statements I opened this series with might have seemed a little controversial by themselves, here you will read about the bigger context.

It's link cleaning & not link scheming that we need to have a closer at.

A Bird of Another Feather - The New PageRank Analyzed, Part 1

Link schemes make way. Will PageRank again become a reputable symbol of authority?

1. How was this PageRank 1213 Update different from the others?
2. Recalibrating? - Joshua musing a Y2K of the PR Toolbar.
3. The real skinny on, "How PageRank updates work?"
4. PageRank is "always updating, it's continuous and continual."
5. The PageRank 1213 Update is only current up till September.

On December 6th, 2013, a Google PageRank Update rocked the SEO industry. Not only were webmasters not expecting it, some had even predicted the PageRank Toolbar updates might go away altogether. This after Matt Cutts suggested he'd be "surprised" if we'd even have another update this year, not to mention all the other changes Google has been making.

Personally I was not surprised these PR Toolbar updates have continued, as I believe they can provide more value now than they ever did before & not just to the SEO community, but to the web at large.

In May Google let loose Penguin 2 and then in August arrived Hummingbird, finally in December we have the rarest PR Toolbar update ever, and she is definitely a bird of another feather, compared with any of the past updates. I'm calling her PageRank 1213.

It has been almost a year since the last PR Toolbar happened in February & the Google Search algorithms have changed unprecedentedly since then. "So what has that got to do with PageRank?" you say. "Those changes are entirely separate algorithms & have nothing to do with them." But is that really so?

Well, I'm going to tell you exactly what they have to do with it & why this was not just "another" PR Toolbar Update. I'll also answer a number of other questions like...

  • Why does the PR of my website & so many others appear to have dropped?
  • Why hasn't my PR increased in spite of all the quality link building I've done?
  • Why do many newer pages & sites show no PR at all, despite receiving many links?
  • Where did Google Plus PageRank disappear to & can I find my new profile PR?

In-depth Articles, Evergreen & Fresh Content, a Golden SEO Goose

The high value of Evergreen Content & Google's In-depth Articles Markup.

Evergreen articles & content freshness, a golden goose of SEO. Let me explain my experience on how this works so fabulously well & towards the end I'll share a freshly valuable tip. Today +Mark Traphagen shared a fantastic post that reminds us of the high value of fresh content & he is right on with this one.

Once in a while I share some inside SEO tips of high value not commonly discussed, this is one of those tips. In fact it's been one of my secret weapons for a while, so don't go spreading this around. Shhhh...

For the last few years keeping content freshness has been a golden goose of mine where other factors were either difficult, or changing too much. Very high freshness even beat out many of the penalty algorithms when they first started hitting hard & I didn't really understand them.

I'll take this up a level here & talk about Evergreen Content, or articles. The best example of this is Wikipedia, it's how all of their content is structured & one of the strongest factors that have kept their content so highly relevant in search, but also to the users (value to users = value to Google). It tells Google, "this is still good content & it's just as relevant as it ever was."

On some websites I have built a good portion of content around this concept & setup a month by month schedule, where I would come back even once a week, or more and add to, or change the content appropriately. Some of these articles I would intentionally not add all aspects from the beginning and just keep adding sub-topics to & this would keep it highly relevant.

Note: when I'm talking about updating that frequently, this is an evergreen topical article, not a blog post. Blog posts can certainly be updated with value, but they're not structured for as frequent an updating as evergreen articles. The way Mark explains updating a blog type article with new & relevant information is just perfect.

So in my opinion, creating useful & industry, or topic relevant, in-depth evergreen articles, is simply a very effective SEO tool.

Now I said I have a freshly valuable tip & that is this...