Brian Dean’s list of Google’s 200 Ranking Factors is the most comprehensive list I’ve ever seen, but it’s missing one thing. One key ranking factor that is rarely talked about, but is just as important as any on-page or off-page SEO.
The Throttle Factor
But before I get into that, we first need to look at Google from the right frame of mind.
At the end of the day, Google is a machine and all machines work in a certain way. Theoretically speaking then, there should be a formula to rank your site that should work across the board.
Why is it though that:
The answers you’ll generally get for these questions are:
All of these are true, but is there more?
I’ve personally had sites receive the exact same links but react drastically different, so there must be something missing.
I thought about this and thought, “why is there no formula to rank”?
The answer is pretty obvious, Google or other search engines want to discourage SEO. If there was a formula for it, it would completely ruin their business and no one would ever pay for ads again.
Thus came the thought:
What if there is a 201st Factor that randomly affect how sites rank? This would surely throw all SEO’s off as it would make coming up with a “formula” that much harder.
I went out to test it.
Google randomly throttles the rankings of some sites with no logical or apparent reason. Some sites are affected, whilst others are not.
To make this a completely fair and rigorous test, there needs to be some link manipulation involved (aka blackhat SEO).
We bought 12 brand new domains and set WordPress up on them. We decided to have 2 groups of sites:
*there was no logical reason why we chose 5 and 7 domains.
Other details include:
We sent identical anchor texts from the exact 5 same PR sites to each Money Site (see diagram below).
This meant that each money site had the exact same quality of links and anchor text coming in.
Results were very interesting, as we saw a very large variation in rankings.
Home Repair Niche*
*This test was done prior to the Panda 4.0 update.
Prior to any link building, we already saw a huge variation in results (some KW sitting on page 4, whilst others on page 11).
After some link building, we saw an increase across most keywords, however the links truly highlighted the winners and losers.
The winner of the group of 7 domains was ranking 9th for 1 keyword, whilst the worst performing site was ranking 106.
Home Construction Niche*
*Right after we ran our first test, panda rolled out so we decided to do a couple more. This test was done in June 2014
Here are the results:
As you can see, there is clearly 1 winner which Google clearly likes a lot more, but for no apparent reason given that the sites were all set up the same were the links.
One thing to note with this test is that post panda, a lot more sites are not ranking at all.
Our hypothesis was correct in that there is a throttling that causes some sites to rank and others to not.
In addition, we can note that:
We’re still finalizing some other tests before we put them up, but each test is indicating that there is some additional factor that is built into each site that causes it to rank (or not rank).
For the latest on throttling and the latest SEO news, check out our test lab.