Google Explains Why Your New Page’s Number One Ranking May Drop

matt-cutts-ranking-downGoogle’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts posted a video explaining why it is not uncommon to see a new page rank very well in Google early on, and then, that ranking declines over time.

Matt explains that sometimes, Google has a hard time figuring out the original source of a new piece of content. But over time, i.e., days, weeks, months, Google is better able to figure out the most relevant result for a query due to indexing more signals over time. Thus, over time, the search results may settle down to a particular state; but early on, new pages may rank high and lose their rankings over time.

Certain queries that deserve freshness, that is where QDF – Query Deserves Freshness comes from. Other queries prefer more evergreen, more settled content, Matt explains.

Here is the video:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Lilacor

    More reasons for a sudden SERP drop here:

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Might want to post a link that works next time.

  • Lilacor

    Jaan, the link works just fine, I just checked it. Here is the whole link:

  • Ted Ives

    A very vague and rambling video. I don’t take this to really mean anything about establishing authorship.

    What Matt is not mentioning is, measuring the Click-through-rate for a particular page at a particular position, so you can compare it to the system-wide clickthrough rate at that position for that query (i.e. relative CTR) is one of the best “behavior” signals search engines can use.

    Google uses relative CTR in Adwords (a system which displays an ordered list of titles and descriptions – exactly like Organic). They call it in Adwords “Quality Score”, but don’t acknowledge they use it on the organic side.

    This would be a perfect explanation for why pages initially rank high, then settle, because to get a good measurement you need data – requiring allowing new pages to rank highly for a bit, to get data on where they *ought* to rank.

    It would also explain in aggregate why there is still so much junk in the SERPs – some level or percentage of constant testing is the cost of doing business.

    To use behavior variables, as Google has talked about, without using the one that by definition gets them the *most* data (i.e. CTR – you have to click before you can bounce or behave otherwise ;-), would be really foolish.

  • Alex Garrido

    Basically, not even Google is perfect.

  • Enginuity Search

    It’s an interesting problem which we at Enginuity Search have been working hard to solve with social relevancy ranking. We explained our findings and how our technology helped with this problem.

  • Hemanth Malli

    Very neatly explained why the new landing pages get high rank at the beginning. In order to maintain the rank we need provide more fresh and new updates and information for our page visitors.

  • Wisnu OPS

    I think what Matt Cutts really say is “Ups, sorry for this error. And sorry we can’t fix it now. But it’s tolerable, right?”. (and yes it is tolerable imho).

  • Jamie Knop

    If they weren’t using relative CTR in organic like in Adwords then I would be suprised. Perhaps Google don’t want it to be “public” so it can be abused. There are a few services out there already where you can buy traffic that will come through Google for the keywords you set, then spend time browsing your website. If it was a proven way to rank higher then them few services would become 100,000′s of services. Shame really.

  • Wisnu OPS

    I agree that to get a good measurement, google need data. That’s why new pages rank highly for a bit. But CTR is not the only measurement. There are Return to SERP rate too and probably other measurements.

  • Arun Jaiswal

    It’s really Funny answer… MC Comparing SE Algo with Earth-Quack..

    How he could justify this .. As we know that SE Algo is purely based on DATA available..

    whereas Earth-Quack NEVER predict and it is purely natural.

  • Arun Jaiswal

    very TRUE :-)

  • Tasha

    I think Google don’t want to expose its algorithm. That’s why Matt has not fully explained reason behind the new page rank drop.

  • benlanders

    “This would be a perfect explanation for why pages initially rank
    high, then settle, because to get a good measurement you need data –
    requiring allowing new pages to rank highly for a bit, to get data on
    where they *ought* to rank.

    It would also explain in aggregate why there is still so much junk in
    the SERPs – some level or percentage of constant testing is the cost of
    doing business.”

    @Ted – EXACTLY!

    It looks to us like Google keeps testing a high and a low position with new pages and uses visitor data to narrow down the most appropriate long term position for the page. So… it’s kind of like you have XXX impressions to make a first impression with Google. Do it well and your new page/site/etc. will stay ranked high. Fail to deliver and your page drops.

  • Sandeep Pattanaik

    Yeah I am agree with you.

  • Josh


  • Tim Vickery

    The unofficial reason could be – Your rankings will drop once we get an idea of your conversion data to force you to use Adwords.

  • Godbole Kirankumar

    That was a extreme perfect explanation thank you matt….

  • Anon

    They give you a taste of high rankings and then drop you so you sign up for AdWords. Google has completely destroyed organic search for the almighty dollar. I’m out and SEOs who don’t want to be unemployed should be looking for a new career.

  • Serdar Yakın

    This is the very usefull video our site is if you visit we will be happy

  • Skippy Joe

    Exactly Tim, that is right on!

  • Skippy Joe

    Too bad all the SEO’s out here can not pull together and create a true SE. I love Google and there is no better company currently to compete but they are definitely forcing businesses to use G+ and Adwords. It’s pretty easy to see what is happening in the big picture. They are setting the foundation for the next generation of internet which will be much different that it is now.. When they start connecting the lines with Google Fibre and products like Google Glass and G+ and Adwords it will be a different world… It’s coming sooner than most people think.

  • Peter Wang

    Some of my good-ranking pages lost traffic over night and others still work well. Can you give me some suggestions how to solve it.

  • Facebook User

    Hmmm, trying to keep up with all this is very confusing for the complete novice.

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