A surprise discovery by a local online marketing company Reboot Online Marketing Ltd has the potential to shake the online marketing industry.
Reboot, known for their regular running of experiments designed to shed some light on how some of the worlds most sophisticated algorithms work has come across the discovery quite by accident while running a completely unrelated experiment. One of the key specialist areas that Reboot online are known for is Google penalty recovery. I.e helping site owners remove any penalties which are often applied either algorithmically or sometimes manually by Google on websites for breaking their Google Guidelines or, in other words, for trying to ‘game the system’. These can be devastating with estimated £12 Billion of business lost every year in Europe alone. Many times, this is due to overzealous or plain irresponsible SEO tactics applied by less than trustworthy, low cost online marketing companies.
Their MD, Shai Aharony said in a statement that during a routine ‘prod’ of the Google local ranking algorithms, they have stumbled on a ‘defence mechanism’ which google puts up during times where the algorithm suspects some foul play such as attempts to game the results. Shai said “We were in the middle of an experiment run and we were not as careful with our footprints as we normally would have been. While fetching some sites from Google Search Console, we observed behaviour that suggested that the crawling of a site during a fetch is not the same as a normal crawl.”
What the experiment shows, is that it seems that Google’s algorithms have differing ‘runs’ and levels of how deep the algorithm would inspect your site depending on how suspicious it is to it. What they have demonstrated that it is now possible to gauge the level of penalty a website is in by fetching it and observing any changes in rankings. “If you suspect there is some sort of filter, penalty or a weigh down effect on a particular page, we suggest you fetch the page from the Search Console and observe any ranking changes after the cache date/time has been updated. If you notice a raise in ranking followed by a return to the normal position a few days later, then it’s likely that there is a negative algorithmic ranking effect being applied to your page. On the other hand, if you fetch the page, and observe no temporary ranking improvement then it’s likely that your site is ok and you need to look elsewhere for answers of why your site is not ranking well.”
There are other very deep implications to this discovery which we have agreed not to disclose. Reboot online are worried that a related symptom of this ‘loophole’ can be used by many to make what is termed “Negative SEO attacks” on other websites much easier and more effective.
Speaking to Reboot has really increased our awareness of how complicated the Google algorithms really are. The term AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been mentioned many times and the belief of how Google are increasingly using patterns to make decisions of how to crawl or deal with sites is nothing short of scary.
If you want to learn more, then I would suggest you head off to their excellent SEO blog and have a read. It is highly recommended but be warned, it’s certainly not what I would term ‘light reading’