This is pretty old but makes for some interesting reading. A lot of this is still relevant today, a lot is not, but thought i would share anyway Google recently filed a US patent which reveals a great deal of how they rank your web site. Some of it you could never have guessed at... How many years did you register your domain name for? If it was only one then Google could hold that against you. Why? Because the majority of Spam websites only register a domain name for one year. A domain name registered for a longer period implies that the owner is more likely to be legitimate and serious about their web site. This is just one of the unusual factors possibly considered by Google when indexing and ranking a website. Factors you could never even have guessed at in some cases. How do I know this? Google recently made public, March 31 2005, the contents of their filing of United States Patent Application 20050071741. In which many of the search giant?s secret ranking criteria is revealed and it makes very interesting reading. You must read this if you are serious about ranking well in Google. The days of Spamming Google are drawing to a close. With this patent they reveal just how hard they're coming down on Spam sites. You Do Not want to get caught out. Listed below you will find the hard facts, I recommend that you bookmark this page now. You will need to reference it each time you optimize a new site. ? Links. It's common knowledge that Google relies heavily on inbound relevant links to rank a site. Now they explain exactly how it works. As well as the number, quality and anchor text factors of a link. Google seems to also consider historical factors. Apparently the Google 'sandbox' or aging delay begins count down the minute links to a new site are discovered. Google records the discovery of a link, link changes over time, the speed at which a site gains links and the link life span. With this in mind, fast link acquisition may be a strong indicator of potential search engine Spam. Gone are the days of pages and pages full of links. You must grow your links slowly to stay below the radar and be careful who you exchange links with. That means no more buying hundreds of links at once or other underhand tactics. PR is now very valuable. Your link anchor text should vary but remain consistent with your site content. No more using your main keywords on every link exchange you gain. That's 'anchor Spam'. Instead vary them around your top five to ten keywords. Link exchanges are still very important but you must work and utilize them ethically. If you don't and you get caught, the recovery from a ban can be months and your host and IP may also be recorded. Softly seems to be the message. The fact is fewer but better quality links will benefit you more and they will be much more likely to be over the long-term which is good too. ? Site click through rates (CTR) CTR may now be monitored through cache, temporary files, bookmarks and favorites via the Google toolbar or desktop tools. Many have suspected for some time that sites are rewarded for good CTR with a raise in ranking. Similar to how Adwords works. CTR is monitored to see if fresh or stale content is preferred for a search result. CTR is also analyzed for increases or decreases relating to trends or seasons. ? Web page rankings are recorded and monitored for changes. ? The traffic to a web page is recorded and monitored over time. ? Sites can be ranked seasonally. A ski site may rank higher in the winter than in the summer. Google can monitor and rank pages by recording CTR changes by season. ? Bookmarks and favorites could be monitored for changes, deletions or additions. ? User behavior in general could be monitored. As Google is capable of tracking traffic to your site you should closely monitor the small amount of copy returned in search results. Ideally you will want to integrate a call to action in there to increase your listings CTR. Clicks away from your site back to the search results are also monitored. Make your site as sticky as possible to keep visitors there longer. As mentioned above it may also help if you could get your visitors to bookmark you. ? The frequency and amount of page updates is monitored and recorded as is the number of pages. Mass updates of hundreds of files will see you pop up on the radar. On the other hand, few or small updates to your site could see your rankings slide --unless your CTR is good. A stale page that receives good traffic may hold it's own and not require an update. So don't update for the sake of it. Depending on your market, fresh content may not be a requirement. If the information your pages contain do not go out of date then updating may not be necessary. If your market is more news based for example, then changes regularly are a must. In general changes don't necessarily have to mean fresh content. They could involve simple edits to current content. A further indicator that Google is really cracking down on Spam is made clear in the following extract from the Patent. Reference is made to changing the focus of multiple pages at once. Here's the quote - "A significant change over time in the set of topics associated with a document may indicate that the document has changed owners and previous document indicators, such as score, anchor text, etc., are no longer reliable. Similarly, a spike in the number of topics could indicate Spam. For example, if a particular document is associated with a set of one or more topics over what may be considered a ?stable? period of time and then a (sudden) spike occurs in the number of topics associated with the document, this may be an indication that the document has been taken over as a ?doorway? document. Another indication may include the sudden disappearance of the original topics associated with the document. If one or more of these situations are detected, then [Google] may reduce the relative score of such documents and/or the links, anchor text, or other data associated the document." There's still more to look out for:- ? Changes in keyword density is monitored and recorded as are changes to anchor text. ? The domain name owner?s address is considered, most likely to help in a local search result. ? The technical and admin contact details are checked for consistency. These are often falsified for Spam domains. ? Your hosts IP address. If you are on a shared server it's possible somebody else on that server is using dirty tactics or Spamming. If so, your site will suffer since you share the same IP. The impression I get here is that Google has learned from the Spam 'attack' they suffered in early 2004 and they are determined to eradicate it from their listing results. So what do you do? There's a lot to take onboard here and consider. But you can't go far wrong with your SEO if you try to grow your site as organically as possible. If you know what you are doing you can take short cuts. Carry on with link exchanges but consider each site carefully and slow down in your gathering of them. Vary your anchor text. Add small amounts of good quality content to your site regularly. Check your search engine listings and edit your site to include a call to action in them if possible. Make your site more 'sticky' to encourage visitors to stay a while. Encourage visitors to Bookmark your site. Oh, and register new domain names for at least two years. Before you do anything remember to reference the above info first. It may just save you months of misery as your site gets banned and 'Sand boxed'. Overall keep it ethical and you can't go far wrong. Do not be tempted to Spam. Stick to the guidelines above and you are much more likely to outlast and out rank your competition.