How long does it take for Google to recognize site quality?
Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller answered a question on this topic. And, while doing so, Mueller provided an interesting answer about why it’s important for Google to understand how a website fits into the overall context of the web.
How A Website Fits Into The Overall Web
Mueller’s statement about how Google seeks to understand a website’s fit into the overall web as part of evaluating a site for quality is short on details.
However, the emphasis he puts onto this, and his statement that it can take months to complete the assessment, implies that this is something important.
- Is he talking about linking patterns?
- Is he talking about the text of the content?
If it’s important to Google, then it’s important for SEO.
How Long Does It Take To Reassess A Website?
The person asking the question used the example of a site that goes down for a period of time and how long it might take Google to restore traffic and so-called “authority,” which isn’t something that Google uses.
This is the question about Google site quality:
“Are there any situations where Google negates a site’s authority that can’t be recovered, even if the cause has been rectified.
So, assuming that the cause was a short term turbulence with technical issues or content changes, how long for Google to reassess the website and fully restore authority, search position and traffic?
Does Google have a memory as such?”
How Google Determines Site Quality
Mueller first discusses the easy situation where a site goes down for a short period of time.
“For technical things, I would say we pretty much have no memory in the sense that if we can’t crawl a website for awhile or if something goes missing for awhile and it comes back then we have that content again, we have that information again, we can show that again.
That’s something that pretty much picks up instantly again.
And this is something that I think we have to have because the Internet is sometimes very flaky and sometimes sites go offline for a week or even longer.
And they come back and it’s like nothing has changed but they fixed the servers.
And we have to deal with that and users are still looking for those websites.”
Overall Quality & Relevance Of A Website
The more difficult problem for Google is understanding the overall quality of a site – especially how a site fits into the rest of the Internet.
“I think it’s a lot trickier when it comes to things around quality in general where assessing the overall quality and relevance of a website is not very easy.
It takes a lot of time for us to understand how a website fits in with regards to the rest of the Internet.
And that means on the one hand it takes a lot of time for us to recognize that maybe something is not as good as we thought it was.
Similarly, it takes a lot of time for us to learn the opposite again.
And that’s something that can easily take, I don’t know, a couple of months, a half a year, sometimes even longer than a half a year, for us to recognize significant changes in the site’s overall quality.
Because we essentially watch out for …how does this website fit in with the context of the overall web and that just takes a lot of time.
So that’s something where I would say, compared to technical issues, it takes a lot longer for things to be refreshed in that regard.”
The Context Of A Site Within The Overall Web
How a site fits into the context of the overall web seems like the forest as opposed to the trees.
It seems we focus on the trees (headings, keywords, titles, site architecture, and inbound links).
But what about how the site fits into the rest of the web? Does that get considered? Is that a part of anyone’s internal site audit checklist?
Perhaps because the phrase, “how a site fits into the overall Internet” is very general and can encompass a lot, I suspect it’s not always the top consideration in a site audit or site planning.
Hypothetical Site Quality Assessment
Let’s consider Example Site A. The phrase can mean the following:
In the the context of links, the sites that link into Example Site A, and what Example Site A links out to, and the interconnected network that creates all reflects on a site’s quality.
That interconnected network might consist of sites or pages that are related by topic. Or it could be associated with spam through the sites that Example Site A links out to.
Mueller can also be referring to the content itself and how that content is different from other sites on a similar topic, how it includes more information, or how the content is better or worse in comparison with other sites.
And what are those other sites?
Are they in comparison with top ranked sites? Or just in comparison with all normal non-spam sites?
Mueller keeps referencing how Google tries to understand how a site fits within the overall web and it might be useful to know a little more.
It Takes Months For Google To Evaluate Website Quality Across The Web
Watch John Mueller discuss how Google evaluates site quality at the 22:37 minute second mark: