When you constantly crawl thousands of search engine result pages daily (just to understand the behavior of cause / effect and the search engine algorithm) you start to notice the mood swings of search engine mannerisms which are the residual fragments, routines and traces the algorithm leaves behind.
In light of all seriousness, following are some of the “in-house” SEO nicknames we have dubbed these occurrences around the water cooler to identify these phenomenon.
Creating a Dent – this is the stage where you lay the foundation for content and aging links to create authority. This involves mapping out your course, refining site architecture, fine-tuning internal links and initiation of your first link popularity campaign. Think of it like a nomination, the page with the highest score across key metrics rank the highest. However, depending on the keyword and the number of competing pages, the amount of topical relevance needed and what level of authority and relevance your site has (to that keyword) determines the gestation period.
Based on the reflection and effect / ripples search engines leave in their wake, advanced SEO practitioners are able to extract relevant data about which metrics “are in” and fashionable to the search algorithm through either tracking trends, sharing information with other SEO strategists (via research or communication, blogs, forums, conferences) or heuristic trial and error.
Thinking of it from a basic premise of cause and effect, you can understand somethings course by its nature, and understand somethings nature by its course.
With this alone, the impact of variables shape and reshape the SERPs (search engine results page) with a constant breath of fresh air known as the everflux; which is victory to some (if your moving up) and defeat to others (who are losing ground for the keywords). The everflux in layman terms is the result of search results moving from live impressions to cached impressions as permutations and calculations assign relevance to the retrieved data.
So, learning how to read between the lines and forecast the key metrics of search engine behavior allow you to hone your SEO accordingly to maximize exposure, authority and relevance for your web pages.
Forecasting based on historical data is necessary to navigate past your competition and achieve the goal of ranking for multiple keywords in the top 10 search results for your keywords. The more top 10 positions you have (with multiple keywords), the higher the likelihood of increasing traffic and revenue from “broad match and exact match” traffic.
The next critical milestone:
Search Results On Deck – This is the stage when you see search results that were not in the top 1000 results, show up on the radar and then loom in the 20 and 30′s for months (bidding their time and mustering all they can to move up the ladder of relevance.
Think of this as “SEO quarantine”, until the links, site and other pertinent aspects of the algorithm (check out) all of the variables and then either give your page or pages a thumbs up or thumbs down.
There are so many facets of this stage that for every variable you discover, there are dozens more that are supporting that one behind the scenes. Let’s just say, that if everything holistically passes the litmus test, that your pages will graduate from this search engine limbo and be appointed with a taxonomy from the collective assessment of your pages.
In other words, it is like a popularity contest, if you win, you either jump to the top 10 (each keyword is different for each site) or gracefully make your way up to the top 10 for multiple related synonyms and related key phrases or graduate to the next stage, “the debut ranking”.
The Butterfly Effect - Just like wine, pages get stronger with age, so the more pages you have about a topic (aging) in your site, the better chance your sites pages have when real page rank, trust rank and website authority is achieved.
The Debut Ranking – Next, the infamous peek-a-boo rankings start to appear as authority ripples across data centers. Try not to get too excited since typically by the time you call your friend to Google it, personalized search or a different data center (with a different result) shows up with the old bait and switch cached version. Unfortunately, more often than naught, their data center does not have the changes you see, which leads to the next phase (search engine amnesia and the ghost ranking).
The Ghost Ranking – The ghost ranking is the next phase for competitive keywords and is the data center shuffle. This is where your result goes live in different data centers with different keywords to gauge how your site performs on the premise of click through rates (yes, they track that too).
If all goes well, people click on your results and your page gains traction in search engines, this translates into the coronation of relevance score and where your pages find their home in each search engines index.
Granted, each SEO will have their own unique way of identifying each layer of these phenomenon as they peel away the cumulative intricacies that comprise a search result. To a search engineer or computer science major, calling out each facet of assimilation, evaluation or aggregation of data and all of the various formulas at play may be second nature. To the average end user may never even question what is under the hood or why a search engine works the way it does.
For me personally, search engine algorithms, the everflux and the constant experiments of trial, evaluation and conquest are like a grand game of chess played between you and your competition with search engines as the mediators.
For others, who are less tolerant of “the mood swings of natural rankings”, they can always opt out and use PPC and sponsored advertisements (which may or may not be as cost-effective based on the users short-term and long-term goals). However, if conversion is your objective 8 out of 10 people click on natural listings vs. PPC ads, so you can see why organic SEO is worth the wait.
It is truly a balance of chronology and layering your content to gain relevance (adding more pages about a subject), wining the popularity contest (when it comes to attracting quality links) and having engaging content that spreads like an idea virus (thank Seth Godin for the wonderful analogy).
The real investment of understanding search engine mannerisms like a good friend with multiple personalities or A.D.D is ultimately so you can sculpt your site into the best groomed and most relevant conclusion for search engine mannerisms to reward.
Having said that, feel free to share any ideas or nicknames you may have dubbed for search engine phenomenon, you never know when a new spot may open up for coining a new phrase.