What’s an update?

(Normally I, you know, think before I post. I’m experimenting with the quick-post-with-very-little-thought technique here.)

What is an update? Google updates its index data, including backlinks and PageRank, continually and continuously. We only export new backlinks, PageRank, or directory data every three months or so though. (We started doing that last year when too many SEOs were suffering from “B.O.”, short for backlink obsession.) When new backlinks/PageRank appear, we’ve already factored that into our rankings quite a while ago. So new backlinks/PageRank are fun to see, but it’s not an update; it’s just already-factored-in data being exported visibly for the first time in a while.

Google also crawls and updates its index every day, so different or more index data usually isn’t an update either. The term “everflux” is often used to describe the constant state of low-level changes as we crawl the web and rankings consequently change to a minor degree. That’s normal, and that’s not an update.

Usually, what registers with an update to the webmaster community is when we update an algorithm (or its data), change our scoring algorithms, or switch over to a new piece of infrastructure. Technically Update Gilligan is just backlink/PageRank data becoming visible once more, not a real update. There haven’t been any substantial algorithmic changes in our scoring in the last few days. I’m happy to try to give weather reports when we do our update scoring/algo data though.

Um, that’s all I can think of regarding taxonomies of updates, so I guess I’ll publish it. 🙂

178 Responses to What’s an update? (Leave a comment)

  1. Thank you Matt! The does clarify for me what’s what…

  2. Excellent clarification – thanks Matt. I’m asking BT to link to this.

  3. Well thanks for the heads-up 😉

  4. Matt – Are you familiar with Canonical URL problems – any update on a fix – cheers.

  5. I know Google has never publicly acknowledged the existence of the “sandbox” however, my site is being filtered out of all the search results. Is there any way to know how long this “behavior” will last?


  6. Perhaps this type of scenario should be coined a “B.O. Update”?

  7. > Is there any way to know how long this “behavior” will last?


  8. We’ve normally thought of updates as being concerned witrh the algo, and backlinks/pagerank updates as being a different type of update, but your post clarified it all very well – many thanks.

    But there’s another king of update that I’d like to ask about – periodically running filters/profiles over the index. In the Bourbon update, you said that there were 3½ updates to do, and I’ve assumed that some of the ‘updates’ are actually filters or profiles being run over the index, and not necessarily algo-type updates. Is there any truth in that?

  9. Hi Matt,
    That’s pretty important to know. I’ve got blod’s – BackLink Obsessive Disorder 🙂

  10. Related to the export and the information a user can retrieve from the toolbar. I had thought you said that you only export a certain amount of data to a select group of servers (something like that) and that is why the toolbars information is filtered? Do you export all the data, use it accurately, then do another export or something of that nature for the toolbar’s purported purposes? How do I do a smiley here?

  11. Good question Robert, that goes for me and countless others who are trying to do honest business via the web and need to get out of the “sandbox” ..

  12. Further on the Sandbox issue (yes, I know – technically there is no sandbox): Quite a few webmasters have noticed that moving their site to a new domain and doing a 301 redirect to the new address has the impact of dropping the site from SERPs for an extended period of time (3+) months in my case. This seems to be the case even when the new address is a domain that has been registered for a number of years. That doesn’t seem right for an established site that has ranked well for several years.

    Any insight on whether or not the next full update will address issues like this one?

  13. It gets a lot of eyeballs and page views and works a treat with Alexa rankings though, doesn’t it?

  14. Will you are handing out answers to the above questions…
    “How can I be #1 in Google for ‘Viagra’?”

    I keep asking but no one at google will give me a straight answer!

    Thanks Matt

  15. I think pagerank updates work like this, if I got, say 100 backlinks from pages of PR8 site and few more backlinks from other sites, so in first update google will consider few links but won’t update the PR at that time, the same trend applies for 2nd update but I think PR changes after or from 3rd update….(this applies for sites having PR5 or higher, coz I got PR change in my PR3 and PR0 site in very less time)

    We had added few links for our site, the site has PR8, in first update google scanned around 700 links and now in 2nd update, I can see it has become almost double but yet no PR…so now I am expecting PR change in 3rd update….

    About sandbox, it applies for every site, whether it is new or old, I recently optimized one site and monitoring it for quite some time..site is not new, its pretty old infact but after modifying the site and adding keywords..I can feel the effect of ranking going up, down and disappearing from the listing….

    I think google might be checking for updates in meta keyword tag and then testing the site for the specified keywords or something…but I am really not very sure how does google detect the sites and put it in sandbox….


  16. Thanks for the info Matt.

    By the looks of the above posts you might want to disable comments 😉

  17. Robert,
    If you do well your work and under Google’s procedure, then they do not erase you of the list of searches. But if your work is too much made good at the time they put you in the sandbox.

    Why? I dont know.

  18. Nice 1 Matt – you have successfully made it to my favourites…

  19. Matt, you said there was no update, and I believe you, though Googleguy is mentionning that lately Google has made progress in detecting directories of doorway pages with javascript… Could you confirm and develop more if possible ?

  20. Hi Matt,

    I thought an update is a noticeable change of algo while an update of link: and/or PR is called a Google Dance ?

  21. Hi, my name is Laura and I used to suffer from B.O.

  22. So I’m not going to fall!

  23. Thanks for the insight. And thanks for being such a kick A$$ Panel Member at SES San Jose.

  24. Thanks for keeping us guessing and making the game fun. I appreciate the humor involved in making the backlinks and toolbar pagerank updates happen all at once when they are in effect gradually.

  25. Hey Matt,

    Why can’t google tell that,


    is the same page as



  26. I think it should be called the quicksand box. I’m in it and comming up on a year, some of my pages rank well but very poor serps. Does it exist I don’t think so, I think what we are dealing with is an over optimization penalty.
    Paid links and low quality, big quantity link swaps may trigger it. All of these link trading packages have web masters going after hundres even thousands of links.
    After reading Matt’s ealier post about links I think Google’s algorithm is much smarter than we give it credit for. I think the harder you try (taking the quick hit approach the longer the delay may be like quicksand you sink deeper). Can you dig yourself deeper? Does Google flag these sites and not rank them? because they are trying to manipulate link popularity? I’m starting to wonder if the link command that everyone says is broken is really not. It just shows what Google feels is a natural link. When they see a pr6 link or higher it looks suspicious and they do not count it.

  27. Nice article, confirms basically what those I discuss this type of thing with have believed for sometime. Happy to say I’ve never fretted about my BO 🙂

    Regarding the sandbox (a phrase I dislike as it’s been mixed up with so much stuff now!), I do a lot of SEO tests and have found new domains do not do well** in Google for at least 6 months.

    Doesn’t matter what you do, minimal optimisation and small number of links added over time or excessive optimisation and a #@#! load of links added right away, the content will not rank well if it’s on a new domain.

    There appears to be no obvious way around this when working with newly registered domains, so it’s a case of patience while Google does it’s thing.

    It’s not so bad though, seems around 9 months (used to be 3 months) is where things start to really pick up and after a year it’s like a domain you’ve had for several years that has a fair number of links to it (assuming you’ve put the work in of course). If you are running a legitimate business a year isn’t that long and if you create a lot of sites knowing this information allows you to plan for future sites (register them now, add some basic content, few links, aim for at least PR4 and keep them ready until you need them).

    **Doing well is subjective, well to me means over 1,000 visitors a day and growing. This is from all search engines, but since Google IS THE BIG ONE a lot comes from Google.

    Sorry if this isn’t the right place to post this, but I hate to see misinformation and there’s a lot of it about when the word sandbox is used.

  28. The Sandbox is real:
    I set up a beautiful content website with all hand generated articles, written by myself. 200 articles to be exact. It was back breaking.

    The site showed up with the Gilligan Update 2 1/2 months after I started it. Prior to the update we weren’t getting any google hits.

    Somehow, magically, the google gods start to smile on new websites after approx 3 months.

  29. Thanks for wonderful information.

  30. Damn you all!

    Can’t you just leave poor Matt alone? One man against a very large Google, one other thing.

    Am I the only one who wants to smack the next nitwit who calls it the ‘Algo’ – d00d l33t s3o h@X0rZ call it the Algo….

    better yet….the:


    Much better. Much Much Better.

  31. I have noticed some interesting changes in google rankings in the last 2 weeks or less. Sites that went from ranking in the 40s to top 20 for example. These might reflect google (finally) registering things we did to our sites (like adding a couple of hundred pages) but I suspect they are due to a change in the algorithm.

    Information about the updating of back link listings is interesting, but in any case Google only shows a fraction of the actual number of backlinks.

  32. Lots of great info. So glad I found this Blog. Now, I can get the info straight from someone in-the-know.

  33. >Am I the only one who wants to smack the next nitwit who calls it the ‘Algo’

    I only call it an algo because I can’t spell algorym… alrytm…. alligatorithm.. you know, that thingie they do with the hoozits and whatzizts that gives you BO because you are dancing too hard, or something, like that… 😉

    Thanks Matt, that helped clarify the terminology a bit. I now know that SEO’s dance too much and have BO, but Google loves us enough anyway to entertain us every 3 months 😛



  34. Thanks Matt, good to know the techy stuff

  35. Thanks,

    Very good info…

  36. Hmmm 3 months the sandbox , seems way longer even some reports now of 9 to 12 months , wouldn’t this however mean that peoples searches will only show sites which are previously ranked and added new content and not new sites which the same data seems kinda unfair .. allegedly google views sites like fine wine …has to age

    but cool info none the less

  37. More on that Sandbox thing – I’m not convinced the sandbox/ageing effect is anything to do with webmaster behavior. My site went online just over 6 months ago, has a healthy PR, and sensible links (mostly one-way), excellent hand-written content etc etc. No spam and no keyword stuffing, all in all a textbook example. It was even hand-coded, so it’s squeaky clean.

    I am nowhere in the results. There is simply no way this is either natural, or the result of penalties for spamming. Since I’m a web developer I’m also fairly sure it’s not some genuine mistake, something sincere that looks a bit like spam.

    Therefore I have no doubt, just like many others, that there is something going on. However what I’m dissapointed in is the fact that no-one seems keen to talk about the effect this is having on legitimate and honest webmasters doing their thing. Why does nobody question Google’s evident inability to deal with spam better? Shelving good sites for 6 to 9 months is fairly crude. I have no doubt it does negatively affect the spammers, but it is making people like me readjust my attitude to Google.

    No one seems willing to question the big G about its evident lack of skill in algorithm development that tars everyone with the same brush. For a company very quick to point out their advanced approach to search, this is all pretty second-rate. If nothing else there are many good sites out there (in the sense of being what the user is searching for) that are invisible. I’d like to see a few more people highlight how poor this really is in terms of delivering service, and a bit less focus on the technical mumbo jumbo. In short, there are severe shortcomings in Google’s ability to find useful information.

    Why don’t more people talk about this? I’m a big fan of geek talk, but lets face it, Google is slipping.

  38. Since Sunday at around 8pm I have seen some major shifts in the results that Google shows. My client site use to show up in the top 3 for almost every keyword we were going after some competitive and some not so competitive. Almost all of his keywords have dropped to the second page expect for the most competitive keywords such as Miami Real Estate, which actually moved up. The sites that replaced him are sites I have not seen in his niche and most of them have little or no content on the search term. I am a little mystified about the recent change in algo. I have only practiced white hat seo and can not understand why Google is showing lower quality sites ahead of his. The only thing that I can imagine that had an effect on his site was a bunch of porn and gambling track backs on his blog that were erased and only caught a few days ago. Could this of been the cause of the falling back in Google and if it why would it only effect the smaller terms and and not the bigger terms?

  39. Dude, I agree with you! Why good sites are not in top. I bet it’s some google joke.

  40. Thanks for the info Matt !!

  41. Sergei, I don’t think it’s a joke at all. I think rather it is 2 factors working in tandem:

    1) Google is not as good at tracking spammy behavior as it would like us to believe

    2) They benefit from poor results due to their advertising program

    The fact is Google, and other large search engines, have a conflict of interest. On the one hand their job is to provide free results. However they also offer advertising. In many ways their need to provide adverts is an implicit admission of failure.

    Like many relative newcomers I was shocked to notice after, say, 3 months or so I still wasn’t appearing anywhere. This despite my best efforts at “clean” optimization. In addition the sites that ranked well were spamming on an industrial scale. After a while the comments emanating from Google, and their apologists, just don’t add up.

    The system is so open to abuse it beggars belief. However, as noted in my post above, my main issue is they way everyone just accepts this. Google seems to be struggling. Like many people who have refrained from questionable tactics I have a minimum of about a dozen competitors in my field who are using evident spam techniques and doing well. I simply don’t buy the argument about Google’s sophisticated algorithms. I have no doubt there’s some slick stuff going on, but there are a lot of holes.

    Like many others I am now facing the prospect of having to look at dodgy ways of “optimizing” my site, despite the fact it is already geared towards humans.

  42. Jaren, since three days we have the same problems. We were number 1 for all competitive keywords, have been doing friendly seo for over three years with our website and now for most smaller keywords we just dropped to the second page. Only a few bigger keywords we are still number 1. I don’t know what kind of update this is. Anybody out there with some more information about the latest google update??

  43. Dude, I agree with your comments. Thanks God that MSN is up and coming and should give Google a good run. Oh hail Emperor Gates!

  44. Matt,

    Thank you for the information. I think all the webmasters are now concerned about the most recent update… Our comany was in top10 of Google on several key words … now it’s nowhere(( Actually, on some computers we can still see it on the first page, on other computers it’s nowhere. Does that mean they are still making some changes?

    The other issue I’m concerned about is the content. I have read somewhere that probably they pay more attention on a unique content now. Ok, we have a unique content, written by one of our top managers. When I checked the web, I found some Indians using our content. What should we do? We tried calling them, however, they don’t seem to care. Now we are thinking of updating the content – probably that will be faster than having long conversations with Indians… But I don’t want to change it completely. Should I just make sure all the sentenses are unique? Or even 5-6 words, which can be found on other sites, matter?

    I will deeply appreciate a piece of advice!



  45. Paul and Jaren –

    Same with us. I believe there certainly is a bent towards older, larger, more established sites. Although our site is 4 years old we were killed by the last update (so maybe I’m wrong). The fact of the matter is we just need to keep plugging along and eventually google will come back around to us (or at least we hope).

  46. Matt,

    Normally, I also think before I post. I was experimenting with the quick-post-with-very-little-thought technique here as well some hours ago… I was hoping to get advice… However, I can see neither my comment nor any reply from you. I wonder why… Is that because I’m a woman and you think a woman is not capable of being good SEO and have a meaningful talk?
    If I gotta think twice before I post next time, you may tell me that!

  47. Is there any chance that you can say something about Ranking Logic? I mean the intuative logic that Google uses to rank pages.

    For example, What’s the intuative logic on actuallity of pages? Or what’s the intuative logic on recently indexed pages that do not yet have a PR score?

    Just to name a few,. 🙂



    PS. Google still has the best SERP’s in the world. 😉

  48. Hey thanks a lot matt this is just what I was looking for, This has helped me improve my site.

  49. Well my site is still not reindexed since June anyone got any ideas why>?

    Im not employing any dodgy techniques, so im lost all I want is google to recache my index and list a description. The site was crawled in June and found once by Google using a Keyterm since then nothing not even been crawled, Im wondering what exactly i’m doing wrong .

    Thnaks ben

  50. Viva La Google!

  51. Hey mobile-heaven,

    Our site Turnkey Web Stores was suffering the same problem for about 9 months. Suddenly, it started coming up in the index.

    Hang in there, it’ll eventually show up. Good luck!

  52. Turnkey Webstores, If your site turns up after 9 months the sandbox filter was probably bugging your site. And slowly your site climbs out of it.

  53. Very useful info!


  54. Hi All !!

    First of all I would like to thank Matt for current Updates.

    My website was ranking pretty well in GOOGLE before Jagger’s Update. But now my web site is not ranking on any keyword. Formerly my website pages were in .htm now I have shifted my website to .asp. Google has crawled my site and has listed all the pages except index.asp page. I would like to ask, why Google in not listing my website’s index page? All Pages are listed except index page – I am first time experiencing this kind of situation.
    It would be highly appreciated if you guys help me to figure out this problem.

    Thanks in advance
    BluEnt eSolutions

  55. My website has been in the sandbox for 7 months now and it’s going up and down in google serp, no ranking for major keywords and decent ranking on small non-competitive keywords. I read on this blog it could take upto 9 months for the sandbox. Is this definite ? Will google release my site completely from sandbox after 9 months ?

    thanks in advance

  56. Thanks Matt. I thought that B.O. was somthing my dates used to complain about in high school, and I thought Update Gilligan was just a new version of the old TV show 😉

    Good info!

  57. I have to admit, I’m pretty familiar with all things Google, but didn’t know about everflux or Update Gilligan. Thanks for the info.

  58. Nice to see this in writing. I found think link in a forum discussing updates and it certainly clears the air. I cannot believe how many people make bold statements about what they think is an “update” and yet don’t have a clue. Thank you, Matt, for the info – even if I am a few months late. 🙂 I’m going to link to this page often.

  59. All the SEOs suffering from PageRank & backlink obsession should read.
    There is a difference between toolbar PageRank and real PageRank – its impossible to know your real PR at any time.

  60. That is interesting. Most of the webmaster community suffer from “What did I do to deserver this ?” when changes occur.

  61. Matt, what would cause a website to be sandboxed and and usually if a website is sandboxed, how long will it take google to index it please?



  62. I get Google indexing my site all the time, yet Google provides the least traffic. I have not worked out what is wrong as yet!

  63. I always hear that google is changing its algorithm, but things remain as they were… I mean link popularity, in fact we see those website in high position which have many and strong backlinks, even doesn’t matter if backlinks from relevant websites or not. Comparingly google with yahoo or msn, you would notice these other 2 search engines more content oriented rather than backlink… I hope google will credit content more than links in future.

  64. Hey Matt, Just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for all of the input this year.


  65. Hey Matt,
    Please update once you know when google updates its page rank again. For me, it shows every alternate day a PR5 for few hours and then it goes off to PR0. Any reason behind that.

  66. Hi Matt,

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year !

    I have read all the post on this Block & find it pretty intersting.

    I have a finance realted directory catering to UK. http://www.seek.uk.com. The number of pages crawled by Google recently have crossed 17,700. Though my site, doesnot have more than 4000-4500 Pages all in html. My site is not in search results.

    How much time do I need to wait before I start appering in Search Results.

  67. Very informative post Matt.

    Aarti you shouldn’t trust the google toolbar 100% you should use some SEO tools like from iwebtool.com to check your pagerank. Sometimes the toolbar plays nice jokes 🙂 One day it said my website was at PR8 and I was shocked lol.

  68. I believe GoogleGuy is right in saying that Google is ready links through javascript now. I have had a page indexed accidentally – only links were as popup functions and yet it got indexed. Living proof! Now I am wondering if the rumours about the flash reading is true?

  69. I think Google is doing a good job.

    Each day the competition on internet is higher; the number of websites is growing, the contents of competitor’s websites get richer. This means that the possibility to be first for some keywords constantly decreases. Everybody dreams to gain positions on the same keywords, not everyone can win the same race.

    I think that the pagerank based on backlinks is a good approach: if you are famous they cite you, else they don’t.

    Sand box as well is helpful: are you sure your site is valuable? Let’s see, I keep you in cue 14 months, if you are still in the line this means you are motivated. If you keep on changing the name of your pages, you are no one.

    I do not trust the “everflux” concept. Theoretically Google tries to compute real time all the parameters, practically it is not able to do it for lack of resources: bandwith and computational power. If you have a big website, Google crawlers will take at least some weeks to explore/update all of it (without considering the sandbox).

    In my mind internet is like a school class: Google is the teacher, the websites are the students. The teacher knows always who is the first of the class. Each semester (let’s say each 20 days) the teacher schedules some exams. There are different types of exams: one could be, for example, “global backlinks comparison”. After each exam the teacher changes slightly its opinion about each student.

    I like the overall organisation. The funny thing is that it should be enough if you simply care only about doing a nice website. When a website scores bad on the main keywords, try with some minor one:
    you will be the king of a pond.

  70. Wonderful – that’s great to know. Thanks.
    Now, if only I could figure out if / when my PR will go up from 0 : (
    – joe

  71. Hi,

    We have 1000s of backlinks which show up through MSN, YAHOO, ALTAVISTA etc, and yet only 68 backlinks appear in google and we have a pagerank of 3 (toolbar PR) on our site http://www.sitewizard.co.uk
    I understand that it takes time for these backlinks to appear – but people are saying that despite them not being shown – they are still affecting my SERP. Can someone clear up once and for all if googles top page results are likely to change on the day of a google update?

  72. HI ALL,

    Can anyone tell me if the 3 monthly google update thingy has any effect on removing pages from the index that don’t exist any more – or have been excluded by the robots.txt file?
    Our site http://hypnosisdirect.com has got some really dodgy old pages in googles index from the previous owner of the domain (which we did not know about when we bought the domain) if you search on “site:hypnosisdirect.com” you find some very dodgy pages which CERTAINLY don’t exist on our site – and haven’t existed for about 1 year! – They have a cached version which is dated in 2004! – I have written some exclusions and put them in the robots.txt file – which HAS been read by googlebot – but the pages still persist in the index.
    Has anyone any advice about getting those pages removed from the index – OR when they are likely to be culled by google for either not existing OR for being excluded by robots.txt?
    Thanks and GREAT blog!

  73. lots0 said:
    Why can’t google tell that,
    is the same page as

    Because it’s not.
    If you point an A at a directory, end with a slash.
    If you point an A at a file, don’t end with a slash.
    It’s as simple as that.

  74. Hi every one. Can someone tell me why my site is pr0 as every new site. I ranked for some of my key words in the top five for a week.
    eg: dogs for sale, puppies for sale, pet shop and pet supplies. Now i can’t even see my site in the top hundred. http://www.petsbid.com.au
    My question is how did i manage to climb up the ranks on my first weeks listing in googles search engine and than loose out so badly in a few days?

  75. Does any1 know a quick way to get my site listed on google.
    This is my site http://www.motdmobiles.com.au
    Any suggestions please post them. Very frustated waiting for it every day. Thanks guys…

  76. Can any one tell me why my site keeps on appearing on googles top 10 rankings for a day or so and then it dissapears out of the top hundred. Nowhere to be found. It comes and goes every day or two. My site is: http://www.petsbid.com.au search for dogs sale

  77. The PR Update is more than Overdue. I wonder what we have to expect.

  78. Why there are some different search results for my sites on google, sometimes it’s 300,000+, and sometimes it’s 100,000+.

  79. Are those tools that claims to predict of the next Page Rank update credible? It’s now 123 days since the last PR update and i can’t restrain my curiousity about how my website would rank after all my inbound linking efforts. However, the results those tools provide are either the current PR, or unreasonable numbers (too good to be true!). Anyone with helpful advice about that?

  80. Hi there friends
    I am not sure but seems in some datacenters some changes today?
    New rank started today?
    I saw for more sites and some of them have changes now


  81. Yes, new rank started today finnaly


  82. Matt,
    Keep up the good work!!

    I think you found the fastest way.

  83. Which of the page rank prediction or pagerank tools give the accurate pagerank for a URL, I’m seeing contradicting results from google toolbar, futurepagerank.net rusty brick’s pagerank prediction tool, and various other tools, which tool should we trust?

  84. Here is a list of the Google datacenters and their IP addresses (although it probably isn’t up to date):

    www-ab.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-cw.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-dc.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-ex.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-fi.google.com. 41 IN A
    www-gv.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-in.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-kr.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-lm.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-mc.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-va.google.com. 60 IN A
    www-zu.google.com. 60 IN A

  85. Why my homepage PR keep fluctuating ? Sometimes PR4,s sometimes PR0 ?

  86. Can anyone explain this “sandbox” thing that people talk about when mentioning google? I have a brand new domain, brand new site http://www.tabguitarlessons.com that I want to start getting into google at the same time it goes live in a couple of weeks time. Some people say don’t submit to google directly – others differ on that opinion. Does a new domain not count as highly as one thats been around a long time?
    Rich – TabGuitarLessons.com

  87. Which of the page rank prediction or pagerank tools give the accurate pagerank for a URL, I’m seeing contradicting results from google toolbar, futurepagerank.net rusty brick’s pagerank prediction tool, and various other tools, which tool should we trust?

  88. That’s because Google has been updating a lot lately, try checking now and it should all match up for you on the toolbar.

  89. Prior to 2004, it was possible to create a new web site, buy text links for it and be ranking in search engines such as Google, within 3 months. It was even possible to obtain top ten search engine rankings within 1 month! However, in early 2004, this has changed and new web sites would not rank as immediately as they had before. The term “Sandbox” or “Google Sandbox” was given to this phenomenon. Many webmasters reported that their web sites were in the “Sandbox” for 3, 6 even 9 months before they would rank in this search engine.

  90. So why is it that the RK functionality stopped working? Having the ability to see ‘Live PageRank’ was very nice for webmasters so we automatically know the current weight of the site instead of only what was last exported. Will RK ever return to Google Search?

  91. Extremely Interesting… All of this is new to me , but im learning , thanks Matt!

  92. Does anyone know how often google change it’s algorithm?


  93. With the recent admissions of bugs found in the “Big Daddy” update, will there be more frequent updates until the problems are solved?


  94. Doorway pages are not penalized from Goggle.. I have seen lots of websites with doorway pages and yet with very good results for all the keywords in all the major search engines. Check for example the doorway pages from element5.com 🙂

  95. Hello, Uodate TBPR have Estimation 7 jul?

  96. Google had a PR update in March 2006 after it finalized the implementation of Big Daddy. After this update they made a mistake and exported the live PR that Google uses internally.

  97. I visit your site every day for the TBPR details. The 6th and the 7th of July came and went and still not update. Matt how do you know so much about Google, if you don’t mind me asking?

  98. I’m getting impatient don’t know how I going to cope,

    I can just about anticipate and hope,

    Google God, has thou forsaken me? Thy child (My site a PageRank of Zero – Come on
    Google God pull your finger out. Don’t punish your children for Satan link farms)

    I have followed thy commandments, (Webmaster Guidelines)

    I have followed thy gospels (Analytics, Sitemaps, 301 Redirects, slow buildup of quality Back links)

    Patience is a virtue and I am learning this the hard way.

    And Lord Google I give thanks always for the excellent SERPs for my keywords,
    (But a PageRank of something will help)


  99. I’m not sure what you guys are talking about regarding a wait period for good SERP. I’ve had domains go from registration to top ten for “newer” keywords in as little as 3 days. Sandbox? New Domain Exclusion? Don’t think so…..


  100. Google can be very fast if you include sitemap and rss feed into your pages…

  101. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the latest information regarding PR & BL.

  102. @matt: Many thanks for clearing my confusion about this whole PR thing…

  103. I don’t get why some pages with unique content don’t get index, even though it is in the xml sitemap

  104. How soon will this update start to “normalize”?

  105. I’d like to know what factors influence Google’s timing of updates. As they are developed?

  106. Does anyone know how often google change it’s algorithm?

  107. Great post, And definately one to point people to when they start wetting thier pants bugging people with that dull question of “when is the next PR update?”

  108. Yes! Yes! Yes! (Meg Ryan style), my site has a PR now!

  109. Interesting article… Been in the web game for nearly 10 years now and i’m still learning, thanks Matt!

  110. Thanks Matt, I love your information, which you share with us.

  111. Thanks Matt, just curious what would cause when a website start getting suddenly quality links in good quantity, does google treat it spam ?

  112. The speed at which a site gains links and the link life span are monitored by Google. With this in mind fast link acquisition may be a strong indicator of potential search engine Spam.

    You must grow your links slowly to avoid getting penalized and be careful who you exchange links with.

  113. Thank you Matt, firsthand information.
    You can be the most successful of them all, but any time you can face an endsville.(amicably) 🙂

  114. @Ryan:

    I think Paul meant that if you happen to promote your site well and get some extra traffic in, in which case many people might get to like your site and link it, which would cause sudden increase in your incoming links – wander if Google would treat this as spam?

  115. Thank you Matt. But please could you clarify the situation with inbound links? For example if I am linking from many sites and I gain a suddent influx of inbound links, would i be penalised by Google?
    Is this discourages?

  116. Thanks, but does that mean that google does not look into back links? It seems like Google indexes and knows what sites are linking to a site, but no longer gives out PR based on this – but rather just arbitrarily assumes what the PR should be for the site. I mean I’ve seen some really popular sites that have a PR of 0, and these are sites getting 100s of visitors a day, and they don’t appear to be banned from google since they still appear in the directory.

  117. informative article

  118. Dear Matt,
    Thanks for the great information.
    well, I want to know when last time google had PR update?
    When it is likely to be updated in near by future?

  119. Anyone know if a PageRank Update is underway. I am getting mixed results on all my sites. Up – Down – Up – Down You get the picture. Seems to be like this when they are in the process of an update. Curious.

  120. Extremely Interesting. Thanks for the info Matt

  121. It appears that we are in the midst of one of these exports now. I am getting different information from multiple data centers. I guess it doesn’t really matter what we see because it’s taken into consideration well before we see it.

    On another note… It appears it has been quite some time before a new algorithm change. After reviewing historical trends in Google Algorithm updates, I have hypothesized when the next major change will be and what you might expect from such a change. Here is the Article: Google Algorithm Article…Matt, if you have any insider info on this, it would be great.

  122. I’ve added sitemaps and rss to my new site and in less than 10 days I was at the top of the first page. Lucky me! 🙂

  123. Thankyou Matt for this information. I have been wondering for a while exactly what is involved in an update.

  124. Thanks Matt, for updating on taxonomies of updates. It will clear the confusion of most of the web masters like me for sure.

  125. Is there a place where you can see when new algorithms get introduced, or I wonder if are they always being churned to a certain extent?

  126. Thanks for the clarification, i guess i was getting a little worked up over nothing!

  127. So when there is a “Page Rank export”, is this current as of a few days before or is this the PageRank from months before?

  128. What Dude said is right. Being honest in SEO is not being rewarded by G. To be left in the dark for more than six months is unfair and even more rewarding for spammers

  129. It’s weird that one of website was dropped from PR5 to PR4 while I keep building links and no bad neighborhood linking…….

  130. Well that explains a lot… but why sometimes will page rank alter for just a day?

  131. Hello Matt,

    Can u tell me when Will start the next google Page Rank update and what is the policy of page rank updating.


  132. Great comments, still can’t get my head around all this PR stuff! Hence my terrible PR of ZERO! – Your page and site has taught me a lot thought. Thanks.

  133. So glad I found your site, yeah I admit that Google PR and SEO is my newest obsession, anything to learn more. I never paid attention the first two years of my shop being online and now it’s one of my most fun challenges. 🙂


    Though it sounds a little simple, compared to what I’m seeing in the rankings for some of my sites. So, either I’m doing something wrong or there is more to this update thing than what you’re saying.

    A little of both?

  135. hi,
    my website http://www.bestman.co.uk is currently featuring on television in a huge advertising campaign in the UK. Weirdly if you type “bestman” or “best man” into google.co.uk I am right at the top – but I got there without ANY incoming links AT ALL! – Could google have pushed me to the top because SO many people were typing bestman.co.uk into the google search box?
    I’ve got some incoming links now, because I’m making money from the site so I’ve decide to promote it for when the british telecom advert finishes, but another factor in google pushing me to the top could have been the money I was making from adsense. I was getting a 33% click through from visitors.
    Any thoughts would be welcomed!

  136. Which of the page rank prediction or pagerank tools give the accurate pagerank for a URL, I’m seeing contradicting results from google toolbar, futurepagerank.net rusty brick’s pagerank prediction tool, and various other tools, which tool should we trust?

  137. Hi there,

    I have a question for all your experts.

    Our website http://www.applianceplanet.co.uk had a constant 6-8k indexed pages for the last year. I submitted a sitemap about 2 months ago and done alot of directory advertising and changed alot on our website.

    Now suddenly we had 20k pages indexed and now 18k. The extra pages seem to be the query strings we use to query our database for products information.

    What surprises me is that I have explicitly blocked all pages with query strings in the robots.txt file and added in the header of the page and still google indexes those pages. I am worried we will be seen by google as having duplicate content, hence the reason to block these query strings.

    I would appreciate if someone could explain the sudden rise eventhough I have followed all the rules in telling google NOT to index those pages.


  138. No toolbar can give exact prediction of PR update. But I trust iwebtool for the page rank prediction. because it is near to good.

  139. Extremely Interesting… All of this is new to me , but im learning , thanks Matt!

  140. iwebtool seems to be broken to some extend. looking forward another great update.

  141. we can’t see all backlinks of our site in google , we can see only the new backlinks

    but iwebtool show us the all and i trust it

  142. But i have seen that some time back link are vary from tool bar and general search engine

  143. The pagerank does vary according to time and space (a bit like Star Trek). However, it’s a generally good guide to how you’re doing in the world of google even though it doesn’t tell you your search engine rankings. My site home contents insurance uk has a PR of 1 or 2 but other sites I’ve worked on have quickly gone to PR3 – backlinks definitely help. How often you update is another matter.

  144. When was the last update? What is estimation for the time of next update?

  145. Hey Matt

    Is it true google doesn’t give any prominence to links placed in general directories as Back Links?? I have a website http://www.fiz1.com for entertainment & i submitted this to many directories & got approved links will it be treatee as back links or not ??

  146. Hello Matt!

    I heard that the next update is on July 21th… I’d like to know how correct the PR-calulations are, that you can do “without google” on those many sites. do they differ much from Google’s PR? I knwo that nobody will answer this question, but this is what I really really want to know…



  147. I have read that 21 July aprox. I am waitng my first update…

  148. Is it really July 21st going to be the next update? I have been doing some backlinking with directories for the last couple of months. Can’t wait to see the outcome.

  149. Has Google updated its PR for this July of 2007, Matt? or has not?

  150. Nice. I used to file Google updates as just that – updates – in my head. At least now, I know what’s what.

  151. Hey Matt thanks for the excellent information. Regarding the release of updated data for the toolbar PR etc. every 3 months, any chance of reducing that time?

  152. well
    2 years ago
    and i can say the most bad idea on seo is backlinks
    all now play around it
    use black way to that is what i see now
    so i think there r must have a new way to fix that

  153. Hi Matt,

    Hope my question is not too boring for you:-)
    I would like to ask, when is the next PR udate and will there be any other significant changes in the ranking factors? What I realized, that sites with implemented Google video, are ranking much better in the past few days – weeks on our national Google domain – which is not .com
    I know, that universal search is not a new topic, and it could be forecast, but I haven’t seen so far the real “effect” on the serp’s – until now..

    So I’m really interested – and think I’m not alone:-) – which updates can be awaited and when about? not just PR update, but any other – enhaced spam websites filtering on minor languages as well, etc..
    Thanks very much in advance!

  154. Thnx 4 sharing this info, Matt.

    Following up on agigi comment: if google ranks pages with google video a bit higher wouldn’t that be unfair? This is a serious acquisition, IMHO.

  155. I have the same problem as عبير . I have about 2k backlinks. But google shows 2 !!! Only web master tools shows all 2k. Anybodey knows why ?

  156. Excellent Article! thanks.
    Do you know the latest “scoring algorithms” they are using? Just being curious.
    By the way, I dont think the spam protection (what is 1+4) works as they can be trivially broken by an attacker. 🙂

  157. Thanks for the update… By the way what do you call the changes in SERPs if it’s not what you call Google Dance? What’s Google named it?

  158. Thanks for the update Matt. Can you explain the point to anchor text in backlinks from Google’s perspective going into the new year.

  159. Great comments, still can’t get my head around all this PR stuff! Hence my terrible PR of ZERO! – Your page and site has taught me a lot thought. Thanks.

  160. Very useful staff. This article is actually confirmation of the thesis that the Page Rank bar in fact shows the bar level what have you earned earlier as you already progressed to that Page Rank before. Anyway, it’s been a longest update ever so I have come to this site to clarify things about Google update.

  161. Has Google updated its PR for this July of 2007, Matt? or has not?

  162. Thanks for the information Matt, i have read a lot on SEO lately and its about time somebody clarified the value of PR on Google. In regards to the people asking about the next PR update, dont you realise that it doesn’t matter! That’s the point of this article, PR changes daily so although its nice to see that little green bar move, its somewhat irrelevant when an update occurs as its not really displaying any new information!

  163. Thanks Matt! For good information about PR I am clear about Google PR

  164. Hello Matt
    It looks like google as had a major algorithm update this weekend, many sites have even lost a little PR, these sites do sell advertising space and also links, has google now started to penalise sites selling advertising space, or they cant differentiate between sites selling advertising space or links.
    I would also like to ask when the 3 monthly update takes place how long does it take to filter across the whole web, are we talking of 24 hours or several days to complete this task, is there any particular ip address that google initiates its update with first, as I have noticed depending on which data centre is checked there can be a large difference.

  165. Thanks for the information Matt 😉
    I hope to get a higher PR on my domains next update

  166. This makes a lot more sense now. I was wondering a few things related to this. I like to know that Google is on top of things before the information gets released about links and PR. Nice work.

  167. GoogleGuy has said this a few times over at WMW, but PR is constantly calculated, the “update” you’re talking about is merely cosmetic — just a snapshot of the database at a point in time for the benefit of toolbar users. So, those of you seeing that your PR will change and are hoping for more visitors — it already has changed, and whatever effect PR has on the SERPs has aready taken place.


  168. After 3 years mr Cutts i think you can post one new article about PR i feel some factor change in how Google index all the data,you will make me happy if you find one new article and time to post in this page.


  169. I would be interested in knowing if an “update” is in the midst as I type. I notice many sites that are ranking quite hight that are nothing more than old domains or landing pages.

  170. Two years on my site is a PR3 now. Many sites since the last update have been loosing PR. With the ever growing number of domains the bar is being raised. What used to be a PR5 site is now a PR4. My Search engine traffic has increased dramatically. I’ve obeyed the Google webmaster guidelines with as gospel.

  171. Great article, but it would be better if Google did its PR updates at regular intervals.

  172. The talk I’ve always read about is that PR (page rank) is calculated on votes from other sites. Surely for good results I would like to think it calculates on more than this now. Maybe it depends on relevant linked websites, content updates of both sites and how long the site has been updating?

  173. is there anywhere a table, where we can lookup then algorithm updates.
    the actual algorithm is somehow terrible, since it forces old stuff to top positions (usually 10 to 30)
    i am really waiting for the new update, but i can’t find a usefull table with the data


  174. Thanks Matt, my site was recently bumped up to PR5, I am really happy about it.
    The results of my increased PR was a few months before I saw the PR toolbar update.

    One thing that worries me is some pages are now graybar in the Google toolbar.
    And it indicates no PR info available. These pages we all previously PR 2 & 3.

    Can you tell us what it means when the PR bar goes gray?
    Thanks Matt

  175. When you say updates are these the changes that people give names like “Caffeine?”

  176. Saw the recent PR update, the website for my other dental practice jumped from a PR2 up to a PR3. Pretty pumped about that!

  177. Every update hit my Virtual Office website. I don’t know why. I have unique content, no link spamming. I am confused about Google updates.

  178. I could see that Google PR updated on June 27th and again August 4th. My sites PR was 1, but now it is 2.