Google: Fantastic Web Sites Not Enough To Rank Well

Jun 20, 2012 • 8:57 am | comments (22) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

FantasticOne of my favorite Googlers, John Mueller, posted a response in a Google Webmaster Help thread that I would like to highlight.

He basically said, having a fantastic web site is great but it isn't enough for Google to confirm that your content should rank well.

John said:

From what I can tell, your site is still fairly new - with most of the content just a few months old, is that correct? In cases like that, it can take a bit of time for search engines to catch up with your content, and to learn to treat it appropriately. It's one thing to have a fantastic website, but search engines generally need a bit more to be able to confirm that, and to rank your site - your content - appropriately.

Now, since I live in the SEO world, seeing something like this makes me look at every single word and analyze it - probably when I shouldn't.

Google has always said, don't worry about all the little things - just build the most fantastic web site you can and everything else should fall into place. Somewhat contradictory. Again, John is answering a specific question so taking him within that context is important, which I am not doing.

But clearly he is saying that having a great web site is one thing. Google still needs to verify other factors, off page factors, to validate the site is truly fantastic to others.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for fantastic job

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Stefano Gorgoni

06/20/2012 01:13 pm

i think what he says is not in contradiction with what Google uses to say about creating great websites, because that "just build the most fantastic web site you can and everything else should fall into place" doesn't imply the most fantastic web site will rank *quickly*. So, yes, it still takes time for a search engine to understand and validate a website as great.

Stockbridge Truslow

06/20/2012 01:13 pm

I think what he's saying is that with a new web site it is "content + time = your rankings". Think of it like a hitter in baseball. In his first 10 at bats he gets 7 hits. A .700 batting average is awesome, but you need a few months of at bats to find out if you're going to be a great hitter or not.

Scott McKirahan

06/20/2012 01:48 pm

Huh? Where does he "basically" say "having a fantastic web site is great but it isn't enough for Google to confirm that your content should rank well." It seems pretty cut and dried that he is saying give it time. John has an optimistic and realistic view. Yours seems far more pessimistic if not fatalistic, Barry. Cheer up, man!


06/20/2012 01:50 pm

Life in the SEO world, it's like be in TV business, but only know how camera works. No contradiction. Think wider. It's Panda time )


06/20/2012 01:55 pm

and he couldn't just come out and say - "hey buddy you actually need to work on getting a few new backlinks" !!!!!?????? i do not know why anyone takes these google clowns seriously anymore!? Thats all he had to say was go get more decent worthy backlinks, and don't ever stop looking for new places to get a decent link i could go get that guy 3 new backlinks and it would do wanders for his rankings permanently. but is anyone at google instructing him so? NOPE instead they completely avoided mentioning going and trying to get new worthy backlinks at all! and one even called his method of building links BS!? omg i can not believe the BS lies and misinfo/disinfo they put on people anymore. it is sickening.


06/20/2012 02:18 pm

"i could go get that guy 3 new backlinks and it would do wanders for his rankings permanently"Really ? So why do this for other guys ? Do it for yourself and make a fortune. Just in case, the question is rhetorical. No need to reply )


06/20/2012 02:59 pm

Before, it was possible to create a fast food empire just by starting to sell hot dogs on the corner of a street with zero budget. Do you think consumers, that enjoy the the food this company produces today, care about how the business started or what kind of business practices the owners applied to get to that stage? Absolutely 0. They might have put flyers and stickers everywhere, on street signs and into mailboxes, cold called companies around them and offered lunch delivery services etc.


06/20/2012 02:59 pm

Think of doing SEO with Google like going on a date. Google is the lady and the SEO is the guy. As the SEO of a content site, you are doing EVERYTHING you can to impress Google the lady. You do everything right: on time, pick an activity and restaurant, hold the door, walk street side, etc. You talk, you listen, you make eye contact - everything is great. But it's the first date. That doesn't mean you are impressive enough to deserve a 2nd date or a long-term relationship. That's SEO for Google. If you show consistency in great content, Google will consistently rank you well.


06/20/2012 03:00 pm



06/20/2012 03:01 pm

yep. especially if the original poster basically said "I built a great website with original content - why aren't I ranking?" (because your site is less than a year old you stupid douche bag!)

Sheared Sheep

06/20/2012 04:13 pm

Andy, that was well stated IMHO.

Sheared Sheep

06/20/2012 04:20 pm

There is just one problem. Google is no lady. :-) I think of Google as an ex-wife. Google is like a Divorce Barbie. She comes with all of Ken's stuff. Google invited everyone and their dog to their coming out party because they needed the content to spin their advertising. We made them rich; we're why some of them own beach houses and run on the sand - their thinning hair blowing in the sea breeze. But now, the party is over. Many have been told to leave or that they aren't loved anymore. They want a divorce; they got the gold mine and we got the shaft. The financial draw drew in scads of websites that dog-piled the web with garbage, just so they could display the Google ads. Because of them, we all have to pay in some manner - be it financially or by dancing to a new beat as we await the unleashing of the next Googanimal.

Webstats Art

06/20/2012 07:22 pm

My site is just starting to rank for a few keywords after one year. Google is very slow it seems.

Michael Martinez

06/20/2012 07:38 pm

Too many people are worried about "ranking today" when a really good Website should be around for years. So what if it needs a few months to take off? If for most of its life it's very successful that's far better than struggling for years to make a poor site look successful.

Ryan Key

06/20/2012 09:39 pm

Does anyone know how long on average it takes for Google and other search engines to warm up to your site? I have heard that it takes up to 3 months to achieve optimal rankings for specific key phrases. And what exactly does Google define as a fantastic site?

Mike Shollenberger

06/21/2012 05:28 am

Being listed in the search engines when your website is still new? That's called PPC.


06/21/2012 06:14 am

Think sharp - Penguin time :)

Steven Lockey

06/21/2012 02:03 pm

Yeah, I think as you said Barry, you are reading a bit too much into it. Its basically a 'you'll have trouble competing with older sites till you've shown you are trust-worthy' type thing. A lot of the sites that where dodgy previously had good content on them for a few months, THEN spammed Google after they were ranking really highly for competitive terms. Other sites have shown Google they always show good content for years, once Google trusts your site as much as it does the older ones, you rank better :) Simply a fact of life really, you may like the guy you only met a few days ago but are going to think twice if he asks to borrow £500, but if its mate you've known for 10 years its a different story entirely. Its the same with the search engines. They don't like been scammed any more than anyone else ;)

Karthik kumar

06/22/2012 07:25 am

I think there's another side to it. Strong social signals can help fresh content get a 'boost' in the rankings for a brief period of time, and drops off over time. If a new website regularly publishes good & fresh content and generates reasonable social signals consistently, I think the site can catch up very well. Probably it would help Google 'confirm' the awesomeness of the new website more quickly.


06/30/2012 02:49 pm

I just think he meant the search engines have to catch up and confirm it is great content and I think that is increasingly being analyzed by user interaction type data, eg time on page, bounce rate, etc. I don't think he was trying to imply anything counter to the old refrain, 'content is king'.

Scott McKirahan

07/03/2012 03:22 pm

One of the main reasons that people fail is they are impatient. They read all the B.S. about quick profits and believe it. They move from quick hit scheme to quick hit scheme that eventually drains all of their money (and confidence) away. They decide that we are all full of it and go back to the mundane "real job" world. Occasionally, you'll find a real steal on Flippa with a website that is just turning the corner and the owner gives up a month or two too early.

Phil Butler

08/03/2012 06:23 am

All I can say Barry is; "The guy should kiss the ground if anyone intelligent comments on the webmaster forum." All I ever got was some trolls looking to feed on the bottom of the SEO pond. Sorry to be bitter here, but Google support is about as refined as the Walmart lawn and garden center. Not wanting to rat out old friends, posting there just warrants some rationale in return. "You have a problem?" It's your fault, God will watch to see if you're still kicking later on."

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