The Google Honeymoon Period

Published by 36 Comments

I have no doubt this topic has been discussed on many SEO forums before but I’m going to give my take on it based on what I have experienced.

The “Google Honeymoon” as I call it, is the period 24-48 hours after producing a new web page where it first ranks in the Google search index. In my experience for the next 2-4 weeks the page will rank particularly highly and then drop back to whatever is normal for the website.

When I first publish a new article in this blog I generally receive a first page rank for the keywords in the title and possibly the tagged internal keywords too. Generally if the search term isn’t uber-popular I can hold the number 1, 2 or 3 position for a few weeks and then it drops to somewhere around positions 4-10. Bear in mind this blog has a high PageRank and good authority so it ranks quite well, what is considered normal for your blog or website might be pages 3-10 with a brief stint on the first or second page during the “honeymoon”.

For periods of time I’ve had top three rankings for terms related to the articles I have recently published, including keywords such as Mike Filsaime, Butterfly Marketing and Rich Schefren, clearly keywords that have some competition if not from the guys themselves than other Internet marketers.

You SEO fanatics can correct me if I am wrong but I believe the honeymoon period occurs so Google can collect data on how relevant your pages are for those keywords. If during the honey your pages are clicked often and the visitor hangs around for a while (doesn’t click back and choose another option from the search results) then your drop after the honeymoon isn’t significant. The logic being that your page offers a good answer to the question being asked. If your page doesn’t get many clicks or people don’t stay around then after the honeymoon you can expect your page to drop further in the index.

As I said I’m only speculating on this, but the pattern definitely occurs for me on this blog. It’s certainly fun to watch initially while the honeymoon is on and I’m happy with how well my site ranks in general, but it’s always a bit of a let down when you lose a first position ranking. By being aware of the honeymoon you can at least understand why you might suddenly lose your rankings, though of course it’s foolish to ever believe you can be 100% certain of what Google is doing.

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36 Comments

  • Sounds like a good theory. I have noticed my new sites rank well and drop off fairly quickly.

  • Brilliant thinking. I have noticed the same effect myself, but I never managed to develop a general theory about it. Thank you!

  • This is interesting and something I’ll be looking for in the future. Google can be such an enigma.

  • Obviously this effect is going to happen but I doubt it’s the reason why Google implemented it. Google are interested in putting the best results on the front page, and I think they would be content with letting your site gradually work it’s way up to the top if worthy.

    However, it makes sense to put new pages higher in the rankings, because recent information is usually more relevant than old information. The fact that this gives Google a chance to evaluate the page is a bonus, but I can’t see Google putting a page in the spot light just to see how well it will do.

  • Interesting. I think Google is assigning a pre-popularity score to new (fresh) urls based on the popularity of the whole domain (in this case high). Then, in a few weeks, the real PageRank is calculated and assigned to the page. The page will drop because the popularity of the page is lower than the whole domain.

  • Doesn’t your page rank well because there aren’t a lot of people writing about it yet? I noticed I got some of my posts in my sports blog rank well after I publish it, especially when I put not so popular player names for my preview, but once espn, cnnsi, bbc, etc. starts writing about it then boom my page position goes down fast. Also I noticed a ton load of difference between the total number of search results I see two weeks ago from when I saw it prior meaning more people have written about it already and google scores mine lower than established news sources.

  • Well, I have noticed that new pages or new sites rank high for keywords which are not so competitive. For example, when Rich Jerk and Butterfly Marketing launched their programs, my affiliate site ranked very well as there was no much competition then. But after about 2-3 weeks when high ranking websites started promoting those products, my sites went to 20th page of Google search results.

  • I feel your experience of new pages hitting the top of Google is because your top page of the blog has a high page rank. But as you add new posts, the old post gets gradually pushed to other pages which may not have any pagerank or may have lower pagerank. I have a rank 6 website (not a blog). If I add any new content with matching keywords, my site shows up at the top of Google for the new keywords and it is not a short-lived effect, because the content is never moved to other low ranking pages.

  • I will add one more comment. If you already have a high ranking page and if you add new content and keywords, Google will soon index that page and the page will appear in top search results. This is not a short lived phenomenon. I have been doing it successfully with my car site at http://www.best-trade-car.com . The difference between this site and your site is that the top page is static in my site and content does not change much relatively. However in a site like yours where the blog is the top page – which is often the highest ranked page, if you add a new post, the page will appear at the top of Google for the new keywords as long as the new post is on the top page. However, once the page is pushed to a page with lower rank or no rank, the honeymoon is over.

    • i think you’re right! in a blog, each time we update the post, it always appear at the top page which is have higher PR. but the problem is how we can maintain that good position(first page on google search) while we update our posts daily.

  • Hi Google Success – you make some great points, and certainly the idea about the dynamic index having an effect deserves some consideration.

    What I have found is some pages after dropping off the index will drop a lot further down the list than others will. Which to me makes me believe there is more to it than just how deep it is located within my blog. I think there is some google algorithms playing with things there too.

  • I must confess that all of this is pretty new to me, but intriguing nonetheless. The theory makes sense to me, especially if we take as fact Google’s professed aim is to enhance the visitor’s experience.

    Page ‘stickiness’ is certainly one indirect way of gauging the relevance of a given page, and hence the quality of a visitor’s experience.

    David Thomson

  • I am experiencing the same thing. New ranks well then slowly lowers its rank. This has happened several times over the last several months.

  • [...] I was reading Yaro’s story called The Google Honeymoon Period a couple days ago, and I was shocked to find that I hadn’t heard of this phrase before…guess I don’t know as much as I thought…always a refreshing revelation. [...]

  • Tim

    This exact thing happened to my site, it languished in position 4 for a couple of weeks, then it shot to oblivion.

  • Is it such a bad idea in the first place? New stuff is more important than old stuff. Then when it becomes old it is equaly important as the other old stuff. And all stuff that is more than two months is “old”.

  • [...] As you might recall I wrote a piece discussing what I call the Google Honeymoon (incidentally I didn’t copy this term off anyone – I came up with it off the top of my head, but I wasn’t the only one – I’ve since seen it in webmaster forums and on other blogs – so I guess the name is sticking and all of us SEO writers are thinking alike!). [...]

  • Hi, I agree with some of the things you say, but i personally beleive that for what you are describing, it would say that Google knows your an authority, the content may be spot on, but you fall short on links for the new page (because its new). I can see how Google would trust you for being authorative and boost your new page in the serps for a period of time and then gradually decline in rankings until you hit some kind of age filter, or get more links. Sorry to ramble on like that, i guess what I am trying to say is that you most likely got a boost in the serps because you are a trusted source and it gave you some time to get links for the new pages. However, there is so much more that goes on with that kind of thing its almost impossible to pinpoint one thing being the cause for that. Good read, thanks.

  • I have noticed the same thing with new pages as well.

  • [...] the proximity to Valentine’s Day, a few of my pages would rank higher in the search results due to the google honeymoon. And that is basically what happened. In the three days from the 12th to the 14th traffic increased [...]

  • Interesting observation. I think that the idea that they do it to gather statistics about how many searchers actually find that page useful may be flawed, though. For one, Google doesn’t necessarily know which search results are being followed (since the hyperlinks go directly to the resulting sites and don’t bounce through some kind of stats-gathering redirector).

    And as another noted, part of the “boost” may just be due to the natural behavior of blogs (which will push that content further and further away from your primary page over time, which is presumably your highest-ranking URL).

  • VJ

    The exact same thing is going on with my site.
    We were no where to be found on google and Boom the next day, we were up for almost 500+ keywords. All very competitive (I am in the mortgage industry). But what is different with my site is, the pages that were ranking really well are now NOT EVEN IN GOOGLE’S INDEX. So instead of ranking really well and then dropping back down to my regular rankings, the pages were TAKEN OFF OF GOOGLE’S INDEX. We are working on site as I type to get back indexed. Any advise will be very much appreciated. PS. My site is “Home Mortgage”>
    Thank You,
    VJ

  • Hi, yaro your article is informative,helpful sharing ideas keep doing the good job Thank you.

  • [...] giving new web pages the benefit of the doubt for a short period of time. Yaro has dubbed this the Google Honeymoon Period. After this period of time, your web page will slide back in ranking to it’s position based [...]

  • I hove noticed the exact same thing with all of my sites. They tend to rank extremely well (initially) and then and when you think that all is going great the rankings drop.
    This is when the real SEO side of things come in. I find after a bit of tweaking I can usually get my sites back up in the SERP’s.

    Nevertheless, it is still disconcerting to see your site go from page 1 and drop down a few pages. Ah, the fun of SEO!

  • Its hard to explain to clients. Often the question is posed ‘My site was on page 1 and now I can’t find it’. As Merimbula says ‘The fun of SEO’ Hehe!

  • [...] results ? Now, if that’s the case, don’t worry you have just finished something called Google Honeymoon. The article linked above will help you learn why your blog/website lost [...]

  • [...] post in google for first one to two weeks before hidden in the cloud. Traditionally, they call it Google Honeymoon effect. As long as we able to grasp first spot for few weeks, we can see surge in traffic referred [...]

  • SEO

    I would also like to add …

    An interesting WebmasterWorld thread discusses the phenomenon of redesigning a site, with brand new URL structure, 301 redirecting the old URLs to the new, and seeing an almost immediate boost in rankings at Google.com. In fact, WebmasterWorld moderator, minnapple, has coined this phenomenon the “honeymoon period.”

    What he means by that is that sometimes, a well-liked site, will see an immediate boost in rankings at Google after redesigning and implementing many 301 redirects. Minnapple described the honeymoon period as lasting about 20 days, and it is possible things can go back to how they were, or possibly get worse.

    Tedster said he has seen similar things:

  • Yes, I hate that!

    You think you have gone and done a great re-design, you jump significantly in the SERP’s, and when you go to brag about what a great job you have done – Google slaps you back down to reality.

    The first few times I was so excited to see the increase and then mortified about the decrease. I would frantically look at the code, keywords, headings, etc.

    But, these days I let it go. I enjoy it while it lasts and look to the future.

  • even i was experiencing good serp but as you said it just lasted for 2 week then it was normal.but i still love to get free hits from google. thanks for this google honeymoon

  • I agree with Yaro’s reading of Google Search results and have personally experienced the same with couple of my client’s website. I also agree, that this is one of the best ways by Google to give the best browsing experience to its visitors.

    The only thing missing on this discussion is the solution to this Google Honeymoon concept. As post this period sites go down to page 4 or 5 if you are lucky or further down from there. My point is does any one here has any idea how to get back there on the 1st Page. I have been doing link building, blog and forum commenting, giving updates to tags as well as content and various other things, but all in vain. The sites are not making a come back and its difficult to handle clients for so long…

    Guys…Reply Back and help me and the community. Thanks.

  • If the website is already on Page 6 in the honeymoon period , nobody is going to click it much and it goes to page 20 .How does that fit the logic?

  • I disagree with your theory and feel the honeymoon is simply a side effect that many (but not all) new sites may experience. The drop in rankings could otherwise logically be explained by any number of reasons (too much advertising, poor or duplicate content, unnatural link building etc…). Since not EVERY site is experiencing this so called honeymoon, I think the other factors are more likely. New sites will experience fluctuations anyway as they find there placement in the SERPs.

  • When the honeymoon period will in the end of over. Our website almost half a year, but the ranking is still disappear and re-appear again in every month.

  • I’ve certainly experienced this before. A newer page will show up close to the top, then drop back down for a while! But then again, my site is brand new, still gaining trust, and will not rank well for certain terms yet (no matter how many igh quality links I have).

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