Google's Secret Traffic Share Quota

by janderson99

The lack of variability in traffic for many sites, despite new pages being added, suggests that Google assigns a traffic quota and adjusts rankings to sustain that quota

Both Panda and Penguin are penalties in the sense of the way they affect rankings and ultimately traffic to a site or subdomain. Effectively what Google is saying is that the rankings generated by the classic linked-based Google algorithm are too high.

With Panda, Google reviews the overall 'quality' of the pages on a site and applies a penalty to sites it regards as having low quality.

With Penguin, Google review the link structure for the site and if inappropriate links are found it imposes a penalty which reduces ranking and ultimately traffic.

These penalties create a tool to adjust the traffic quota for a site.

How the Quota controls traffic

By imposing penalties and periodically reviewing them, Google is effectively twisting the 'Knobs' that control site rankings. This mean that Google controls traffic. If you take this a step further, the logical outcome of this process is that Google assigns a traffic 'Quota' for a site and adjusts the 'Knobs' to maintain that quota. There is evidence that adjustments are made weekly and with each of the Panda and Penguin updates.

There is clear evidence of a Quota and control of traffic for many sites. Below are Quantast graphs for US pageviews for Hubpages over the last 12 months and over the last three months. Clearly there is evidence of controls on traffic, offsetting changes in number of pages on Hubpages. This includes the addition of thousands of pages recently 'bought' from Squidoo.

12-month Traffic Summary for Hubpages

3-month US Traffic summary for Hubpages

What Other Explanation Can there be for the Sustained Traffic?

How can the constant traffic seen on Hubpages over a 12 month period be explained if there is no quota or similar control mechanism. Over 12 months a lot has happened on Hubpages. Hundreds of new pages have been added over 12 months, but the traffic remains the same, apart from a quota adjustment around 23 March 2014. Traffic should be increasing steadily as the new pages that are added gets new views, but the traffic is steady apart from the weekly cycle.

Recently, Hubpages added thousands and thousands of pages from Squidoo. As shown in the graph, traffic initially rose in response to the new pages. But after a week or so there was a dramatic pull-back to quota. Sure the 'pull-back' corresponded with Panda 4.1, but this is exactly what Panda is designed to do. It is a traffic control device to limit the share if traffic garnered by Hubpages. Low and behold the traffic recently returned to what it had been for more than 12 months. Once again what other explanation can be used for these changes.

If there is a Quota there are Profound Consequences

With a quota applied it means that new pages have to compete with pages already there. There will be profound competition for the limited 'pie'. Partially this occurs because Google will only show 1-2 results for the same site in the SERPS. But this also applies to topics and keyword sets that are not saturated. The penalty and control mechanisms lead to small ranking changes to keep the traffic within 'Quota'.

And you can't get over that!

Updated: 10/18/2014, janderson99
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