Google and the Golden Ratio

Thread Title:
Phi, Pi, Fo Fum
Thread Description:

When i first saw this post by DG it had just one line:

When writing link text, remember 1.618 Illuminating, really.

So i asked in the comments about it and then buzzed his IM. Im an impatient kind of chap. The conversation, and a subsequent one with a few friends elsewhere were more than intriguing - there is no proof as yet, but the speculation that Google may be using the golden ratio in it's algorithms proves to be an enticing theory at the very least.

The small discussion that followed that post was a damn good read aswell...

What is the Golden Ratio?

The golden ratio, or golden section is a number that crops up in nature, and particular beauty and perfection an astonishing number of times. A few facts to give you an idea of what we're talking about here:

  • Phi is the only number who's square can be produced by simply adding 1
  • and who's reciprocal by subtracting 1
  • It's found in music, art, nature and science
  • It's digits have been calculated to 10 million, and they never repeat.
  • It's rumoured that Da Vinci's mona lisa was created using the golden triangle

Most of those fact were lifted from The Golden Rule

Enough with History, what does it mean to Google and Search Marketers?

We don't know exactly but, with the evident inclusion of LSI/A in the recent Google algorithm shift, many are beginning, as a result of DG's post to suspect that 1.618 may feature strongly in one or many factors of the algo - and as DG pointed out: It's just geeky enough to be true.

Things to play with...

What may be worth experimenting with would for me, include the following, based largely on what better seo minds tell me :)

  • Incoming Link Text
    Hard to do of course but say you're target word be "tractor", using the ~operator to find semantically relevant terms and aiming for the 1.618 ratio would seem reasonable
  • Outgoing Link Text
    Much the same as above, 10 instances of tractor and 6 instances of "farm machinery" and other such terms
  • Keyword Density
    You're gettin the picture now right?
  • Overall Theme
    Possibly a bit out there, this one, but worth thinking about - particularly in terms of titles.

This kind of techy seo tends to give me a nose bleed, but please do fight about it and explore the possibilities here, i think the discussion could provide much insight into what may be working at Google right now.



Oh crap

This stuff makes my brain hurt. I also looks like exactly the type of thing google would love. Definitely worth playing around with.

Stuff & Nonsense

What a load of old cobblers

The "Golden Section" has been used in architecture from the Pyramids of Gisa to Le Corbusier

Whise Phi is fine for architecture, its plain daft to associate it with words on a web site...any more than any of the other constants of nature from Planck's constant, via Pi to the speed of light

If I was Google, I would let this rabbit of Phi run for a couple of months...then slap on a permenant ban on any site found to be using it to optimise.

Phi may be suboptimal here...

...and only work for low-comp. keywords. I aim at sqrt(2) mostly, e/2 for the really heavy sites...

Seriously. Take your pick from sites that seem to have evolved "naturally" and emulate. The golden section might apply to some. Still, hats off to SE's if they can spot a shite site calculating just a single number...

I couldn't tell the difference between a 302 and a 707..

... but I do understand the constants of nature

There is no more reason for anyone to maximise on Phi than on say "a" the fine structure constant

The fine-structure constant, ?, is a measure of the strength of the electromagnetic interaction, and it quantifies the strength with which electrons bind within atoms and molecules. It is defined as ? ? e2/h bar c ? 1/137, where e is the charge on the electron, h is Planck's constant divided by 2?, and c is the speed of light in a vacuum. The fine-structure constant is of particular interest because it is a dimensionless number. This makes it even more fundamental than other constants such as the strength of gravity, the speed of light or the charge on the electron (see Constants with and without dimensions).

Dunno why I write this, I should just let you all go off and maximise against Phi.

Good stuff.

I was wonderin' what took ya so long on this one Nick. The golden mean also is applied to natural growth. Perhaps useful in things such as site growth? anchor text variation. Sound kinda similar to the mounting tinfoil hat sandbox theories? Hmmmm...wish I had better methodology for testing these things. Is there really a better number to use as "natural"? SEO is only gonna get tougher. I think this one gets credited as a "score for the good guys" ;) Actually I'm glad to see you slipped it in on Sunday when not too many folks are watching...perhaps I'll even jump on the "there's no reason they'd use that" bandwagon:)

I was going to comment...

...on natural growth with a factor of phi (being maybe on the disappointing side), but I won't (since it's a Sunday AND most of you are from the US). No link either...

I wouldn't run off and start

I wouldn't run off and start optimizing using Phi, Pi or any other number just yet. All I have right now is coincidence, conjecture and some worn out pencil erasers.

But I need to do more than glance at the numbers to call it hogwash. I'm suspicious of people that create theories on a whim, and equally suspicious of those who dismiss them on a whim.

Still in the hypothesis stage. which means I'm free to agree or disagree with naysayers and proponents without regard to proof, as there isn't any yet, either way.

I'm skeptical about a lot of things with regard to SEO, I prefer not wasting my time chasing ghosts. This particular number could be applied in so many ways that for me at least, it seems foolish not to take the time to research it a bit.

Lets go back to November 2003

Ok here goes ... lets go back to November 2003 ...

In the Florida update many sites with previously high rankings get wiped out. We start to hear the first inklings of varying your linking text or as I call it "link diversity". Some sites come back in "Austin" and "Brandy" as things are tweaked. We also start to hear about this "new site" penalty or "sandbox" phenomenon. Some time around May, Google refigures things if you're site has more than a golden ratio of link diversity, and you haven't had more than the inverse of the golden ratio in link growth, you're set free, if not you're stuck in the "sandbox".

This pattern continues every few months, they refigure the numbers, if your link diversity is more than the golden ratio and your site's growth and link growth is below the inverse, you get out, other wise it's the sandbox city for you. So we see this odd pattern of some sites emerging and others staying in.

Now here's the part that's so simple and so clever, you have to admire the beauty of it. Lets say you're going to try to rank for "blue widgets" you see your competition has 300 backlinks so you decide to go out and get 400 back links for "blue widgets". However if you don't have more than 400 other links with diverse enough text you're still in the sandbox. You say "hmm ... must not have enough let me get 200 more", now you need over 600 diverse links to get out. You become your own worst enemy. Instead of being stuck in the sandbox you're really stuck in quicksand. The more you strugle to get out the deeper you push yourself in. The counterintuitiveness of the whole thing is genius. It's a filter designed to stop the SEO's, while people who do things "normally" and "naturally" bypass the whole thing.

Now after almost a year and half they see they have a big portion of the SEO community so bamboozled, they intensify the filter otherwise known as update Allegra. Instead of requiring the golden ratio of link diversity for the site it's now required per page page/keyphrase. Explains why people who were previously out of the sandbox are now back in. Also explains the odd problem of people not ranking for thier company name.

It's in thier best intrest to refigure it less often, as it makes people who are trying to game them stand out that much more.


Good post, Greywolf, and would be brilliantly clever - excepting that how on earth is employing a system that prevents company's ranking for their own names good for relevancy?

Also, I'm still not seeing the datacenters line up so that tells me whatever has happened is still incomplete - almost like a wheel turned partway, but then got stuck.

That is a great post Graywolf.

That is a great post Graywolf. I read it and then went back to chew on it some more and it was gone. Glad to see it back. That would be really sneaky. But what would prevent a competitor from google bombing on their behalf? But then again we would never do that because it would help them.


My fault im afraid - call it a technical error heh...

It is a compelling theory isn't it? and yeah, top post GW!

>what would prevent a competi

>what would prevent a competitor from google bombing on their behalf?

the fact that few know exactly what is going on and the fact that its worth more to keep it to themselves and use it for their own sites than it is to use it to wipe out competitors.

plus many people do not think that way.


It would be far too easy to be evil using that method, though. If getting competitor sites banned were as easy as breaking their Golden Mean ratio, then surely Google would be inviting a particularly nasty market?

Interesting Graywolf

The only part I'm out on is that when that first Sandbox lockup began we put $6,500x2months worth of text links (6, 7, 8, and 9's) at a brand new large site with only 2 different link terms, the keyword and the domain name (which contained the keyword with no hyphens and one filler word)... and out it came in March, about as strong as could be imagined. Went from less than 150 uniques/day to 5-6,000/day overnight, literally. I'm sure we didn't qualify for any golden ratios on that one.

"And out it came on March"

Nuevojefe, it was my personal experience (for what it's worth...) and at least some others' that the sandbox started for sites created March 2004 or later, so while you may be correct, it could also be that this specific site you're talking about wasn't created in time for the sandbox yet (?)


Mr Brick has put out a call to the good boys and girls at SEW if you want to follow the naysaying there :)

I think I'll pass, first, bec

I think I'll pass, first, because Phi has some relatives that are largely being ignored, phi being one, notice the lower case, And secondly because I'm still cursing the current popularity of Phi.

Naysayers are fantastic though. That's what keeps research honest. But there's more to Phi than just 1.618. Then there's the inter-relationships...

Not to mention that numbers that approximate Phi seem to work at least as well. Like I said before, bit early for naysaying, or positive trumpeting. Just examination.

Finally, there's this bit. What if Phi wasn't chosen, but merely represents natural occurrence? The more manipulation occurs, the less Phi shows up? After all, wouldn't that be the "holy grail" so to speak? ;)

>> it makes people who are t

>> it makes people who are trying to game them stand out that much more.

Iocaine powder. :)

Why Phi?

I'm late to this topic and maybe have missed something, but why phi? I've forgotten more math than I'd like to admit... but it seems that the bell curve would be more germane to this discussion, even though phi is more poetic.


Welcome in :) do introduce yourself here...

Im not sure, but i did want to give the thread a bump as there is lots else happening today, maybe someone else can better answer..

Think of Phi... the middle of the bell,
then sqrt(2) fits as well.

Hehe - love a good maths rhyme. Guess Phi is not law. It stands for moderation I suppose... (Or else it's a "frat" thing - they love greek letters.)

The Google Shuffle

I came up with something that I introduced for the first time here

New Google SEO Filter Hypothisis ----------->

If site meta title = exact domain name


95% all inbound anchor text = exact title

then filter & shuffle.....

I'm seeing alot of websites that are being effected that should NOT be as hard to find when searching for the exact name of the website....

hence - their over seo filter....

title, domain name, and url + heavy pop and achor match....

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