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What does it take to succeed?

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
CEO
8 November 2007

Or why a sledgehammer may now required to crack the ranking nut!

Back in the day, 1998 it were, I was just a young lad fresh out of something else and getting involved in SEO was something new and wild frontierish. Well sort of. There were no rules and with only a few changes to your content and a quick run on the Meta Data it was easy to get to the top of then leading Search Engine Alta Vista. And pretty much the same could be said for HotBot, Excite, Looksmart and even God.co.uk (remember that one?), seriously, it was a pain to submit to as well, even worse than LookSmart. (did you ever go through all their categories – aaaaah!)

But then along came Google, and as we all know things got interesting. Yes you needed content, and yes Meta Data worked well for a while, yes you had to submit your site (happy days) and eventually you needed links, and lots of them. Link Popularity was king, never mind the quality feel the numbers.

So reciprocal linking became hot and my inbox was full, but hey, it worked for a while. And then we got stuck into the directory links, and why not, it worked! And then Google got smarter, well, we knew they would, and relevancy became the watchword.

So we all got smart ourselves, made sure the websites could get indexed, used Webmaster Tools, optimsised images, became W3C compliant and started to create content that would lure people to the site and they would reward us with links – at least that was the plan. And it sort of worked but then we started to notice lots of sites ranking using sitewides on non-relevant sites. And this still continues.

Ok, sometimes sites, usually blogs, will hit you with a load of ‘unintentional’ sitewides, or other marketing efforts can have an impact but you know the sort I am referring to!

Now I don’t blame the sites that do this, if it works and they want to take the risk good luck to them. And I don’t blame Google, they have a heck of job on their hands and sure we all get frustrated in our niches but they have to deal with something that is a lot bigger than our own singular concerns.

But what it has done is raise the bar for the rest of us, and we are torn. We don’t want to play using these new rules, but we don’t want to be left behind while others outrank us.

So what to do? Well, Google has a history of sorting things out, eventually, so we reckon continue to do what is good for the user. After all, that should be the focus of every website’s attention. Let’s keep adding great quality and original content. Lets make usability and accessability a real must have. We also need to make sure we are hitting the various ‘verticals’ such as Blogs, News and Video as Search moves into the blended or universal nature.

We also need to think about the Personalisation of Search and the effect on users – does this mean content and usability are going to be more important than ever?

And while it may not seem to be the most positive and proactive thing to do perhaps now is the time for consolidation and hope that good things do indeed come to those who wait.

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