Having been in web marketing for some years now, I’m finding it harder and harder to give any kind of confident answer when someone asks how to get to Number 1 in Google (followed by owning their dream villa on the Riviera). I gave up SEO’ing for third parties some time ago and now work solely on our own sites – one of which is a specialist web directory.
To some extent, this has highlighted how different the search world can look from the other side of the table. Now we get to “review” a large number of sites in a market we know a lot about. Depression sets in when you see great products, and good sites, that your SEO-eye says have no chance of winning search traffic. Conversely there’s a huge number of terrible sites that do well. Something’s gone wrong in the world of search…
A quick search in Google or any other major engine for a competitive travel phrase will leave you deluged with results - some good, some bad but all apparently relevant. To the “expert”, many of the results have absolutely no right to be there – the only thing they have in common is the hard work of an SEO consultant. Terrible designs, poor accessibility, slow loads, pop-ups or scant information count for nothing. If you’ve understood the difference between PR and public relations, arrived armed with a WordTracker account and have a ripping inbound link campaign, you’ve probably hit the top. Well done!
Happy searchers? Maybe not…
In the early days of the web, Open Directory (DMOZ) came along with the promise of sifting the web and giving us the good stuff. The current number of frustrated posts from webmasters trying to get listed shows how times have changed. Visit a DMOZ category you know something about and there may be a few of your favourites listed… most likely surrounded by out-of-date, inaccessible, poor quality garbage. In all likelihood your favourite site is still pending review in some overworked editor’s in tray.
An old client made contact the other day, asking about a search campaign. As a site in a niche market, the SEO work didn’t stack up and it turned out cheaper to run a PPC campaign. The client was happier because PPC is advertising he understands. It produces a quantifiable return and, in their niche, doesn’t cost a whole lot. The reason for this decision? His market is over-SEO’d – maybe this was Google and Yahoo’s masterplan all along.
Where DMOZ failed, enter the new-age web directory – pay for inclusion (PFI) and fast approvals – although still very little quality control. JoeAnt and Abrexa have made moves in the right direction with an element of quality review included in the submission process. Unless the engines really do have a “let SEO kill the market” plan, perhaps the answer will be a search world centred around hubs of “quality” such as these.
For our own directory, we’ll do everything we can to acknowledge sites which raise standards. We’ll be adding a sooper-dooper gold star scheme (that’s a working name!) for sites that do a great job at selling their product – regardless of how well they’ve researched their keywords or tweaked their meta tags.
Maybe we’ll also give them extra inbound links to help their rankings. You gotta play the SEO game, right?
[Removed active links per Forum Guidelines.]
Edited by Randy, 24 August 2004 - 11:29 AM.