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Back to basics?
Is simplicity the key to getting to the top of the Serps now?

 6:07 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've been following the thead about 'beating the filter' and the suggestions about building sites like directories.And very interesting these discussions have been.
However, I keep getting drawn back to a situation which I'm monitoring for a client on a subject I'll call widgetitis, a complaint which is always serious and often fatal to the victim. It also has expensive ramifications both privately and commercially and sites which go into the problem are visted by a small but intense group of individuals. There are many small sites devoted to the problem; and large sites which have sections featuring it.
Top of the SERPS is a hobby site or perhaps we should rename it an expert's site.
This site has been sitting impeturbably, with never so much as a wobble, while all the other sites beneath it (except No 2) jump about as if the've got ants in their pants. Including my client's
These are the features of this site:
A frameset with two frames, one devoted to a menu.
The menu is in HTML text.
Only two small dorky graphic buttons on the index page which lead to articles on Widgetitis.
The site is hosted on an ISP and has a sub domain.
About 30 pages in total.
The index page has NO graphics except the dorky buttons.
The heading on the index page is HUGE html
The normal text is DOUBLE the size of normally used text.
Pages are generally short.
Keywords amount to less than 5% overall, but are quite close together in some places.
The owner of the site doesn't know how to do a graphic and relies therefore mainkly on HTML
There are OUTWARD links to just about every expert who has written or commented on Widgetitis.
There is NO links page as such.
Outward links are embedded in the pages of discussion.
Some pages just pose a few questions; and the answers are large descriptive HTML text links to other sites.
The site has a PR of 5.
Inward links are from other Widgetitis effected sites/people, so are all on theme.
There are a few graphics, created by a third party I suspect, all of which are on inside pages.
And, that's it. Simple, basic, un-beautiful, but a site once of total devotion by the owner.
I say once.. because the site has not been altered since 2000 and many of the incoming links are from moribund sites.
The site loads in a FLASH!
As human beings aesthetics are important to us. How a site feels and looks, its ambience if you like, is a valuable part of the appeal any site has.
Google with its algo can't assess this. So this aspect of a website is totally msissing from creation of the Serps.
By forcibly removing, so to speak, the lumps and bumps put on an otherwise rather flat and featureless search engine terrain by the SEO's isn't Google pushing us in the direction of BASIC SITES? These may become the out-riders, the commandos, which scale the Serpish heights, and once there, point to the content and graphic rich cousins where Serpishness is not bothered with.Add the features of a pseudo directory and for a while you might have winner.
One last point: Google still has to distinguish between these basic sites; and my view one criterion could be frequency of update. If two sites have identical merit on other matters, then update frequency should be rewarded.
Google in its present mindset of near total hubris could still, at the last moment, draw back and revert to a pre Florida algo, like current Yahoo; but once hubris gets hold (like Widgetitis!)its generally down hill all the way.



 8:37 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Midhurst.

> Top of the SERPS is a hobby site or perhaps we should rename it an expert's site.

That may be the first comment in a while to keep me lying awake thinking about it. Hopefully, this is the sort of question that keeps search engines awake at night too.

> Simple, basic, un-beautiful

Some SEOs spend a significant proportion of their time training or working with clients to do things that are described as deoptimisation. This is because they realise that to optimise for Google is not necessarily to optimise for what many, perhaps most SEOs believe Google does - or should do.

Search engine deoptimisation is still a niche area, but it is lucrative and growing fast.

Or maybe it is the new search engine optimisation, just different from the old search engine optimisation. I guess when people call the new SEO 'anti-SEO', it's just because they don't understand the new SEO yet. At least that's how I see it.


 8:43 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>There are OUTWARD links to just about every expert who has written or commented on Widgetitis.

There you have it :)


 8:51 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I couldnt agree more. de-optimization as it is typically used is the art of bring your site more in line with ranking standards, making it "optimized".
I am not one to believe in widespread filters at this point though. The term "optimization" is used so casually here that I would be careful about "de-anything"


 9:00 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I guess when people call the new SEO 'anti-SEO', it's just because they don't understand the new SEO yet.


>>There are OUTWARD links to just about every expert who has written or commented on Widgetitis.

There you have it

Listen up folks


 10:35 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Beware of extrapolating from niche sites to the world of competitive SEOing!

Well over half the pages of my hobby site come up in the top five positions (quite often at #1) for their major keywords. Yet if you look at it you might swear that it has never been optimized.

It has, lightly. I suspect that none of my "competitors" (actually fellow hobbyists) even knows what the acronym SEO stands for. So light optimization is all I need. Extrapolate to a more competitive situation at your own (considerable) risk!


 10:37 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)


You are soooo on target.

Do a search on ferrets and you
get the same phenomenon at the top
of the page.

Aesthetics are great, but are meaningless
compared to content and a feeling for the
viewer that the site they are visiting is

Most sites fail the "genuine" test.

Think about it. Even on google, most sites
landing in the top ten places are crap as
far as their information value to a user
is concerned.

People watch tv and play video games for
glitz. They surf for information.

Webmasters who understand this can succeed
in nearly any search parameter.


 10:39 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

and, yes, I think you can extrapolate this
phenom to more competitive keywords. You
simply have to be willing to do more
legwork when it comes to building links
and theme-conscious links

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