Rasputin - 6:41 am on Mar 8, 2012 (gmt 0)
It does seem that our time is better spent "chasing our customers" instead of chasing the algorithm. And really, for me that's a kind of relief.
I agree completely and for at least two years I have done no active 'link building' and have focussed instead on content and user experience (with mixed success).
But there are big problems with this 'user satisfaction' approach, due to the lack of a level playing field that I think can not be explained by any 'normal' ranking factors
- Google give a boost to big-brand sites out of all proportion to their content, returning almost empty or irrelevant pages or multiple pages from the same domain from a big brand rather than an informative page from a less known site
- many of our competitors are still doing widespread link building and freely interlinking existing sites, and getting away with it, and I am convinced they are benefitting from it (i.e. google is not just ignoring the links). We might have the moral high ground but they've got the income!
- even with excellent content it is now very difficult to gain traction for a new site without any kind of 'unauthorised' link building. If a page is never shown in the results it doesn't attract natural links!
So the challenge is, without a level playing field and with no realistic chance of employing SEO techniques any more, what should a site do to succeed?