tedster - 4:44 am on Mar 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
I've been continuing to think about this thread - really pondering it. This area - making some sense of the algo - is the crux of what every webmaster who wants Google Search traffic needs to be focused on.
Gone are the days where we could build a checklist and trust the tradition of analysis that had been dome for us by others. Why is that? The algo is so complex that we cannot effectively test the whole thing, reverse engineer it, in other words. How can we when every market niche, every kind of site, even every type of keyword may be treated differently!
We don't even know what the individual factors are that Google measures. My guess is that they are measuring WELL over 1,000 items. Some of them are in use, some are not in use right now but are being watched and tested. Others may pop into the active algorithm tomorrow, and others may drop out or change their relative weight.
So what can we do - how can we conceive of this challenge? As others have noticed, Google is no longer a conventional "search engine". Instead, they seem to be building an artificial intelligence engine that measures how well each website does what it set out to do. This effort is in its infancy, and it certainly is subject to mis-steps. But I doubt that they are going to back off in any way.
It's not that the items on our conventional checklists no longer matter - they certainly do. It's just that all the technical tweaking in the world cannot do the whole job anymore when Google is actively trying to measure things like quality and user engagement!
What this means to me is that we cannot afford to cut corners anywhere. An online business used to look like a much easier way to make money than a conventional physical business. But it looked that way to a lot of people and the competitive floodgates opened up. No more working a ten hour work week and watching the bank account mushroom. That may have been the case early on, but not so much now - and probably not at all in the future.
So again, the bottom line for me is that we cannot afford to cut corners anywhere these days. We don't even know which corners are under surveillance!