robzilla - 11:39 pm on Aug 25, 2013 (gmt 0)
It's always an interesting question, but if you're looking for ranking factors on which people agree they're important today, you'll probably find that they're much the same ones that have been deemed important for many years. Nothing has fundamentally changed, in my opinion; Google's algorithms are just becoming more intelligent.
There's undoubtedly some collateral damage with every algorithmic update, but frankly I have yet to see a site that did not deserve to get hit. In most cases I've come across, the site owners got greedy (primarily with Adsense); in others, they were lazily enjoying the ride and forgot they had to keep up with the times -- then suddenly had to scramble as they saw their traffic fall sharply, plugging some small holes here and there but failing to see the bigger picture, and never recovering. In still others, the sites were just plain bad (the owner always thinks otherwise!). I'm speaking generally here, so I'm not saying this is what happened to you or your site; I just feel all this bitterness we see today requires a counterweight because it's not fair to be blaming a search engine (or worse, the company as a whole) for trying to improve their search results.
Google's mantra of "Focus on the user, and all else will follow" is no guarantee for success, but it is indicative of what they're after, and what you, in part, should be after, too, if you want to rank. Do some user testing, have people compare your site to those of your competitors, and then improve (and keep improving!) the user experience on your site; get more authorative links; create exceptional content (good is not good enough, everyone makes "good" content); go the extra mile; don't go social if it does not make sense for your site or business (a bit of a pet peeve of mine, this one); find other ways to bring in targeted visitors (Planet13's post provides a clue) -- get your creative juices flowing. This will all be a lot easier if you are passionate about your business or site's topic, because there's no room for mediocreness.
Disclaimer: I haven't launched a site in about a year or so. I'm about to, in a few more weeks, and I'm more excited than ever. Worked on it for about six months. Three serious competitors, but they've all fallen into the trap of passiveness, so my hopes are high, as is my list of features I still want to add to it. If it fails to rank, though, despite my conviction that it's the best site of the four, it'd still be my failure, not some search engine's.
MONEY. They want you to advertise.
Please read this [webmasterworld.com] before responding. It's pinned to the top of the forum for good reason.