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I would sure love to hear from people with sites making it to the very top.
To me, I'm reading way too many stories here why and how sites don't make it.
Most seo forums are filled with complaints (although I must say, WebmasterWorld, is one of the best resources on the net for truly useful webmaster insight).
As always, the only tried and true method for attaining solid rankings in Google is building great content on a regular basis. Google loves fresh content, and if your articles, blogs, forum posts, etc...are really good, other webmasters will link to you without being solicited to do so.
P.S. This is also true, to the nth degree, over at MSN. Unlike google, MSN doesn't seem to have a very strong filter in terms of domain age. So even relatively new sites can do well if they have plenty of fresh content (and abide by the basics of good seo).
From the beginning I started reading this forum and applying the information contained on these pages to my own web sites. I started with, "What the heck is this .htaccess file?" (Thank you again, Jim) At first, I only wanted to see a keyword in the top 10. Once that happened I got greedy! Eventually, I figured out that in order to become anything like an authority, I had to think and act like an authority. (The thought of that makes me shudder) Nevertheless, authority is more than content, it is more than original layout, it is more that technical prowess. Authority is evidence that your returned page is relevant and useful to the query. That is a goal that goes into every page that I build. By building pages, each able to stand on its own, I have built an authority site. I build dynamic pages, static pages, redirects, scripts, forms, you name it, all with a single goal, to best serve my visitor. Some days you only get one chance, and I think that is even more relevant for informational and services oriented sites than for retailers.
With authority comes responsibility. To me that includes continuing to monitor events and important information on this forum, and as always, applying that knowledge to my sites. There is no resting on your laurels. In fact, I sincerely intend to retake my former position from that Wik@%*#ia-site!
Authority in the eyes of Google (or any other search) should also be considered fleeting! I believe that by availing myself of the tools and information available, I have managed to escape the wild ride of the index updates. I'll say a little prayer tonight and see if I'm still number two in the morning. ;)
[edited by: smells_so_good at 8:31 am (utc) on Oct. 11, 2006]
[Note: Reading my posts without realizing I'm highly sarcastic, use mixed metaphors, hyperboles, understatements, idiotic mispellings, etc., can be confusing]
Now, do you want to hear my "An authority site is an authority site" speech?
my "Stop pretending to be a whitehat when you're trying to rank" speech? :)
Personally my advice would be to take a 3 month hiatus from reading, posting to, or even thinking about SEO boards and bust your arse studying every single detail of your keywords SERPS, your competition, and 10-20 somewhat related SERPS/competition and 10-20 unrelated SERPS/competition.
This will give you better info than anything said on these boards or any advice someone else could give you.
Then you can read all the opinions on these boards and know instantly (or do a quick check against your "control groups") if it applies to you and your sites, all websites, trusted websites, non-trusted websites, old, new, whatever issues you read here.
Haha, ok, you didn't ask for all that but what the hey.
To answer your question, yes, I have success stories. ;)