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How Reliable are your Search Engine Rankings ?

There seem to be fewer permanent bans/surprises. Are rankings reliable?

12:59 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Back around 2000-2001, these boards were full of webmasters who had been banned from Google, etc. for reasons unknown. As far as we knew, it was a life time ban with no recourse. There was no one to call to ask why and to ask for reinclusion. Back then, your top rankings were pretty fragile and you wouldn't count on your web business for very far from tomorrow.

Today, however we have Google tools and a rep to ask for reinclusion (correct me if I'm wrong). It appears Google is more forthcoming with what it considers abuse. There appears to be much fewer webmasters frantically trying to figure out why his site disappeared from the SERPS. There seems to be much fewer big surprises when it comes to SERPS changes and changes to algos.

So, just how reliable do you consider top SE rankings these days? Assuming you keep pace with your competitors, would you count on your top rankings staying roughly where they are? For years to come? If you keep abreast of search engine developments and adjust for visible coming algo changes, could you count on your website rankings to be there for years, decades or a lifetime?

1:19 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It's not enough to keep abreast of SE developments; you also need to keep abreast of your niche, your audience's tastes, and your rivals' activities.

With those variables - and a few more besides - it would be an arrogant and foolhardy webmaster or SEO who could promise a few months, let alone years, decades and lifetimes ahead.

But I take your point; there is less mystery about SEO these days. Most of those who have kept abreast AND got penalties would be less surprised than the white-text-on-white-pages folk of 1999. These days, 'black hat' is a career choice, an accepted risk, an increasingly known risk - not a matter of luck, sneakiness and bad advice.

On the other hand, we now live in a time of constant change, in all areas of web site management - time will come when even the Google Bashers will look back on the 'Google Days' as a time of stability and openness.

And that uncertainty will probably get worse. No-one predicted the dominance of Google, let alone Adsense / Adwords. No one predicted the power of YouTube and its effects on everyone else - and no-one knows how it will be monetised. No-one predicted that 'web 2.0' (dread term) would come to mean yourface, spacebook or whatever superficial twaddle it is that dominates teenage thought ...

Bored enough yet? The future is a dangerous place. Don't go there!