The Foundation of the Golden Triangle is Credibility
In the early years of search engine optimization (SEO), literally hundreds of companies built large businesses online by providing web site owners with the tools and the guidance needed to make their sites “optimized” so that Google and the other search engines would rank them well and thus bring traffic to their sites.
Many found shortcuts and implemented these which allowed those with the money to invest in these schemes to rise to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPS). Of course, this meant that the results were not necessarily the BEST results, but rather the best funded results. The idea was simple: Get a good page rank for certain keywords, build copious amounts of links, and bam here are your top rankings in the SERPS.
So a couple of years ago, Google changed their algorithm to make the web a better place. This was the famous Panda Update.
Google built their company on providing the best results for the search terms entered and the latest change brought the mighty hand of Google down hard on many websites. Most were “slapped” by Google and rightly so; some perhaps not so fairly, but thus far, the new parameters seem to be working well.
Does Page Rank Matter Anymore?
No and Yes.
Google still uses page rank and in some ways it matters and in others it does not.
Google is on the lookout for a few simple things.
- Sites that Matter: If people come to your site and stay for a while, browsing for a while or moving from page to page, this indicates to the algorithms that you have a vibrant, popular site. Links help bring people to the site, but count less than they once did in the ranking and the decisions by the web crawlers when indexing the site.
- Content that Matters: Google is on the lookout for content that adds a clear value to the web. Freshness counts, relevancy counts, and quality of writing counts. Google has nearly perfected their technique yet is constantly seeking way to improve. Thus, the best thing you can do for your site is provide quality content, not just fluff.
- Size DOES NOT Matter: A few years ago, the NY Times bought About.com for a hefty sum. At the time, the site was vibrant and full of good content. It had size and it had tons of links into it (more on links in a moment). After the Panda Update went into effect the NY Times missed the boat and simply did not maintain engagement with readers, nor did much new information hit the site. Google slapped the site down in the SERPS and today, the NY Times is selling to Answer.com for around half of the original price.
- Size Matters if you know what to do with that size: Answer.com had the size and maintained a strong and vibrant community of visitors. This engagement with loyal readers kept this site on top and actually increased growth rate.
- Credibility Still Counts: Web Sites that fail to maintain the appearance of a credible operation, still do not fare well in the overall SERPS, BUT if there is strong, relevant content on these sites, that content will still do well, for Google is on the lookout for value above all.
In time, what we can expect to see is that more and more websites will develop the kind of content that adds value to the web. For now, there is little competition for good content and those with the best, most relevant, and fresh content are rising to the top of the SERPS. In time, however, as more great content appears and more sites develop greater interactivity with readers, the competition will again become fierce and we can expect that Page Rank will again become important in determining search results.
Credibility remains a factor in getting traffic, and even more so, credibility is a factor in getting visitors to return and remain on the site for a while. By staying around longer, this increases the credibility of the site in the eyes of the search engines and brings even more traffic. So the foundation for the Golden Triangle is having a web site that is credible.
Without having a credible web site, no site owner can expect any other practices to matter much. Great content will still get traffic, but without credibility, that traffic will eventually diminish, as seen with About.com.
Links matter, but one of the things the Panda Update did was ignore volume of links and quality of links in favor of time spent on a site regardless of where that traffic originated. In effect, links no longer count for much in determining SERPS, though they may still matter in determining page rank. But then, page rank currently does not count for much, so the links are only useful for getting traffic to a web site, which is really how it ought to be. For this reason, we advise regarding and only build networks of links that are useful in getting traffic to your web site for this is all that matters in link-building.
So what makes a website credible, at least in the eyes of the search engines? Read the Elements of a Credible Website.