Every single day I surf through about a dozen sites, looking for interesting articles and message board posts. I do this for many reasons: for my job, which requires that I stay up-to-date on current technologies, and for my hobby, which allows me to write articles about internet and web.
I find them very useful not just for ideas, but to occasionally post something of interest to others. You know, that's something that I truly enjoy. Stumbling across a post which asks a question, responding and finding out that I really did help someone solve an issue. There are few better feelings than that.
Anyway, today I was looking through some posts on these boards and I noticed a very common concern and theme. Virtually every webmaster on boards is concerned above all else with one thing: getting traffic to their site. And to get traffic virtually all of those same webmasters was convinced they have to get high rankings in search engines.
I'd seen this before, of course, but today I noticed something that actually made me angry. I realized that search engines, especially larger ones, are causing people to self-censor their own sites.
One lady stated she had a painfully built set of links for quilt sites. She believed it was most complete set of quilt links on internet, and seemed quite proud. However, she was disturbed and even was considering removing links because it might hurt her rankings in Google.
I continued looking over posts on that and other forums and found similar posts scattered throughout. One person was afraid because he included pages of content not related to theme of his site. Would Google drop his ranking and thus cut his income? Yet he really wanted to include those pages ... but felt he had to remove them because of this search engine.
You see, what's happening is Google and other search engines have to work very hard to create very intelligent robots to scan web for sites. Until recently, these robots considered each and every page as a separate entity. Now, however, a change is occurring. Google is attempting to group pages together into sites, and then judge all of pages as a group. The implication of this is apparently sites which are "tightly themed" will be positioned higher in results pages than those that are not.
I guess theory is that a tightly themed site is somehow better than a site which has lots of information about many different subject.
Google also ranks pages (and now perhaps entire sites) based upon number and quality of sites that link back. The thought behind this is that if a site is linked to by other quality sites (sites related to theme), then that site is somehow better than other sites and deserves to rank higher.
So what's seems to be happening is many webmasters are very, very concerned about every move they make. Every change to their site is measured against question, "what will Google or Altavista or whatever think of this change?" Will making that change drop their rankings? Will it get them removed from engine? Will Earth come to an end simply because a link to a site with different content is included?