So. I launched Starlit Citadel in 2007. At that time, I was fairly confident I could take on and beat most of the (existing) game store webstores out there at the SEO game. It looked like that most of the other store owners did not have a background or knowledge to do it properly and as such were not taking full advantage of the gifts afforded to them as existing businesses.
I was right for the most part – we rank quite well for many of the search terms I targeted and we continue to do well. That was 2007.
Here & Now
So when I say that things have changed significantly, you can understand that I speak from a place of knowledge. I’m trying to replicate much of what I did in 2007 for Fortress Geek and finding it much more difficult to do so. Many of what was considered ‘good’ tactics or at least, vaguely viable are no longer considered ‘correct’. In fact, Google can and will penalise you for taking may of the shortcuts that I took back in 2007 today.
Link building which is still one of the major forms of gaining authority has become significantly harder. Blog owners, especially those with decent websites all know better than to give out links willy nilly. You can’t purchase links anymore, not with any level of confidence that they won’t be found and penalised by Google. And even press-releases are considered ‘Spam’ by Google these days and discounted.
Not having to create a website from scratch; I hadn’t realised how hard things had actually gotten. With Starlit Citadel, we’ve already got a good base and some great customers who are happy to help promote us. The things we do now just add-on to a great base, a cycle of virtue. If you’re starting new though, you have nothing to work from and have to build it all up…
What’s A Boy To Do?
The big change in the last 6 years has got to be social media. Oh, it was around in 2007 but it wasn’t as important. In the last 3 / 4 years though the importance of social media as both a start-up boost and as a major form of marketing has increased significantly. With Google making it harder and harder for new sites to showcase themselves, you have to get around them and work on secondary ‘signals’ on importance. Things like Facebook Business Pages, Yelp listings (if you’re a physical store), Google+ pages, Twitter followers, etc.
It’s all a slow grind to get these customers, followers, etc. but at least there’s a new way to do so. It’s not perfect, and building up your search engine presence now takes even longer than before and is even harder than it was before.
Of course, there’s a cheat option and one were using a bit. If you have an existing property of some form, one with a decent amount of authority as it stands, you can ‘borrow’ some of that authority and pass it along to your new property. This is something that is helping a lot of existing brands to dominate in niches that they newly moved into (see Amazon) over and above their existing advantages of a large bankroll.
If you don’t have an existing property, there is a possibility of contracting with a SEO professional who does. Many of these professionals have created a wide slew of websites for just such an eventuality and can ‘push’ some of their authority to you. And even if they don’t, they can proceed to create websites with authority quicker than you can because that their job – while you have to handle a slew of other things.
The Silver Lining
If it’s hard for me, guess how hard it is for everyone else? Just as hard…. so if you have an existing business, Google is helping protect it. Sort of.