The local, narrow web. Part I.

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The internet of yesteryears aptly earned the title "wild, wild, web". Early adopters could achieve almost anything (legal or otherwise) with zero fear of reprisal, laughing gleefully all the way to the offshore bank. Anyone first out of the starting gate in their field stood to make a financial killing. To this day, search engine result pages (SERPs) remain heavily weighted in their favour: legacy top rankings bless them to this day, almost impossible to topple.

Problematically some of those early adapters contributed forum threads and even books based on their thinking about how to outwit search engines. Their early advice came from assumptions and best guesses - guesses which conveniently kept those early adopters ahead of their competition by circulating information that was, at best, half-truthful. Indeed the fact that many of those early adopters were pornography and gambling racketeers does little to reinforce their credibility. The truth: no one knew exactly how the search engines worked. Why? Because they didn't tell us. In retrospect the only truly bankable best practice was this: Be There First.

spy-vs-spy.jpgA whole "Spy vs Spy" myth developed around the idea of black hat vs white hat SEO. SEO was thought adversarial at its very core: the ever-changing search engine vs. the hapless, disadvantaged (not to say greedy) search optimizer. And territory was not so much earned, or purchased, but taken. Much of this thinking endures in urban legend and myth today. In web time those early wins were generations ago; in human time, within recent memory and therefore quite alive. From time to time I'll post and debunk some of those myths and urban legends here.

In the meantime think on this: why try to reverse engineer a search engine's algorithms when Google, the search leader, gives step by step instructions on how achieve top rankings. As sneaky as they sometimes are, Google knows that transparency (or at least its semblance!) is the only way to a true win-win.

But win-win's are so boring. The days of the wild wild web will be missed by many. Where do you go to see an entertaining shoot out or bar brawl these days? Time will tell. In the meantime the wide web has become so "wide" as to become virtually meaningless: to conquer it is a hollow, meaningless victory. The new fifedoms are many: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and millions of local communities (both geographic and virtual). Many of these now host more files than the entire internet did in 1996. Exit world wide; enter local, narrow. There's gold in them there hills.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Lawson published on August 25, 2009 9:05 AM.

Does Facebook really own my photos? was the previous entry in this blog.

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