I remember when I did not have any grey hair, when the Internet was spelt with a capital I, when Yahoo! was a novelty and 10MB web hosting would cost $150 a month.
I remember when you just had to create a 5 page website, submit it to Yahoo!, wait a couple of weeks, and enjoy seeing it in the directory.
I remember when anyone could create a website on any subject, and be on top of Altavista a few weeks later.
I remember when everyone stood a chance at being ranked first, simply because there was no other website on the same subject.
Now we have LOTS of new websites created every day. And I mean huge numbers. Let’s take only the number of blogs created per day: “Technorati is now tracking over 70 million weblogs, and we’re seeing about 120,000 new weblogs being created worldwide each day” (source: http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000493.html ).
What does it mean ? Simply that with so much new content coming online every day, it is getting very hard to identify what is of value and what is not.
It is even getting so hard that engines don’t know how to do it anymore, and have to drop all their ideas such as PageRank to go back to the basics: trust no-one, unless you really know them.
“Today 27% of Google’s results on the first link alone come from Wikipedia, as do 31 % of Yahoo’s.” (source: http://aixtal.blogspot.com//2007/11/search-google-yahoo-comparison.html)
The same website also shows that on top of the results, you mostly get major web properties: newspapers, large content providers, etc…
Does it mean you can’t rank anymore ? No it does not. It simply means you too need to go back to basics: become an authority on a subject, update your website often and write fresh content.