Content or Presentation?

I’ve been looking at a friend’s website recently. It’s been around a while, sat comfortably at the top of Google’s rankings on keywords and was very popular according to the visitor statistics. That was until mid-December 2006.

There began a slide. He found he wasn’t getting 1 and 2 in the searches any more. He got paranoid. Something was “penalising him on Google” he said.

There was nothing different about the site: apart from updates to his database of punk rock music items, there were no alterations in coding. If Google was indexing him differently, it was because there was something different in the way Google was indexing him.

And it certainly seemed from the buzz around the amateur SEO community that something had changed on Google. All the pundits said Google was doing things differently and that some sites with a long up-time and a good history were feeling the pinch.

Don’t accept the old order. Get rid of it.

— Johnny Rotten

I took a look at his site and made a few tweaks, mainly things like trimming his titles and removing unnecessary comment codes (even these might make Google wrongly identify a site as a link farm or similar). The very next day it shot up the rankings and his site was number one again. He was ecstatic, to say the least. There was much rejoicing.

Yet, the next day, he was back in the doldrums. His placings had crashed back to where they were beforehand. Once more he was Mr Glum.

So, we tried a few other things. Firstly, his page count. Google said he had just 81 pages in his site. His big rival had 500. Of course, his rival’s pages were all flat HTML but it certainly seemed that the page count was a factor.

So I got my friend to hire a freelance coder via to create a mod-rewrite script. Put simply, mod-rewrite works in the background to produce a URL and divert existing pages to it. For instance, it can change pg=genre&mti_1=12&mti_2=14&mti_3=14&FormatID=2 into in the future, with a bit more tweaking, we might be able to get

It was also pointed out to him that with 8,000 plus items on his stock database, he might be able to get 20k+ pages on his site using mod-rewrite!

Incidentally, gives anyone the ability to hire a rated coder to carry out work at an agreed price and set time.

It has paid off: my friend’s Google position is much improved. And because the ranking seem to be sticking, he’s a much happier bunny again.

Of course, as a “Content Guru” I’ve been telling him that he can inprove his SEO stakes by writing a blog. My friend is Britain’s foremost expert on Punk Rock. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge; ideal blog fodder. The plan is that running a blog on his site will draw in traffic, attract links and improve SEO.

Watch this space or go to to find out more.

One response to “Content or Presentation?”

  1. […] watchers say the algorithm changed last year to the detriment of many existing sites using the arsenal of so-called “White Hat” tricks such […]

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