What am I doing right? If I google on "java war" right now, one of my pages ends up as hit #8 on the first result page. That is strange in so many ways, especially considering the double or triple meaning of the phrase.
The Indonesian Java War (1825 - 1830) gets two hits before mine - Wikipedia is of course at the top. McDonald's coffee fight with Starbucks is represented by one hit and the remaining four are, as is mine, about Java code WAR files.
I haven't even tried to promote this site and it's really just a disjointed mess of vastly varying information and musings. Besides, that particular page can't possibly be very interesting for most people.
The only reasons I can think of why my site seems to score rather consistently well on Google are
- The site is oldish by now. Even though it has changed over the years, some continuity has always been a priority. Maybe age and continuity is a factor.
- I have always strived to keep all pages clean and simple. Most of them validate cleanly as strict XHTML 1.0 (or did, last time I checked) and the separation between content and style is more or less complete now. Thanks, Drupal.
- I have tried to keep the info/noise ratio as high as possible. I haven't used keywords extensively or consciously tried to bake any Google lures into the text. I just say what I want to say, basically. Images are there to illustrate, not dominate.
- I have tried, not entirely successfully, to build a page structure that's easy to understand and move around in.
I believe all these points are at least as important for a search engine as they are for a human reader.
I know there are plenty of SEO companies out there trying to make money by tricking clients into thinking that the search engines can be fooled, but in reality, it's probably best to just do your web publishing properly, writing for the reader and keeping it simple. That's what the readers want, and Google wants to find what the readers are interested in.