Question: What happens when the relevance set changes and metrics used to score and collect data are dismissed? Answer: The pages that were ranked based on those metrics in a search engines’ index are dismissed as well.
When you see violent shifts in rankings, it is not always something your SEO or competition did to create this. There is genuine competition, but instead of competitors, it is competition between the on page local site factors and the global collection of documents within Google’s algorithm (per keyword) and how they are sorted, categorized for context and ranked in accordance with the prominent scoring metrics.
Based on the corresponding algorithmic equivalents of how search engines translate queries based on commercial intent, educational peer review and social media shock value are only glimpses of the relevance score calculated by machine learning as it adapts and thrives to assess what people want.
However, as soon as a threshold or precedent is established, there are always “opportunists” trying to exploit the algorithm by flooding the index with lackluster, irrelevant or automated content to scrape or garner some share of traffic. While it may be short-sighted at best, using automated scripts or reverse engineered systems can only take you so far.
Real SEO requires long-term guidance and requires a more human touch in order to effectively collaborate all of the necessary layers and create or implement intelligent changes based on empirical data over time.
SEO may deliver the traffic, but once people arrive, you will need more than a large semantic footprint to create stickiness and appease their desire to consume (information, videos, images or entertainment) once they arrive.
I found a great website which I would like to pass along which has a plethora of resources available for those interested in “hands on” SEO information. While we are typically more theoretical in our approach at SEO Design Solutions, Dr. Andy Willams at http://ezseonews.com has some great SEO tips regarding “the authority set” (based on Michael Campbell’s principles in “Revenge of the Mininet“). In the PDF Dr. Jenkins shows examples of search engine result page positioning for various keywords that through implementing theming and siloing was able to acquire top 5 rankings for competitive keywords with less links through using a very straightforward SEO tactic.
The premise is simple; acquire a larger semantic footprint which in turn correlates to increased search volume, traffic and search engine positioning. Remember, SEO is not about the tools, its about the tactics, skill-set and expertise of the one wielding the tools.