Chris Dixon delcares SEO dead for startups:
Google seems to be doing everything it can to improve its algorithms so that the best content rises to the top (the recent "panda" update seems to be a step forward). But there are many billions of dollars and tens of thousands of people working to game SEO. And for now, at least, high-quality content seems to be losing. Until that changes, startups - who generally have small teams, small budgets, and the scruples to avoid black-hat tactics - should no longer consider SEO a viable marketing strategy.
I can't agree with this, and neither can the HN community. In their words:
Patrick McKenzie's comment, as expected, is the most thorough:
SEO is harder today than it was in, say, 2000, just like the App Store is more competitive than it was at launch. That is a long way from non-viable, though. There are recent, high profile, successful startups like Mint or OKCupid where SEO was a core traffic acquisition strategy.
Links >>>> everything else, with regards to ranking for head keywords. Happily, startups are in a great position to get links. BCC has a couple of hundred in five years -- a YC startup can pick up a couple of hundred by launching. AirBNB practically has a hundred from PR coverage in the NYT. A single well-executed link bait or viral sensation seeded with your hundreds of linkerati friends can really, really move the needle.
The TripAdvisor site is a better result for the reason Google featured it in the SERP--user reviews. Oyster's page is a review by one person versus TripAdvisor's 171 reviews. TripAdvisor's page is also much older, dating back to at least October 2003 when the first review was posted. Oyster was started in June 2009, which is pretty recent in the scheme of things. I'd say they are doing pretty well to rank where they do considering.
HN at its most informative...
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