Oregon! It’s about time to do a website and blog dedicated to my favorite state, Oregon, and there is no better place to start than with a series of posts about the Oregon Coast. The blog will have some of the most frequently updated insider travel content in the state, and I’m hoping to get some of the photographers and fellow Oregonians (or other travel friends) to add posts and comments.
I’ll start with my profile of the Oregon Coast, Oregon’s most globally recognized feature and arguably the USA’s most beautiful coastline. Although the Washington Coastline is pretty, in my pretty well informed travel opinion only the California Coast compares to Oregon’s. In fact geologically the California and Oregon Coast are similar in structure and scenery from about Santa Cruz to Astoria (disagreements are welcome in the comments!). Oregon however lacks the warmth of the long sandy beaches you’ll find around places like Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. Still, for pure coastal scenery I’d vote for Oregon over California, though I’d have to admit that the Big Sur area around Carmel, California might tip the hat over our great Oregon Coast in a tiebreaker for some people.
I should also note that part of this Oregon Experience adventure, especially the Oregon Coast part, is an attempt to better understand how Google will rank my Oregon website and blog. Theoretically Google is interested in ranking the “best resources” at the top of the listings and for terms like “Oregon Coast” they have done a fairly good job to date, though as with most geographical references Google omits a lot of websites and pages that a person would likely want to see if search provided user optimal results. The algorithm continues to heavily weight the appearance of the keyword in the content combined with an increasing number of incoming links (known as IBLs or “In Bound Links” in search optimizing circles) that have the query term e.g. “Oregon Coast”. A major challenge for Google is that a few years ago a huge industry sprung up buying and selling links as webmasters realized that the fastest way to optimize a website was to buy links at pages with high “pagerank” values. This led to a very severe crackdown by Google and many changes to the algorithm in an attempt to ferret out paid links that were bought for ranking rather than traffic purposes (yes, the definition of “paid link” remains contentious), penalize sites that were ranked well due to paid links, and use of the “nofollow” tag which is a webmaster’s signal to Google that the link with that tag is not to send “authority” to the linked website.
Although buying links for pagerank will work in some cases to improve site rankings, it is such a risky strategy that almost anybody reading this post should NOT do this. Rather I’d recommend you focus your attention on creating blogs related to your topic with highly relevant content and participating in the massive shift to online social networking which, when it stablizes in a few years, will lead to ranking algorithms that work much better than the current ones, based on real online voting patterns rather than Google’s initial brilliancy-that-no-longer-works-well which was to count links as “votes” for a website.