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JohnW
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Hi Paul,

I certainly do not mean to infer that links are unimportant as a potential SE ranking factor.

1. External Links DO Impact on a Page’s Ranking Sometimes
I said above, “It never has been “all about links”. It has always been about content. Links can only support content.”

First you need a page that qualifies for the search result list. So, if you don’t have a page that qualifies, the number of links to it won’t matter. This is where MOST SE referrals are lost – missing content.

Then there are the words in the search phrase. If an external link has no relevance to the words in the search phrase, it has probably negligible impact on your page’s ranking.

After that, there is the volume of competition for the search results list. At this point we need to consider the infinite number of search phrases that people may use to find info about your product/service. Now we enter into the realm of the fallacy of “frequently used keywords”. The truth is that “frequently used keywords”, AREN’T!

Example:
A search phrase that used to find the example site referenced earlier in the thread was, “hardwood sleepers 200×100 Rockhampton”. There are only 10 pages that Google reports that match this phrase, so none of them need any links to rank on the first page of the results.

People will say, “Who uses an obscure search phrase like that?” The answer is about 70% of the potential customers for your product or service.

For much of these SE referrals, links won’t matter at all.

Then there is the 30% where they do matter…

Now we need to get into the area of how Google assesses “link values” and how you can build them without contravening Google’s vague guidelines.

I could probably rattle off best part of 20 different parameters that I believe Google uses to assess link values. The referenced article touches accurately on very few of them.

The problem is that we can have very little input on these factors when the links are on someone else’s website. That is part of the reason for Google using these parameters.

With SEO you must assess the cost-effectiveness of your tactics. In my book, you can waste more and more time chasing links for “(IN)frequently used keywords”, then every 2 years have Google knock down your limited SEO tactic and kill your referrals or, you invest in SEO tactics that are cumulative and which persist for (so far) over a decade.

2. “I think the author does a great job expressing what great content can look like if you really want to put the hours in”

“In the comments, he said that he put over 20 hours into the article and it shows. It has custom graphics, lots of charts, he quotes sources. The typography, sentence structure, overall copy and overall readability are all fantastic.”

Pity he did not spend some time on “completeness”, “relevancy” and “accuracy” or on tools and strategies that are actually useful, not harmful.

I’m sorry if I sound harsh but IMHO, this is yet another one of those articles that take a minimum of fact and spins it and twist it into a long article that is not just inaccurate it is positively DANGEROUS. If people follow these recommendations they WILL damage their site’s SE referrals.

Let me run through some of the article subheadings…

“Anchor text diversity”. There will be very few high value links that will allow you to specify your link text from their site.

“Help you show Sitelinks in Google”. IMHO, this info is wrong.

“Zero-in on editorial links”. Duh! He then lists a bunch of site types and says links from them are NOT editorial links. WRONG!!!!! This bloke can’t even get the terms right! “Editorial links” are links that are earned by virtue of the pages content. Virtually all of the lists of examples he says are NOT “editorial links” can be/will be “editorial links” (blogs, Web 2 links).

“Overview of the Process”. WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! If you follow the process he describes it is virtually guaranteed to HURT your relevant SE referrals!

“How to start a podcast”. WRONG AGAIN! This is not an example showing the value of external links it is an example of the ranking power of words in page titles. His page’s ranking primarily relates to the fact that its title tag is “how to start a podcast…”. If you change the search phrase to “how to start a business podcast” the page drops out of sight.

Your comment: “AND provides the tools AND methodology to put a strategy in place“. By “tools” are you referring to the list of “Buzzsumo”, “Reddit”, “Quora”, “forums”, “Google’s first Page” (WRONG!) and “MOZ Tool Bar”? This list and the info about them are either, irrelevant, misleading, wrong or nearly useless for SEO.

Your comment: “the thrust of the article is about building killer content“. It looked to me like its focus was on generating IRRELEVANT content.

I could go on forever…

We all want useful info but I have trouble finding ANY accurate info in this article. It is certainly very incomplete in its discussions.

Paul, You have an office and business cleaning service on the Gold Coast. If you start publishing content that is based on some unrelated, “trending topic”, “WOW” factor that is NOT related to what you do, who you do it for and where they are, your SE referrals will decline as will your rankings for your relevant search terms.

Forget ALL the rubbish this bloke spouts about “authority sites”. Look for opportunities to obtain links from local businesses. What about local chambers of commerce, local news or Gold Coast promo sites? This strategy should be able to generate more valuable links than anything suggested in the article.

3. Where Google has been, where Google is now and where Google is heading.
IMHO, for much of G’s past it has been heading in the same direction while continuously trying to:

a. Generate more revenue
b. Provide better search results.
c. Diversify its reliance on Adword revenue

There are a number of external factors that cropped up that changed the environment and which G had to address. These include:

a. The data explosion
b. The entertainment web (social media)
c. Technological advances
d. The mobile Internet
e. An explosion in technically low skilled page publishing

Given the unbelievable magnitude of external changes to its environment, I subjectively suggest that G has done and continues to do a top job of delivering relevant text based information to searchers on desktop computers.

It can’t handle non-text based info very well – image based info, audio files or video files. This has been a HUGE info growth area with the introduction of high speed access for desktops, social media and Smartphones over the last 7(?) years.

It still has trouble finding a user-friendly interface for the mobile web where it needs lots of space to display all its ads and its volume of text based search results.

Being a keyboard operated site, it has useability problems for Smartphone users.

Slow mobile web speed is also problematic. It takes too long to return mobile search results.

Mobile web user’s are turning to apps for a lot of content delivery and thus are often by-passing the search function that G usually provides to non-mobile web users.

I don’t know how G will solve all these problems but I bet they have $millions being spend on the answers.

It has flagged “speed” as a factor that will become important in future ranking results. This is probably driven by slow mobile access speeds and the explosion in requests that are now needed to load a single web page. I remember a time when there was a single HTML file and it was recommended that no more than 4 x 10kb images be published per page. Now you commonly see pages with 150+ files and megabytes of data transmission needed to load them.

Your comment: “Looking around Google in my industry now, there is a loooong way to go…”
I don’t know what you mean by this so it is impossible to answer. Are you seeing irrelevant businesses popping up in the search results? Are you talking about businesses that are spamming the results?

What I can tell you is that when a website is structured, designed, published appropriately and with content that anticipates the relevant information people want, it will generate relevant SE referrals and continue to do it for a long time. I’ve been in the Internet marketing business since before there was a Google and seen how well pre-Google sites ranked when G hit the search scene. I’ve also seen websites lose 60% of their traffic when they stopped using the basics of content relevance and quality. I’ve also seen link manipulators go out of business when the big G killed their pet link scheme.

Last words…

Sorry for this looong rant, folk. 😮

Links are important in G’s algorithm for a significant number of searches but it is even more important to know when, where, how, for what search terms, where you want them to land on your site and if they can be implemented COST-EFECTIVELY. Did anyone read much about these issues in the article? ;)
Regs,
JohnW