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maksimava
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John,

I can see that you do have a lot of marketing experience (jic, I never really questioned that). I, on the other hand, don’t have half as much. I was 6 years old when you made your first appearance on a marketing conference, so it’s hard to compete.

That said, I don’t completely see where exactly this fits in the discussion we were having. To me, this part of our conversation could be summarized as:

– Link building is often the most effective SEO tactic.

– Not really. I just looked up this site in OSE, and it only has 4 links pointing to it – and it ranks #1 for this keyword. Also, SEOs have no idea how Google evaluates link quality.

– Wait, OSE? What if we look up the same site in a link index that’s up-to-date, just to be fair? Look, it says 548. Also, Google’s documentation on PageRank (which describes how they evaluate link quality pretty well) has been publicly available to the public since the late 90s. Here’s a link.

– I have 20 years of experience, and you don’t.

I do realize that’s an exaggeratedly comical take on it, but I’m just not sure if we are having a discussion anymore or listing our past achievements. Please let me know which one, because I did win a mathematics competition in 10th grade.

> I wonder how many of the 48 “do follow” domain links your link tool counts have any value and how many are all the scraper sites that set up useless links for all sorts of nefarious reasons? That must be a big problem for link building tools? How do they over come these issues?

There’s a bunch of quality factors you can look at to help you figure out each link’s quality, such as Page/Domain Authority, Alexa, pages indexed in Google, and so on. In SEO SpyGlass, to identify scraper sites and other low quality links, we have a metric called Penalty Risk. To calculate it, we look at a bunch of metrics that Google is known to use in the algorithms behind Penguin. These include plenty of stats on the domain (indexation in Google, age, the number of outgoing links, uniqueness of the IP and C-block) and the link itself (such as its anchor text).

On a different note, I do completely agree with almost everything you said about long tails. I wouldn’t really compare it to link building though, because the former is a keyword research/on-page strategy, and the latter is a way of building your site’s overall authority and helping you rank higher for certain terms – especially the high competition terms. To me, long tails are a great starting point for small businesses – and most business, really. But at some point, you will run out of the low-competition long-tails, and you’ll still want to grow your traffic and sales. What do you do if you’ve only got higher competition keywords left? My top piece of advice would be to build links.

> What you called an “experiment”, Fishkin called, ” “just having a little fun”.

Sorry John, but I really don’t understand. Rand called it an experiment himself a bunch of times. I just don’t see what’s wrong with the word.

> I.e. It did not show “clicks’ alone produced an effect, it needed 500-2,000 simultaneous clicks to achieve a temporary one. You create a totally misleading impression for your readers if you omit this crucial piece of the info.

At this point, I’m not even sure we are talking about the same article anymore. The one I wrote explicitly states that the effect was temporary.

> I still don’t have any idea what practical SE referral value such a short term impact, has for Au small businesses.

I feel like I’ve said it about 5 times by now, but here goes: IMO, a great takeaway would be to work on your search snippet, experiment with it a little, and optimize it for clicks. It’s clearly a good idea anyway, but it could have that extra ranking benefit if Google is indeed using click data for ranking in some way.

As you rightly noted, it really can be hard to separate fact from opinion in all of the SEO info on the Web. But the reason there’s so much room for opinion is Google not being very open about the technicalities of its ranking algorithm, which is understandable. When Google says they use clicks for rankings, they don’t, they do, they don’t, that’s inconsistency. When you say you think clicks don’t influence rankings, that’s an opinion. When I say I believe they do, that’s also an opinion (and I like to think Rand’s experiment backs it up nicely). Strictly, very few things in SEO are “facts” – that’s why there’s so much space for “opinions” left :)