Popular SEO Beliefs That Make No Sense At All


djbaxter

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An excellent article, well worth the 5 minutes or so it will take to read it. :)

4 Very Popular SEO Beliefs That Make No Sense At All
by Pratik Dholakiya, Search Engine Journal
July 11, 2018

Here are four beliefs that truly are very popular in the SEO community – and are also provably and undeniably wrong.

SEO Belief 1: Correlation Studies Tell Us How the Algorithm Works
A lot of major SEO blogs publish lists of “ranking factors”:

There’s just one problem.

These aren’t lists of ranking factors.

SEO Belief 2: Guest Blogging Is Against Google’s Terms of Service
This belief is also false.

(See also this discussion on guest posting: Do local reciprocal backlinks do any good these days? | Local Search Forum)

SEO Belief 3: Social Signals Are a Ranking Factor
When RankBrain was released, there was some speculation that all of this had changed and social signals were finally being incorporated as a ranking factor.
Google’s Gary Illyes gave an emphatic “no” when asked whether social signals impacted RankBrain.

(The article also cites Matt Cutts and John Mueller denying that social signals play any role in ranking.)

SEO Belief 4: Links Are the ‘Most Important’ Ranking Factor
There is no “most important ranking factor.”

Here is Mueller saying as much:
“We use so many factors for ranking, it really depends on a lot of things. IMO there’s no “top 3” list. We use links, but also lots more.”

Read more...
 

MeganR

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Wow, regarding the social signals.

I know there's the idea in certain industries that, "we've gotta be there."

And, that may be true.

BUT....my feeling is, right or wrong, take that $1500 a month you are putting into Social media management and dump it in Adwords and at least get some, quantifiable return on your investment.

VERY difficult to get clients to realize this.
 

mborgelt

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Great share! I think points 1 and 4 point are particularly great.

So often SEOs and businesses find one thing that works and take it as a silver bullet or a "winning strategy" when the results/strategy are difficult, impossible or just don't make sense in other verticals.

I feel like the 4th point goes to show how involved SEO is becoming- especially local. It isn't 2012 where you can throw a bunch of sites up or build a bunch of citations to a listing and expect to rank. Your site has to be strong at EVERY level in order to compete and focusing on one or two areas of strategic or competitive advantage will hardly ever result in lasting ROI.
 

djbaxter

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SEO Myth #5 - You can trust Google's advice.

Lol. Google lies all the time. Taking advice from Google on SEO is like taking advice from the casino on how to win more money.
I can't agree with that.

I don't think Google lies about SEO. I would agree that frequently they don't tell the whole story - that would be extremely foolish on their part. You don't teach scammers and spammers how to better scam and spam.
 

A_parisian

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SEO Myth #5 - You can trust Google's advice.

Lol. Google lies all the time. Taking advice from Google on SEO is like taking advice from the casino on how to win more money.
Exactly.

We shouldn't forget that Google is actually an advertising company living mostly off ads purchased by businesses willing to increase their visibility online.

The search engine and all their free tools are the hook, theirs users the bait and all the real business lies in advertising.

Android, the google suite, Gmail etc. are free because they're invaluable sources of data to provide better ads. That's all. Google's competitor is not Bing or DuckDuckGo. It's Facebook which has the same business model. Ever wondered why both companies struggled to get their hands on Waze? Invaluable data.

Of course John Mueller will never recommend you to spend your $ on Facebook, since they have their own offer (which provides anyways a much better ROI).

All the Google recommendations are here to make their life easier. They're very good are letting people think they work for the common good but in the end it benefits them.

Microdata makes them save ressources to understand relations between objects.

ReCaptcha sure keep apprentice spammers at bay but are just basically a giant machine learning experience saving their millions.

They push hard webmasters to make their websites accessible and super fast. That's because it helps them to save billions in crawl budget every year more than to make the user's experience better in the end.

Because their goal is -as most of you have noticed already- to scrape all your content and use it for their own goals. And keep users away from your website if they see an interest in doing so.

They're killing all the late 90's big travel agents, hotel booking websites and the review websites are IMHO the nexts on the list. TripAdvisor is a dead man walking.

Their search algorithm is still quite basic and page rank is still a major ranking factor on the SERPs IMHO. We're definitely headed towards more refined search results in the sense that their next big task is to classify better contents at a smaller scale (and the knowledge base could possibly help them to achieve this goal).

We're still years (if not decades) away from having robots actually able to understand what they crawl, save from evaluating its quality.

SEO is about signals and relations (semantic context, backlinks and their context, website architecture, etc.). That's how you feed that stupid robot (I'm not saying great content -from a human perspective- is useless. It is for marketing purposes and it has side effects on SEO such as backlinks.
 

djbaxter

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Wow. So much paranoia and misinformation.

"All about ads"? Google and their spinoff company moved beyond that a long time ago.
 

A_parisian

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Well advertising accounted for 86% of their revenue in 2017.

Edit : also note that there's no conspiracy involved here. No tinfoil hat either.

Just a good old fashioned de facto monopoly. Like the ones
 
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CallumS

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Google is not transparent about their algorithms (hence why SEO's exist), and the advice they do give is often just a confirmation of what we are already assuming - it is in their best interests to provide searchers with the best results so that they continue to have a monopoly on search, so they can continue to get data to continue to.... and it goes in a loop.

I don't think anyone is under the illusion that Google is out for the common good, but assuming they *lie* to make more money in ad revenue is a stretch. Asserting that a company is actively collecting data and user insights does not equal lying to SEOs about SEO.

I think the advice and confirmations that are given the majority of the time are focused on helping you make a better web experience for your users, that in turn helps your users (and your conversions) and your rankings (and your conversions). Are they going to tell you the loopholes that are going to let you rank for a period of time? The things they can't algorithmically figure out yet? Hell no! That would be crazy for any business - but it doesn't mean they are lying.
 
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Well advertising accounted for 86% of their revenue in 2017.

Edit : also note that there's no conspiracy involved here. No tinfoil hat either.

Just a good old fashioned de facto monopoly. Like the ones
I agree, Google is first and foremost an advertising company. Everything they do is to make their advertising products more valuable. I admire the incredible advertising resources they created and don't know of a better advertising product that has ever been invented.

Google also is simply a transnational multi-billion dollar advertising corporation that is aimed at continued growth of their bottom line, as they should be.
 

paulcarl

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No one will believe this but from using SERP data and scraping websites I've discovered crazy variables correlated with higher rankings for some of my SERPS. Sometimes this data has led me to doing unthinkable things to improve ranks, a couple examples including using meta keyword tags and removing alt tags from images.
 

paulcarl

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True, but what do you trust more? Data and the scientific method, or Google's so-called best practices? For me it's data all day.
 

djbaxter

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It's not data or the scientific method if you can't show causation and replicate.

I find it extremely hard to believe that using meta tags has any effect at all or that removing alt tags from images will help anything.
 

paulcarl

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Measuring the data from the target keyword's SERP and identifying the correlating factors generates a hypothesis. Making optimizations based on that data/hypothesis is the experiment. The resulting ranking change is the conclusion.

I trust data over Google for making my optimizations and my results have improved since switching that perspective. I told ya no one would believe me that those factors have actually mattered for some SERPs. :p

Google's "best practices" are not universal for every keyword's SERP. Sometimes they hurt.
 

A_parisian

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Moore's law would disagree with you on that one :giggle:
We've just reached the point where searchers have access to enough computing ressources to apply concepts of the 80's or 90's. All the hype about AI is just about being eventually able to use these rather basic (proportionally I mean) algorithms.

Now from what I've heard from searchers working in that field, we're still years from having the ressources to replicate the human way of understanding the world.

Algorithms are changing and maybe they'll be less ressource intensive in the future but we'd need a breakthrough to replicate a human mind.

The day Google's algorithms will be able to index, sort and rank billions like an omniscient human would be able to do it, backlinks will become near useless. That'll be the end of what made its original success (PageRank).

Maybe that'll open a lucrative market for Google : big players will have to pay to rank for non commercial content (and do branding).

I see it that way: all the low quality content trusting the top of the SERPs solely because of the domain authority (read : cr*ap content made by big players) will be gone. Even small websites will be able to make it to the top of the SERPs as long as they provide the right answer in a qualitative way.

That'll force big players to pay to continue to stay in the spotlight for an acquisition channel which was virtually free before.
 

A_parisian

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I agree, Google is first and foremost an advertising company. Everything they do is to make their advertising products more valuable. I admire the incredible advertising resources they created and don't know of a better advertising product that has ever been invented.

Google also is simply a transnational multi-billion dollar advertising corporation that is aimed at continued growth of their bottom line, as they should be.
Yes. They were smart enough to utilize their edge over the competition during the early 2000's to push the concept of "if it's free you're the product".

Perfect bait (a decent search engine) at the right time and I maybe they realized the true goldmine was data which would lead to a virtuous cycle in the advertising field.
 
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We've just reached the point where searchers have access to enough computing ressources to apply concepts of the 80's or 90's. All the hype about AI is just about being eventually able to use these rather basic (proportionally I mean) algorithms.

Now from what I've heard from searchers working in that field, we're still years from having the ressources to replicate the human way of understanding the world.

Algorithms are changing and maybe they'll be less ressource intensive in the future but we'd need a breakthrough to replicate a human mind.

The day Google's algorithms will be able to index, sort and rank billions like an omniscient human would be able to do it, backlinks will become near useless. That'll be the end of what made its original success (PageRank).

Maybe that'll open a lucrative market for Google : big players will have to pay to rank for non commercial content (and do branding).

I see it that way: all the low quality content trusting the top of the SERPs solely because of the domain authority (read : cr*ap content made by big players) will be gone. Even small websites will be able to make it to the top of the SERPs as long as they provide the right answer in a qualitative way.

That'll force big players to pay to continue to stay in the spotlight for an acquisition channel which was virtually free before.
Pretty interesting take on where the state of AI/ML capabilities are today.

being able to realize concepts from 3-4 decades ago seems like a long time, but you the link in the chain re. Moore's law by not saying when, at the time these ideas were thought of, did the originators believe the technology would be available to do them?
 

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