Don't let the Search Engine Optimists lead you astray...

9 replies
Some years ago I was presenting at a seminar in London and coined the phrase 'search engine optimists' to describe those self-proclaimed experts who happily tell you exactly how Google rank pages, without letting on that everything they say is based on guesswork and assumption.

There are just as many of them around now as there ever were, and their triumph of hope over knowledge is just as prevalent.

I don't know what factors Google or the other search engines really look for. I can guess - but doing so would make me no better than the optimists I criticize.

As the great John Taylor would say with much shaking of that bear-like head, "Test and track ... its the only way!"

What I suspect, and would like to share, is something that I've rarely seen mentioned, let alone debated. It is the idea that Google don't actually have a single-size catch-all algorithm at all.

My contention is that far from being a fixed formula, SEO is a dynamic process that is totally niche specific.

Let me give you a few examples to support my thought...

If on-page factors were generally applied in the same way for any niche, you would expect a broad similarity between the top results. Obviously not for individually ranked pages as other factors will throw extremes, but for averaged trends.

I've taken four on-page SEO factors and compared the averaged top-ten Google results for a variety of different niches.

If the traditional SEO experts are right about the ranking effects of on-page factors, you should see some similarities between niches. But you don't.

Every niche (defined as the results that a particular keyword search throw up in the top ten) is different.

Average words per page:

'Garden pond' - 760
'Sleep apnea' - 1397
'Crochet patterns' - 646
'Hdtv' - 2241

Pages in the top ten with the keyword in their URL:

'Garden pond' - 40%
'Sleep apnea' - 80%
'Crochet patterns' - 0%
'Hdtv' - 80%

Pages in the top ten with the keyword in their title:

'Garden pond' - 80%
'Sleep apnea' - 100%
'Crochet patterns' - 70%
'Hdtv' - 70%

Average keyword density:

'Garden pond' - 0.5%
'Sleep apnea' - 2.5%
'Crochet patterns' - 0.7%
'Hdtv' - 1.5%

I've looked at other factors too, and the results are equally varied.

As an aside, it is also interesting that the average keyword density of top ranked pages is a lot lower than many experts have been saying for years. The 2.5% shown for 'sleep apnea' is unusually high. Most niches I've looked at tend to be in the 0.5% to 1.5% range.

So, it is my belief that rather than accept broad-stroke generic guesswork from the search engine optimists, we should be exploring our niches individually and trying to find out what the search engines really want for that keyword.

It is a bit more work, but at least we'll be modelling proven success.

But then, I make no claims to be an expert, so take it all with a pinch of salt!

Martin
#astray #engine #lead #optimists #search
  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Thanks Martin - it would seem that one fairly strong factor was "Keyword in Title" , but the rest of the factors seem to vary a great deal.. You make a good point about G using a much more dynamic formula depending on the niche.
    _____
    Bruce
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    I agree Martin - hence my post in this thread:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...tml#post463040
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    nothing to see here.

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  • Profile picture of the author sunnyman
    My conclusion from these data is that indeed the TITLE is of some importance - while the other factors really have little or no significance.

    Yes, I was listening to those Gurus some years ago and they would preach about all this other stuff - but as I understand it nowadays the only on-page factor you should be prudent about is the TITLE.

    The rest is all about OFF-page factors.
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    • Profile picture of the author Aaron Moser
      Originally Posted by sunnyman View Post

      My conclusion from these data is that indeed the TITLE is of some importance - while the other factors really have little or no significance.

      Yes, I was listening to those Gurus some years ago and they would preach about all this other stuff - but as I understand it nowadays the only on-page factor you should be prudent about is the TITLE.

      The rest is all about OFF-page factors.
      I agree with you there...

      META tags, keyword density, LSI, Internal link structure, doesn't seem to matter as much as you'd think. In the past I've tested this by completely ignoring these things and just created good content with keyword relevant titles and been ranked #1 for over a year on certain keywords.

      It's the off page factors like link building and keyword anchor links that really count.
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Right SunnyMan - Google is getting better and better and
    better about ranking relevant content.

    I try to put an accurate title on the page, write compelling
    content with a clear call-to-action, and build links.

    I gave up on trying to game Google a long time ago. Relevancy
    is the future. If your communications ability suck people
    will eventually notice and buy from vendors who show their
    value better.

    If you can be number 1 and make the best pitch you are Golden.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Originally Posted by Martin.Avis View Post


    What I suspect, and would like to share, is something that I've rarely seen mentioned, let alone debated. It is the idea that Google don't actually have a single-size catch-all algorithm at all.

    My contention is that far from being a fixed formula, SEO is a dynamic process that is totally niche specific.
    Hi Martin,

    While I agree with your over-all premise, I disagree that it hasn't been talked about before.

    I tried to look up some old posts of mine, but they are no longer there. However, I did write this article years ago:
    http://tuelz.com/big-seo.html

    I've written about this for the entire time I've been a Warrior, that there is no "one" SEO algo, even for the same engine, or the same niche.

    If there was one algo, it would be too easy reverse engineer, and the results would be much more similar in the SERPs.

    I also proposed YEARS AGO something I call "People Rank" which means real people influence the SERPs. Google recently came out and said that they do indeed hire professional "reviewers", something they denied in the past.

    I even posted how this makes financial sense and that there is no reason Google shouldn't hire real people to review the most profitable (for them) niches to protect the integrity of the SERPs.

    People Rank goes even further and takes into account searcher behavior patters and actions. The Google bar gives them tons of info, like how far did a person scroll down a page, how long they stayed, etc. I contend this is all more important to the quality of a page than number of links or some specific formula.

    Again, Google admitted to using real, paid human reviewers. If this is true, then these people will be rating sites on their own preferences and NO ALGO IS INVOLVED.

    What this means is very profound: That every single SEO "expert" that did research has significantly flawed research. The human element throws a monkey wrench into their stats and makes them completely useless. Think any of them will bring this up?

    My SEO teachings and strategies have always been based on the idea that there are numerous algos. And the way to counter this is to have a wide variety of pages, using a wide variety of different "formulas". I've always taught that the best SEO is to put as many words on as many pages as possible, as variety is the best method, instead of taking the time to concentrate on making a specific page "perfect".

    Nobody listens to me, but the REAL key to SEO is this: How do I produce as much content/pages as possible and KEEP those pages in the engines?

    Toss in the basic SEO that has worked over the years, like page titles, then mix everything else up in as many combinations as possible.

    As a matter of fact, my very first SEO sales letter used Rubik's Cube as an example, keep "twisting" basic SEO strategies from page to page and you'll always have something if and when the algos do change.

    And we all know the algos do change, and there are multiple engines...These facts alone should tell us that we shouldn't believe there is a single algo, or that we should focus on a single algo.

    Instead, proper "Bomber" SEO is to concentrate on these two concepts:
    1. What percentage of pages in Google are your's?

    2. What percentage of all the links on the web your's?

    Allen hates SEO, yet this forum gets tons of SE traffic simply because it cranks out words and pages.

    And this should be the goal of ALL SEOers: How do I get as many words on as many pages as possible, and keep those pages in the engines?

    I've taken a lot of heat over the years, but time has proven me to be correct. It's a numbers game, not a precision game as the typical SEO "experts" would have you believe.

    If anyone is interested in this topic, I highly suggest they check out this page I wrote a few years ago:
    http://tuelz.com/big-seo.html (free, no ads, no BS)

    .
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    I agree with you there about SEO being a numbers game
    and not a precision one.

    Admittedly I got fed-up with most in-depth SEO stuff a while
    ago. Now I focus on conversion... but my experience as
    a SEO-hack who didn't have the endurance to be a serious
    SEO practitioner is that you throw a lot of Guck into the machine
    and some of it sticks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Martin Avis
    Hi Kurt,

    I wasn't suggesting that the concept hadn't been discussed before - I'm nowhere near clever enough to come up with a new idea - just that it isn't something I've seen talked about much.

    I must admit I hadn't read your thoughts on the subject, but will do so now as they seem to make a lot of sense.

    Martin
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisByrns
    Well, there are DEFINITELY some factors that affect your ranking. A properly optimized title tag is just one of them. There's a few other "screws" you can tweak in order out-rank your competition (and KW density is def. a MINOR factor). It's about WHAT you place WHERE on your site and HOW all those things correlate with each other.
    If you know how to do proper on-page optimization, you CAN get your site(s) "up there" with just that, plus some backlinks.. in a matter of weeks.
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