Its amazing to see how even in 2016 Web marketers continue to get (what I consider to be) some of the most basic concepts wrong. We have had several years to set the record straight but not everyone is getting the memo. So lets run down the list of mythical claims and ideas that, hopefully, will die a quick and well-deserved death in 2016.
SEO MYTHS STILL CIRCULATING IN 2016The MythWhy Its WrongThe TruthGoogle measures user satisfactionGoogle has no clue about which of your visitors are satisfied with your content. They click on a listing in Google, find something, and then some of them go back to Google.People continue to confuse user engagement with user experience. User experience is what you put on the page. User engagement is what the visitor does on the page. Google cannot track what these people do on the vast majority of Web pages (because Google Analytics is only embedded on a fraction of Web pages).
Furthermore, Google is not the only way people reach a page. And if your average page views per visit is greater than 2 Google isnt even driving most of the traffic to your pages. By believing this myth you are assuming that Google takes a fractional amount of data and dangerously extrapolates it to create rules for the entire Web. That is completely ridiculous.
Google does not measure user satisfaction with anything other than its own search results, and that is absolutely, totally, and completely unrelated to the degree of user satisfaction with your Web content.
Mobile search is replacing the desktopMobile search is mostly charting new territory in terms of query content.Desktop search has dipped somewhat over the past few years but remains strong. Users have learned to do things with their phones they never could have done with their laptops, desktops, and tower computers. Mobile search happens in a far different context than desktop search (for the most part).
Web marketers are missing huge opportunities by mistaking mobile search for an evolution from desktop search. Mobile leaches relatively little search activity from the desktop. We were never doing in-store product searches on our desktops. And it was a rare individual who was checking his laptop in the car to find out where local stores were or how the traffic up ahead might be congested.
Users matter more than contentAll three members of the Searchable Web Ecosystem (Publishers, Indexers, and Searchers) are equally important. It has always been that way. It always will be that way.Its incredibly naive and ignorant to suggest that users matter more than content. There is no competition between users and content. They have a relationship that cannot be managed by making one more important than the other.
People keep attacking the content is king phrase like its some jargon that has outlived its time. Its obvious that anyone who denigrates content is king doesnt know where the phrase came from or what it means (read Bill Gates original essay here). There is no money without content. Period. For Web marketing its all about connecting the right users with the right content, and neither is more important than the other.
For perspective, ask yourself which is more important: the customer in the grocery store or the food being sold to the customer. And then stop saying stupid things like Content is no longer king.
Technical SEO includes Semantic SearchTechnical SEO is only about delivering the content to the search engine. Nothing more.We should do a series of roundup articles to learn what people think the phrase semantic search is supposed to mean (in their own words). Weve had semantic search for years. It has mostly failed to catch on. In fact, it has largely just failed. Why do marketers keep talking about semantic search as if its the next big thing?
Search engines have moved on from the semantic model. They are more interested in contexts than mere meanings. When a search engineer says semantic [X] he is almost certainly talking about something other than what you think. This is one of the worst examples of non-technical people grabbing a technical expression and giving it a Frankensteinian life of its own.
And at least half of you are thinking, But what about Googles RankBrain? If youre thinking that, ask yourself how RankBrain can be about semantic search if its just delivering canned results for new queries? There is no semantics in that search. RankBrain is essentially a short-cut to what are sometimes wrong results. Its just one tool among many, not the whole search system.
Please, dont ever use any phrase starting with semantic again when discussing SEO.
Rankings are based on links2002 called. It wants its link bomb spam back.Yes, link data is included among Bing and Googles mostly undisclosed set of signals used for filtering and ranking search results. Thats all you know so stop believing in the link fairy. One manual action stops all your anchor-text-passing links in their tracks.
But there are other non-signal things that affect rankings, including:
Query deserves freshness (a filter that uses time-sensitive signals)Page quality algorithms like Page Layout, Panda, and Payday LoansInferred local contextsUser search history and social connections (via Google Plus)
Anyone who is aware of these things should know better than to say links are the most important signal or that its all about links.
Content Marketing is (better than) SEOWhat most people call content marketing still sounds like a combination of link building and content spam to me.Real content marketing creates demand (and awareness) where none previously existed. If you are just producing content for people who already know who you are and are interested in your work, youre just publishing content. You are a Content Publisher (and you should be proud of the label). Call yourself a Digital Publisher if that makes you feel more techy and 21st century.
If people could just agree on whether their mislabled content marketing was just about publishing content OR just about building links, I could live with the evolution in the phrases use. But I honestly dont know what you people are talking about half the time, and the other half of the time I have to read through your case studies just to see if youre content publishing or link building.
Please, just call whatever you are doing what it really is and retire the phrase content marketing forever. The John Deere Company may not thank you but I will.
NOTE: Personally, I think the phrases content publishing and content publisher are stupid and redundant, but it seems like we have to belabor the obvious to get people to wake up and realize that they are not fooling anyone.
Growth hacking is better than SEOEvery growth hacking article I have read to date describes basic Web marketing practices.Apparently people liked the phrase growth hacking so much they decided they could use it to describe anything obscured by a popup push page. In order for growth hacking to be better than search engine optimization youll have to drop all mentions of keywords, content, and links from your growth hacking articles. And include something about how to grow Website traffic without content and links (because in SEO that is all you get to work with).Real data is better than theories.Real data by itself doesnt do much. As soon as you explain what you think your real data means, however, you are theorizing.Theory offers an explanation for the known facts. There is no guarantee the explanation is correct with respect to either the known facts or reality (and there is usually a gap between the two). People mostly hypothesize (make a guess about what will happen) rather than theorize (try to explain what happened) in Web marketing but theory is a part of basic human nature. You cannot escape it and you certainly arent rising above it.
In the physical sciences there are long-running competitive traditions between theorists and experimentalists. You could draw a comparison between the two with, say, architects and construction managers. In Web marketing everyone is pretty much a combination of the two. You run your experiments and you try to figure out what the data means.
Most SEO case studies are unscientific in nature but that doesnt make them completely useless. A lot of these case studies are produced by people trying to sell you something. Practicing scientists do kind of live on a grant-to-grant basis, or project-funding to project-funding. Their peer-reviewed analyses are supposed to just systematically document a lot of facts that, eventually (maybe), some theorists will weave together in a whole new concept that no one has previously thought of.
Meanwhile, dont fear the theory. Its not undermining you any more today than it was last week. Its everywhere. People are spewing theory right and left. Learn to live with it. You dont have to agree with it. But youre not going to make it go away by claiming you have real data. Its very easy for a theorist to grab real data.
The hard part is coming up with an explanation that is actually correct. Good luck to all of us with that.
Using plugins is good for SEOSEO plugins do a lot of harm to Websites as soon as they are installed. The most common mistake SEO plugins make is to autmatically apply noindex to archive pages.If you dont know enough about search engine optimization to do it yourself then how are you supposed to choose and properly manage an SEO plugin that does it for you? Regrettably, I still see a lot of people asking about SEO plugins in online communities and inevitably people start recommending their favorites.
I am sure there are people who have been doing SEO as long as I have (since 1998) who are convinced that all archive pages on WordPress blogs should be noindexed. I cant think of anyone whom I personally know who believes that, but I am sure these people must exist. After all, why would SEO plugin developers do something so stupid if there wasnt anyone with a lot of experience telling them to do that?
I love the way modern SEO plugins give you granular control over their features. We use a couple of SEO plugins on our Websites. I spend a lot of time disabling default features but we do actually use the plugins on some content. So SEO plugins are good tools to have but you really need to learn how to do SEO first before you turn these tools loose. They are not going to pull up a white board and teach you proper SEO.
And, frankly, given the assumptions they make, I wouldnt pay any attention to their lessons if they did.
What is good for SEO is learning about the relationship between your Website and the search engines, and understanding what affects that relationship. What works for you may not work for someone else. Why? Well, that calls for gathering up some facts and then trying to explain them (a theory), for which I have no room in this article.
You just need quality (content, links, blogs)Using the noun quality as an unqualified adjective makes you look like you just fell off the turnip truck.Yes, I understand that people who say quality BLONKO really mean high quality BLONKO but their laziness is a powerful sign that they are in over their heads. The fact they even speak in terms of quality at all shows they are grasping at straws.
What, exactly, is quality? What is HIGH quality versus LOW quality? Please, spare me your examples because if you try to offer any on the basis of those two questions you have missed the whole point (again). Quality does not exist in a vacuum. There must be a context.
Googles ideas of high quality dont always match my own. I have lost count of how many search results I have abandoned out of disgust because Googles high quality sites were irrelevant or, worse, pure crap. I give them credit for trying. With trillions of URLs to choose from, any set of algorithms is bound to go wrong once in a while.
But you, dear Web marketers, keep talking about quality sites, quality links, and quality content. You provide no context, no metrics by which I or anyone else can judge quality as you do. Worse, you dont even provide any examples (neither did I in this article).
Granting that we all want high quality whatever, the handful of metrics that have slipped out into the wild (thanks to well-funded marketing efforts) are really, really bad, LOW QUALITY metrics. Take [X] Rank/Authority, for example. Most of you would be appalled if I offered you a link from a low [X] Rank/Authority Website. Why? Because its low [X] value is not high enough for you.
Thats not a low quality link in my book. Its just a low quality link in your book (and you wonder why YOU struggle with Penguin problems whereas *I* do not). I settle for a lot of low [X] links. I accept them gladly. I do not seek or pursue high [X] links unless someone pays me to go for them, and then I offer no guarantees that they will get those links.
A high [X] link is little better than a low [X] link. If you spend enough time in the data and sifting through the theories youll eventually see that in a Web filled with trillions of links [X] never marks a very big spot. If I could get only 1 link for a new Website, yes, I would want it to be the best damn link possible. But I dont think in terms of how many links can I get and do they match someones idea of quality.
I dont believe in your quality. You have never demonstrated that it actually means something. I truly, honestly wish you would all lose that word from your vocabularies. Its painful to see people talk about quality [WHATEVER] without explaining in clear detail what they think is quality (other than their own sites, which is usually what they seem to be talking about).
I build traffic for Websites. I do it without fussing over quality BLONKO.
Domain authorityBing and Google dont use it.Why on Earth are YOU still using it? The same goes for every other SEO metric that attempts to measure link or Web document quality.
You might as well be assessing the horsepower of a Toyota Camry by driving a Volvo. Youll get the same quality data and your theories will be just as valid.
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