en
English Español Deutsch Français Italiano Português (Brasil) Русский 中文 日本語
Submit post
Go to Blog

A Guide to the Biggest SEO Myths on The Web

76
Wow-Score
The Wow-Score shows how engaging a blog post is. It is calculated based on the correlation between users’ active reading time, their scrolling speed and the article’s length.

A Guide to the Biggest SEO Myths on The Web

This post is in English
Bill Slawski
This post is in English
A Guide to the Biggest SEO Myths on The Web

This article has been written after some discussion of industry myths and what could be done to help people in the SEO industry avoid some of the myths and misinformation about Search and SEO.

Building a Set of Mental Tools for Reading SEO Arguments

One of the best places to learn about the Web is on the Web.But, with all the great information that you will find online, you are going to find a lot of misinformation as well.You can set yourself up for success when learning about SEO on the Web because there are tools that you can use to avoid misinformation. And, you can learn from authoritative sources, and these may help you write and argue about topics you come across in the industry. When you find SEO arguments on the Web, there are certain things that you should keep in mind, about how people argue and inform.

I consider myself a life-long learner, and I try to avoid sharing information that is just wrong or misleading.I have found several tools to use to arm myself with. I will start this article describing those tools and providing some examples for them. I will include some resources about credibility, fact-checking, and making arguments, and supporting those arguments with evidence. 

I will then talk about some of the topics we have seen in SEO that several myths have grown around. Hopefully, this article will help you learn better from the information that you see on the web and avoid learning from sources that may be sharing misinformation. I keep these tools in mind when I write about patents and papers and refer to other pages on the web, and try to inform and present some SEO arguments of my own.

Two Sides to Every Story 

When I was growing up, my folks subscribed to two local newspapers, which I found to be a lot of fun.They contained news about where I lived, but one paper would tell a story one way, and the other paper would cover the same story in ways that sometimes didn’t resemble the first story at all. 

Sometimes the people involved differed, or the politics or the history did. Often the facts remained the same, but sometimes they were a little different. Reading those local stories from two different perspectives allowed me to appreciate the different viewpoints that people would bring to facts. It is something I still try to do today – looking for the same story from two different sources. 

Sometimes that involves more than news and politics, and it is a lesson that has stuck with me to this day. For example, I like to read User Experience articles from well known and respected researchers Jared Spool and articles from Jacob Nielsen which sometimes disagree with each other, but are well supported, reasoned and worth reading. Both authors have written about whether visitors to web pages will scroll down pages. Nielsen said they wouldn’t, and Spool said they would in certain circumstances. Nielsen updated his research years later to say that web page visitors have learned how to scroll down pages on the web. 

Listen to both sides – you may not agree with one of them, but trying to understand both may benefit you — especially when they both make strong arguments that are supported with evidence.

Occam’s Razor 

This is something I likely learned about from my parents. They didn’t refer to it as Occam’s Razor, but they would call me on stories and excuses I used that were unlikely.

When there are two or more explanations for something that has happened, the one that requires the least speculation is usually correct. 

As a moderator and administrator at Cre8asiteforums for around 8 years, I was asked a lot of questions about SEO. One that was often repeated was whether a recent update from Google was what caused someone to lose a lot of traffic to their websites. I would answer by asking them if they had made any changes to their websites, or if their competitors had made efforts to improve their websites, or if their ideal audience had changed around the way that they were searching. These questions were all very valid and worth asking because they were things that could cause drops in rankings and traffic. 

A Site Audit (something that they had control over) could often uncover things to change that could bring traffic back to their sites. Starting to solve their ranking/traffic problems by looking at things that they had some control over and were reasonable to look at first made more sense than speculating that Google had made some change that negatively impacted their site

Arguments Are Well Reasoned

There are a lot of blog posts and tutorials and guides published to the Web every day. Before I rely upon information from those, I start by looking are how well reasoned those are. Skepticism in such circumstances can be your friend. I provide some tools and questions that I learned about in college and law school, after this section, that I often keep in mind when reading things that other people have written. 

The first of those is whether the story, or analysis an article might tell us even believable, and well supported.Is it something that you would use on a client’s website without testing on your own content (often a good step to take.)

When someone makes a statement, they should ideally support it with some analysis. They may say something as simple as “Google has a patent about this.” If they are writing to describe what that patent is, and how it works, that isn’t a problem. If they make a statement, such as, "Google uses something like Yahoo’s version of Trust Rank", and they then link to a Google Patent — which is about how Google might increase the rank of some results based upon trust based on annotations from custom search engines — and the only support for their statement that they provide is to simply link to that patent, that isn’t a sufficient analysis. Especially if you click through the link, and read the patent and see that the process described in it is nothing like Yahoo’s version of TrustRank, which doesn’t rank pages, but is used to instead identify web spam.

Take Note: You should support arguments with evidence that supports them.

When someone provides a tool that they call “LSI Keywords” but they don’t tell you anything about how that tool works or somewhere else on their site describes a process that has nothing to do with the pre-web technology Latent Semantic Indexing, you should be questioning why they gave their tool a name that might cause people to believe that it uses a technology that it doesn’t. Why are they purposefully misleading people with a name that implies the use of a technology that isn’t used?

When someone points out that Google has an anti-conservative bias or a brand bias, look for an actual analysis of those conclusions. If they are just accusations, without any support behind them, question the truth of those statements – they may be using what is known as a logical fallacy.

Beware of Logical Fallacies in Arguments

I was first introduced to logical fallacies in English class in college. Our professor wanted us to be able to tell when someone was making a purposefully misleading argument, which was a good lesson to learn. You can see examples of many of these in televised political debates or when politicians tweet on social media. Unfortunately, you can sometimes see some of these arguments show up in SEO industry articles, and social networking updates too.

If you see someone making one of these arguments which include one of the following fallacies, question the conclusions they arrive at.

Slippery Slope – An argument starting by warning against a relatively small first step, because it may lead to a series of related events ending with something considerably more significant.

Hasty Generalization – A conclusion is drawn based on insignificant or biased evidence which is not logically justified.

Post hoc – (Latin “after this, therefore because of this”) an inability to imply cause and effect because of an observed relationship between two variables based on a correlation or association between them.

Genetic Fallacy – Drawing a conclusion based upon someone's or something's history, origin, or source rather than their current meaning or context.

Begging the Question – An argument that presumes the truth of the conclusion drawn.

Circular Argument – An argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises.

False Dilemma – Two choices are presented, when there may be more than two answers, and one is identified as false, leading to a conclusion that the other is true.

Ad Hominem – An argument involving misdirection, where the argument isn’t based on the topic at hand, but rather attacks another person’s character or motive who may be arguing against the person making that argument or associated with the topic.

Bandwagon Appeal – An argument that the opinion of the majority is always valid and that you should believe it.

Red Herring – an irrelevant topic is introduced to divert or misdirect people’s attention from the topic at hand.I have been asked by people if a patent has been filed by a search engine to throw off competitors and get them to work on a technology that the original filer has no intent to ever work upon, as a red herring. For most of the patents I have been asked that about, it hasn’t seemed that they were intended to throw off their competitors.Some rumors I have heard about somethings that a search engine might be working upon could possibly be red herrings.

Straw Man – An argument that gives the impression that another argument is being refuted that was not actually made.

Moral Equivalence – An attempt to draw a comparison to two things, often different and even unrelated, to show that one is just as bad as the other or just as good.

Evidence and Arguments 

I also learned about some evidentiary tools in Law School. Law School was very different from college, in how you prepared for class, and how classes were run, but we spent a lot of time looking at evidence and how to argue.

Failure to Lay a Foundation – When a witness is introduced in a Courtroom to testify on a subject that they are an expert in, they will be questioned about their expertise in making such testimony, and this questioning is referred to as laying a foundation. It establishes the qualifications of a witness or the authenticity of evidence. If an argument is made calling upon someone else’s expertise or some other evidence, a foundation should be laid to establish those qualifications or authenticity.

Example: In my evidence class in law school, we had a special guest speaker in one class. He was introduced as someone who graduated towards the bottom of his law school class, and he passed around a copy of his grades to show that off to us. That wasn’t the foundation for his expertise, but rather his constant preparation for court was.

He pulled a copy of the Federal Rules of Evidence from his jacket pocket and told us that he had a few copies of the rules that he carried around with him all the time, which he studied all the time and had been for a few years while practicing as a very successful trial lawyer. He showed off his knowledge of those rules, answered questions, and provided some strategies which he had learned about from actual courtroom experience (including how to answer a judge and not sound like an idiot.). He had also worked as a prosecutor in a neighboring town, and his knowledge of evidence was very helpful in criminal cases he prosecuted. He knew an incredible amount about evidence, and he was able to convince us of that. That was his foundation to show his expertise.

Things to Consider

When someone is trying to convince you of something, how do they support their expertise? Do they show you something about their education or their experience? Do they share case studies or testimonials? Is their educational experience relevant to what they are talking about? Is their employment history? Are they able to answer questions about the field that they are claiming expertise in? Do they make reasoned arguments, or do they engage in logical fallacies to make their points? 

Or do they just tell you that they are an expert, or that someone else calls them an expert? (not much of a foundation there at all.)

We were told in evidence class that a 13-year-old who had been trading baseball cards since they were five years old could reasonably be treated as an expert witness about baseball cards, even as a young teenager, without a college degree or even a job, if they could be shown to have an expertise in the area.

Hearsay – One of the rules of evidence involved who is testifying about what. When someone else’s words or actions are pointed out by someone to prove the truth of some matter asserted, and the person being spoken for is available to make their own statement, that evidence should be questioned. 

For example, someone makes the claim that Google has a bias towards brands, and “even former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said that Google trusts brands,” using Eric Schmidt’s statement about favoring brands is hearsay. Or when we are told that “Forbes Magazine has called John Doe the Best SEO in the World,” that is also hearsay.

Find Trusted Sources of Information – I often blog about patents I find on the USPTO and the WIPO websites, because patents are legally filed documents, intended to protect the intellectual property of companies filing patents, rather than being created as marketing information for the public.

Those are trusted sources, providing me with some great information that is worth exploring.I sometimes write about white papers that I find through Google Scholar and the Google Research Publications pages because those papers are often peer-reviewed documents that are often written for presentations at academic conferences, and the sources are trustworthy.

I will research the authors of those papers on the Web, and the inventors listed on those patents to see what their profiles are like at places such as LinkedIn and if they have written other patents or papers. I like to know what else they have worked upon, and if they have published a whitepaper to accompany a patent that they have written; that is often a good thing to include in a blog post about that patent.

Questions You Should Ask

What is the background of the authors of posts and papers you read?What else have they written? What previous work experience and educational experience do they have? Is it a relevant employment experience? Would you consider them an expert in what they write about?

There are some blogs in the SEO community that have been publishing for years, have editors, and follow journalistic standards that can help make you feel comfortable with what they publish. The authors of those blogs are sometimes people who have written several posts in the past, and you can get a sense of how informative and credible they are from previous posts.

Do they have a way to provide feedback on something that they have written beyond comments? Do they have a presence online elsewhere were you can interact with them? Do they participate in conferences and meetups? Do they work for a company that you have heard of?

Some Helpful Resources Online

Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility – A project at Stanford University that took 3 years and over 4,500 participants to identify and test scientifically-backed indications of credibility on Websites. I have pointed these guidelines out to clients in the past because they are helpful to them, and to people who visit their websites.

Poynter – This is a source for journalists to learn about reporting and fact-checking for journalists, and anyone interested in informing the public. They cover issues involving ethics and trust and journalism, and if you are interested in learning about those things, they are a good place to keep an eye on.

Factcheck.org – Addresses public policy issues at local, state, and federal levels. It is good seeing fact-checking in action to get a sense of how it might be helpful to the information that you may receive every day.

Argument – A definition of what an argument is, and how to write one, from the Writing Center at the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

If someone is going to blog about how to do SEO in a certain way, it can help if they can make an argument to support what they are saying, and present evidence, and address possible counterarguments.If you are writing such a blog post, it may be helpful for you to use such methods.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step A more detailed description of what an argument should contain, and how it can address issues and be strongly written and believable.

How to Write an Essay: Evidence and Citation  From Ariel Bissett, from an academic perspective, a video describing the importance of including supporting evidence and documentation when you write an essay.If what you are reading doesn’t include supporting evidence, with citations for that evidence, it may not be that strong of an argument.

The Foundation of an Argument  From a site about Blogs, Critical Thinking, and Citizenship which describes important elements of arguments and discusses good and bad arguments in blogs. 

Using Evidence Effectively A good argument will include evidence, and this article provides a detailed look at the evidence that you could include if you were writing something. Providing evidence to support an argument in the manner described in this article could lead to a strong argument. Are the articles you are reading using evidence like this?

SEO Myths

There are some topics that there are a lot of SEO Myths about. I am going to write about some of the things that we know to be true about some of these things, and some flaws in arguments about those SEO Myths rather than all the misinformation about them, because that could take up quite a lot of space. 

The sections above about fallacies in arguments and about building strong arguments by supporting evidence should be helpful guidelines when it comes to identifying articles that are misleading and maybe more "SEO myth" than helpful SEO information.

Understand Google

Google is one of the most used search engines in the world and one which has been used by many businesses in North America and Europe to bring traffic from targeted audiences to their websites. It is one of the focuses of many SEO campaigns and many of the SEO myths that surround the SEO industry. For that reason, it is often in the best interests of SEOs to learn as much about Google as they can from a business analyst perspective. Fortunately, Google provides a lot of information about themselves. This section will point out some sources that are recommended reading.

The first I will recommend is the Book, In The Plex, by Steven Levy, which provides a nice introduction to what the early days at Google were like. I enjoyed it because I recognized several the names from patents and papers that I had written about, and this book humanized Google for me. I believe that thinking of Google as a business filled with people trying to build something useful to people is a good way to think about the company.

Google is now a publicly-traded company, and though they are a little dry, Google has been publishing financial statements on a yearly basis to their shareholders, which often discuss the goals and directions that the company has been taking. The most recent statements are in the name of the holding company that Google acts under, Alphabet.The older statements are linked to from this page and the next page.In 2004, the founders of Google wrote what they called an “Operators Manual for Google’s Shareholders.” Which is worth reading if you want to gain some insights into what Google wanted to evolve into.

Google Resources

Google has been working to provide information to users of the search engine, and employ webmaster evangelists who share information on sources such as Twitter, and are worth following there, such as John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Danny Sullivan. They are active and answer questions about Google when asked, and Danny Sullivan has been introducing new initiatives with his tweets. There are other some other twitter accounts from Google as well that are worth following as well, to keep on eye on what they have to say. 

Google also shares information about what they are doing, and new updates on several blogs that they run, and those are worth keeping an eye upon.You should keep track of these and the news that they contain, and the announcements that they make about new features that may appear at Google, often giving readers time to plan for those features, and inform clients of upcoming changes.

Google also has support forums where Google employees and volunteer contributors answer questions that site owners may have about issues or problems that they are experiencing on the web.You can find those (and ask questions on them) here.

The Google Webmasters community also has video Office Hours hangouts which you can submit questions to, and participate in.Those are hosted out of YouTube here

Communication Options

Google may be the focus of a lot of effort in SEO campaigns, but they do want to communicate with website owners and SEOs.They have provided several ways to communicate with them and do answer questions on social media and video and support forums, and share information using blog posts, support pages, and developer pages.These are worth looking at too:

Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google Support Pages
Google Developer Pages
Google Research Publications

Google has its own internal politics and policies and business motivations, but using the resources they provide to understand them better can be helpful, and they do answer questions several ways. 

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

In the late 1980s, before there was a world wide web, Researchers from Bell Labs published a paper and filed a patent for an indexing approach that worked ideally with a small static dataset.The patent provided an example of data from eight books and told us that every time new information would be added to a data corpus indexed using LSI that indexing would have to take place again.

The Web contains a much larger corpus of information that changes frequently with new information added, and removed, and updated on a frequent basis. This is a technology that was built before the Web and didn’t anticipate indexing something like the Web. It sometimes gets referred to as an indexing approach in some patents from Google, but not necessarily as one that they might be using for the data that they index.The patent is Computer information retrieval using latent semantic structure.

Google has been using natural language preprocessing technologies such as BERT (BERT: Pre-training of Deep Bidirectional Transformers for Language Understanding), which they opensource, and others which prepare documents for other approaches that we may see Google use, such as question-answering, and understanding sentiment in documents. They have developed a word embedding approach that is behind a recent Google algorithm referred to as RankBrain (more about that below).

These newer approaches are technologies that were developed with an understanding of the size and nature of the corpus of data in the index of the Web.

What You Should Know About the Phrase "LSI Keywords"

There is a newer tool that uses the name “LSI keywords” which doesn’t seem to use LSI and doesn’t produce keywords, but rather related words that would be placed on the same page as the keyword you have already chosen for that page. The page for the LSI Keywords tool doesn’t say that it uses LSI, like what was invented and patented in the late 1980s, which was developed as an indexing approach rather than a keyword tool.

I have heard some people suggest that what they mean by “LSI Keywords” is a matter of just adding synonyms or semantically related words to a page. It does not mean that at all. LSI Is a process which uses the underlying (or latent) structure of a page to understand the semantics of how words might be related to each other. I have also heard some people state that taking query suggestions that appear at the bottom of a set of SERPs for a query is also using “LSI Keywords” and again, that isn’t necessarily correct.

Google has shown us that they will rewrite queries that people search for to show pages that they believe meet the situational or informational needs of a searcher with content that means substantially the same thing, and that is the idea behind Google’s Hummingbird. I wrote about a patent that came out two weeks before Google made their announcement about the Hummingbird update, and it uses some of the same examples they did in their announcement, and it explains how they may rewrite queries: (Synonym identification based on co-occurring terms). Nothing in that patent describes how to optimize a web page for the Hummingbird update. 

TF-IDF

Like LSI, TF-IDF is an old indexing method that was developed before the World Wide Web was around. It looks at the frequency of a term in a document, and how often that those terms appear in a corpus of documents that has been indexed. That will tell us if a page is about a specific term, and how common or popular that term might be in a corpus of documents. It also doesn’t include very common words that often have little meaning, referred to as stop words, such as “and,” “or,” “the,” “to.”

This TF-IDF indexing approach was likely replaced in early search engines by a more advanced algorithm referred to as BM25. I have seen TF-IDF referred to as one part of a process to identify query refinements that are shown at the bottom of search results at Google. I have never seen it explicitly referred to as part of how pages on the Web are indexed.

There are tools created for use for people building pages for Websites. Those tools do things such as taking the query terms that a page may be indexed for and running a TF-IDF process on them on pages which rank highly for those terms so that you can create pages that compare well against those high-ranking pages.

I have seen people make arguments for the effectiveness of such tools, who also proclaim that those tools make it more likely that a user of them is using semantically related terms because of their use of the tool. An example of this that someone provided was an effort to cause a page to rank well for the phrase, “What does SEO Stand for?” The flaw behind that statement in that context is that the terms “Stand” and “SEO” have very little meaning for each other. Including the terms “Stand” and “SEO” more frequently on the same page, could help that page rank more highly for “What does SEO Stand for,” but wouldn’t necessarily help it rank for other things. 

TrustRank

The concept of TrustRank first appeared in a joint paper between researchers at Yahoo and Stanford University named Combating Web Spam with TrustRank. The purpose behind the process described in the paper was to identify spammy pages on the Web. The Abstract from the paper reads as follows:

“Web spam pages use various techniques to achieve higher-than-deserved rankings in a search engine's results. While human experts can identify spam, it is too expensive to manually evaluate many pages. Instead, we propose techniques to semi-automatically separate reputable, good pages from spam. We first select a small set of seed pages to be evaluated by an expert. Once we manually identify the reputable seed pages, we use the link structure of the web to discover other pages that are likely to be good.

In this paper, we discuss possible ways to implement the seed selection and the discovery of good pages. We present results of experiments run on the World Wide Web indexed by AltaVista and evaluate the performance of our techniques. Our results show that wecan effectively filter out spam from a significant fraction of the web, based on a good seed set of less than 200 sites.”

Misunderstandings

Since this TrustRank paper was first published on the Stanford Website, many people associated it with Google, since Google was started by researchers and students at Stanford. It was not.

Google has mentioned “Trust” as something that they may look at to rank webpages, but nothing quite like Yahoo’s Trustrank is used by Google.

TrustRank does not work to rank pages on the Web, even though some writers state that it is a ranking approach used to rank content in search results. Reading the abstract for the paper, or the whole paper is enough to show that there is no support for such arguments in the source material for TrustRank.

Google has developed an approach based upon people building Google Custom Search engines, and selecting and annotating specific websites in context files for those custom searches as sources of the search engines, to consider such pages and sites as being trusted as experts in the topics that those search engines cover.This is a very different approach than Yahoo’s TrustRank. I have referred to it as Google’s TrustRank on my site and made very sure to explain how it is very different from what Yahoo came up with and patented (thus keeping Google from copying their method of filtering spam from search results.)

Google also explains in their Quality Rater’s Guides that they want their raters to evaluate web sites based on something they refer to as “E-A-T.” which is short for Expertise, Authoritativeness’, and Trustworthiness. People working in SEO have been recommending for many years that site-owners benefit from building websites that visitors to those sites trust (see the Stanford Credibility Guidelines referred to earlier in this article.) The Quality Raters’ Guidelines, as Google’s Head of Search, Ben Gomes has told us:

“You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, told CNBC:

“They don’t tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do. “ 

So the trustworthiness mentioned in the Quality Rater’s Guidelines has nothing to do with TrustRank or the rating of webpages, but Google would like to see pages that people might find trustworthy to be in their search results.

If someone tells you that Google uses TrustRank to rank webpages, like the Trustrank that Yahoo developed, they are misleading you in a few ways: 

  1. TrustRank does not rank web pages.
  2. The trust-based approach that Google has patented is nothing like Yahoo’s TrustRank. 
  3. Google has referred to trustworthiness in their Quality Rater’s Guidelines, but again, that has nothing to do with TrustRank, so it is irrelevant to that argument. 

Be careful about what you read about TrustRank. Some articles about TrustRank include verifiable facts about TrustRank, mixed with hasty generalizations (Google has a patent on Trust…) and completely unsupportive evidence (Google’s Raters Quality Guidelines mentions trustworthiness) to back an argument that Google uses something like Yahoo’s Trustrank to rank webpages (which TrustRank doesn’t even do).Those flaws in such arguments make them SEO myths.

RankBrain

Google has a long history of developing approaches to rewriting queries (they used to refer to those as “Expanding queries,’ in the past), going back to at least 2003 - the oldest patent about using query synonyms that I have seen filed from Google: Search queries improved based on query semantic information. They do this by finding terms that might be substitutes or synonyms for the original query terms that someone chooses to perform a search with.

Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013 introduced a query rewriting approach that told us Google might rewrite a query such as “what is a good place to find an Italian meal?” with something that would rewrite that to, “what is a good restaurant to find an Italian meal?”

Google introduced to a new update they called RankBrain, through an interview with Jack Clark of Bloomberg News, who interviewed a member of the Google Brain team which had developed the RankBrain Update.

We were told during the interview that it was a query rewriting approach, based upon a Word Vector technology developed by the Google Brain team. I found a patent from members of the Google Brain team that told us more about the Word Vector approach, which I wrote about in the post, Citations behind the Google Brain Word Vectors Approach.

Google has published at least one patent about a query rewriting approach that has a member of the Google Brain team listed as an inventor which uses a large amount of data from search history and web pages called, Using concepts as contexts for query term substitutions. We can’t be certain that patent is the one behind Rank Brain with certainty, but it is similar enough to consider that as a possibility. It would rewrite a query such as [New York Times Puzzle] as [New York Times puzzle crossword] since people often want to see the crossword puzzle when they search for [New York Times Puzzle]. We have been told that RankBrain aims at reducing ambiguity in queries.

Can You Optimize for RankBrain?

We have also been told by people from Google that web pages cannot be optimized for RankBrain. Since RankBrain works on rewriting queries, that would make sense, but there are people who have written articles describing approaches that they state would help your page rank for Rankbrain. These have mentioned machine learning as part of the process behind what they are suggesting, but don’t provide much in the way of details beyond that point.

Some of the articles about optimizing pages for RankBrain do include recommendations for improving the quality of content on webpages, and the amount of time that people might spend on those pages, and increasing the likelihood that someone might select one of those pages when they see it listed in search results. Those things are helpful, but they aren’t optimizing a page for RankBrain, and are misleading from that perspective, making them SEO Myths as well.

There are many websites that offer information on improving the copy on your website, and user experience on your site, and will tell you that such improvements will potentially help keep people on your pages longer or make them a more pleasant experience that may result in people recommending people to visit your pages. Having more visits from search results because your title or snippet that shows is engaging and persuasive means better results from having high ranking pages. But these things aren’t optimizing your pages for a query rewriting approach such as RankBrain, and if someone is telling you that they are, you may want to review the support they provide for the arguments they make to support such assertions.

Conclusion Myths, Experts & Gurus

There is a lot of information and misinformation on the Web about many things. Including building websites and optimizing sites for search. Be careful about such SEO Myths.

There are people who refer to themselves as experts or gurus or who are quick to point out that someone else is referring to them as an expert or guru.Be careful about accepting such self-given accolades, or easily given platitudes.

When you read something about how to do SEO and optimize a web page, or about how something might be a ranking factor that a search engine is paying attention to, read the arguments that are being used to support those assertions.

Do they have compelling supporting evidence to back up all aspects of the arguments being made? If they are offering opinions unsupported by actual evidence, are they admitting that? Have they provided a foundation showing their experience or expertise to make such opinions? Do they have a history of writing and presenting and successes with case histories and awards?

If you are reading about SEO to learn about things that you may want to test for yourself, and what you read offers you things to test and ask questions about, then it has value to you.

If you write about SEO, are you making strong arguments, backed with compelling supporting evidence, or are you offering hasty generalizations or unsupported speculation?

Logical Fallacies in Arguments Infographic

Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

I have been promoting websites since 1996, and started doing SEO shortly after I first came across Altavsita.digital.com. I have a jurisdoctor degree, and an undergraduate English degree. I was a Moderator/Administrator at Cre8asiteforums for 8 years, which covered SEO, Web Design, and Usability, among other topics. I read Search related patents and whitepapers, and write about them on SEO by the Sea and the Go Fish Digital Blog. I speak at a few industry events every year
Share this post
or

Comments

2000
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Perhaps you should add the definition of SEO.
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

This was a wonderful read Bill- thank you!
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

To me, Google has always been inbound link heavy. As this is something really out of your control (for most small businesses), the wiggle room you actually have is quite small. That's not to say you are screwed, but more you have to quantify the likely success. So with regards to on-page, whats always been true is that Google likes to see visible and related items on a page to rank well. Where things have changed is the idea of search intent. If you type in 'local vets' Google works out your location and marries that up with the search. So far so good. Where its now interesting is how important is 'local vets' to your on page content. I would argue having the word vet is fine, but the page should rank well if it details the services that a pet might need. The question is how far has Google gone down this road as most site I still see concentrate on using EMP 'local vets' in the content at the expense of a meaningful page.
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Thank's a lot
Brilliant and very useful
(Most frequent for me : PogoSticking as a ranking factor)
Editors' Pick
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

matthieu
Editors' Pick
Thanks Matthieu.

The behavior identified as pogo sticking is the clicking on a link in search results, and possibly visiting a page, and then returning back to search and either visiting another page or performing a related search. What arguments about pogo sticking fail to mention is the inability of a search engine to understand what a searcher may have done on the first page visited, or why it may have been a long or a short visit, if they left a page quickly for reasons unrelated to whether a page may have satisfied their informational or situational needs. This is what a webmaster evangelist from Google may refer to as a signal that is too noisy to use to rank pages, because of that uncertainty.
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Bill Slawski
thank you Bill again ! it's clear like rock water, as we usually say in French
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

matthieu
Hi Matthieu,

The more you apply critical thinking, the easier it becomes to use, and the less nonsense you might fall for.
Sree Murthy
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Most frequent myth i've heard so far is: "CTR doesn't matter for rankings"
Adrian Lawrence
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Google is known to put out misinformation or red hearrings from time to time, by keeping a certain mystery and confusion in users minds that helps to deter newbies from engaging in Search Marketing which then means that more then focus on their Paid to Advertise Adwords program. The best advice is to test and see for yourself what works, only taking into account new advice when your own testing confirms that it applies to your own circumstances.
Ricci M.
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Very useful post to help clear the mist and focus the mind. Thanks Bill
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Ricci M.
You're welcome Ricci.
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Love this, thanks! A big confirmation that we dont need to SEO the living daylights out of a site but need to make it more humanly acceptable with content. That in reverse results in better rankings when creating websites with a human aspect in mind.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Philipp Glenewinkel
Thanks, Phillip

There is a lot of information about SEO out on the Web that makes it seem a lot more complext than just creating content that answers people's questions, and gives them the information they are looking for.
Mike Little
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Amazing resource, and one I will return to often I'm sure - thank you!
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Mike Little
Thank you, Mike!
Dmitry Kotlyarenko
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

''When there are two or more explanations for something that has happened, the one that requires the least speculation is usually correct.'' - So true), great tips for the right marketing! The forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence lead to myths and misconceptions. Good intuition is great, however marketers should rely on experience, analytics, and facts.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Dmitry Kotlyarenko
Hi Dmitry,

Agreed - Intuition is often wrong. But there are things to look for that can help lead one to good answers, and if uncertain, it is always a good idea to do some testing before relying upon questionable evidence. Thanks.
Dmitry Kotlyarenko
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Bill Slawski
That's right, we are unique, so our test results could be different.
Jamie
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Great read Bill. It provided tons of depth into the issue of misinformation and how some SEO myths can be perceived as fact. I particularly enjoyed the part around the foundations of an argument and how it should be backed up by evidence. When reading new SEO blogs that offer solutions I will remember what you wrote and be cross-examining authenticity of the evidence before blindly believing them.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Jamie
Hi Jamie,

having habits like looking for a foundation, and supporting evidence help in so many things. If you are going to potentially rely upon something you read, you should analyze it carefully. Happy you liked the post.
SEOmon
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

I hardly ever follow a thread but I found this one very enlightening. Thanks Bill!
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

SEOmon
You're welcome, SEOMon! :)
Gina Fiedel
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

I'm blown away by the depth and generosity of this post, Bill. For someone like myself who is hanging around on the outer fringes of the science-art of SEO and the individuals who are contributing to the broader base of knowledge and understanding of its insane complexities; a fly on the wall listening, watching and reading to learn what I can it is a great contribution to my continuing education.

It’s perfect in that some sections are enough above my head so there’s plenty to explore further but also plenty that I can follow as a non-expert- that combo is partially what I mean by generous. Thank you!

I also appreciate your teaching stance for deepening one’s learning how to question and prod critical thinking relentlessly, pick sources wisely.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Gina Fiedel
Hi Gina.

I look at writing posts like this one as an investment towards trying to help make the industry better, by providing ideas and approaches that may help people analyze and decide upon what they read (and write) when it comes to SEO articles. Thank you,
Gina Fiedel
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Bill Slawski
Hi, Bill.

In my opinion, you nailed it on that intention. You play an important role in the industry and it's heartening to see the continual evidence around how seriously you take that. I love how epic this article is in that light.

Researching and discovering who to listen to and follow, what to believe and implement, what to raise an eyebrow to and investigate further, where to proceed with caution rather than jumping in is pretty critical when there is as much change, speculation and (hopefully) educated hypotheses as in the search industry. It's a quagmire of huge proportions for those of us who aren't specialists much less experts.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Gina Fiedel
Thanks, Gina.

There are some people in the industry who are very popular, and they don't do much research and make a lot of the stuff they suggest up, which is frightening.

Hopefully, I can get people to start thinking and testing rather than following suggestions from such people without doing those things.

We will see.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Bill Slawski
"There are some people in the industry who are very popular, and they don't do much research and make a lot of the stuff they suggest up, which is frightening."

Bill, these people are outright clowns. Podium whores who promote all manner of goofy, unsubstantiated theories and strategies. Anyone who bothers to look behind the "theories" will find a business model that is based upon promoting said theory.

Maybe we should start a thread that describes all the various BS theories that have been promoted by these clowns.
Felyzet
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

This post is very timely with me as I am starting to search more about SEO. Very informative. Thanks, Bill Slawski!
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Felyzet
You're welcome, Felyzet.
Muhammad Jafakash Nawaz
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Thank you Bill Slawski
I have a Question Does SEO work in high Competition PPC?
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Muhammad Jafakash Nawaz
Hi Muhammad,

SEO and PPC are both ways of getting traffic to your website. It is likely that you can do PPC without doing any SEO, and that you can do SEO without doing any PPC. It's possible that doing PPC and Doing SEO may mean that you have some results showing in sponsored listings about organic Search results, and SEO'd listings in those organic results, and having people see both the ads and the organic listings may results in people choosing to visit your page because they saw your site twice.

But no, SEO by itself doesn't necessarily make your sponsored listings themselves work any better than they would.
Muhammad Jafakash Nawaz
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Bill Slawski
Thank you so Much Bill Slawski
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Well done, I feel like I am reading my own mind. So, of course I think (albeit biased) it's just great.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Ange
Thanks, Ange.

Glad you like my post. :)
Hamza Asghar
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

This is the Best post which can give me the best information. I will ask you please tell me the importance of offpage seo if you know
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Hamza Asghar
Hi Hamza

The original concepts of PageRank and hypertextual relevance were important aspects behind how offpage SEO works. Links to pages act like academic citations in scientific papers - links were like papers cited, and determined how important those pages being linked to were (a query independent ranking signal). The anchor text of links would tell Google what a page being linked to was about(a query-dependant ranking signal). Google ended up developing a number of other offpage signals that would impact rankings of different types of pages over time, like citations for local results, and reviews.
Alexander Loew
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Nice Infografic and awesome post! Thanks man
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Alexander Loew
Thanks, Alexander.
Shailendra Vijayvergia
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

A long post. It is not about only SEO myths, whatever we read and analyse on the web we should be aware of that content whether it is a fact or opinion. Everyone can have an opinion, but it does not mean we should follow blindly considering him as an authority if it is not backed up by facts. Not only this, we should know the source of data as well. On the internet, there is so much content it is difficult to find out which source is reliable.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Shailendra Vijayvergia
Hi Shalendra,

Thanks. It is a long post, but I had a lot to say about this topic. I wanted to include tools that people could use to analyze and evaluate what they read, and I've been seeing a lot of misinformation that should be looked at carefully. Agree completely that when you read something, deciding if it is an opinion or an actual argument is important And testing is extremely important, too.
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

FIrst thanks, I think you really got something off your chest so to speak .. I think you wrote it as a lawyer or college professor would have. Personally. I Could have done it it 100 words or less. But your right - all all B.S> , all that matters are these things
I have a newer website - less than 30 pages .
I ranked 25+ keyword combinations ( three words ) in 6 weeks with google so far all in rank 20 -65,
good content
growing links - mostly crap comment links
decent fast website loading under 2 seconds.
new content weekly

My competition has been around 10 -20 years andhas 100 -200,000 to 5 milion links - will I ecver get there ? I dont know but I am trying ....
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

julius rosen
Hi Julius,

I wanted to focus upon the tools to use to identify and analyze SEO Recommendations, and when SEO advice and suggestions may be less helpful than them could be, because the person writing them put more effort into creating linkbait than useful evidence-based information. I think the number of words I used to do that was sufficient for that purpose.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Bill, I have been around this SEO stuff for about as long as you, 20 + years now.

There is not a SEO consultant in the world who does not claim that their solution is the "best". When an SEO consultant is talking or writing, they are selling what they offer. The conflict of interest is palpable, if not totally hilarious.

Often, this "selling" is well-disguised as ground-breaking "theory" or "findings" or some other cooked-up nonsense. Their evidence is often manipulated or carefully crafted to uphold the theory. Examples that refute it are just ignored.

We have all seen, time and again, new theories and strategies being promoted from the podium at the biggest conferences, only to have them knocked down outright my someone at Google.

Just today, a report has a Google search team member is telling us to ignore copy length. Yet, there are hundreds of conflicting articles advising people how to construct copy length to rank well.

The saddest aspect of this industry is the "guruism" that breeds within it. How many "disciples" can a guru amass? Those followers can be counted on to parrot the guru's theories for them, across the Web, turning their very flimsy "theory" into "common wisdom". It's very good for the guru's business, especially when the theory is attributed to them directly. This is the holy grail.

More menacing is that these disciples act like attack dogs in public forums, if anyone disagrees. After all, these disciples, lacking much real experience and even less research skill, have committed themselves to the guru's position. It must be defended, for their own piece of mind.

I have been on the receiving end of this kind of thing, and it directly affected my business at the time, as my services at the time were deliberately denigrated by many of the top gurus, in spite of evidence to the contrary and statements from Google search team supporting what I was doing.

(I'm out of character space, so more in reply to myself here....)
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

DIrk Johnson
The sad fact is that the SEO industry is a wide open, unregulated free for all. There are virtually no requirements to call oneself an SEO consultant, and likely never will be.

The only people that really matter in SEO are the ones who have the skills to look deep into SERPs and deconstruct what is happening. There are only a very small number of people who do that properly.

Everyone else is guessing, usually directly to their own financial gain. Their "solution" is what they sell. Period. Everything else will get you penalized and banned from Google.

I only dabble in SEO these days. I take on small projects that are easy to get results. I have stayed out of the forums and such, for almost ten years now, much to my good health. Arguing with nitwits is not only a waste of time, but unhealthy.

It all continues to swirl. Gurus who need contracts clamor for podium spots, while the less ambitious and much less informed pick one to follow, blindly.

The whole thing is a freakin' joke.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

DIrk Johnson
SEO is a free for all, and it has been for a long time.

It really is in everyone's best interests if we work with each other, and try to help each other out, instead of treating other SEOs as targets of linkbait, and targets of high priced training classes.

The SEO Industry needs help. We can help each other rise and grow.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

DIrk Johnson
Hi Dirk,

I don't know if you participate in Twitter chats, but SEMRushChat is taking place this morning, and it would be great if you joined us for it, because you have been in the battlezone, and I think your experiences would be helpful to others here.

Yes, it can be a problem asking people about what they are saying in public forums. Some people take on an alpha role, and attack without any actual thought, or attempt at conversation.

The reason why I wanted to write this post was to try to give people tools to use when they come across information, so that they can assess it and analyze it. It really helps to not take everything at face value, and to be skeptical and ask questions, and wonder when someone presents 90% of an argument, and then tells you that they have a "gut instinct" about the rest of it. The only gut instinct I like to trust is when my stomach tells me it is lunch time.

Recently someone published a post on how to be an "SEO Expert" which reminded me of new forum members at a forum I was the administrator of. Often New forum members would call themselves something like "SEO Expert" or "SEO Ninja", and the first question they would ask would be something like "How does this PageRank work again?" or "What do you give a client when you are doing SEO for them?' as if they had never done SEO before in their lives.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Bill Slawski
Hi Bill - to repeat what I said elsewhere, your article here does attempt to expose the weak logic, or even outright fraud that is often involved in making SERP ranking claims. You covered a lot of ground that had not really been covered previously.

I have almost no interest in "mixing it up" in Twitter, or anywhere else, with a bunch of SEO types. I am well past that in my life.

I am only here to support your position that this industry is a mess, but I have no interest in any "cleanup" efforts. It is what it is, and it's never going to change.

In my case, many years ago, I had the biggest SEO guru at the time go very public with statements that the linking services that I (and other businesses) offered to my clients was illegitimate and of no value.

This was patently false, refuted by a mountain of evidence, and even refuted by Google executives. Nevertheless, his adamant position was supported by his disciples, and parroted across the web by them. To this day, this SEO myth (or rather, outright fallacy) persists.

When I posted ANYTHING supporting my own position in various SEO forums at the time, it was immediately and brutally condemned by mob mentality, with zero inspection of my statements.

All of it basically wrecked my livelihood at the time.

These SEO gurus are quite often self-serving jerks, accountable to nobody, and they are quite often completely fraudulent in their claims. Their disciples are simply pathetic people, desperate for a career with some kind of distinction, as if [Your Name - SEO] has any reputational value whatsoever. It has none.

I enjoyed your article. I do think that most of the readers will lack the skill to evaluate what you are saying, as that would require actual research beyond parroting some guru's claim.

Life outside the sphere of SEO discussion is pleasant and healthy. I have little interest in resuming that lifestyle with these kinds of people.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

DIrk Johnson
That is understandable, Dirk.

That does sound like a bad experience, what you went through.

I do have hope that some people who read this post will gain some usefulness from it, and use some of the tools I'm suggesting. Making an effort like this can lead to change. We will see.
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

This article reads like it's been written for seo purposes. Not an original idea on the whole page and twice as many words as needed. My advice would be to avoid adding content like this to the web
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Bill McGrath
Hi Bill,

You come across like a troll. I'm not sure why you would champion misinformation on the Web, or complain about people discussing using critical thinking to understand when someone might be misleading them in something they read. But thank you for your input.

I can say that I have never come across an article about SEO Myths that focused upon providing people with a way to think about those when they see them, and analyze them to question what they are saying. I do read through a lot of blog posts in the SEO industry regularly, and I would have been very happy to see someone write a post that takes this approach, but I can't claim to have ever seen one before.

Yes, this post has been written for SEO purposes, but not in the way that you claim. I wrote this post because I am proud of the industry that I have been a member of for the last 20 plus years. I wanted to offer suggestions to SEOs on how they could identify and avoid SEO Mythology, or at least to test things that they come across for themselves.

I am perfectly satisfied with the length of this post. It covers what I wanted to say, and I am fine with how many words I used.

You haven't told us enough about yourself (lay a foundation!) to enable us to trust any advice that you might offer. As far as we know you are an anonymous commenter, using a fake name, with no experience or expertise to make the criticism that you are making behind your claims. You say this post is: 1) written for SEO purposes, 2) is unoriginal, 3) uses too many words, and 4) should be avoided being added to the Web. You are free to have opinions as am I, even though I may disagree with your opinions. When you fail to support those opinions with any facts or reasonable arguments, you do a good job of providing an example for the readers of this post as someone to watch out for. Thank you for providing a helpful example of a poorly written argument.
Max Sokolov
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Bill Slawski
Touché.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Bill McGrath
I'd disagree. While Bill is not singling out the specific myths (lots of people have attempted that, many times, and usually incorrectly), Bill is exposing the underlying reasoning behind a lot of this nonsense. That's not really been done much.
Mert Can Fırat
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Great content. Thank you so much :)
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Mert Can Fırat
Thank you Mert.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

If P. T. Barnum were around today, he'd be an SEO guru/consultant.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

DIrk Johnson
I would like to think that SEO can outgrow its terrible reputation. And it is a terrible reputation because of linkbait falsehoods, and people writing terrible SEO advice targeting getting as many clicks as possible.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Thank you bill brilliant post. You mention much time with evidence, LSI and tf idf doesn't matter but sadly still many newbies following LSI formats. But what parameters we should use when we use relevant keywords in Content. like "Buy backlinks Uk base" then 3rd or 4th line again we use a similar keyword like "buy uk based backlinks". Normal seo will say those are an example of LSI keywords. i hope you understand my question :)
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

sofia anderson
There are no "LSI Keywords" in normal SEO. Those are fictions from SEOs more interested in clickbait than providing helpful SEO advice

You can use the same phrases more than once on a page, and you can write variations of it in the same article: UK=United Kingdom=British, buy=purchase=acquire, links-backlinks. Those are terms that carry the same meaning, but they have nothing to do with latent semantic indexing.

I've been seeing people claiming that query refinements at the bottoms of search results are "LSI Keywords" and phrases that appear in search results as bolded are "LSI Keywords" and results from the Watson Natural Language Processing API are "LSI Keywords." None of those have anything to do with LSI, and the way that people claim "LSI Keywords" are supposed to be used are in addition to the keywords that you use on a page - so that is really inconsistent with what you are asking about.

There is a Google process called Phrase-Based Indexing, which uses co-occurring meaningful complete phrases from high ranking pages, and has over 20 granted patents to the processes involved in it, which are phrases that you can add to your pages which could help those pages rank higher. Again, those are not the keywords that you are optimizing your page for, and they have absolutely nothing to do with "LSI Keywords." I've written more about them in a few places, including in this presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/billslawski/keyword-research-and-topic-modeling-in-a-semantic-web
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

When I saw the title I almost skipped on reading another blah, blah, blah article on SEO myths but when I saw the author I had to read it and am glad I did. Great job Bill, especially the opening that shows us how to evaluate the overload of information on SEO and choose the right things to read and evaluate. I'd like to add on more tip, if the author is @BillSlawski, then read it!
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

David Temple
Thanks, David. I couldn't bring myself to write a post about SEO myths without writing about how to identify misinformation, because there is so much of it on the Web, and I would like to see it stop - it gives our industry a bad name. It's good to see you.
Dawn Anderson
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

What a phenomenal piece of work Bill (I would expect nothing less). Very comprehensive and a great resource to help people understand and begin to embrace critical thinking. Funnily enough, I was watching a video on Entity Ranking with Knowledge Graphs on Sunday from a conference at The University of Massachusetts and the speaker referred to the weakness of TF:IDF and how they don't even bother to compare with that any longer, because it is largely irrelevant now.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Dawn Anderson
Thanks, Dawn,

Writing this post felt like it needed doing, to help others in the industry come across the kind of tools that they could use to analyze and evaluate.

It really is helpful to watch the kind of resources that you are that are well researched and filled with value.
Hamza Hahsim
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Hi Bill,
It's really great and thanks for sharing this amazing piece of content.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Hamza Hahsim
Thank you, Hamza!
Zackey REYAL
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

WOW, awesome....thank you very much Bill for taking your valuable time to publish this informative article. Read it many time, learned a lot. Heartfelt appreciation.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Zackey REYAL
Thanks, Zackey,

I'm really happy to hear that you and others have been getting a lot from this post.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

I appreciate you taking the time to cover these points, good read.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Matt Bassos
Thanks, Matt,

I had been seeing a lot of articles that I wanted to respond to, and thought that posting this would be a good response.
Brooks Manley
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Great guide, Bill – I'm relatively new to SEO and tracking down trustworthy information has been difficult. I've always appreciated you taking this stance.

In regard to TF-IDF and "LSI keywords": I agree with you that it's very unlikely search engines use these exact technologies. But you mention the Synonyms / co-occuring terms patent as well as BM25 retrieval function. I think most believe that both are used in some capacity to rank pages.

I know the specific technologies mentioned get a ton of face time, and we know they probably aren't directly used in algorithms. But we do believe that some form or variation of them are – so would you say some of these TF-IDF and "LSI" tools might truly be helpful in optimization, despite the rampant misuse of correct terminology and citation?
Editors' Pick
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Brooks Manley
Editors' Pick
HI Manly,

When someone makes that claim that you should use LSI Keywords, and points to the Watson natural language processing API as a source of those LSI Keywords, it may be possible that using the Watson tool may make a difference, but it really just isn't LSI Keywords, and it is quite possible that the person calling it that hasn't done any testing on it, so I would recommend proceeding with caution in such circumstances, and doing some testing of your own to see if such things make a difference. Be careful about taking someone's word when they are making claims that something will help when they aren't offering any proof. There is nothing wrong with doing some testing of your own before using an approach in a business-critical application.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

The link to the Stanford Credibility Guidelines is broken in the post, but it is still available on the Stanford website at: https://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/
Alex Tsygankov
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Bill Slawski
Thank you Bill, we fixed the link in the article.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Alex Tsygankov
Thank you, Alex!
Ibad Noor
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

@bill Slawski, thanks for sharing such an informative post.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Ibad Noor
Thank you Ibad.
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

What a great post. Thanks for sharing Bill
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Paul Lovell
Thanks, Paul. It seemed like a good idea to share some of the resources and approached that I have been in looking at SEO articles.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

I love those that quote stats . Just because it's so circular logic sometimes with cause and effect .
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

jules rosen
Yes, "We looked at one hundred million blog posts, and found that blog posts that are longer than 3,000 words rank the highest, so you should write blog posts that are longer than 3,000 words!" I don't think so.
Astha Upadhyay
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Indeed, a comprehensive guide to understanding the realities of SEO. Thank you Bill.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Astha Upadhyay
Thank you Astha.

If someone makes an argument that doesn't have any supporting material, and I see that often in SEO articles, it is really worth questioning the authors about that lack of support.
Astha Upadhyay
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Bill Slawski
it's my pleasure
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Great guide. I think one more myth to be added for clients who pressurized SEOs to rank a project in mentioned time frame 2-3 moths, thinking we SEOs can do some magic.
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Ted Allen
Hi Ted,

Thanks. Expanding this post out to things that SEOs might tell clients would be a good addition to this post.
Jason Barnard
columnist

SEMrush columnists are authors who had proved their expertise in digital marketing and contribute regularly to our community.

columnist
Brilliant stuff, Bill.

I seem to remember that Yahoo dropped their TrustRank after a few years because as they expanded out from the initial seeding, the performance dropped significantly and the system because unreliable.

I ( (half) remember that was caused by a bias within the initial seeding.

Or is that a myth ??! :)

PS - I am sharing this far and wide !
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Jason Barnard
Hi Jason, Thanks. I hadn't heard that about Yahoo's TrustRank. I have tried to identify sites that I would include in a trusted seed set of sites, and I was able to identify some, but it was really challenging.
Itamar Blauer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Very comprehensive guide - made a great read. Thanks, Bill!
Bill Slawski
Master

A veteran community member.

Itamar Blauer
Thank you, Itamar!

Send feedback

Your feedback must contain at least 3 words (10 characters).

We will only use this email to respond to you on your feedback. Privacy Policy

Thank you for your feedback!