SEO Is Deeper Than What You Read

Aug 31, 2010 • 8:54 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

There is an outstanding thread by Tedster, Ted Ulle, at WebmasterWorld. The topic is on too many newbie SEOs taking the SEO advice given on forums, blogs, news sites and here at face value. He is concerned that a new SEO will read something and not understand the true meaning of what is really being said.

Let me quote a piece of his concern:

Recent years have seen a flood of interest in SEO. Unfortunately, a lot of recent entries into SEO have no sense of perspective and no idea of how to evaluate advice that they read or hear. And still they write blog articles ;( There's a lot of regurgitated second and third hand learning being spread today - and it's even being sold to clients.

SEO began in the 90s, back before the acronym itself was even created. Most of the pioneers were early affiliate marketers who personally reverse-engineered the search engine algorithms of the day. What they learned was privately shared, until it stopped working so well. At that point, the tidbits began to bleed into the wider pool of knowledge.

Why do I bring up this old time stuff? The same pattern still holds. And taking anyone's SEO advice at face value is a dangerous practice. Anyone who is not doing their own testing and measurement is at a disadvantage. They may be buying into advice that's outdated by many years - and some of it may even come from back in the 90s!

Truth be told, I am a culprit of spreading information that is not explained in detail each time I write it. Personally, I don't have patience, I don't have patience listening or reading something that needs to be explained in detail. I tend to get things quickly, at least I think I do, so listening to someone go on and on to make sure everyone is on the same page - well, it drives me nuts. So since that is my personality, I often don't have the patience to explain things that I already know. It isn't the best characteristic of myself, but we all have flaws, and this is one of mine.

Those who read this site every day, know this flaw in my writing and know how to read beyond what I write. If I make a comment that most people would likely break out into more detail and I don't, my reader knows why. I try my best to write concisely and get to the point without repeating myself, unlike what I am doing here. But sometimes without reviewing stuff and explaining it in detail, some new people to the industry that read my stuff won't get it fully and take it at face value.

I would say 50% of my posts, specifically when I offer SEO specific advice, don't go into enough detail for new SEOs to fully understand what to practice. That is a fault I have and you need to know that.

I have a recent example and I hope this person doesn't get upset with me using him as an example, but the content is out there in the public and thus complies with my blogging code of ethics.

Here is the tweets sent to me a few days ago:

@rustybrick Hi, I got a questions, how does SocialMedia impact on Google-Ranking? Is there any impact?less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

@rustybrick not the same power like a Link, am I right?! just like that the bot recognisize that the site is popular for some relevant KeyW?less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Most experienced SEOs know that social media typically doesn't have a direct impact on your link building. It typically does not directly impact your Google rankings. What it does do it get people to become aware of your web site and the awareness may drive more links and the more links may drive better rankings in Google. So if I ever say that social media helps your Google rankings, that is what I may mean. I may skip over the details as to why and understanding why is important.

I am not the only SEO blogger who is guilty of taking this short cuts, so keep it in mind. And honestly, it is much worse in the forums. Then what you have is what Tedster described, new SEOs preaching half truths to other new SEOs and their clients and we got a problem. I apologize, but it is a bad habit I doubt will ever change. So please keep this in mind when reading what I write.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Scott Cowley

08/31/2010 01:32 pm

I really appreciate this post, Barry. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that Twitter inherently makes it difficult to explore the nuances of SEO in one conversation and also that SEO practitioners don't always have time to detail those nuances elsewhere on the web. When they do, blogs fall short because they just aren't organized to really package separate posts into a comprehensive overview. Times when I'm most skeptical of social media are during those scenarios that you described. I'm glad you said something.

Barrie Adams of Traphic

08/31/2010 02:42 pm

Nice to know you are human after all ;-) I come here for breaking news and where to look for further discussion, not really for SEO advice or best practises, so I don't think you fall into that particular pigeon-hole. Great site, keep up the hard work!

Carla Ackley

08/31/2010 03:40 pm

I've seen this happen quite a bit from clients. They go to blogs and read something about SEO and then try to push it on me when it's not even something that works anymore, or is a "trick" that would only work for a short duration and might really hurt their rankings, and I am not interested in those. I started my business on here in 1994, and it has grown and evolved since then. I literally had one of the first SEO related businesses- it was promotional marketing/free samples, web site design, and search engine submissions back then and it was a Gold Rush.

anthony brunetti

08/31/2010 06:04 pm

Barry, You do not owe the community an apology. We owe you a thank you for creating a wonderful information resource for SEM/SEO experts. You're barely monetizing with banner ads, no shady affiliate marketing or shameless self-plugs. If someone wants to learn SEO basics, there are resources available to them. Including google's very own:

Barry Schwartz

08/31/2010 06:13 pm

@Scott, true Twitter with only 140 characters does make it even harder. @Barrie, well, search news sometimes requires some SEO tips there, so yea - can't avoid it. @Carla, yea, funny, I hear the same things from my clients. @Anthony, not really apologizing but you get my point.

David Iwanow

08/31/2010 06:17 pm

But really is Twitter the best place to answer a complex question, ive seen more and more tweets retracting or asking people to read the original message thread in context. Well most of it is no trick or magic but i think its more of an issue when as a consultant you speak with another agency who then goes out and resells your information as "internet marketing". The number of web development firms that pitch out seo services or rank monitoring solutions is criminal, they are the ones using the 3rd hand knowledge they recall from a brief phone conversation!

Connor Bringas

08/31/2010 06:45 pm

This is a great post because its so true today. When I blog about SEO it takes way to much time to go in detail about every little thing people need to know. It takes books and books to actually learn. Ive read plenty of books and Im still learning. I hate people that blog or go on forums and post about seo when they know nothing..theres so many myths out there today about it

Michael Martinez

08/31/2010 08:40 pm

Geeze, and I used to get so many complaints about how long my articles are. :) Barry, I know others have reassured you about the value of this site, but let me add that I think even casual visitors understand you're rounding up the day's topics -- and that is a high value in itself. After all these years, SE Roundtable is STILL the first site I check every day.

Barry Schwartz

08/31/2010 09:03 pm

That means a lot MM!


08/31/2010 09:18 pm

Nobody would blame you, Barry. It's your quickness that like the best. I'm running SEO blog, too but I'm not good at practicing SEO I mention there. I often just tell the information to my readers. I feel like I'm in a similar position to you. But I like your style very much and you encourage me greatly.

Rick Vidallon

08/31/2010 10:18 pm

My SEO experience is summed up as follows: Organic SEO: There's no such thing as a free lunch, so enjoy it while you got it. SEO Daily Bread: Google giveth, and Google taketh away'.

Jeffrey Smith

09/01/2010 04:25 am

Barry: Despite the SEO industries inherent nomenclature, newbies will simply have to adjust. Being specific and to-the-point is why everyone enjoys your reading your birds-eye-view of the industry constantly taking a pulse and sharing with others. Don't change a thing!


09/03/2010 12:16 am

@Barry People will often see and hear what they want to, no matter how clear you make it.

Kenneth Forrest

09/04/2010 11:17 am

SEO really has a deeper meaning of what is taught from information in the web. As far as SEO is concern, I think that no one has ever find the true meaning of it. Correct me if I am wrong.


09/13/2010 06:13 pm

While I would agree that someone new to SEO might miss part of what's being said, and even get themselves in trouble using incorrect or outdated practices, I can't agree with anyone who concludes that all SEO should be "left to the experts". There is a great deal that a small business can do to help themselves in the area of SEO. I DO have the patience to teach them - I've been a corporate trainer for over 20 years. Small businesses need good "do-it-yourself" support for the things they CAN do themselves, as well as warnings away from some of the "cheap and easy" SEO scams out there. They also need to understand what a reputable SEO expert can do for them, and why it takes time, and that guarantees of "first place on Google" need to be looked at skeptically.

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