Friday, June 22, 2007

Common SEO Myths

Many people believe, but it is not true:

1. You should not have any outgoing links because they dissipate your SEO power. Just like water pressure or electricity, any outgoing link will function as a "leak" and release the pressure. This is a completely false understanding of how the search engines work yet many people totally believe that they are "wasting power" by having outgoing links on their site.

2. You should have as few pages as possible on your site. Again, many believe that just like electricity or water power, the bigger the area covered, the less pressure or power is concentrated on the key spots. So your best pages will do better if you don't divide your SEO power across many pages. While largely untrue, there is some truth (I believe) that sites cannot just keep getting larger without diminishing the power of some key pages)

3. The google PageRank that we see on the google toolbar is an important measure of a page's power and the value of an outgoing link. In fact, the visible pagerank is a highly distorted cartoon which can be wildly inaccurate. I believe (and would welcome comments) that this is inaccurate in that:
- it is reflecting the number of incoming links but NOT the quality or relevance which is at least as important as the number of links
- the value of an outgoing link from a page is a reflection of it's relevance to the target page, quality, and the number of outgoing links on a page. If all else were equal, the links on a page with 10 outgoing links is ten times more valuable than a link on a page with one outgoing link. I have seen hundreds of people pay for links from the same page which means that the relative of power of those links is the original power of the page, minus some dampening effect, and then divided by the total number of links on the page.
- it is always several months out of date

PS - While not a myth since the pun is good, most people don't know that when the concept of pagerank was being developed, Larry Page decided to name the concept after himself. I've often wondered if Sergei Brin wanted it to be called BrinRank.

The Long Tail of Search

This is amazing. Time4Learning lives off the long tail so it was exciting to find an article on it:

Chasing The Long Tail.......How big is this phenomena? At Google's Universal Search announcement, Udi Manber put up a slide that stated that 20% to 25% of the search queries Google sees every day are search queries it has never seen before. Let that sink in for a moment. To me, that number was startlingly large.

While this is an amazing fact, it is this next one which I think is understated and of more business significance....

The sum of the searches on all the low volume terms = the sum of the traffic on all the high volume terms.

1. This depends on definitions.
2. All the same, most people believe that the volume is in the big search terms, nto the small ones. So this is big news to them.
3. I believe that: the volume in small search terms > the volume in big search terms.
4. I have successfully figured out how to take advantage of this in natural search, but not in paid search. (more on my recent trials and frustrations in paid search later). Basically, even with broad matching, if you build enough terms, you can bid on relevant keyphrases at a much lower rate. I had figured this out when I was very active in PPC a few years ago. I'm now on my second consultant to try and resucsitate my PPC campaign and so far, he has not shown substantial progress. BTW - remember my seo joke?

There are basically two ways to pursue the long tail:
Write in depth articles. This provides you access to long tail terms simply through the natural combination of words that the search engine will extract from your article. The scope of this is somewhat limited, of course, as there are so many word combinations that can be extracted from one article.
Implement lots of pages all targeted at different terms. The trick with this approach is to make the pages unique and different from each other, so they are not seen as spammy duplicate content.

Posted by Eric Enge on May. 21, 2007 on Clickz as Chasing The Long Tail

PS - Note to self. It is way past time for me to figure out how to do trackbacks and other social bookmarking or referencing systems so that I can participate in the discussions properly.