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Ranking Is Dead - Bruce Clay Pubcon 08
Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:37 AM
I just happened to check this latest update/comment by an industry expert Bruce Clay which was also some what "supported" by Matt Cutts of Google. He specifically said that "Rankings are Dead" due to more personalized search data going to main stream searches and localization!
Here are the video link from PubCon 08. Please elaborate on this as to how it can affect SEO industry and how SEOs can sort of "upgrade" themselves to this new challenge:
Bruce Clay -
Matt Cutts -
Thanks in advance.
Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:49 AM
Regarding how personalization would affect rankings, seo and sem some of us have been saying those same things for a long, long time now. In fact, we've had very public discussions about the subject here at HRF many moons ago.
Regarding all the rest, eg that Rankings aren't nearly as important as attracting the right types of users, those being the ones who make up your actual target audience (or in Randy-speak your Perfect Customers), SEO never was about rankings and rankings only. Not for the really good SEO's it wasn't. For the better part of a decade or more some of us have been concentrating on attracting the right kinds of visitors, the ones that convert, as opposed to concentrating on rankings.
It's a common theme you'll see here as you work your way through the HRF information. So I guess it's nice that others are now starting to catch up a little bit.
Posted 03 December 2008 - 09:29 AM
Umm...this is news? What's it been... 5 years or so that we've said rankings are dead? Somewhere around there. BC says it finally in 2008 and now it's news?
You may want to check out my article at SEL on why rankings are a poor measurement for success when you get a chance.
Posted 03 December 2008 - 10:33 AM
Then what I conclude from your answer is that the basic concept of LINK BACK or LINK BUILDING is some what WORTHLESS? According to your article it means I may experience different results (based on personalization and GEO target) than my colleague sitting right next to me or anyone else globally?
And if yes then how do you sell your SEO services to your clients? what do you promise?
I read your case study about Partshotlines. It says:
Today it sits at #2 for its most important and most competitive keyword phrase in Google, and #3 for its second most important phrase. There are 42,800 pages that are at least minimally optimized for the phrase (as it's being used in the title tag of that many pages), so being at #2 means it has to be more relevant than the 42,798 other pages in Google's eyes.
That's what SEO is all about!
Are those results still true today? If yes then would those results be true on all the data centers? or people searching?
Don't get me wrong on this as I'm really trying to learn here and honestly speaking I have posted this question to people who I personally believe are true experts. By the way, If your January answer about the same would have been in Pubcon, there won't be any Bruce Clay speaking about that I guess he went for the Link Bait technique.
Thanks in advance Jill and Randy.
Edited by sofomor, 03 December 2008 - 10:55 AM.
Posted 03 December 2008 - 11:10 AM
Posted 03 December 2008 - 11:47 AM
Okay. Let's assume for a minute that Bruce is right?
That funeral didn't last long, did it?
Last winter, I spent a week driving from a very cold Michigan to a much warmer Nevada, a trip that would have been very difficult had I decided to ignore all the signposts along the way. Those signposts kept me from getting lost. Okay, the GPS helped a little, too.
Most metrics are analogous to signposts on a long journey. How many signposts you need on any particular journey is going to depend on both the length of your journey and how frequently you've made that trip in the past. I suspect truckers who drive to Vegas every week look at a lot fewer signs along the way than I did. When they hit St. Louis, they probably don't find their middle lane on I-55 suddenly becoming an off ramp because traffic made them miss an important signpost. They know the way because they've been there many times before.
Bruce has a brand new reason for declaring the death of rankings ( a reason which has its own weaknesses, I think), but he's clearly coming to the game a little late. Ever tried to pay the rent with a high ranking in the SERPs? Many, many people have been decrying the importance erroneously placed on high rankings. Some think we should look at traffic, not rankings, but I think for most the latest buzzword seems to be conversions. Rankings don't matter, many claim, and even traffic is ultimately useless, without those precious conversions.
They're right, too.
Apparently, however, being right isn't enough because -- just like Bruce Clay -- nearly everyone goes right back to talking about rankings three heartbeats later. Rankings are dead! It's a real shame, isn't it, that they're so damn useful to so many people?
Rankings, indeed, don't pay the rent. Neither does traffic. And I know it's going to bum out a whole lot of people, but the truth is that conversions don't pay the rent, either. If you want to sell ten dollar bills for $5, you can rack up high conversion ratios all day and still be broke when the sun sets on your short-lived business venture.
The only thing that has ever mattered in business is sustained profit. It is the final destination, and everything else is just a signpost on that winding road to success.
However, while we should never confuse the signposts with the destination, most of us can't afford to ignore those signposts, either. Sure, the only thing that matters is profit. But profits are influenced by conversions. Conversions are influenced by traffic. Traffic is influenced by rankings. None of those signpost will, by itself, get you to your destination, but every one of them can help steer a successful course.
In my opinion, rankings will never be dead. They are often grossly inaccurate -- about like telling someone driving 60 mph to look for moss on the side of a tree before making their turn -- but they will still always be one of the first signposts available on what can be a very long journey.
If you aren't seeing a decent profit, it's almost always a good idea to back up and take a look at conversions. It's a signpost you can't afford to miss. If your conversions look good, but there's still no money in the bank, backing up further, to take a look at traffic, can be a big help in diagnosing the problems. And if traffic sucks? I'm sorry, but then it's time to look at rankings. High rankings are NOT the same thing as good rankings, any more than moss on the wrong side of a tree is going to tell you where to turn. Of all the signposts on the road, rankings are perhaps the most easily abused. Those with too little experience will forget that every page on the Internet ranks well for "something," but not every "something" necessarily leads to the next signpost. It still takes good judgment to navigate the road this early in the trip. It takes human skill.
I think we should all keep our eye on the end game, on profits, on money in the bank. Unless you're a very experienced truck driver, though, you often can't get there without first paying attention to conversions. And you can't meaningfully get there without traffic. And I'm sorry, Bruce, but you can't get there without looking at rankings. Should rankings become more blurred, as perhaps seems inevitable, that simply means it's going to take greater skill to read them accurately and usefully.
Then again, I suspect it's always taken more skill than most realized. If the journey was too easy, it wouldn't be worth making.
Posted 03 December 2008 - 04:35 PM
Posted 03 December 2008 - 06:39 PM
Umm...no. Not really sure how you made that leap. What does linking have to do with rankings?
We sell increased targeted search engine traffic. Ideally, we'd like to sell increased conversions and sales, but that's often out of our hands.
I don't know, I don't check them. In the article I wrote that that's what they were "today" which was on the day I wrote it. Before I wrote that case study, I hadn't checked that site in years and had no idea where they were ranking. Figured it was probably good though, since the business owner told me traffic and sales were great.
To be forthright here, I'm certainly not the first to talk about rankings being a useless measurement. I believe our other Admin here, Alan Perkins, was saying it many years before I came around and agreed. Probably in the early 2000's. Alan has always been years ahead of the others in the SEO world.
Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:48 PM
Could not resist - Hehehe
Posted 03 December 2008 - 10:57 PM
Posted 04 December 2008 - 05:08 PM
Although traffic does not equal conversions, traffic is required for there to be conversions. If only one person visits your site, then even a 100% conversion rate is not terribly useful. Although it's common today (or perhaps not so common since BC has apparently just discovered it) to say that conversions matter more than traffic, to say that you don't need traffic is crazy-talk. And as long as your traffic is based in part on rankings, rankings will continue to matter.
Saying that rankings don't matter is rather like claiming keywords don't matter - only conversions. Technically, I guess they don't matter. Who cares what the KW was as long as they convert and you get a sale? But in reality, your keywords help generate the qualified traffic that is needed for you to even be talking about conversions.
IMO, in SEO everything matters - rankings, traffic, keywords, titles, conversions, content, links.... everything. You can argue about relative value, but it all matters.
Now, if he had just said that rankings were too difficult to do in view of personalization and too often misinterpreted to be the core or only measurement of an SEO's performance, then perhaps I would have an easier time getting aboard the kool-aid wagon...
But as it stands, as long as search engines continue to rank websites in response to queries, and people click on those results differently based on the rankings, rankings will continue to matter, IMO.
PS: FWIW, I agree entirely with Rons post, above.
Posted 04 December 2008 - 06:56 PM
I think that basically is what he said.
Posted 04 December 2008 - 07:19 PM
They are often misused which leads to this hostility towards ranking, but I don't think this disqualifies rankings as a metric.
I think you just need to look at this just like any other metric: in context & with a grain of salt.
The jist of what I do is: Take basket of keywords that you are (actively promoting, top performers, top industry keywords). Then look at trends. The more rankings 'die' the less your individual data points mean anything. But aggregates & trends are still useful.
Rankings are certainly not the bottom line. Not what you might call 'key performance metrics.' But they are still a useful metric. Useful to me anyway.
Posted 05 December 2008 - 08:44 AM
Yes said for link bait than anything else though I suspect that BC and co are trying to move to a more traditional ad agency model ie nice expense account lunches and though a ton of the clients money at the wall and hope some of it works.
What know one says is what proportion of people actually use personalization and what proportion of Job public uses it a large number of whom haven't realized that "sponsored results means an advert"
Traffic is king and what I try to push but where does traffic come (unless the ad sense fairies come in the middle of the night and deliver it) it comes from appearing high up on a given result.
Of course one should ask who benefits from personalization
There are some advantages for the end user but there are down sides as well you cant tell a friend oh search “X Y Z” and expect them to get the same results.
On the other hand making the serps so fragmented that people are forced to use more ppc to get a guaranteed audience? An obvious benefit to G there.
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