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Google New Algo? Backlinks Not Important?


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#46 chrishirst

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:32 AM

QUOTE
What I know is that pointing lots of anchor text links (from diff. websites) to a page can help that page rank for that term
But you don't think this demonstrates sufficiently that Google uses the anchor text as one of the "important" ranking factors.

When Google "killed" the Google Bombing scenario in 2007, they simply made it the case that without the words on the page it has minimal (or no effect). So now the anchor text reinforces the page content rather possibly outweighing it.

The problem with many "experts" is that they are always looking for a "deeper meaning" almost treating it as a philosophical consideration rather than accepting what they can see is what they are getting.

#47 PatrickGer

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 07:43 AM

QUOTE(chrishirst @ Jun 21 2010, 01:32 PM) View Post
But you don't think this demonstrates sufficiently that Google uses the anchor text as one of the "important" ranking factors.

When Google "killed" the Google Bombing scenario in 2007, they simply made it the case that without the words on the page it has minimal (or no effect). So now the anchor text reinforces the page content rather possibly outweighing it.

The problem with many "experts" is that they are always looking for a "deeper meaning" almost treating it as a philosophical consideration rather than accepting what they can see is what they are getting.


Yes, I agree that it seems to be an important ranking factor (never meant to disagree with that). I dont see that this means anchor text is generally more important than the overall linkauthority of a site/page, though (sorry for obsessing about links MM;))...but let's not get hung up on details/semantics as we seem to be on the same page (that anchor text is an important rankign factor)

#48 Michael Martinez

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 04:59 PM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ Jun 20 2010, 04:09 PM) View Post
I read your blog a bit yesterday and am wondering, now - when you say SEOs are (way) too obsessed with links, do you mean that they
a) are too obsessed with the importance of links when it comes to ranking for a certain (competitive) keyword
..or ..
b ) are too obsessed with it in general, because doing other things such as
- going after the long tail of search (by creating more content)
- watching trends to identify new queries for which you can create content to fill that need before anyone else does (which will automatically lead to links b/c of the queries --> content --> links cycle you mention) is just as good of a way to generate traffic & sales (as focussing on a limited set of keywords and doing nothing but building links to rank better for those)?


Why does a competitive query become competitive? It gets that way because the people jockeying for top position try harder and harder to get there. Sooner or later they turn to links to boost their relevance and perceived importance.

This situation happens all too often in a fairly small number of queries. Nonetheless, when that happens, the query becomes hyperoptimzed. It overheats. The sheer number of links is used to overwhelm all other factors.

But that is what the SEO people are doing, not the search engine. The search engine doesn't say, "Oh, looks like we have some competition here -- let's go find more links to see which page is the most relevant/important". SEOs are just saying, "I don't know what else to do so I'm going to throw more links at the site and hope they work."

If some people in this business want to compete on the basis of links, that's their choice to make. But the links don't all count any more. They haven't all counted for a very long time.

More importantly, just because search optimizers make links the most important factor in specific queries doesn't mean the search engines magically transform their algorithms to place more emphasis on links.

The reality is much simpler than that: when the only signal you give to a search engine is links, the only signal it will use is links. Hence, you're responsible for ignoring 200+ other factors -- not the search engine.

Really bad SEOs who don't know what they are talking about insist it's all about links. Really good SEOs who pay attention to what is happening acknowledge that SEOs decide when the links matter more -- not search engines.

Google is on record as saying that links account for less than 1% of the algorithm. Look at all those wasted opportunities SEOs miss out on when they only think about links.

Edited by Michael Martinez, 21 June 2010 - 06:18 PM.


#49 qwerty

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 05:21 PM

I agree, for the most part, but I'd add this: there is some point at which you can't improve what you've done on the page. Whatever you believe is necessary for on-page optimization, you've done it all. If you can't go further, and you're still not getting the amount of traffic via search that you believe you could, what's left to do? There's offline stuff you can do, and you certainly should, but I'm asking what more you can do to get the attention of search engines.

The only answer is links and their anchor text -- internal and external. Yes, you can continue to build up the site, but if we're talking about improving the ranking of a page, then much of the benefit the page is getting from adding more pages to the site is coming from the fact that more of those pages are now linking to that page.

When you've done everything you can on a page to promote it, the only thing you can add to that is links, and you can always add more. There's no guarantee that they'll help -- even if you're careful many of them probably won't help -- but even if none of the last hundred links you've gotten helped, there's always the possibility that the next one, or one out of the next hundred, will.

#50 Michael Martinez

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:21 PM

QUOTE(qwerty @ Jun 21 2010, 03:21 PM) View Post
The only answer is links and their anchor text -- internal and external.


That may be the only answer most people see but it's not the only answer I see. There is a lot more to off-page SEO than just getting links.

Building up query traffic for alternative queries is one option.

Building up non-linking visibility for the Website is another option.

Building up high-visibility, non-PageRank/anchortext passing links is a third option.

Creating complementary content on other sites that shows people why you (as provider of your site) should be trusted is another option.

When you stop focusing on links, everything else is still there to be done.

#51 qwerty

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:39 PM

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Building up query traffic for alternative queries is one option.

Yes. You've written about this before and I think it's a great idea. I want to learn more about that.

QUOTE
Building up non-linking visibility for the Website is another option.

Sure. And I'll take it. But I'll politely ask for them to include a link. If they say no, I'm OK with that.

QUOTE
Building up high-visibility, non-PageRank/anchortext passing links is a third option.

Absolutely. I consider that a part of what I discussed. It increases your visibility and improves your reputation even if it doesn't contribute to your ranking.

QUOTE
Creating complementary content on other sites that shows people why you (as provider of your site) should be trusted is another option.

Again, a valuable practice, but I'd still hope to get a link out of it as well.

#52 Michael Martinez

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:29 PM

QUOTE(qwerty @ Jun 21 2010, 04:39 PM) View Post
Yes. You've written about this before and I think it's a great idea. I want to learn more about that.


My preferred method for building a query space is to work with a good publicist who knows how to get the media involved in a story.

QUOTE
Sure. And I'll take it. But I'll politely ask for them to include a link. If they say no, I'm OK with that.


But the point is to pursue visibility with resources that DON'T link to you. Links are not part of the picture.

In fact, that's the whole point of everything: LOOK OUTSIDE THE LINKOSPHERE for visibility.

If you're thinking a site can give you a link, you're still not looking outside the linkosphere.

#53 PatrickGer

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 06:09 AM

Michael, I'm not sure I get your point about building that kind of visibility without getting links being 'off-page SEO'. I'd agree that search engine traffic/traffic from google shouldnt be your only way to get traffic (all eggs in one basket,etc...I remember a thread where we discussed this thoroughly where randy contributed a lot), but how is that related to SEO and getting more traffic through search engines?

I remember a post by 'stuntdubl' and some other stuff on that topic saying that social media signals (tweets,etc.?) and usage data (this idea isntn ew of course) mattering increasingly more.

Is that why building off-page visibility would help for SEO (not 'only' for getting traffic in general)?

I really do like the idea of building up a new query space, and your whole idea of --> query --> content --> links..and that youre one of the first to deliver content that matches the queries you shouldn't have a hard time getting links&rankings without pursuing them (I hope I didnt misunderstand this point?).

I think I remember reading in one of your blog posts that a query space is either created b/c something is news or b/c it is a fundamental need (again, I hope Im not misquoting/misunderstanding anything). Isn't the only valuable query space to build up one that revolves around a fundamental need (and thus a lasting source of traffic)?..and wouldnt publicists involving the media in news stories only drive temporary queries?..or can the ROI from new query spaces be high enough even if theyre only of temporary nature (and not a fundamental need)?

How would you go about building up such a new query space (that lasts)? Maybe you can point me to a blog post you wrote on the topic? I know you and him dont seem to be best friends, but did Aaron Wall basically built up a new query space for 'seo book' (I think he said in his old e-book that there wasn't much or any search traffic for this kind of query before he started...though of course I have no idea if thats right - and I really hope Im not misquoting him, either - I might remember it incorrectly)?

thanks!

PS: Actually Ive been thinking lately how certain junk foods..stuff such as McDonalds (or a crack dealer :-)) is really just a need that is created and marketed that people have to fill, because if they dont fill it theyll feel worse. However if that need had never been created, they wouldnt be off any worse really (not sure if those examples are great ones, but obviously marketers do create new needs in offline marketing)....Im really wondering ,right now what kind of possibilities exist to create such lasting needs to build up new query spaces for SEO...and if they do exist, at all.

Edited by PatrickGer, 22 June 2010 - 06:04 PM.


#54 Michael Martinez

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 07:18 PM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ Jun 22 2010, 04:09 AM) View Post
Michael, I'm not sure I get your point about building that kind of visibility without getting links being 'off-page SEO'. I'd agree that search engine traffic/traffic from google shouldnt be your only way to get traffic (all eggs in one basket,etc...I remember a thread where we discussed this thoroughly where randy contributed a lot), but how is that related to SEO and getting more traffic through search engines?


You can focus on one keyword or 10 keywords or 10,000 keywords.

Let's assume for the sake of discussion that we've all agreed there is more money to be made in optimizing for 10,000 keywords.

Can the average, everyday Webmaster do that with links? No.

Can the average, everyday Webmaster do that without links? Easily.

The secret is to focus on building brand visibility for a site in as many relevant topics as there are. If you're not spending your time trying to get links then you must be spending your time showing people how your Website can help them.

That happens in 10 bazillion ways. Here are a few examples:
  • You get some listings in moderate traffic niche directories that use a CGI redirection script
  • You get some people to discuss topics otherwise specific to your Website in their blogs and forums, knowing there will be no links
  • You take out some classified ads on services that drive traffic but which don't allow crawlable, value-passing links to the Websites
  • You get people on Twitter and other social media discussion sites to talk about topics uniquely specific to your Website (regardless of whether they embed any links)
  • You work with news media to talk about topics that are specifically unique and relevant to your Website
  • You publish articles, press releases, guest blog posts, etc. where you're not allowed to link to your Website -- thus forcing you to actually share information (as opposed to brief marketing bait) about topics that are unique and specific to your Website
  • You buy banner advertising on a variety of networks
  • Distribute embeddable videos with your Website name/URL branded into the video (I don't believe these are crawlable, value-passing links yet)
  • You do some podcasts where you are asked about your business, etc. (maybe on a call-in) where you know you won't get a link
In other words, you pursue opportunities for visibility that a typical SEO would not dream of spending time on because there is no hope of getting a link. This is called marketing and when you do it in the online, World Wide Web environment you create:
  • Visibility for your brand
  • Visibility for your Website
  • Curiosity about topics that are unique and specific to your Website
  • Interest in you and whatever products or services you have to offer
Getting links is the easiest part of off-site SEO but it's probably the least value-offering aspect of off-site SEO because most people just don't get very good links. Any link that creates high visibility, brand value, and drives traffic on its own is a fantastic link to have even if it is nofollowed and embedded in an uncrawlable iframe, so keep in mind that obtaining THOSE kinds of links is great off-site SEO, too.

You can chase what people search for or you can teach people to search for you. I prefer to do the latter as much as possible.

QUOTE
I remember a post by 'stuntdubl' and some other stuff on that topic saying that social media signals (tweets,etc.?) and usage data (this idea isntn ew of course) mattering increasingly more.

Is that why building off-page visibility would help for SEO (not 'only' for getting traffic in general)?


Social media services can be great platforms for building visibility. Trying to leverage them for links is inefficient and time-wasting, in my opinion. Social media is really about the discussion, not the links. You want to participate in the discussion regardless of whether you get PageRank and anchor text.

QUOTE
I think I remember reading in one of your blog posts that a query space is either created b/c something is news or b/c it is a fundamental need (again, I hope Im not misquoting/misunderstanding anything). Isn't the only valuable query space to build up one that revolves around a fundamental need (and thus a lasting source of traffic)?..and wouldnt publicists involving the media in news stories only drive temporary queries?..or can the ROI from new query spaces be high enough even if theyre only of temporary nature (and not a fundamental need)?


The only valuable query space is the one from which you can draw traffic. If you can build interest in a query space, and if you can participate in that query space (i.e., place highly visible content in it), you can gain a lot of traffic from it.

The SEO Theory blog is a perfect example of how one goes about building a query space. Before I launched that blog people only made occasional reference to "seo theory". There was hardly any content for it and no one was searching on it. After 2+ years of writing 5 theory articles a week (more-or-less), I had plenty of traffic coming in from queries for "seo theory" and related expressions AND occasionally people would buy ads on it. Since I've stopped writing the blog I've noticed a few people trying to position themselves in the space (without much success -- but their failures seem to be due to a lack of passion and commitment).

I've done this with many queries, not just queries like "xenite" and "seo theory". People will search for whatever they are interested in. You just have to give them a reason to be interested.

And you don't need to go out and get a lot of links to do that. In fact, link building is really unnecessary when you build a query space -- at least the kind of industrial strength link building so many SEOs hang their hats on. I hate building links.

QUOTE
PS: Actually Ive been thinking lately how certain junk foods..stuff such as McDonalds (or a crack dealer :-)) is really just a need that is created and marketed that people have to fill, because if they dont fill it theyll feel worse. However if that need had never been created, they wouldnt be off any worse really (not sure if those examples are great ones, but obviously marketers do create new needs in offline marketing)....Im really wondering ,right now what kind of possibilities exist to create such lasting needs to build up new query spaces for SEO...and if they do exist, at all.


That's the ticket.

#55 PatrickGer

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:31 PM

Thanks for the thorough explanation Michael! - Admittedly, I still don't understand this in detail (will read it again), but that you prefer to teach people to search for you / building new query spaces as much as possible is something I find highly interesting. If I understand how it works (hopefully Ill catch on the second time I read it..and when i think about it at the back of my mind a bit), I can definitely see how investing some of your resources into doing this (teaching people to search for you) rather than investing (close to) 100% of your resources into building links to rank for existing keywords might be a higher ROI strategy (maybe depending on the website/niche - whether there's a good opportunity to build a new query space or not).

Just to clarify.."that's the ticket" basically means something along the lines of "exactly" / "that's key for this to work", right?...In other words if I ever plan on creating new query spaces (rather than going for nothing but the keywords that everyone else goes for, it's all about leveraging one's creativity to create new needs (that'll then drive search queries)? Actually, I think I already have some ideas how this could work in some niches that I'm familiar with (making people aware of a related problem that they simply hadn't thought of before).

Did your me-too competitors for 'seo theory' really just fail because of a lack of passion? Personally, I was thinking that the greatest thing about creating a new query space might be that b/c of the cycle of 1. queries 2. content 3. links ...in combination with the first mover advantage (or what mike grehan calls filthy linking rich) you get if youre the one to create that new query space.....you can float to the top w/o building links actively (but getting them passively) and then competitors trying to break into the space having a hard time catching up with you if they choose to compete (as in theyll have to build links actively, which you didnt have to being the first). Am I wrong about this part?

PS:

I assume you regularly take this approach of building new query spaces not just with your own sites but also when you're doing consulting for someone's existing website?

#56 Michael Martinez

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 02:17 PM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ Jun 24 2010, 04:31 PM) View Post
Just to clarify.."that's the ticket" basically means something along the lines of "exactly" / "that's key for this to work", right?...In other words if I ever plan on creating new query spaces (rather than going for nothing but the keywords that everyone else goes for, it's all about leveraging one's creativity to create new needs (that'll then drive search queries)? Actually, I think I already have some ideas how this could work in some niches that I'm familiar with (making people aware of a related problem that they simply hadn't thought of before).


I meant, "Keep thinking in this way". Try something new.

When all else fails -- when what you're doing doesn't work -- try something else. Anything (reasonable).

QUOTE
Did your me-too competitors for 'seo theory' really just fail because of a lack of passion? Personally, I was thinking that the greatest thing about creating a new query space might be that b/c of the cycle of 1. queries 2. content 3. links ...in combination with the first mover advantage (or what mike grehan calls filthy linking rich) you get if youre the one to create that new query space.....you can float to the top w/o building links actively (but getting them passively) and then competitors trying to break into the space having a hard time catching up with you if they choose to compete (as in theyll have to build links actively, which you didnt have to being the first). Am I wrong about this part?


A lot of people write about SEO theory without calling it "SEO theory". Bill Slawski's patent analysis is deep theory, for example. Some of Michael Gray's articles are deep theory, too. Even Aaron Wall has been sharing some interesting theoretical stuff on his SEO Book site over the past year or so.

Those guys all have their own niches. They're not trying to be "SEO theory". But those are the kind of people who, if they set their minds to it, could charge into that query space and set up some visibility. The only real intruder is a listing for a book that I would say is light on real theory and heavy on lots of marketing.

QUOTE
PS:

I assume you regularly take this approach of building new query spaces not just with your own sites but also when you're doing consulting for someone's existing website?


I don't do a whole lot of personal consulting any more. But whenever people come to me with their "I have hit the wall/glass ceiling" strategies, I usually suggest they take a look at what it would take to get people to search for them/their sites specifically.

That is a long-term strategy. It's something that only extremely rarely works in a short timeframe. If you're only planning to be in business for 3-6 months then I would say that my advice won't be much help. But if you're looking at 2+ years of business development, I think building brand value and developing your own query space is the way to go.

It separates the real value-providing business sites from the I-want-to-benefit-from-someone-else's-market-building sites.

In fact, I'm talking about market building -- and many people just cringe when you bring that up. But it works like magic on the Internet as long as you don't get bogged down in the mud trying to march with the Link Brigades. I would regard that as a punishment detail -- a self-inflicted purgatory of bad marketing practice.

Everyone needs links but that doesn't mean we have to think about links every minute of the day. 10 minutes is about all I want to devote to thinking about link building on any given day. And most days that is too much. My time is more valuable to me than that.

#57 Jill

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 04:13 PM

QUOTE
I don't do a whole lot of personal consulting any more. But whenever people come to me with their "I have hit the wall/glass ceiling" strategies, I usually suggest they take a look at what it would take to get people to search for them/their sites specifically.


I think that's great!

But it's called branding, not SEO.

#58 Michael Martinez

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 05:01 PM

QUOTE(Jill @ Jun 25 2010, 02:13 PM) View Post
I think that's great!

But it's called branding, not SEO.


The SEO should complement the branding. The branding should not be complementing the SEO.

#59 Jill

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 05:13 PM

All I'm saying is if you do good branding, you'll be found for your name. It's a given. But it's not SEO as you don't typically have to optimize your site for your brand name.

I worry that some people think that getting lots of traffic to their site for their brand name has something to do with SEO. It doesn't. It's a given.

SEO is getting found for people looking for you who don't already necessarily even know you exist, but they want what you offer.

#60 qwerty

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 05:35 PM

But branding isn't just about your brand name. If you do a really good job of branding (and SEO is now a part of this process), your name can be associated with the product or service you provide. If you take that too far, you run the risk of genericization -- your brand becomes so well associated with your product that the brand and the product category become synonymous in the minds of consumers.

For example, Johnson and Johnson did such a good job of branding their adhesive bandages that when people thought about adhesive bandages they thought of Band-Aids. Eventually, when people thought of band-aids, they didn't necessarily think of that brand. Curad made band-aids, there were generic band-aids, etc. That's why they changed the lyrics of the jingle from "I am stuck on Band-Aid" to "I am stuck on Band-Aid Brand".

The same thing happened to Google.

But if you don't take it too far, you can get your name associated with your product. When people think of Midas, they think of muffler shops (and that greedy king). When people think of muffler shops...




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