SEO Myths and Selling Points
Many SEO companies and contractors will try to convince you that certain things MUST be done for you to gain solid Google rankings. I have doubted many of these SEO experts and over the years have proven, at least to my satisfaction, that many of these SEO tasks are simply NOT as critical as some would have you believe. I specialize in SEO services for small businesses - I want the small business owner to get the same benefits as the big companies that are paying $1,000's for SEO services.
Important Search Engine Optimization Factors
Here are a few factors that many/most SEO companies and consultants will tell you are critical:
- Alexa rank
- Google Page Rank
- Social Media
I want to take each one of these factors and give you some examples of why I do not try to sell these ideas to my clients. To illustrate I will use my personal web site on Church History - www.churchhistory101.com [CH101]. This is a site I created in 2007 and have slowly worked on, adding content, following the search numbers with Google analytics and making subtle content changes to the site based on the analytics. This site gets 8,000-9,000 visits per month.
Many SEO people will use this SEO web site and tool as a guide and indicator for your web site strength. I have never worried about the Alexa rank of any site and I do not think it makes one whit of difference. Let me show you some numbers that support my opinion.
THE most used keyword phrase to find my church history web site is "early church history" - makes sense. Over 9,000 visitors have come to my site using some variation of this search phrase. My site is ranked #2 for this search on Google [Dec 15, 2011 at 11:00pm EST...from MY IP address]. Just below my site is Wikipedia and on page 2 in position #11 is New Advent, the Catholic site. Below are the Alexa ranks for all three sites:
CH101 - ranked 3.2 million in the world
Wiki - 6, yes the 6th ranked site IN THE WORLD!
NewAdvent - 32,000, not bad for the whole world
Yet CH101 has been on page 1 for this keyword for more than two years and ranked #2 for quite a while. If Alexa ranking was THAT critical CH101 would NEVER outrank Wikipedia for ANY search that Wiki is ranked for - 3.2 millionth beats #6.
"But Wiki is not a church history site."
Wiki is ranked #3 for this search! and it does beat CH101 on many good keywords. Wiki is ranked high for many, many topics.
But a better example might be New Advent, a Catholic web site and certainly one that has plenty of material on early church history. CH101 is ranked over New Advent for many search terms, yet New Advent has an Alexa rank of 32,000 -
10 times better than CH101.
Comparing these numbers supports my view that Alexa ranking is next to meaningless when it comes to gaining solid Google rankings for important search terms.
BACKLINKS - Durham NC
What about backlinks? Many SEO companies and experts will try to sell you various packages for building backlinks. Let's look at the backlinks for our test sites. According to Alexa, backlinks is your site's "reputation." Here are the backlink numbers:
CH101 - 18 backlinks
Wiki - 1.9 million....REALLY??
NewAdvent - 13,000
I have done virtually nothing for backlinking CH101. Why not?
I have never believed it was critical and these numbers seem to present a very good argument that I am correct.
I just did a search for "seo backlinking" and got the text in the graphic to the right: Where do they get this information? Nobody knows, but they are selling backlinks.
Do I think backlinks are useless?
No, but I do not think your money should be spent on paying people to "build" backlinking strategies. There are stories of SEO backlinking specialists setting up link networks that eventually have regular business web sites linked with porn sites! I recently worked on an auto repair site in North Carolina that had reciprocal links with tatoo shops in L.A. Most SEO experts will tell you: backlinks that are not relevant CAN hurt you. I do think this is true, but have no proof - it is common sense.
My point here is that backlinks are just NOT that important. I think my numbers are not easily dismissed. A site with 18 backlinks outranks one with 1.9 million!
GOOGLE PAGE RANK
Page Rank goes from 0 to 10 with 10 being the best. For a few years SEO companies and experts convinced business owners that they needed to spend money working to get their Page Rank numbers in the upper levels. Most tied backlinks directly to Page Rank - we have already seen that backlinks are not that critical.
You can see the quote on the right from a Google Analyst - PageRank is NOT important! Yet SEO experts sold their services (and some continue to do so) to get that number up. I have always said that PageRank was almost meaningless for gaining Google rankings. I knew this because back in 2004-2005 I had gained dozens of top rankings for my company web site (www.bphx.com) and our PageRanks were never better than 2.
Let's look at the Google Page Ranks for the sites we have been looking at above:
CH101 - PR2
Wiki - PR8
NewAdvent - PR6
CH101 has a PR2. Wikipedia is PR8 which is VERY good, and New Advent has a PR6. So it is clear that Page Rank just does not have that much to do with gaining good Google ranks either.
SOCIAL MEDIA - Durham NC
Around two years ago all I heard from SEO people was social media. The new hot SEO idea. Now, in honesty I have never been a fan of using social media to push business. I started on Facebook around two years ago and I regularly blocked anyone trying to use FB to sell me their product or service. I was on FB to connect with friends, not to be approached constantly with "sales." Having said that, there are some businesses that are a great fit for Facebook. I have a few clients using FB and gaining benefit from it.
The biggest problem I have with pushing social media is that SEO companies and consultants used it as the "new hot" thing to create another revenue stream. I heard about social media packages costing/adding $500 per month. I discouraged most of my clients - because I was not certain it would HELP them and did not want them to waste their money.
IF a business decides to launch social media (a blog, Twitter, or Facebook) somebody needs to give attention to each medium. You cannot use social media every now and then; just like good SEO, it takes consistent effort to get results.
But, let's look at the numbers in our example. Let's see how many Facebook "likes" each of sample sites have; I realize that "likes" is not the ONLY good measurement from Facebook, but it does reflect your following:
CH101 - 30 "likes"
Wiki - 834,000 "likes"
NewAdvent - 4,362 "likes"
I know it is beginning to sound like a broken record, but these numbers show me that social media (at least Facebook) is NOT the silver bullet for SEO.
I have just given you one single example, but CH101 has numerous high Google rankings and these numbers above are representative of what you would find with MOST of the high ranking keyword phrases. Here are a few other searches that bring my site a good amount of traffic with Google ranks comparing our three sites:
This graph shows the gradual traffic growth of Church History 101 - this is what you want to see on your web site.
Click the graphic to enlarge.
This is one of my clients and the search engine results I have been able to gain for his site: D & J Seamless Gutters
I got this off an SEO-Backlink site - Click on the graphic above, or click here to read the text.
This came from an SEO-Social Media site selling social media services to small business.
Just a Note: I do have a few clients using YouTube videos and getting good results. One client does very well with Facebook and with Groupon.
The ONLY social media I have used for my CH101 is Facebook and, as you can see, I have not used it much - I started CH101-Facebook around December 2011!
first century church
CH101 - 1
Wiki - 2
NewAdvent - < 30
1st century church
CH101 - 1
Wiki - 2
NewAdvent - < 100
heresies of the early church
CH101 - 6
Wiki - 7
NewAdvent - 67
treaty of nicea
CH101 - 1
Wiki - 3
NewAdvent - 10
barnabas and clement
CH101 - 2
Wiki - 31
NewAdvent - < 100
CH101 - 1
Wiki - 3
NewAdvent - 19
clement of alexandria's spirituality|
CH101 - 1,2,3
Wiki - < 30
NewAdvent - 46
CONCLUSIONS for SEO - Durham NC
These numbers indicate that Alexa ranking, backlinks, Google PageRank, and social media are NOT silver bullets for SEO and organic Google ranking.
I am NOT arguing that these metrics are completely worthless, but I am saying that small businesses should not waste SEO money chasing after the "latest and greatest" thing.
HOW DO YOU GET SOLID GOOGLE RANKINGS?
In 2005 I was sent by my company to attend the International SEO Conference in NY City. There was a particular plenary session with the VP of Google as the guest speaker. Google had just made a HUGE change in their algorithm which followed the infamous "Florida Dance" of late 2003. Everyone that made their living doing SEO had been slapped by Google's "Florida" changes. I was in a banquet room with 350-400 SEO experts, all sitting on the edge of their seats to hear something that would help them. The topic was something like "The Keys to Getting Good Ranking."
I was somewhat disappointed with the presentation and I was not an SEO guy - I was the Marketing Manager at a global software company. We had been told that the presentation would be short so that we had plenty of time for the Q & A session. The first question was asking for specific things the latest algorithm change had addressed.
I remember feeling the tension as the Google VP gave a really lame answer, obviously not wanting to give us any secrets. People started complaining out loud as he spoke. The white noise grew louder. Mr. Google acknowledged the frustration that "you must feel, but..." At that moment a guy stood up and shouted something like, "We represent companies that are losing millions of dollars!" There was a chorus of agreement and for a second it crossed my mind that we could have a riot.
What came next was a very cool and deliberate response from Mr. Google that I must admit caused my respect for Google to grow. To keep the story from getting WAY too long I will bullet point his response which, though it did not make these SEO people happy, truly brought the situation under control.
He then upbraided those who try to trick the Google search engine to get results. "Content is king" was the remainder of his message. Good content that gets updated consistently will always do best. This is not exciting, but it works. Just keep adding good content (using good SEO practices) and the rankings will come.
I have numerous clients with excellent Google rankings.
I know how to gain solid Google rankings.
Call me and let's Get Your Momentum Going!
Small Business SEO - Durham NC