Saturday, August 9, 2008

A New Jersey Yankee in the court of Search Engine Optimization

Can we remove some of the mystery from search engine optimization? The high priests guard the secrets zealously, but experimentation, a thing unknown while magic rules the land of SEO, might just reveal some of them.

For example. What is Mysterology? Click the link to find out. Why am I creating links with the non-word Mysterology? Some of my pages are #3 for this word right now in Google. This great optimization feat was achieved because there are not many pages that use this word listed in Google. But I am not doing to prove I am an SEO magician. I am doing it to check a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Superstition about how search engines decide on which pages to list first for a keyword. This particular one is Irrelevant link anchor text hurts page positioning.

Of course, if your page is about magic wands, you should not be linking to it with hypertext "gremlins." But what if you have set up a nice magic wands page which is now ranked number 1 in searches for magic wands. Harry Potter and Hermione get their wands from your site. All over Middle Earth, all the right thinking hobbits, munchkins, elves and goblins have linked to your page with keyword magic wands. You are all set to live happily ever after, but your greedy and evil competitor, Voldemort or whatever, sets up 20,000 links to that page with keyword "Bad Gremlins" in the hypertext. Is that going to ruin your standing as #1 purveyor of magic wands in the Middle Earth Internet search world?

Double double, toil and trouble, cauldron boil and cauldron bubble! The oracle's answer so far, is that if you link to a page with irrelevant text, a mighty empire will be destroyed. The high priiests of Google and Yahoogle tell us that all will be well, we mustn't fret. Put your faith in organic optimization, whatever that means. We hope to have a better answer real soon now. If you believe that science took all the beauty out of the world, you won't like this experiment.

The religious rites and superstitions of Search Engine Optimization

Long ago a primitive agricutlural people tried to eke out a living in the shadow of a volcano. Nobody knew what made the rains come and the crops grow, and nobody understood why the volcano would erupt periodically and destroy everything they had built. The people had no choice but to rebuild what the lava had destroyed, for they lived on a small island, and had no other home. Furious efforts were directed at propitiating the evil demons in the volcano by sacrifices of animals and even children, and furious efforts were made to please the gods of rain and fertility, by incantations and magic codes.

A much respected priesthood of the volcano as well as high priests of fertility and rain, and oracles came to be established.

The practitioners of search engine optimization are in many ways similar to these ancient people. Our fortunes are in the hands of powers beyond our control. An arbitrary and unancounced decision, or even an error, by a minor archangel or demon in the Google or Yahoo! pantheon can wreck our livelihoods. The oracles of Yahoo and Google and Live Search speak to us in riddles, and the high priests mutter incantations. Not surprisingly, a whole lore of search engine optimization wizardry has sprung up. That doesn't mean SEO is all a myth, but it does mean that a lot of half truths and untruths and uncertainties are believed by many of us to be fact. I have devoted a section of the online SEO handbook to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Superstitions. They range from outright fibs like Search Engines are case sensitive to plausible but possibly untested propositions, like the idea that there is a Penalty for link URL Variations. All information in those pages is subject to the whims of software engineeers at different comanies, and to empirical testing - package was full when shipped. Contents may have settled in shipping.

Here's the whole list for now, below. If you have any additions or comments, let me know (that's what the comments are for below). I may discuss some of these separately in the future.

Meanwhile, don't forget to say your incantations and paint the computer blue against the evil eye.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What's it about

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for everyone is about optimizing search engines for Web sites and about the SEO Web site which has a brief online handbook to help you make your site number 1 on the Web.