The SEO market is flush with free information, but many times the free information is factually incorrect, which can cost a lot of money to anyone building a business based on such information. The cost is not immediately readily transparent, but eventually it appears. By the time it does many people who lost money from it may not be aware of what happened, as their attention is already elsewhere.
There are a variety of reasons for misinformation to spread
- stale search relevancy algorithms that rank old information because it was published on a leading site in 2001
- intellectual laziness, reductionism, and lack of openness to the experience of others
- affiliate programs and business models rendered useless by marketplace changes, but still profitable because they can be sold at a low price point and have no real costs associated with them
- search engines trying to hide their secret sauce
I thought I would give a few examples of commonly spread misinformation.
There Was No Ranking #6 Penalty / Filter
If you read the comments here you will see how bad I was roasted for suggesting that there was a #6 ranking issue on Google. Matt Cutts stated that he was unaware of such a penalty, and that was the official word until Matt came said they found and fixed the issue.
Where is the harm in that? Well, if you took Google's official word as being accurate, you never had a chance to survey this glitch. Glitches often reveal engineer intent and give you an early warning to make the changes necessary to keep your sites ranking before the new relevancy algorithms launch.
Google Does Not Care About Domain Names or TLDs
Some people believe that domain names and domain extensions do not matter. After seeing Google temporarily drop .info domain names that was a pretty clear indication to me that they did not think as highly about .info names as they do about some other extensions.
For years current and past Google employees have denied that domain names mattered much in the relevancy algorithms, going so far as calling the domain name "a relatively minimal factor" (in 2008 no less).
Matt Cutts eventually confirmed that domain names have value at a domainer conference
Generic domains that users are likely to remember, will indeed carry more weight than others. There is a real value to those FuneralHomes.com for example. Google does give keywords in the URL a certain amount of weight, but you don’t need it in order to rank.
But people still blog discounting it because they have not tested it.
.edu Links do Not Matter Much
Here is a lovely SitePoint forum thread where the moderator claimed I was full of crap and I responded with more background context on his claim. He deleted my post and banned me for life. About 5 months later Matt Cutts confirmed my hypothisis:
But, certainly, all of the things that have good qualities of a link from a .edu or a .gov site, as well as the fact that we hard-code and say: .edu or .gov links are good - and when there are good links, .edu links tend to be a little better on average; they tend to have a little higher PageRank, and they do have this sort of characteristic that we would trust a little more. There is nothing in the algorithm itself, though, that says: oh, .edu - give that link more weight.
But I still have a lifetime ban from the SitePoint forums for being more open-minded and attentive than their SEO moderator is.
Free & Easy is Often Wrong!
The simple / easy answer is often the incorrect answer. Many algorithmic changes (-30, -950, the sandbox effect) are written off as anomalies by many people who do not experience or understand them. But, for the sandbox effect, a couple years ago if you knew that you could create a subdomain off an established site and then later 301 redirect it to a new domain you were able to rank quickly while competitors thought there was a 6 to 12 month wait needed in order to rank.
It is not that forums need to go away, but we need to do more experimenting on our own, and we need to learn who is trustworthy. The web is still a highly inefficient marketplace, but each day it moves a bit closer toward being efficient. Google believes in security through obscurity, so if you have to wait for an official comment by Google then much of the arbitrage opportunity of a technique is already gone!
The 200% to 1,000% year on year ROI you and I currently enjoy will not last forever. Getting correct information early in context helps ensure you have better information than the general public, which should help boost your ROI if you act on it.
Gain a Competitive Advantage Today
Your top competitors have been investing into their marketing strategy for years.
Now you can know exactly where they rank, pick off their best keywords, and track new opportunities as they emerge.
Explore the ranking profile of your competitors in Google and Bing today using SEMrush.
Enter a competing URL below to quickly gain access to their organic & paid search performance history - for free.
See where they rank & beat them!
- Comprehensive competitive data: research performance across organic search, AdWords, Bing ads, video, display ads, and more.
- Compare Across Channels: use someone's AdWords strategy to drive your SEO growth, or use their SEO strategy to invest in paid search.
- Global footprint: Tracks Google results for 120+ million keywords in many languages across 28 markets
- Historical data: since 2009, before Panda and Penguin existed, so you can look for historical penalties and other potential ranking issues.
- Risk-free: Free trial & low price.