4 Reasons Why SEO Blogging Sucks

by Brian Carter September 15th, 2009 

or maybe it's top 3 reasons I suck at SEO blogging… LOL ;-)

I don't blog about SEO much.

Why is that? What's the block? That's what led me to write this post.

I was brainstorming topics for my periodic SEO Scoop post, and I wasn't coming up with much. I was thinking about a lot of things, and they all added up to the big problem with SEO blogging.

1. Why Give Away Your Competitive Advantage?

Hoggheff aka Hank Ashby aka Mr. Freshtags

Don't Speak. Photo by Hoggheff aka Hank Ashby aka Mr. Freshtags

People who know secret tricks don't want to reveal them because in SEO, anything that's widely known is not a competitive advantage. The only motives for revealing these are

  • Vanity ("you're the awesomest SEO expert!";"you got the most sphinns on the most SEO articles all year!") or
  • The benefits of being seen as an expert ("we want you to do our SEO/speak at our conference/make a baby with me").

I can think of two tips off the top of my head I've received in the last month that are making a big difference in our SEO results. If I tell you what they are, I'll lose an advantage. I have no incentive to do that.

2. Theories About What Works in SEO Abound, But Are They Right?

Philosophers. Photo by Helico

Philosophers. Photo by Helico

A lot of people have theories about what works based on their limited, anecdotal experience, and probably aren't thinking scientifically enough to know if they have enough data to be sure something's true. This unfortunately undermines SEOmoz's annual SEO Ranking Factors document, which is nice, but still based on opinion.

Does it matter if 50 recognized experts agree on something if they don't have enough data to know if they're right? It's better than nothing, especially for SEO noobs- it's a great educational tool. But it's also potentially misleading, despite its beautiful graphic design and list of awesome experts. ;-)

I'll admit, I wish I were invited to the SRF table, but on the other hand, I was invited to contribute to David Mihm's Local Search Factors Volume 2, and I only answered the questions for which I'd done research and had data. I didn't feel comfortable spouting off theories not based on statistical analysis. If I did guess, I said I was guessing. I think it's at least as important to disclose why you think something's true, in this kind of situation.

3. Few People Have And Disclose Solid SEO Research

Photo by Erik Charlton

More Data. Photo by Erik Charlton

On the flip side of their annual opinion poll, SEOmoz released a document in June 2009 called SEO Best Practices that is based on data and statistical correlation. Thank you very much. This is a bit more reliable, no?

Data like this may reveal surprising insights like H1's not making much of a difference- and yet, keywords in H1's are the #4 onpage factor in the most recent SEOmoz Search Ranking Factors opinion poll. Who's right? The theorists, or the data analyst?

But again, for SEO blogging, this sucks. How many people have access to that much data? And of that handful, how many are releasing it often? If a research and stats basis was, as it should be, the gold standard for SEO blogging, then we would only see one or two good posts a year.

4. SEO Is Controversial, So Why Bother?

Photo by Scott McLeod

Arguing is Fun. Photo by Scott McLeod

Because of the following…

  • Google keeps the algorithm secret
  • It's possibly too complicated for any one Googler know completely
  • It's a black box
  • The weighting of factors changes
  • We don't know if or to what degree factors are weighted differently by niche
  • There's not enough good data to reverse engineer it…

Because of those things… there are a lot of SEO theories, some of which are wrong. But which ones are wrong?

Some SEO's are more argumentative or loud or have a bigger reputation than others, so they may set the tone. But arguing about SEO is like arguing philosophy- without facts, without a third party knowledge base everyone has access to go back to, there's no way to resolve disagreements. So if it turns out someone had proof that a tenet accepted by the whole community was wrong, they'd be shouted down and branded an idiot or a troll.

When I was in medicine, I read a study that showed that doctors tend to discredit studies that disagree with their beliefs. I'm sure the same thing would happen in the SEO community even if the dissenter had good research to demonstrate their point.

Once any piece of knowledge is known by all SEO's, it's much less of a competitive advantage, and it also becomes gospel. If a contradictory new ideas that worked came along, it might contradict the communal wisdom- not only do you have no incentive to reveal it, but you might not even be believed by those who practice SEO according to the communal fundamentalist approach.

Some people love controversy and attention, so the discussion goes on. I'll admit I do like attention, but I don't like arguing about things we can't go find a solid authority on to settle the debate.

Summary: Who Really Wins in SEO?

Photo by Philo Nordlund

Winners. Photo by Philo Nordlund

In short, SEO blogging sucks because it's mostly ideas, theories, rumors, and possibly even misinformation (if you knew something worked and it was a competitive advantage, would you publicly agree that it doesn't work to ensure fewer people benefited from it?).

The winners in SEO are always those who execute. But the biggest winners execute based on what really works- you only have so much time, and you need to work on the things that make the biggest difference. You find that out by either testing and having enough data, or talking to those who are doing that testing.

Thus, in SEO, both a scientific approach, and good networking make a huge the difference. If you know enough SEO's who are testing, and they trust you, then you're in an inner circle of people in the know, and that gives you a huge competitive advantage.

Don't get me wrong- practicing SEO according to the community's opinion does help, and it will get you results, but once you reach a certain level of competition, it's not enough to win.

Tips:

  1. Start testing your SEO. Approach it as experiments instead of just actions. Looks for results. Learn about statistical confidence so you know when you have enough data to know something for sure.
  2. Network with other SEO's. Best places to do that? Forums and conferences. Meet online, get to know F2F, continue forward with IM and phone.
Brian Carter

CEO of FanReach, Brian Carter has been an Internet Marketer, speaker, and social media trainer since 1999. Brian has been quoted and profiled by Information Week, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine. He is the author of the book How To Get More Facebook fans. He is both an adwords consultant and a facebook consultant. Check out his his free Facebook Marketing 101 course, and the full FanReach Facebook Marketing and Advertising course.

You May Also Like

19 Responses to “4 Reasons Why SEO Blogging Sucks”

  1. Tim says:

    I agree that a lot of SEO is theory because of Google secrets, however it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why sites at the top of Google are actually ranking there.

    There are common patterns amongst top ranking sites that if copied work for any site. The problem we have is many blogs discuss things that they think work but can't show us a site ranking because of it. I read a post recently at the MOZ discussing a link building strategy going very deep into link analysis and aqcuisition. In my opinion there is no need for such complexities, see what the top sites are doing and do it better.

    SEO blogging, in my opinion, is worthwhile as long as examples are used to back up theories and thoughts. No, noone will ever know the full SEO puzzle but that's exactly what makes people want to read about it.

    As far as giving away a competitive edge, how many people do you think implement what they read? I'd say around 5%. I have shown readers endlessly how I rank highly for keywords but I don't see any competition knocking at my door so either they don't believe me or they cannot be bothered putting the work in.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      I think that the part where it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why certain sites rank is what's covered in a lot of SEO blogging.

      Beyond that, there is more — but you'd be insane blogging about it, right? I mean, imagine for a moment you've found a sure fire "secret backdoor" way to get any domain you own ranked for any term … in 72 hours. You're making good money with it too. Now how crazy does one need to be to not figure out that the moment you blog about this "secret backdoor", it's closed right away too?

  2. Sergey Rusak says:

    Tim, you are right. I don't like SEOmoz because they do it too deep. Honestly, it should be more simple. I mean, you don't need PhD to build links, create Facebook / Twitter account, and write unique content for a website.

  3. [...] 4 Reasons Why SEO Blogging Sucks | SEO Scoop  SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "4 Reasons Why SEO Blogging Sucks | SEO Scoop", url: [...]

  4. Tim says:

    Don't get me wrong the SEO tools are second to none and things like domain authoirty and indepth link analysis do have their use, but yes SEO is not rocket science it is knowing the fundamental principles and being creative. Then all you need is commitment and consistency, mix them together with lots of hard work and you can challenge for any keyword. Thats my opinion anyway.

  5. SEO Basics says:

    "see what the top sites are doing and do it better" This is a great motto to have.

  6. Brian Carter says:

    Thanks for saying that Ruud- I was tempted to be a bit more gruff after the first few comments, but figured, hey if they don't get it, why bother?

    I already said it in the article: "Don’t get me wrong- practicing SEO according to the community’s opinion does help, and it will get you results, but once you reach a certain level of competition, it’s not enough to win."

  7. [...] 4 Reasons Why SEO Blogging Sucks, The SEO Scoop [...]

  8. Tim says:

    @Brian

    I guess it depends what you class as "community opinion" if your referring to the old Matt Cutt's "create a great resource/write great content" technique I'm not sure that is the community opinion.

    I have been working on search engine optimisation for years now blackhat/greyhat/buying links/link baiting etc….. I don't think there is a "back door" method.

    I know what it takes to rank sites in the top 5 of google for competitive terms, and I don't particularly have a problem sharing how I did and still do it.

    I guess if I had an easy technique to rank highly quickly and was dominating all my competition with little effort I might keep it a close guarded secret but more out of fear of receiving a Google slap, however I don't know of a technique, SEO is just down right hard graft, well if your going after the high traffic jackpots it is, niche keywords can be dominated in weeks.

  9. Jacob Stoops says:

    I agree, SEO is a difficult topic to blog about. As you said, many SEO articles are written without much statistical research to support the theories. However, this isn't surprising since the whole industry is based around trying to figure out something that is a secret (the algorithm).

    Regarding competitive advantage, I agree that to some degree you may be giving it away by disclosing how to do SEO on your blog. However, many of the people that want to do SEO are small to medium sized biz owners who have little time to do it anyways. Therefore they will pay someone who does have the time. So why not make SEO transparent, so even if they don't have time to do it themselves, at least they will be educated?

  10. [...] Carter wrote a post earlier this week giving four reasons why SEO blogging sucks and why you shouldn’t do it. And the post is filled with the exact same anti- blogging arguments [...]

  11. nomalab says:

    Who wants to blog about SEO anyway? Not the ones who do it, IMHO. Just the wannabees.

  12. The funny thing about SEO is that even if you laid out a step by step plan of exactly what needs to be done on and off a website they still wouldn't really know what to do. Until you get in there and really try it out for yourself and analyze the results it can be hard to understand even with the best laid out plan.

  13. i often find blogs very useful for capturing the long tail search, and have value for this alone if nothing else

  14. [...] My colleague, Brian Carter, may well have been tuning into the same groundswell with his recent post, 4 Reasons Why SEO Blogging Sucks. [...]

  15. Although I love SEO as a concept, I have to admit that the more I read about it, the more mysterious it gets. I absolutely agree with the post as far as not sharing secrets is concerned – who in their right mind do that? On the other hand, there are many people out there searching for hope, so they will read anything you put in front of them.

    Will they do it though? Who knows… Nobody wants to take a chance.

    YourNetBiz attraction marketing blueprint

  16. philosophy says:

    you can just look at google top ten for your niche and research their backlinks, meta tags, permalinks, content, social networking activity, affiliates, theme, post frequency and get lucky.

  17. I appreciate your honesty here. I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing!!

  18. Terry Van Horne says:

    "H1's are the #4 onpage factor in the most recent SEOmoz Search Ranking Factors opinion poll. Who's right? The theorists, or the data analyst?"

    I am convinced the crew at the Moz basically will say anything to get "attention". It has always been a concern of mine since they teach a lot of noobs. This should strike fear into those who may hire them in the future!