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Learning SEO: Gleaning Knowledge

As an aspiring SEO Technician, I have inevitably been asking a lot of questions over the last year. It occurred to me that this would be a great thing to blog about. I will be discussing the different techniques that I am using to learn the SEO trade and will talk about the different resources or hurdles I have come across (and hopefully overcome) in doing so. This is my first installment of Learning SEO: Gleaning Knowledge.

When I first got in to SEO, the one question I seemed to find myself asking repeatedly is: “How do I keep up to date with changing SEO practices, trends and news?”.

After speaking with my coworkers as to what sites they used to stay updated, it occurred to me that others were probably wondering the same thing I was. I came to the conclusion that a list of noteworthy SEO blog/news sites might make for a helpful resource for others.

Some of these sites may seem obvious to any of those that have been in the industry for any length of time. To the aspiring SEO tech, these links should prove to be a valuable resource as well as introducing you to a few of the leading players in the SEO industry.

Here is my “SSSS” (Super-Seven-Seo-Sites):

Good general internet/seo information site. A great resource for article distribution (more on articles in another post).

Home to SEO Guru Rand Fishkin. This site has proven invaluable for their high quality blogs, learning resources and seo tools. Whiteboard Fridays ( ) are always a favourite.

Search Engine Roundtable
They report on the most interesting threads taking place at the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) forums.

Search Brains
Pulls in news from many sources. They also have an RSS feed to really get seo news updates in realtime.

Search Engine Journal
Established in 2003, SEJ specializes in a community approach to the reporting of search engine news & the sharing of Search Engine Marketing knowledge & tactics.

Search Engine Watch
A popular site with great tips on Internet Searches & SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), seo analysis and optimization.

Graywolf’s SEO
Home to the legendary one-man wolf-pack, Michael Gray. He has been involved in web development and website management in 1998 and his site is an incredible wealth of information for anyone in any internet related industry.

My suggestion is to start with just a few blog/news sites. It is easy to get “blogged” down by the mass of available information, articles and news topics being discussed. As I found out, reading any one post invariably leads you down many posts. I found that by spending about 15 minutes every morning perusing the headlines is a good way to stay in the loop. In no time you will become well versed in the trends, news and players associated with SEO.

Remember to talk to your coworkers too. They have been in the industry longer and will assuredly have some gained some good wisdom. My mantra? – “Be like a sponge”. Be open to any useful information colleges have to share and glean everything you can from them.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:09 pm on July 12, 2010


SEO Guarantees Should Not Exist … Really?

An SEO I generally respect recently published a post on their blog titled, “SEO Guarantees Should Not Exist”.  Of course I felt the need to reply to this statement and the rational behind it.  First – let’s read the original post.  You can do so at  OK – now that you’re done reading, here is my reply to Nick. :)

Hey Nick.

Got your post sent to me in your newsletter and of course had to respond (Note to Beanstalk’s blog readers: incidentally the newsletter is worth subscribing to as generally I find Nick’s comments to be worthwhile and while I may disagree with him from time-to-time; he’s a solid SEO with some great advice).  Not to argue the point on guarantees (as that could be done ad nauseam and neither side is going to agree with the other) I do have to point out two fundamental flaws with your post.

You quote Google with the following Q&A:

Q – “Should I believe SEO agencies that promise to make my site rank first in Google in a few months and with a precise number of links?”
A – Official Google Answer: No one can make that promise; therefore the short answer is no, you should not.”

Stating that one cannot guarantee #1 is very different that guaranteeing top 10 or 20.  This logic is flawed as it uses one statement to prove a completely different argument.  I’m sure there are many companies offering guarantees that would agree that they cannot guarantee #1 and thus – they too would agree with Google but not with your post.

Inherently I also have to disagree with the following statement:

“Rankings in general as a measurement for SEO is an old flawed metric”

Everyone is going to agree that there are other metrics BUT when it comes to SEO (and I’m talking pure SEO as defined by as “The process of choosing targeted keywords and keyword phrases related to a Web site so the site will rank high when those terms are part of a Web search”) rankings are the measurement.

Now – once you have the rankings (i.e. once your site is in front of people’s eyeballs) then yes – we need to look at ways to increase clickthrough rates of the site when it does appear and yes, we need to look at traffic and look for ways to improve conversions BUT this is not SEO.  SEO is the ranking of the site in the organic results and to not make measuring those rankings the core metric is just downright silly.  This is like saying, ” The purpose of the Olympics is to rank athletes but heck, isn’t their personal health the real measure?  Let’s just judge them by how long they live.”  I think we can all agreement that that would be a very unpopular decision and rightfully so – it’s measuring the wrong thing.

Since pure SEO is the determining of appropriate keywords and then the ranking of them – rankings aren’t just a metric – they’re the metric.  Once attained we get into the myriad of other metric and let’s be clear – the real purpose of website promotion is the business that it generates and SEO is a piece of that.  It’s important to followup the SEO process with clickthrough rate optimization and analytics and testing when applicable but SEO, pure SEO, is about rankings.  It’s step one and rankings are the measurements.  To not use them is a disservice to the client and distorts what SEO really is.

Past his however let’s be clear, guarantees can be misleading and rankings aren’t the whole story – I’ve seen sites rank well and perform poorly and vice-versa and I hold not ill-will to Nick – there’s a reason that I’m subscribed to his newsletter and obviously read it but if you’re ever told not to take ranking or that they’re irrelevant – you’re being mislead.  It’s not field of dreams, first you need to get in front of the visitor with rankings – then tweak that content to maximize the effectiveness of them.

As an aside, you may rank for phrases you weren’t targeting, this is part of the SEO process as well when done correctly but rankings fo phrases you’re not tracking isn’t the same as not needing to track the phrases you’re targeting. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 5:49 pm on May 19, 2010

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