Have you read a new article showing new SEO research about why and how a new SEO strategy or trick can boost your rankings? Might want to re-consider those results and conclusions.
SEO is not an exact science. Search engines are applications developed by humans with a monetary profit motive, and therefore, cannot truly be a viable platform for subjective tests. This post will describe why many articles about studies and tests regarding SEO may not be what they seem.
To clarify, this article will not be shitting on keyword research, competitor analysis, link analysis, and other research that is performed for SEO campaigns and strategies. Instead, this article describe why those who are sharing a new “trick,” maybe either be disingenuous or out-right wrong. To double-down on my thesis: You should even be mindful of what you read on this website. I too could be wrong.
Lots of “SEO Research” is Anecdotal Evidence
Deep within the thinly veiled spam, the Black Hat World community will occasionally have an article describing how a user was able to boost their website’s rankings with various tricks. You could replace that forum with many others or any other dime-a-dozen SEO agencies out there. The issue with articles like these are the motives behind these posts are suspect.
First, there is no honor among thieves. I’m not going to say that all users publishing their findings have ill intentions. However, your vibe attracts your tribe. I have little trust in any community that boasts itself has a black hat or even a black-hack collective.
“Evidence” can also be manufactured. Are these users willing to provide access to their analytics and data? Can it be replicated? I’ll get into that more later.
Lastly, these results can be fleeting and short-term. Search engine algorithms are updated constantly, and the technologies behind them evolve.
Scientific Method Is Inapplicable to SEO Research
In order for one to make a conclusion regarding an observation, the test should be have a process that can be replicated. In short, the age-old Scientific Method would need to be applied:
The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.
Since duplicate websites are already considered low-quality, that immediately rules out SEO research.
Additionally, algorithms have updates with minor and major changes throughout the year, both announced and unannounced. This makes it nearly impossible to produce a controlled environment.
Different Industries Have Different SERPs
Ask Google a question about “the best pizza near me” and “what’s this thing on my foot”, the search engine result pages (SERP) will look vastly different. In short, what works for a Dentistry website looking to improve their visibility will differ from a beauty blogger.
Consider your industry and the intent of the user. SEO “tricks” that worked for one industry are not always viable for your industry.
User intent, personalization, and localization are factors. Whether the user is logged into the search engine’s platform, searched for the query before, and where they are located geographically all have factors on a what is displayed in a SERP.
This is where search gets tricky, a website owner might feel as if their efforts are geared toward how the results appear on their own computer.
A search for “the best Pizza near me” will ideally give the user in Tampa, Florida a result closer to Tampa, Florida, than, say, Chicago. However, a search for “best Chicago style pizza near me” from someone in a North Tampa should ideally provide a narrower search as the amount of pizza stores diminish as you move further away from Tampa’s downtown. Although, I’d like to think such a search would lead to a 404 – file not found error – because Chicago-style pizza is trash.
The common advice is pretty simple: be careful what you read. Information is widely available, but just as widely inaccurate.
Foundational SEO strategies such as optimizing meta descriptions, page titles, writing unique and emotion-rich content with keywords, are among the most important aspects.
If you’re ever unsure about an article, pay attention to the urgency of their writing. A wise writer will be cautious and disclose caveats to their process. A fool will make groundless observations.