Itamar Blauer joins the SEO Rant Podcast to discuss common-sense SEO:
Link building and common sense
Content creation and common sense
Data for SEO and common sense
Like life, SEO demands just a wee bit of common sense. While you would think certain things are obvious, they are not. To this day there are so many mindboggling bad SEO practices that people still hold onto for some reason. This, despite the fact that they fly smack in the face of all that is intelligent and reasonable.
Itamar Blauer joined me to bitch and moan about the lack of common sense in some SEO practices.
Here's a summary of what we talked about.
Common Sense and SEO
Common sense is a tricky thing. What might seem to be obviously logical is not as such upon digging a bit deeper. That said, there is something to the notion of combining the obvious or the more well-known aspects of SEO together to form one "common sense." There are things that upon being in the industry for even just a short while that should be readily apparent.
Often as SEOs we often ignore the readily apparent and it's a bit of a problem.
Let's dive in.
Link Building and Common Sense
Should a link be topically relevant to your site? Seems like a no-brainer. Yet, for some reason, this idea of the quantity versus the quality of links is still very pervasive. What makes this so hard to understand is we certainly look at the quality of links when we receive them without asking for them.
Should a scammy financial site or some sort of porn site link to us we're quick to scream bloody murder and hit the ol' disavow button. Yet, ironically, when we do our link outreach we're less concerned about the quality of the site and its relevance. Mass emails, quick wins, whatever it takes to build the backlink profile of a site. But that's obviously inconsistent with how we think of things... at best.
To think that Google, who can clearly understand content relevancy is not looking at link relevancy is unfounded in every sense. What do you really think is happening, Google is just counting the number of links? To say that, and at the same time see Google talk about automatically discerning spammy links without it ever counting towards your profile is outlandish.
It goes against all common sense.
Content Creation, SEO, and Common Sense
You created crap content and you still think it should rank? Why? First off, why are you creating crap content? How is that helpful to anyone? Moreover, why do you think thin and low-quality content should rank? For what reason? Why are you surprised that irrelevant, unhelpful content that lacks substance isn't ranking?
Why are we spending so much debating E-A-T and its existence when we could actually be creating good content? OK, let's assume Google isn't somehow simulating E-A-T into the algorithm... do you not think you should create good content? What is good content if not aligned to the ideas behind E-A-T? Why do we spend so much time debating what Google is doing in the algorithm and no time actually creating good content?
Doesn't that seem kind of obvious?
SEO Data and the Complete Lack of Common Sense
Data is not all-knowing. Data has limitations. Data has to be used a certain way. Data needs to be qualified. Guess what? This applies to SEO data as well. No metric or piece of data is absolute. It has to be understood in terms of when and where it best applies. That's because all data, inherently, has limitations. Limitation? Yeah, haven't you ever read a doctorate thesis or something from a professional journal? Don't you see the first thing they start off with is... the limitations of the data?!
You know why? Because it makes sense. Because they're not worried about the optics of the word "limitations" and how it will look to their readers or how it will impact their marketing.
You can't understand data without understanding its limitation. This is not up for argument. It's a damn fact.
Even analytics data. It points to something. You have to think about it. You have to understand how to best apply it. Or take data from third-party tools. People take it like it should be the gospel and are insulated when it's not. But it was never supposed to be. The data provided is the best estimation based on a given formula. Is it worthless because it's not exact? Of course not! Why would it be? It was never meant to be. It's meant to provide you with a "picture" of what's happening. It's on you to qualify it and use it correctly.
You have to apply a degree of common sense to how you view and relate to data within the SEO sphere just as you do in any other arena!
You Have to Critically Think About SEO
How do you avoid the pitfalls that come with a lack of SEO common sense? The problem is that there is so much SEO advice out there and so much of it is superficial. The abundance of listical content (among other things) around SEO produces an environment that lacks critical thinking.
SEO is conceptual. That means you have to have a theoretical approach to SEO to some degree. Without it, you won't know when to apply what tactics. If you don't have an underlying understanding of SEO all you'll end up doing is following a checklist. The result of that is a superficial approach to SEO that doesn't consider why things work.
A good example of this is how E-A-T has become all about things like author bios. E-A-T is fundamentally a concept. If you don't understand it as such you'll spend all of your time on silly little things that might have some impact but completely miss the point of E-A-T, which is the creation of substantial content.
Or take ranking factors. We spend all of our time worrying about this factor and that factor when instead it's more valuable to understand what Google is trying to achieve with those factors and "optimize" for that. But again, that's a more conceptual way of thinking about SEO.
Common sense SEO is built on being able to maneuver correctly. The only way you can know what does and doesn't make sense is by having just a bit of conceptual SEO knowledge. Otherwise, you're forced to rely on listical content and checklists for answers and that whole approach is fundamentally flawed.