Posted by Danny Dover

 In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Danny Dover tries to answer some of the hard questions in SEO. These include; "If you are such a good SEO, why don’t you rank number one for the keyword, SEO?" and "How can you provide advice on SEO if you don’t work for a search engine?". The answers to these and some other doozies are below.

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Video Transcription

Hi, Mozzers. My name is Danny Dover. I work here at SEOmoz doing SEO.
Today, I’m going to try to tackle answering the hard SEO questions. I
don’t have them all on this list, so feel free to ask me other ones below
in the comments. These are the ones that I came up with, so I’m going to
try my best to answer these for you.

Number one. I get this one a lot and it’s kind of awkward. Why don’t you
rank number one for SEO? Right? If I’m in SEO and I’m trying to sell my
services to somebody, why do I not rank number one for the service that I
claim to do? This one is kind of awkward, actually. Right? I probably
should rank number one for one. Awkward turtle, if you’ve ever seen this.
It’s awkward. Okay. The reason, and we’ve talked about this internally at
SEOmoz, the reason we think we don’t rank number one for it is that the
name SEOmoz is being combined when searching to see it, as opposed to Aaron
Wall’s website, SEO Book, has two words that search engines know about, SEO
and book. So he gets credit for both of those every time he gets a link
saying SEO Book, right? Whereas with SEOmoz, we only get credit for the
word SEOmoz.

There’s some other things that go into this as well. QDF algorithm. QDF
is query deserves freshness algorithm, which means new information we’ll
sometimes write at the top. We see this with some smaller companies.
There’s a lot of geolocation stuff that goes on. We’ll rank better in the
United States than we do in the UK, things like that. Frankly, what it
comes down to is that we do not have the best website optimized for just
the term SEO. We’re trying to rank for other things. SEO tools, we’re
trying to rank for learning SEO, that kind of thing. My way to answer this
to potential clients and other people is just be completely honest with
them. Like, "Yeah, we put a lot of thought in this and smart question.
Here’s the reason that we think it was." It was just the stuff that I
covered.

Number two. How can you do SEO if you don’t actually work for a search
engine? This one is similar to the one above. I do not work for Google.
I do not work for Bing. I have never read any of the code that they’ve
written to do their search engine algorithms. But I have put a lot of
thought, and more importantly, and actually the only important part is that
I have practiced this a lot. I have created a lot of websites, and I’ve
changed variables on them to figure out what helps rank better. I’ve also
relied on people who are much smarter than myself, so other SEOs in the
industry. I have kept abreast of the news. So there’s Search Engine Land,
for example. There’s lots of news things where they talk to people who do
work at Google and Bing and get their information about what they’re trying
to spread. I also learn from conferences, and I learn from other people
who are successful at SEO and are willing to share their tactics or their
strategies with me. In those ways, I have been able to learn SEO even
though I don’t work at the search engines.

Number three. Is Company XYZ a Google killer? This comes up, I’d say,
once every other month. So is it Wolfram Alpha or is it Bing or is it
Facebook? Are any of these companies Google killers? The answer I usually
give is, "I don’t know, but probably not." Google’s extremely good at what
it does, being a search engine. Right? The thing that I think eventually
will kill Google will be something that looks absolutely nothing like
Google at all. It’ll be a completely different way of searching the
Internet or maybe searching something else. Right? Maybe more like Star
Trek or Star Wars, where you just talk into thin air and then an answer
comes to you on some beautiful girl on a screen that came out of nothing.
I’m hoping for that to happen soon actually. But what will kill Google? I
don’t know, but I bet it will not look like anything we’ve seen today, my
best guess.

Facebook does have an edge being able to make search results that are very,
very customized to your friends. If I’m looking for what’s the best TV,
I’m going to care about what Best Buy has to say, which is how Google
currently works, right, with these leaders in the industry. But I also
care about what my friends think. Maybe a better example is clothes,
right? What is the best shirt for me to buy? Target might be able to tell
me something or Abercrombie & Fitch or somebody else, but what I really
probably care about is the other people in my social network, what they
think. Facebook has an example there, but we’ll see if they’re a Google
killer. My guess is probably not.

Number four. This one’s tough. Why don’t I just buy links? A lot of
times it’s a lot easier and, quite frankly, buying links in some cases does
work. But when you’re doing that, you’re betting against the very, very
small people at the search engines who are working on algorithms to detect
paid links. So while it can work in some cases, my advice is not to do it
just because it is not a good long-term strategy. I’d much rather use that
same money and buy content or pay writers or pay people who are likely be
able to create links for themselves. This, I just feel, is a much better
long-term strategy. This is what we usually recommend at SEOmoz is not to
buy links but instead put it into other strategies that will work better
long term.

Number five. Danny, will you marry me? No. But if you have a hotter
sister, let me know.

Number six. How do I increase my PageRank? This one I usually break into
two areas. First, I break down PageRank. The PageRank that we normally
see in PageRank toolbar, I just don’t think it’s very helpful at all. The
exception to that is if it’s zero. If it’s zero, it means you have a
penalty or you haven’t been crawled yet. In both those cases, you need to
figure out what’s going on. (Edit: I left out the cases that the page really doesn’t have enough links to round up to PR 1 or that the page PR hasn’t been updated to reflect new links) The other part is how do I increase my
PageRank? If the person asking this question is just really relying on the
fact that PageRank is still important, the way to do it is to get more
links. If they’re going to ask a silly question, it’s okay to give them a
silly answer. The way to increase PageRank, even though in my opinion it’s
not important, is to gain more links.

That’s all the time I got here. I appreciate all of you paying attention.
I will talk to you next week. Thank you very much. Bye.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com


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If you have any other advice that you think is worth sharing, feel free to post it in the comments. This post is very much a work in progress. As always, feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions on how I can make my posts more useful. All of my contact information is available on my SEOmoz profile under Danny. Thanks!

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