Free SEO Course Offering Expert Training - Overestimating Domain Authority
If you ever paid for an SEO course run by an expert SEO training you to conquer the Intarweb, you’d be taught what you’ve known all along - that the two major factors Google uses to rank a page are relevance and value.
(Hey, if you decide to skip reading this long-ass free expert seo course training post, please do me a favor and at least read the last two short paragraphs.)
Relevance, How You Build It
For the uninitiated SEO course newbie, relevance is determined in part by what a page claims its about (e.g. page TITLE, on-page text, keywords in domain name, keywords in url) and what other people say its about (anchor text). If a page claims to be about “minestrone soup” but if everybody links to the page with the anchor text “cold pizza bought two days ago”, its not going to rank well for either of those terms. You can’t just claim to be Jimmy Kimmel if you’re calling up Mastercard; you need to prove it (e.g. social security number, driver’s license number, your favorite rock band while sleeping through classes at Ed W. Clark High School). Anchor text verifies who you say you are. Any basic free SEO training course worth its salt will teach you that.
Value, the other side of the Coin
Value, on the other hand, is determined primarily by PageRank. Put simply, Jim Boykin recommending one of your blog posts, for example, is a greater indication of value than some nameless guy on 12lzafksaldf0234.wordpress.org mentioning you.
According to a Google patent filed in 2004 titled Adaptive computation of ranking, calculating relevance is more computationally intensive than calculating value:
One approach to ranking documents involves examining the intrinsic content of each document or the back-link anchor text in parents to each document. This approach can be computationally intensive and often fails to assign highest ranks to the most important documents. Another approach to ranking involves examining the extrinsic relationships between documents, i.e. from the link structure of the directed graph…
Although link-based ranking techniques are improvements over prior techniques, in the case of an extremely large database, such as the World Wide Web which contains billions of pages, the computation of the ranks for all the pages can take considerable time.
That’s one strike against relevance.
Domain Strength Inflates Page Value?
In addition, some SEO experts claim that domain strength adds ranking power to a page. Rand Fishkin recently claimed that migrating (301 redirecting) his Web 2.0 piece from a relatively new domain to a directory under the wings of SEOmoz.org dramatically improved the page’s ranking. His page currently sits at 5th position for “Web 2.0.”
Peter Da Vanzo from V7N published a post today also supporting that claim, citing his recently published piece titled Free SEO Course: What Is Search Marketing?, which currently ranks 7th on Google for the term “seo course”, as evidence.
Peter didn’t mention the fact that his page isn’t unoptimized for the term “SEO course.” He’s got the term “FREE SEO course” in the blog title. He also has “SEO course” embedded in two H tags. There are 7 on-page occurances of the word “course” and 5 occurances of the term “SEO course.” He’s got words “free”, “seo”, “course” in the URL. He also has a couple of other domains (Search Engine Land included) linking to his post using the title, which validates the page’s own assertion as being about “free SEO course.” Finally, there’s an internal link from free SEO Course Part Six:Advanced Tips and Tricks pointing to the first installment of his SEO course series with the anchor text “free SEO course.”
I agree that a page published on a strong domain is likely to be more trusted. A new page on a new domain is like a new kid on the block that needs to pass a few tests before being accepted by the community. But does domain strength improve a page’s value? I’m not too sure.
PageRank per page on a domain with massive IBLs also tend to average out higher. In the Web 2.0 page’s case, Rand claims IBLs remained basically unchanged.
Page Value or Relevance? No-brainer: Be Valuable and Relevant
Many folks shooting down PageRank on forums and attributing power to relevance instead still seem to maintain that both trust and domain authority are important. However, domain authority, trust, and PageRank are metrics of page value, not relevance. Google uses both to rank pages, but which gives you more bang for your buck?
According to this TrustRank paper (PDF), as I posted over on cre8asiteforums, pages with higher PageRank tend to be displayed higher in search results. TrustRank algorithm targets high PageRank spam pages because they are more likely to be seen by users:
For example, say we have four pages p, q, r, and s, whose contents match a given set of query terms equally well [they’re equally relevant]. If the search engine uses PageRank to order the results, the page with highest rank, say p, will be displayed first, followed by the page with next highest rank, say q, and so on. Since it is more likely the user will be interested in pages p and q, as opposed to pages r and s (pages r and s may even appear on later result pages and may not even be seen by the user), it seems more useful to obtain accurate trust scores for pages p and q rather than for r and s.
In other words, theTrustRank paper attributes importance to both relevance and PageRank, where PageRank acts as a tie breaker when pages are equally relevant. How often Google finds equally relevant documents is another question, though. If that scenario seldom comes up, PageRank becomes a non-issue, because there are no ties to break.
But wait a minute - as Mike Grehan points out in his Topic Distillation paper (PDF):
..just because they are relevant doesn’t mean they are the most useful, or for that matter, the most important. Kleinberg himself calls this the “abundance problem” and states that the number of pages that could reasonably be returned as relevant is far too large for a human user to digest.
What You Get from this Free SEO Course Expert Training Post
My SEO blog is invisible compared to blogs like v7n, so if Peter is right, I can’t outrank him just by keyword spamming “seo course” all over this post or by gaining links to this post with “seo course” in the anchor text, because, according to him, “it’s not what you publish, it’s where.”
I disagree. If you’re still reading, please help me prove it. So far, I see 7+ links pointing to Peter’s free seo course post (according to live.com). If I can get at least 8 links pointing to this post with “seo course” somewhere in your anchor text, that should be enough to either prove or disprove my claim that what you publish and what people think of your page is as important if not more than where a page is published.
UPDATE: Red Cardinal left me kinda speechless with a generous post. Also thanks to megabluewave and irelandseomarketing for linking up. (Trackbacks are nofollow-free).
3/24/2007: Hmm, looks like Google dropped this page (guess I tripped a filter); it was ranking 7th for “free seo course” and 19th for “seo course.” But notice now Red Cardinal is ranking 7th for “free seo course” and 15th for “seo course.” :) Is his TBPR 6 home page helping him out? My TBPR 4 blog root is still ranking, but is ranking low, IMO mainly due to lack of keywords in the TITLE.
UPDATE: 4/9/2007. I outrank v7n for both keywords, at least temporarily. Read this for the full update.
UPDATE: I asked some IBLS to be removed, so don’t be surprised to see my site fall back in the SERPs.
P.S. For a stronger counterargument, see Rand’s piece on Parasite Hosting.