Pretty Spam Sites

Numerous search information outlets have been recounting over the last several months that Google’s search results seem to have hit some sort of brick wall in terms of spam. Matt Cutts recently rebutted these claims in a recent article on the official Google blog, pointing out that “Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness”. Search engine marketers should really take a look at that last sentence carefully. Notice that Matt does not say there is “less spam than ever before”, rather that relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness are greater than ever before. Ultimately, Google is interested in the user. The overwhelming majority of Google users will never check...

Putting Social Media for SEO Back in Its Place

SEOMoz’s recent social media SEO piece is is informative and worth reading, but please don’t forget priorities. I dropped a simple link in the sidebar with the correct anchor text and within 24 hours the #2 listing (Ciplex.com) is outranking SEOMoz. See here. A screenshot is here. While Social Media can be a valuable part of your SEO strategy (hell, get every link you can get), don’t rely upon it. Your smarter competitors certainly wont. No tags for this...

New Tool: LDA Content Optimizer

After much hullabaloo and disagreement regarding SEOMoz’s studies into the relationship between the topic modeling concept of Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) and rankings, the dust has settled and we can start talking about what does this mean for me as a webmaster. Our own studies indicated that there is a relationship between LDA Cosine values and ranking especially among long-tail keywords. I don’t pretend to know what this means exactly, but I do know how to boost LDA scores. And if the two are correlated – LDA and Ranking – it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do so. So, without any further adieu, I would like to introduce the new Virante LDA Content Optimizer. Essentially, the tool finds keywords that you should include in your...

Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) Correlations Clarified

Upon SEOMoz’s announcement regarding the relationship between LDA Cosine values and Google search rankings, I immediately had reservations about the way that many individuals in the community were reading the results. Admittedly, Rand and Ben have been careful about taking some of these observations with a grain of salt, making it clear to state that by no means does LDA represent the majority of Google’s ranking algorithm. That being said, I took special interest because, like many other SEO’s who work in competitive spaces, I have long regarded on-page factors as being only valuable for long-tail searches. My first and primary concern was that because SEOMoz’s team was looking at a large keyword set without regard to competitiveness,...

Thoughts on Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) and Search

First off, kudos to the SEOMoz team, and specifically, Ben Hendrickson for their stunning study and continued focus on building a data and research-driven approach to SEO. That being said, I feel like some grains of salt need to be thrown into this recent study regarding the recent study regarding the relationship between LDA (topic modeling) and search rankings. To begin, let’s make it clear that it is generally accepted that a good portion of the search algorithm is textual relevance. Similarly, it would not be unreasonable to believe that Google uses just a few sophisticated mathematical tools to accomplish this relevance measurement, making it the easiest to discern and most singularly shocking. Whenever someone struck upon the meat of this part of the...

Controlled Experimentation + Correlation Data Gives Solid Evidence

I am always excited to hear that our internal testing using controlled experimentation matches up with that of those doing correlation studies, like the great work coming out of SEOMoz. Most recently, Rand Fishkin posted a great piece on correlations between numerous ranking factors and outcomes in both Google and Bing. One of the more “surprising” pieces of data revealed in this correlation study was the relationship between the .org extension vs. .net/com/gov/etc. It seems that in both Bing and Google, there is a slight bias towards the .org TLD. Interestingly, back in 2008 before SEOMoz had built such a great data set to perform correlation studies like this, we created a controlled experiment to look at potential Top Level Domain Analysis. We...