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Credibility is more Important than On-Page Optimization

Trust - A Key factor of Search Ranking This morning when I saw an article submitted by QualityGal at Sphinn which made to the Front Page. I wanted to write a comment on it, but as my comment became big I thought maybe I should just post it in my blog so that everyone can read.

So long story short – Ragan Communications, a PR & Marketing firm recently covered a presentation done by John Spagnuolo about “SEO” in general. The reason the I’m linking to a cached page of Google, is because the actual article has been ‘moved’ and has been added under Ragan Select (Where readers need to pay a Membership of $279/year to read the content). This is what I hate about PR companies, they just can’t deal with a criticism can they? Instead of any ‘protest’ or ‘debate’ they just prefer to ‘hide’ under the table.

But anyway, If you think I’m going to bash Ragan just like how Jack Leblond did on his article, questioning the credibility of the company — then you are wrong.

Let me start by saying that with all due respect, I completely disagree with Jack Leblond on this one. I think whatever advice John gave away on the article were all valid and the reporter Michael Sebastian also did a good job in covering it.

Regan is not a SEO Company. As far as I can tell they don’t provide any “seo services”, they are just a marketing/PR firm. So I don’t think it is wise to question their credibility here, because the article that they delivered for their readers were accurate and its indeed some of the best practices that any new website show follow. Now whether or not they follow those ‘mentioned steps’ on their own website certainly should not involve their ‘credibility’.

Code Bloat

Many of the on page factors that Jack highlighted has very less or ‘no’ importance in search ranking today. For instance, Jack mentioned ‘code bloat’ and how Regan has so many javascripts, internal css codes above the content. But Google along with other search engines at 2008 are very smart and can distinguish between javascript, css, flash, video and the text content. And since Regan are ranking OK for their pages, why should they even bother changing that ? Have you ever looked at CNN or Dell? They also have a lot of so called code bloat, but aren’t they ranking well in the SERP?

Yes, I agree that if content is first sourced it definitely helps the crawler to get all your content first before it see’s anything else. However having said that, for a mid-scale site like Ragan I don’t think this is a big issue.

Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords have been dead for a long time (R.I.P). It was not mentioned in the article. And the meta keywords that Jack referred to in Regan’s site are probably auto generated by their CMS. Since search engines became smarter and they dont’ really want you to tell them what keywords your page is related to, I don’t think putting anything in the meta keywords is an issue. Certainly those keywords are not helping them, but its not doing any harm too. What John suggests in the articles are all valid points – content is king, have your keywords in side your title/content etc.

Stuffing Keywords in Alt Tags

Alt Tag for Images are basically needed for two main reasons – 1) So that the search engines can find your image via the image search, 2) User Friendliness – Browsers which can’t display images should be able to display the text to the user.

Over-optimizing and stuffing keywords in ur images is not really going to help Ragan or anybody else :)

Page URL Structure

Search engines are getting better at crawling dynamic URLs. Ragan has over 4k+ pages indexed in Google so I don’t think they have any problem with that.

Many big websites are still doing well, even after having 8-12 parameters in their URL.

Page Title

I agree that Regan can probably do better in their titles. But I have seen a lot worse than that. Its all a matter of ‘personal’ preference. For example, some companies, prefer to have their “Brand Name” on every page title because of branding purpose. So not everything done ‘on the page’ are for SEO purpose.

What to take away from this article?

You need to really focus on building the trust of the search engines first. Once you have built that trust & credibility, you can climb your way up in the rankings and sort of ignore the ‘little things’ as long as it doesn’t give user any bad experience. None of the things that were highlighted by Jack has anything to do with User Experience. They were all meant and targeted for the search engines.

Once you site reaches a substantial level, it sort of the Search Engine’s Job to crawl you site properly. Google itself is nothing. What makes Google useful and valuable is their search results (relevant pages/sites). Now if they fail to actually crawl sites and give their users what they want, Its Google’s failure ultimately.

Suppose the top 100 News sites (on all topics) team up and decide that they will stop using “Title Tag” and use something else. Do you think Google will stop crawling or ranking those sites? Google will soon have to adapt to that change and the demand of the users.

So many websites doesn’t have “Meta Description” tags but still Google Manages to show the generated snippets of those site in their results page. Images without alt tags are still showed in Image Search based on the texts around the Image or the file name of the image.

What does this show? When ‘not enough’ people are following something, search engines always came out with an alternative way of handling it for their OWN Sake! Because without the search results they are not even worth a penny.

Best practices are ‘best practices’ for the mass market, but that doesn’t mean every single one has to follow those ‘best practices’ at every level. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, the game has certainly changed over the years. Now we have Universal Search, Localized Search, Personalized Search blended inside the traditional 10 plain links. So companies needs more than just “On Page Optimization”. Ultimately Your site’s credibility and trust is the most important factor in today’s ranking.

Disclaimer: I have absolutely No affiliation with Ragan or the writer of the original article.


  • Reply Jack Leblond |

    Actually – you agree with me, at least partially. You may have missed this line in my article

    “Michael’s summary was well-written and John’s suggestions, aside from implying Web teams are slow and difficult to work with, were accurate.”

    I like Ragan and have attended their conferences. I have no issue with them or John. My issue is with the way their site is configured. Perhaps it’s run by some of the “difficult” web people that John alludes too. ;-D

  • Reply SEO company |

    SEO techniques are used to optimize a website and its content so that search engines will index it and list it in search results when a user types in keywords that relate to the products or services offered by the website. Thank you

  • Reply Saad |

    @Jack Leblond – Hay Jack. Thanks for dropping by. Well I disagree with you on these parts:

    1. How many SEO rules can one article break? — IMO, that article isn’t breaking any. There is no hard core rules of SEO. Yes I agree that there are many best practices, however that doesn’t really apply to all websites and in all scenario. This whole article is about why your site’s trust/credibility has higher importance than the simple ‘on-page optimization’ when it comes to ranking.

    2. You wrote in the end – “I’ll end my article where Ragan started theirs, with credibility. John and Michael discussed a few ways your site can lose credibility. I think they actually showed us a better way.” —

    Here I disagree Again. You are indicating that Ragan has lost credibility because of posting this article and not following it themselves. But i believe this is simply not true. Things that matter to your or important for your site may not be of the same value for another site.

    Ragan is not a new, they have over 20,000 back links with over 4.5k pages indexed by Google. They have already built good credibility and trust with the engines which explains their rankings.

    Obviously they can improve on that and further advance on it, but I just find it weird if you question their credibility just because they didn’t use some meta tags and other on-page things properly.

  • Reply p@r@noid |

    Great article.
    @ money money Using category and post title is said to be best method of SEO.

    I wish if I can do the same after 301 permanent redirection :(.
    I’m not very sure but I think there is a plugin which redirect your permalinks.

    Saad do you have any idea about it??

So, what do you think ?