SEO – The Web’s Cargo Cult

I’ve been dealing a bit in the last couple of months with some SEO related issues: several of my company’s clients have wanted us to provide a complementary service where we use our knowledge of their content to provide an internal page map for the purpose of Search Engine Optimization.

The problem is, that no two “SEO Consultants” will agree on how to best present such links(1) for Google’s consumption – everyone has their own wacky idea on what links will be harvested by a search engine and the kinds of magic that Google can weave to ignore “bad links” – this is all reminding me of some strange cargo cult.

No one (outside of Google) really knows how exactly page ranking works and how links in one page affect that page’s standing in Google’s search results, or how they affect the pages linked (I expect that even people in Google cannot predict exactly how adding such links will affect a certain page), this results in the most bizarre rituals known to man (or to techies anyway) – SEO is a kind of voodoo based in imitation and not on research:

Some guy somewhere put some links on his page somehow, and later he got better search results locations. We assume that it meant something, so we will try to do the same. The best one I heard so far, is that links in some page only affect the search ranking if they are also visible to the viewer (and no method of making then inaccessible will work – they have to be clickable to the user) but putting them inside a box that is only displayed when the user clicks on a button, is OK. Trying to figure out the logic that emits such a conclusion is mind boggling!

As I always do, googling a bit for SEO cargo cultisms I found this insightful tidbit at Kung fo grippe which I will quote here instead of coming up with my own anecdote:

Most SEOs are making headphones out of coconuts, hoping it brings traffic, and then wondering why the gods are so angry at them. They never get that the headphones probably aren’t hooked up to anything but their make-believe radio.


  1. Which brings to mind Arthur C. Clarke’s 4th law: “For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.” []

2 Responses to “SEO – The Web’s Cargo Cult”

  1. miami seo specialist:

    Local SEO question-is it needed to contain the city identify inside your key terms?

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