6 Things You Don’t Know (but think you know) about SEO

November 30, 2007 - Written by Gyutae Park  

In a popular SEO article that received over 50 votes on Sphinn last week, Vinny Goldsmith outlines 6 things that he knows (thinks he knows) about SEO. However, I felt the need to refute every single one of his points. Who do you think is right?

1. Planning matters, but not as much as you planned on
Obviously planning and researching are very important especially when starting a new site or a new SEO campaign. All of the basics must be taken care of such as by doing keyword research, implementing a search engine friendly site architecture, and creating a themed structure that allows for quality content and high ranking potential. However, planning doesn’t matter as much as you think. In fact, over-planning can choke the SEO potential of a site by limiting options and stifling new ideas. Sometimes if you want to succeed in the search engine rankings, you have to be flexible and spontaneous by making changes according to the latest trends. Ranking algorithms change so frequently that a predefined plan for SEO (other than for the fundamentals) can actually be detrimental to a campaign. Loosen up a little.

2. Text is king… but new ideas are gods
It’s common SEO knowledge that text is what’s best for the search engines. A site done entirely in Flash is going to have a hard time ranking for any related keywords. However, saying that text is king is extremely short sighted. Text is not worthy of such a title. For example, I can fill a site with text like “asdf asdfasdfasdf” and rank #1 for “asdf”. In this case, text is still king – king of crap that is. Text by itself is worth nothing. Rather, it’s the ideas that the text represents that make it worthwhile and valuable. In fact, many spam sites use whatever text they can find in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. Text is just a means to a greater end. Without ideas, text by itself means nothing even for search engines as they progressively become more advanced.

3. Content IS everything
Come on now, what did I just say in point #2? Of course, there is more to a site than just its content including site design, usability, and links. However, content comes first and given that the content is of high quality, the links will flow naturally shortly thereafter. Unless you pay for it, you can’t have links without the content, but the content by itself has the potential to get you a ton of links.

4. Google IS everybody, and their dogs too
Who said Google isn’t everybody? Google IS everybody. In a few years, Google will be your mom, your dad, your school teacher, heck maybe even your dog. Google has a stronghold on search with close to 70% market share and is now dabbling and in some cases even dominating new industries like social media, the mobile Internet, online advertising, and e-commerce. The recent hysteria on paid links goes to show you how much Google actually controls the search industry. Google simply has too large a market share to not optimize your sites for. In most cases optimizing for Google will also optimize you for Yahoo and MSN. But if not, then I wouldn’t risk rankings in Google to try and satisfy the less advanced search engines.

5. Don’t update too regularly. Patience is overrated.
Fresh content is definitely a necessity for high search rankings. However, I’ve seen a lot of sites publishing content just for the sake of publishing new content. Poor content that is rushed can damage your site’s brand and will turn visitors away. A posting schedule is great, but make sure it is reasonable and allows you enough time to create quality content that is valuable for the end user. If you’re going to sacrifice quality, then don’t update regularly.

Furthermore, patience in SEO is overrated. Most people think that if they implement a change on their website and then wait, and wait, and wait, they are entitled to higher rankings and increased search engine visibility. Sure, patience is a good virtue to have but it doesn’t mean you can be stagnant if you want to see results. There’s always something to do to improve your site’s SEO and rankings.

6. You can always stop. Quitters can be winners too.
In fact, just stop now. That means less competition for me. Vinny says that you “can’t ever stop doing SEO” even when you reach a #1 ranking. While I partially agree with this view, there comes a point in time when sometimes the best thing to do in an SEO campaign is to just stop. Trying to rank #1 in Google for ‘mortgage’ with a brand new site and a $5 budget? Yeah… I think it’s safe to say that you should just stop. You have to know how to realistically analyze a situation and cut your losses if need be. You may be a quitter, but you’re a winner for quitting.

And that is what you DON’T know about SEO.

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34 Responses to “6 Things You Don’t Know (but think you know) about SEO”

ninja.s on November 30th, 2007 Subscribed to comments via email

Nice contrast of the other post. I’m sorta in the middle of you guys 🙂 Except for number 6. Great post, though.

Gab Goldenberg on December 1st, 2007

I have to agree with Vin, personally, on the content part. There was a Dilbert cartoon that went popular on Sphinn from User Effect but I can’t find it. Long story short: marketing, infrastructure, usability, security, etc etc all think they’re the most important. But grey matter can’t piss, your teeth can’t think and the bottom line is that there is no kind.

Gab Goldenberg on December 1st, 2007

The point of the above being that good content without the right promo is useless, and I’m a fairly good case in point (if I can be so humble 😉 ).

Gyutae Park on December 3rd, 2007

@Gab Goldenberg
I agree with you that good content still needs the right promo if it’s going to get the attention it deserves. However, I still think that content is more important than promotion in the long run. Promoting a subpar product is only going to get you so far. Having a great product can still take off virally on its own without any kind of promotion.

Obviously having both good content and good promotion is optimal. But if I had to pick one or the other, I’d take content over promotion any day.

JR @ Verizon Ringtones on October 19th, 2008

I totally agree with you Gyutae, content supports promotion, content is the chicken and link building is the egg, quality content, especially on blogs is the only way to long term success.

jblu on December 3rd, 2007

I agree with having to pay homage to the insatiable Google gods. Google makes up for 90% of my SE traffic.

BillinDetroit on July 1st, 2008

This is what my logs (AWSTATS) show for June:
– Windows Live 382 382
– Stumbleupon (Social Bookmark) 220 293
– Google (Images) 167 169
– Google 162 164
– Yahoo! 13 13
– MSN Search 5 5
– Ask 3 3
– Unknown search engines 2 2
– AOL 1 1
– Google (cache) 0 50

For July, so far it’s Windows Live = 12, Google = 1.

That may change because I am now using Ubuntu (I have HAD IT with Windows!) so I’m not posting from Windows Live Writer any more. (BTW … WLW is an excellent program … it just runs on a crappy OS. If it EVER ports to Linux, count me in again. In the meantime, I’m looking for suggestions for blog editors that run on Linux.)

Look for a ping from me later today. I think that this post is worth linking to.

McBilly on December 3rd, 2007

Haha. Good rebuttal Gyutae. I definitely agree with Content IS King. The link strategy can only get you so much. Plus what’s the use of traffic if the readers don’t come back for more, right? 😀

Gab Goldenberg on December 3rd, 2007

Having a great product can still take off virally on its own without any kind of promotion.

Provided you have the people who will promote it for you virally already paying attention. In which case you did earlier promotion. I could post something to my blog and get little response. With the same thing on Youmoz it could easily take off because of Youmoz’s readership. Where’s the readership from? Earlier promotion…

Nick on December 6th, 2007

Great post! I hope you do a post about the mysteries of Google’s Supplemental Index and how to get out of it! 🙂

Jerlene on December 9th, 2007 Subscribed to comments via email

I never plan anything about SEO, yet I do pretty well. Occasionally, I fall but I always pick myself up quick.
Text is more like knight, especially with forums, which are constantly changing it’s content/text.
When I stopped bothering with everything SEO, my site did so well and I brought in a ton more traffic, majority from Google.

hts on December 9th, 2007

While SEO is very important for a site and an optimised site usually brings traffic, it should be noted that the social networks and sites gain power in this field. Get on the frontpage of digg and you’ll get a rush of 50-100k+ visitors in one or two days, consequently followed by few hundred-thousands per day in the next days, usually from other sites that linked to the digg story.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is not that we should “give up” optimising our sites for SE. Not at all – just that social sites should be taken into consideration 🙂

Rome on December 10th, 2007 Subscribed to comments via email

This is really true. You get sucked into SEO and there is no way out of it. It gives you a drive to always do better even if you are already the best. In this case ranking 1st in your keyword. This is nice because there is always the competition and they would be more than happy to take that place from you if you show a little leniency.

Jerlene on December 18th, 2007

Yah, I got on the front page of Digg and my server crashed and my site got shut down.:(


I definitely agree with point 5. poor posts are detrimental your your success.

Crystal on March 15th, 2008

I seriously resent/admire #4. I have this love-hate relationship with google XD

Irish on April 3rd, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Same as Living Off Dividends & Passive Income, I am impressed with point number 5…Many times I visit blogs which contain some short post with very less meaning and benefits. Of course it will affect the readers interest to return.

Dr. Teeth on April 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

We really know these but kinda forget to implement everytime.
Thanks for the post, at least we will remember this to keep updated.


Haha, i love number 6.

SEO Stuart on October 13th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Gyutae you make a great point in number 1, a predefined plan for SEO fundamentals in every campaign is definitely essential but like you say factors can and do change frequently so being flexible with future SEO trends is also essential. Great post.

nexotiz on November 10th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Never stop SEO.. even we get number 1 in google search results for certain keyword. So we must fight again for another keywords? or we want to be number 0?

Montres Casio on November 24th, 2008

I’m not so sure about point #1. I tend to come out with a plan and stick to the plan. Changing the plan too often might not be a good thing in any business.

Erwin Tan on December 10th, 2008

Great post.. Totally agree on the 5th tip.

Good things are worth the waiting..

Passive Income Ideas on January 1st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

When I was writing my link building post series I used to say that good content is king only if it brings in loads of backlinks. So I agree that by itself it is not good enough. I liked what you wrote about don’t update regularly. In fact many people may have gotten the wrong idea that writing daily is good. Well it’s good if you can also ensure good quality. So I’m not sure if everybody has benefited from 30 day challenges i.e. writing a post a day.

Peter Lee

Aggressive Dog Behavior on January 18th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Nice points. I’ve just begun my journey with SEO, so this post really helps! Thanks.

pravakar on February 15th, 2010

This is one of the most useful post, it should be necessary to know every SEO guy before starting SEO work.

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