Semantic SEO: A Frothy Romp

November 6, 2018

Someone spent a long, long time assembling the information included in “Using Topic Modelling to Win Big with NLP and Semantic Search.” [The original spells “modelling” with two Ls. I have changed the spelling in my write up.] I am not exactly sure what “semantic search” means. I have a glimmer of understanding about natural language processing. Whether it works as one assumes is, of course, another thing entirely. The idea of “topic modeling” is new. “Models” I get. Topic modeling, not so much. My thought is that the phrase means indexing and categorization. But?

The slide deck covers quite a bit of ground in the Microsoft / LinkedIn / Slideshare document. The lingo in the document includes a bountiful gathering of buzzwords.Also, there’s an equation, although, I am not certain it clarifies. Could it be that its inclusion is intended to add some mathiness to the confection?

Here you go. Channel your inner Leibnitz with an intuitive view:


Remarkable what SEO experts can assemble.

Stephen E Arnold, November 6, 2018


Up Your Irrelevance Game. Sorry, SEO Game

October 8, 2018

Can your business save money by doing SEO itself? It’s the question that so many business owners have asked but may have been too afraid to act upon. However, it might be time to give it a shot, if you are willing to work on a steep learning curve. That was the confidence we walked away with after reading the recent Search Engine Journal story “What to Do When Things Go Wrong in SEO.”

Two tips that stood out to us revolved around what to do when your SEO isn’t working. Here are good places to consider:

  • Paid Links: Any form of payment is considered a problem by Google. If you’re buying ads and getting links to your site in return, the best policy is to implement a “nofollow” attribute on those links so Google won’t think you’re trying to spam their search results.
  • Web Directories: These are sites that organize websites into hierarchical directories, and these are largely useless today.

Seems simple, right?

While you might have to struggle through some trial and error to get a footing, it’s not out of anyone’s reach. In fact, lots of people are taking the reins of their own marketing and SEO. We vote that you should try. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work; Google penalizes you; you lose revenue; and you hire an expert or buy Google ads. Efficient.

Patrick Roland, October  8, 2018

Musicians And Small Business Can Influence Google Search

June 8, 2018

One of the problems with being a musicians is building and growing a fan base. The only way to grow a fan base is to get your name out there. Other than playing gigs, distributing music online is the best way, then musicians face the problem of getting their content to appear in search results. Search Engine Journal reports that, “Google Allows Musicians To Post Directly To Search Results” that could be a new benefit for the budding superstar.

Using the Google Posts, musicians and small businesses can publish short updates that will appear at the top of Google search results. This feature was first developed for musicians in pop and electronic dance music genres, but now it is widely available to all musicians and it is accessible through the Knowledge Panel.

Here is how it works:

“Updates from musicians will appear within their respective Knowledge Panel, which typically shows up when the artist’s name is searched for specifically. Musicians will be able to publish text, images, videos, and GIFs. A blue checkmark will indicate when the updates are from a verified musician. This feature is now live in Google search results worldwide.”

Being at the top of Google search results is a boon for small businesses and budding musicians. It will attract more customers and people to a growing fan base.

Whitney Grace, June 8, 2018

Want Mobile Traffic? New Tactics May Be Needed

May 30, 2018

I read “Mobile Direct Traffic Eclipses Facebook.” Like any research, I like to know the size of the sample, the methodology, and the “shaping” which the researchers bring to the project. To answer these questions, one must see other sources cited in the write up, including Nieman Lab, which appears to be recycling Chartbeat data. In short, I don’t know much about the research design or other aspects of the research.

Nevertheless, I noted a handful of statements or “facts” which on the surface struck me as interesting. The study data appear to support the assertion that “mobile does not equal social”.

First, the study reports that “mobile direct to traffic has surpassed Facebook.” I think this means that if those in the sample use a mobile device, some of those users use an app or a browser to go directly to a site. At first glance, Facebook seems to be a major player but it is, according to the survey, trending down from being the gateway to information for some mobile device users.

Second, the write up points out sites offering “content” are not losing visitors. On one hand, the finding suggests that Facebook is not a gateway trending upwards. I have seen reports suggesting that Facebook has been negatively affected by the Cambridge Analytica matter, but I have also seen reports which assert that Facebook is adding users. Which is it? That’s the question, isn’t it?

Third, the Chartbeat data put Google as the leading source of traffic to sites. What this means is that the “gap” between Facebook and Google as referrers seems to be getting bigger. Bad news for Facebook and good news for Google if the data are accurate.

Several observations:

  • The data, if accurate, make it clear that Google and its Android operating system have a clear path to the barn
  • Facebook may have to begin the process of adapting to mobile users who do not use Facebook as the gateway to the Internet (whatever that ends up being)
  • Governments interested in censoring certain content streams have a crude road map for determine what online destinations should be cut off from the information superhighway. (The law enforcement addiction to Facebook and Twitter may require some special treatment at clinics run by Google and high traffic destinations accessed via an app.)

To sum up, if the data in the Chartbeat report are accurate, changes are underway. Some positive, some negative. There is, however, that “if.”

Stephen E Arnold, May 30, 2018

Free Keyword Research Tools

May 15, 2018

Short honk: Search Engine Watch published a write up intended for SEO experts. The article contained some useful links to free keyword search tools. Even if you are not buying online ads or fiddling with your indexing, the services are interesting to know about. Here they are:

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2018

Correlation the SEO Way. Maybe Not?

April 11, 2018

Here is a fact about Hollywood: They love to boil movies down to a formula and regurgitate every movie into said formula over and over again. Some examples are Disney animated films, superhero films prior to the Disney Marvel franchise, and the Roman/Greek epics circa mid-twentieth century. Instead of focusing on how to tell a good story, Hollywood focuses on the auxiliary components like location, actors, and special effects.

Micheal Martinez from SEO Theory recently wrote, “Google Correlation Studies Are Sham Search Engine Optimization” and expressed that trying to learn anything from Google correlation studies is worthless. It is like Hollywood trying to develop a formula that delivers absolutely nothing. Martinez explains that Google changes it search rankings based on an algorithm. That algorithm is updated in real time from Google’s search index, so trying to create a formula to guarantee top hits is useless:

“The illusion of the power of correlation studies was driven by the popularity of one or two well-known “SEO” blogs — but I don’t want to single anyone out because, frankly, this problem didn’t arise due to the popularity of anyone’s blog. This problem arose because people in the SEO industry are too gullible and willing to accept any bullshit that is embedded in a Power Point presentation or infographic. That is, 100% of us put too much credence into presentation and insufficient analysis into methodology. I can’t exclude myself from that — not because I have ever believed any of these “correlation does not equal causation (wink wink)” arguments but because I find it too easy to point to what someone else says and use that as a reference for something I want to believe. I catch myself doing this all the time.”

There is not a reliable way to track and measure Google’s algorithm data. The only people who know that information are Google employees and they are not about to share their secrets. It is smart to be aware of SEO practices to develop good content, just do not follow them religiously.

Whitney Grace, April 11, 2018

SEO: A Growth Business and a Relevance Killer in One Go

April 6, 2018

Beyond Search believes that SEO is more appropriately characterized as “the relevance destroyer.” For companies unwilling to pay for traffic, search engine optimization “experts” have worked to make sure that irrelevant results are the norm. The goal is putting their clients’ Web links in a results list. Nice and annoying to us here in Harrod’s Creek.

In our opinion, SEO is not what we would call reliable. It’s a great way to dispose of extra cash for those with money to waste. Still, as Search Insider reminds us, the profession persists; they ponder, “Are Search Professionals Optimistic About 2018?” Writer Laurie Sullivan cites the recent Local Search Industry Survey from research firm BrightLocal, and one glance at the graph she shares shows most SEO pros expect a rosy year ahead, undeterred by certain challenges. Sullivan specifies:

“Despite the continual search algorithm changes by Google and Bing, 92% of search-engine-optimization professionals feel optimistic that 2018 will be a good year for SEO professionals. But 73% think delivering client results will become more difficult. A study conducted by BrightLocal that benchmarks business practices, pricing, services, attitudes and growth expectations during the past year reveals the average search professional does 7.7 different SEO and business-related tasks weekly. For that, they earn on average $61,711 annually. Overall, the local SEO industry has a positive outlook for 2018, with 92% admitting they feel optimistic about what’s to come for search next year. About 34% are very optimistic and 92% of SEO professionals think 2018 will be a positive year for the search industry. Just 9% said they feel pessimistic or very pessimistic.”

An interesting addition to this year’s annual study is discussion of SEO pricing; they found that the average hourly rate to be $110 per hour. Most respondents say they work about 40 hours a week, and report an increase in clientele in 2017. Their favorite jobs, most report, involve wrangling large amounts of data, like performing optimization and analysis tasks. See the write-up for more statistics from the survey.

Cynthia Murrell, April 6, 2018

The Old The Article Will Be Just a Click Away Ploy

March 31, 2018

I saw a link in one of my newsfeeds.

The starting point was a story called “8 Data and Analytics Trends to Watch” in a blog called The story ended about half way through. To see the rest of the story I had to click a link.

That second link sent me to “8 Data and Analytics Trends to Watch” on a site called The story ended about half way through. To see the rest of the story I had to click another link.

That link sent me to a MicroStrategy Web site at No story this time but I was invited to click a link in order to download a white paper.

I declined.

Several observations:

  • I wonder if anyone at these firms asked themselves this question, “How will people react to this play?”
  • I made a note about each of these sources. That note says, “Avoid these outfits.”
  • Perhaps each of these “real news” outfits should consider shifting to a consulting service along the lines of the GSR-type of outfit?”

Oh, the trends revealed were of little interest to the deadbeats and unemployed in Harrod’s Creek. A group of MBA students from the disgraced University of Louisville could have generated a comparable list of data and analytic trends. Scary intellectual parity.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2018

Stephen E

SEO Tips for Featured Snippets

March 26, 2018

We like Google’s Featured Snippets feature, at least when the information it serves up is relevant to the query. That is the tool that places text from, and links to, a site that (ideally) answers the user’s question at the top of search results. Naturally, Search Engine Optimization pros want their clients’ sites to grace these answer boxes as often as possible. That is the idea behind VolumeNine’s blog post, “Featured Snippets in Search: An Overview.” Writer Megan Duffy sees Featured Snippets as an opportunity for those already well-positioned in the search rankings. She explains,

There’s no debate that holding the primary spot on a search engine results page helps drive a ton of traffic. But it takes a long, disciplined approach to climb to the top of an organic search result. The featured snippet provides a bit of a shortcut. The featured snippet is an opportunity for any page ranked in the top ten of results to jump straight to the top with less effort compared to building a page’s search rank from, for example, from eighth to first. Having a featured snippet effectively puts you at search result zero and allows your business to earn traffic as the top search result.

Duffy goes on to make recommendations for maximizing one’s chances of being picked for that Snippet spot. To her credit, she emphasizes that good content is key; we like to see that is still a consideration.

Cynthia Murrell, March 26, 2018

New SEO Predictions May Just Be Spot On

March 7, 2018

What will 2018 bring us? If the past twelve months were any indication, we have no idea what will hit next. However, that doesn’t stop the experts from trying to cash in on their Nostradamus abilities. Some of them actually sound pretty plausible, like Search Engine Journal article, “47 Experts on the Top SEO Trends For 2018.”

There are some real longshots on the list, but also some really insightful thoughts like:

In 2018 there will be an even bigger focus on machine learning and “SEO from data.” Of course, the amplification side of things will continue to integrate increasingly with genuine public relations exercises rather than shallow-relationship link building, which will become increasingly easy to detect by search engines.


Something which was troubling about 2017, and as we head into 2018, is the new wave of organizations merely bolting on SEO as a service without any real appreciation of structuring site architectures and content for both humans and search engine understanding. While social media is absolutely essential as a means of reaching influencers and disrupting a conversation to gain traction, grow trust and positive sentiment, those who do not take the time to learn about how information is extracted for search too may be disappointed.

We especially agree with how the importance of SEO will grow in the new year. Innovative organizations are finding amazing new ways to manipulate the data and we don’t expect that to stop. It’ll be interesting to see where we stand twelve months from now.

Patrick Roland, March 7, 2018

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