One of the great things about having your own blog is that, if a site decides not to post your comments about a given article, you can make them anyway on your own site.

As I write this, I have yet to see my comments that were reply to a posting made by Ryan Caldwell of PopCrunch on the site BusinessPundit entitled, “How Google’s ‘Farmer’ Update Has Hurt Small Brands.”  So, I’m going to post them here, just to make sure my response is heard.  So there…

By the way, I dig PopCrunch and have nothing against Ryan or his company.  I’m particularly happy to see that Ryan took the high road in his commentary and didn’t call out Google as some sort of evil empire that was out to get him and his company.  He digs and respects Google and what they do, as should we all, because despite their occasional foible or lack of perfection, they still make a damn fine product.

Hey Ryan –

Thanks for posting; it’s always nice to hear from a variety of businesses on how a recent algorithm change has affected their business by way of a change in their rankings.

Even as head of a company that performs SEO services for its clients, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know how to make the special sauce that Google uses to create its rankings; however, I do know some of the ingredients and can get pretty close when I try to help my clients make it for their businesses.

That said, I wanted to look at the example you provided, specifically “100 Hottest Women of 2011.” While it is true, your site does feature content that is titled “100 Hottest Women of 2011″ and a bunch of radio stations may have mentioned the article on the air, that doesn’t mean that your results are the most relevant for that search by default.

While it’s fun to think that a page of content that you create and is widely read is the most relevant page for a given search, it’s really not up to you as much as you would like. Now, if your search was for “popcrunch 100 Hottest Women of 2011,” you’re right there at the top and all those other sites you mention are below you, as they should be, because you actually are PopCrunch and you actually do have an article about the “100 Hottest Women of 2011.

Now, I don’t have time to do a full site audit for your site, but usually when I do audits for clients, I look at three major categories, specifically Site Architecture, Content, and Inbound Links, with a bunch of detail under each category that helps determine how well you perform in those categories. After performing many SEO audits for employers and clients alike over the years, there is one constant – there is always something wrong that is keeping you from the top spots.

While you have Content concerning the keyword at hand, maybe it’s not optimized as well as you think for a given keyword (I usually use an example of a hotel chain I worked for that always neglected to use the word “hotel” in any of its copy). While the site looks pretty sound when it comes to HTML, etc., there could be something in there that is keeping Google and the other engines from thinking you’re the best representation of a given term. Finally, while those radio stations may be talking about you on the air, that is much different than having them link to your content from their site and that’s if their site is considered a relevant link in the first place.

On top of all of that, there’s nothing saying that all of those other sites that show up above you, even if they are scraping your content or simply linking to your content, are just simply better at SEO than you are in the first place. Their site may be more SEO friendly, they may have more links, or it may be one of a thousand other little tweaks in the algorithm that we’ll never know about.

The truth is, just because you got there first, it doesn’t mean you’re the most relevant. If you want further proof, look how often Google ranks a Wikipedia entry about a company over the company itself. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than the yellow pages.

One other example I just thought of actually deals with my own site and an article I wrote recently for Search Engine Watch entitled, “SEO’s Achilles’ Heel: The Misdirected Attack on Search Engine Optimizers.”  While I wrote this article and have mirrored the content on Search Engine Watch here on my site, if you do a search for the title of the article, my site doesn’t even show up on the first page.  In fact, I hate to say it, but even Search Engine Watch’s page for the article wasn’t even at the top for the first couple of days of the article’s existence (it is now).

Does this mean that my page is any less relevant than the page that lives on Search Engine Watch?  Not to me and my parents maybe, but to Google, who makes up the rules, I’m barely noticeable.  Without even performing a full audit here, I can tell you that I’m pretty sure it’s because SEW has a lot more inbound links to the article than I do.  Plus, my domain is only a couple of months old, so I’m probably not seen as a credible source in the eyes of the Google bots.

I don’t take this personal, I don’t think Google is out to get me… I just know that I need to get more inbound links to my site and be patient… something I would do if I wasn’t busy doing work for my clients, which is what I’m going to get back to doing right now.

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