So, last day I was revisiting some of the old posts on my old blog and came across an interesting search phrase in the referral stats – “SEO Guru”. Apparently, one of my old blog posts from 2009 had been ranking No.1 on Google for the term. Sweet! (External Google Search Link )
But what got me interesting is that, this was a post I made back in 2009 with no optimization what so ever (traditional old school SEO that is).
It was a resource list post with just minimal written content. In fact, the only text in the post was “In no particular order. These are the best guys out there.”
And then, it was followed by a table (seriously, it was a table no CSS!) with pictures, names, blog name and Twitter profile link. Heck, those pictures weren’t even optimized (repeat: I mean, in terms of traditional old school SEO). No file names had “SEO Guru” in it, they were all named in numbers as 1,2,3… There were no ALT tags even.
I mean, this post was a disaster in terms of traditional SEO.
Back in 2009, an SEO would have suggested the following recommendations to “optimize” this article.
- Include H1, H2 headings with the target terms or its variations in it.
- Include the term as is on the page title, meta info (some still suggested keywords and description info.)
- Maintain a keyword density of X% in the whole article.
- Optimize images with keyword in file names, path, ALT and Title tags.
- Some other possible ways to stuff keyword in the HTML code.
According to old school SEO, this post would’ve scored a D- to say the least.
So what did this post get right?
- Social Sharing: The post got shared on social media a lot. Tweets, shares and likes, and I’m sure there were good numbers from all social channels on the post. Unfortunately, I had reset the plugins couple of times, but as of now there are about 13 Facebook shares. (I didn’t track down the metrics yet. Lazy me!)
- Comments and traction – There are about 92 comments in there right now, I’m not sure if that helped in any way.
- One backlink – There was someone who linked to the post contextually from within an article (Check link:url)
There isn’t anything else significant to highlight other than these points above.
Take Away Points?
This is probably a good example that shows how insignificant old-school SEO metrics are. On-site and Off-site metrics probably do help a post/page/article get top rankings but not in a way where the content/code has to be stuffed with targeted keyword.
This aligns perfectly with the direction Google has taken recently with the focus on quality and user-friendliness, skipping over optimization. If a piece of content is being shared consistently, within a niche content bracket, among people (social, direct or otherwise), it is clearly an indication of quality or inclination towards it.
Social traction and traffic are probably the biggest influencers today, to a level that even if the website/page/article is poorly optimized, it would still rank high if people are reading/sharing it.
I wish I could test more metrics here scientifically like what metrics would be helping rank better, like page load time, average visit duration etc. But the following is all I have.
Total visits – 4091, Avg. visit duration – 01:54, Bounce rate – 72.71%
Social – 84 Clicks and 5 Saves on Bit.ly (https://bitly.com/9LcxYi+). (Do you have any recommendations to dig out more social sharing data?)
There is a lot of data missing here, but on a high level, it is pretty evident that rule based, text book SEO does not work today unless it is supported heavily by social or other relevant signals. How many of those signals do we know to track today, how many are available to SEOs and public is another chapter altogether, but there is a clear pattern that emerges – quality content + genuine sharing + traffic signals = win.
What do you think?