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Sunday, August 15, 2010

My SEO Theories About Traffic and Backlinks

If you read my last post about the SEO experiment, you know that I have been thinking about search engine optimization, traffic and backlinks a lot recently and have come up with a few theories regarding these topics.  I am not sure if they are correct, but my thoughts make sense to me and seek to logically explain some of my own experiences and observations.

First of all, if I am running a search engine, my goal is to deliver relevant pages so that people will find what they are looking for and click away from my page.  At the same time, I want them to find my search results valuable so they continue to use my search engine when they next need to find something.  Having repeat users allows me to create a business model based upon advertising.

So, how do I decide what pages are relevant to an individual search?  I can use computers to look at the content of each page and try to evaluate the context of that page based upon the words and composition of language.  I can also use the results of past users' searches to determine if they found a particular page helpful based upon their actions when they initiated that search.

Essentially, what I am saying is that Google will place some recently indexed material fairly high in the search results and see what sticks.  If the site is enticing to users, then the site will see a reasonable amount of traffic.  The site will continue to appear high in the SERPs and as long as users keep responding positively, then a positive feedback loop is established until something more enticing or relevant comes along.

This traffic theory helps explain why I will see PR0 sites along with PR5 on the first page search results.  It helps me understand why, despite my ineptitude at backlinking, some of my articles will still rank fairly high and others will be nowhere to be found.  This also explains the development of authority sites that consistently rank high based upon readership and traffic levels giving them an inherent advantage in the SERPs.

By thinking of it in this way, I need to determine what will drive a self-sustaining level of traffic to each individual article.  Maybe the article needs a better title that will capture attention or a better summary that will encourage readers to click on the result.  Maybe I do need to create more backlinks in order to advertise the article to more potential readers so as to obtain the traffic that will start a virtuous circle.  For those articles on page 1 already, maybe very little will help enhance traffic, and I should focus my efforts on some of my other sites.

Unfortunately, this means that I might have to put a little bit of thought into what each article needs in order to maximize its potential.  Blindly posting backlinks may not be all it takes or it may be exactly what is required.  But it at least gives me an idea about the effectiveness of what I am doing if I can compare the traffic results of certain changes or efforts.  I know that I had one Hub that was getting no traffic at all.  I made a simple change to the title and now that same article has seen 10 times the level of traffic as before.

I know that many SEO experts will castigate this post but I think that my theories allow me to understand that which is mysterious to many people.  You can't tell me that Google result #2 is any more relevant to a search than result #32.  But the decision regarding the order has to be made somehow, and I suspect that traffic and the silent votes of actual users plays a big role. 

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Am I way off base?  I appreciate any and all comments especially since I am willing to learn.

Photo credit: LosHawlos


  1. Hey Kidgas, I can't remember if I've commented on your blog before but thought I'd give you my opinion.

    I am not an SEO expert and I don't do advanced testing of the Google algorithm but I do know that currently you can base roughly 10-20 percent of search engine placement due to on-page SEO and the remaining 80-90 percent on relevant and authoritative backlinks.

    You can have a PR0 site ranking above a PR5 site simply because the PR0 site a may have a few relevant backlinks and the on-page SEO is perfectly optimized. The only reason a PR5 site will rank if it isn't optimized is due to the domain authority the site commands.

    If that PR5 site also has it's on-page SEO setup correctly and has a bunch of relevant and authoritative backlinks pointing at it then that's when it will be hard to beat.

    In the future I'm curious to see if Google will start building into the algorithm ranking weight due to a searchers click through rate. Meaning if a page is in the top three but real people rarely click on it relative to it's position it may eventually begin ranking lower due to a low CTR. As far as I know this is not happening yet but I can imagine it may one day be a possibility.

  2. chezfat,
    Thanks for your comment. I can tell you that figuring it all out can be hard to do.

  3.'s all Greek to me, LOL. However, your theory does make sense. Personally, when I think of a title for my article, I try to use keywords that rank high on Google. That isn't always the best way to go, I realize, but I do okay with it. I'm sure I could make a lot more money if I understood the details of SEO though. :)

  4. You are so right, income is possible with blogs. But did you know there is a way to break free from having to post to your blog every day? Not only that, but here is my formula for passive income...wordpress + EZ Empire Builder + niche database + monetization = INCOME.

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  5. Deanna,
    I am glad that you do OK. I think having keywords in your title is important as well as a few sprinkled throughout the article.

    Thanks, Levada. Will have to check them out sometime.

  6. I think there may be a certain amount of validity to it - it would explain the success of the directories (article directories) which plaster AdSense all over.

    However, with other sites I have, with a wicked bounce rate (no matter, my CTR is very high), I rank 1-10 in Google regularly.

    It's not hard once you understand that you're really dealing with an algorithm, just a program.

    If you want to know if something is SEO'd properly, take the URL to, or to Google's Webmaster tools if it's a self-hosted site.

    Using other tools such as SEOQuake or SEO for Firefox from SEOBook help to analyze your site for KW density (go over 2.5% and you may be dinged for being spammy), and do a once-over: if you look at the first page of your term, say it's "blue widget dealer," and you compare on a human level the information of your site versus the information of your top 5 competitors, can you really say you deserve to usurp their place?

    In other words: what do they have that you don't?

    It's fairly easy, in most cases, to mimic and even improve on your competitors, you just need to know what you're looking for.

    Again, that site WebSEOAnalytics is really informative for these sorts of things - merely playing around there a bit will teach you what to look for.

    It's even better if you have a site you can plug into Google's Webmaster Tools - this really tells you what Google thinks of a site, and is very educational.

  7. Nice work you got over here but I would suggest you get a professional blog.
    I started out like you - on blogger but I soon realised it was risky.

  8. Joe,
    Thanks so much for the information. I use SEO for Firefox to look at competition PageRank when preparing to write an article for HubPages. I will have to go check out the WebSEOAnalytics site to play around and see what else I can learn.

    I realize that there is some risk. This blog is not my main source of online income so I really don't want to pay to have it hosted. But thanks for the compliment.

  9. Usually I do not post on blogs, but I wish to say that this post really forced me to do so! Thanks, incredibly nice article.

  10. @Kunal,
    Thank you for the compliment. If you really like the article, maybe you could backlink it for me :)

  11. Hi Kidgas,

    I agree with your post. Backlinks definitely play a major role in search engine rankings. However, some backlinks are worth more than others.

    For example, if a website with a page rank of 4 and a website with a page rank of 2 both link back to your page, which backlink do you think has the most influence? The website with the page rank of 4, of course. This is why many bloggers love guest posting. You have a chance of getting high quality backlinks linking back to your site with a quality guest post. Of course, the website you guest post on should have a good page rank in order to be effective.

    Most of it is just common sense. However, experiments can help perfect your results. Through trial and error and a little perseverance, you can increase your earning potential.

    Great post! Update us on your findings.


  12. Christina,
    Thanks for your comments. I will be sure to keep everyone updated on anything that I discover or find out.


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