The Biggest Misconception In SEO Industry

In a recent video released, Matt Cutts said SEOs’ obsession over link building is one of the biggest industry misconceptions. In this video named What are some misconceptions in the SEO industry, Matt outlined three points in regard of the topic:

  1. SEOs confuse algorithm updates with data refreshes.
  2. Panda and Penguin updates are not about Google’s short term revenue.
  3. SEOs are focusing too much on search engine and link building.

Here’s the five-minute video.

And, here’s Barry Schwartz’s summary of the video published on Search Engine Land.

Are Matt Cutts’ Statements Valid?

While point #1 is very true, I personally think point #2 and #3 are bullshits.

Seriously, the biggest misconception I see in SEO industry is that we emphasize too much on what Google Matt Cutts says (yes, this was my first response when I saw the post at CopyBlogger’s Google+).

And, I am not alone.

Not long ago, Matt Cutts said he wouldn’t expect links from press release websites to benefit one’s website rankings. SEO Pressor founder, Daniel Tan, disproved the claim, released a press release and linked to MattCutts.com using the word “leasreepressmm”.

His goal was to get Matt’s blog to rank for the word “leasreepressmm”.

And, it worked.

At this time of writing, MattCutts.com ranks #2 on the search term “leasreepressmm” (see image below).

Keep in mind that the word “leasreepressmm” does not exist on Matt’s blog and all it takes is one press release link coming from a press release site named MarketersMedia. So much for the “press release has no benefit to one’s website ranking”.

Here’s the search result of “leasreepressmm” I captured on June 5th, 2013.

Matt Cutts ranking top #2 for leasreepressmm

Still think Matt Cutts has the best SEO advice? Read on.

Google is making more money than ever after Panda

So back to the video that brought me into this post.

I dug a little deeper into some SEC filings and Google’s quarterly earnings report this afternoon. You’d be surprised to see what I found.

First, let’s re-quote what Matt Cutts said in the video:

“… If you go back to Google quarterly statements, they actually mentioned that Panda decreases our revenue…”

“A lot of people think Google did this ranking change before they want people to buy more ads. And that’s certainly not the case with Panda; it’s certainly not the case with Penguin…”

“Panda and Penguin, we are just went ahead to make the changes. We are not going to worry about we lose money or make money or whatever…”

Google Un-audited Financial Performance 2010 – 2013 Q1

But fact is, Google did make more money after Panda and Penguin updates. Here are the numbers I extracted from Google’s un-audited quarterly financial reports. Please click for a larger image, those are some beautiful numbers.

Google earnings for 2010 - 2013 Q1

What revenue decrease is Matt Cutts talking about?

You don’t need to be a genius to see that Google’s revenue is all growing, growing, and growing. The company performed so well financially and Larry Page said this in the opening of 2013 Q1 financial report:

“We had a very strong start to 2013, with $14.0 billion in revenue, up 31% year-on-year. We are working hard and investing in our products that aim to improve billions of people’s lives all around the world.”

For the past 13 quarters, the numbers at Google is nothing but up. Here are my key findings reading Google’s quarterly reports.

  • Revenue generated from Google website increased for the past 3.25 years. The average YoY growth is 25% (at this rate, Google gets to double up its revenue roughly every 3 years).
  • In this 3.25-year span, the only drop in Google’s total revenue, is Quarter 1 year 2013 (present time, almost 2 years after Panda went global). In 2013 Q1, Google’s total quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) revenue drops from $14,419 million to $19,969 million, a 3% drop (the squared number).

Adwords and Adsense revenue doubled after Panda 2.0

If you look closer to the top of the table, we see the “Revenue generated from paid clicks” row (underlined in red).

What are paid clicks? According to Google’s own words:

Aggregate paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our Network members.

My translation? Adwords and Adsense money.

Did you see how well those numbers perform? From 2010 to 2013 Q1, the lowest YoY growth in paid clicks (read Adwords and Adsense) revenue is 15%. Google paid clicks revenue growth rate went up to 28% (that’s 13% increase) right after Google Panda went global (the Panda 2.0) in April 2011.

Do I need to say more?

Matt Cutts can says whatever he likes about Panda and Penguin updates. The actual outcome of Panda is clear, Google did make more money than ever after Panda updates. The money Google earned from selling Adwords and Adsense increased exponentially after Panda 2.0 and Penguin updates.

To visualize the numbers, here are two charts I made in Excel. Take note on the ridiculous growth in Google’s paid click revenue after Panda 2.0.

How well did Google paid click revenue grow right after Panda?

Google Click Ads Revenue 2010 - 2013 Q1

How well did Google advertising revenue grow in 2010 – 2013 Q1?

Google Ads Revenue

Less SEO is better SEO?

In the video, Matt Cutts also talked about how SEOs are emphasizing too much on link building and search engines. He then advised SEOs should focus more on other things, such as social media and website user experience, instead.

Wait a minute. So Matt Cutts is telling SEOs to not focus on… SEO?

Fishermen, catch fishes. Farmers, plant fruits. And SEOs, well, go run some social media marketing campaign and do some website tweakings. 

That doesn’t sound right.

Matt’s idea of less SEO is better SEO is such a huge misconception.

Yes, social media and website tweaking are vital. But they are totally different subjects. SEO, SMM (social media optimization), SMO (social media optimization), and inbound marketing are all part of the web marketing plan. Why should SEOs care less about SEO and work more on SMM?

SEOs are suppose to optimize sites for better search rankings and long tail keywords. And, incoming links always play a vital role in site rankings after Florida Updates back in 2003. Good or bad; white or black hat. Back links are what make or break a site; and links are what we SEOs build. If back link is unimportant (as Matt said), then why is Google buying link rich advertorials?

Wrapping Up: What I am actually trying to tell you…

Read between the lines.

Never trust people blindly online – especially when he or she is working for a for-profit company listed on Wall Street.

To success, be it SEO or SMM or every other things else in life, it’s important to learn by doing. Develop your own senses, run your own tests, and have good noise filter system.

I hope you enjoy my article. Do speak up and let me know what you think of this, I am opened for discussion.