SEO - Obsolete?

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drathbun
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SEO - Obsolete?

Post by drathbun » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:42 pm

I know there have been multiple topics over the past few months related to SEO (what is it, why isn't phpBB better at it, why don't we have SEO "friendly" URLs... and so on). The camps seem evenly divided between "it doesn't matter" and "your web site will die without it." :) So I thought I would share a link to this article that suggests that the way Google is going, SEO may indeed become a thing of the past...

http://www.techipedia.com/2012/will-seo-exist-in-2015/
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by naderman » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:44 pm

As sad as it is, it will still exist. Simply because there will still be clueless people believing it will help, and thus there will continue to be companies selling it.
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by tbackoff » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:06 pm

naderman wrote:there will still be clueless people believing it will help, and thus there will continue to be companies selling it.
^ This.

What's interesting is nowhere in the article does it mention "friendly URLs", yet people are hell-bent on insisting that phpBB will go the way of the dodo if such an implementation is not added to the software. Worse, they try to chalk it up that it's important for SEO. Tell me, how can phpBB be so SEO unfriendly, yet any search engine on the internet is able to crawl it, index it, and list it with no problems? :|
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by marian0810 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:55 pm

(because Google is chipping away at “manipulative” tactics)
The rise of authorship. Through its rel=author link, Google now associates content with its creator as well as the publishing site. A “branded” author with high influence in his/her niche may be able to outrank similar content published on a stronger domain. This is a developing trend, but the day may come when a powerful author could have more impact on search visibility than any amount of traditional SEO work.
Clicking the link then shows that only works when that author has a Google+ account :? Pot... kettle...
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by drathbun » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:03 pm

I think it's interesting, though, to think about where we've come from and where we are today.

Years ago in the infancy of web content there were two main ways to find something. You could go to Yahoo! and browse their index of sites which was maintained by humans that would evaluate link submissions, or you could go to Google and search their index which was created automatically. Obviously today the thought of maintaining any sort of relevant and current index of the Internet manually is quite laughable, due to the sheer volume of material. :) But back then it was possible. Google's approach was to let everyone else do the ranking by looking at links. They thought that if 20 people linked to site A and only 2 people linked to site B that site A must be better. It was the early version of "liking" someone, I guess.

The problem was that as people started to try to make money on their web sites, they started to abuse the process. Link farms were born. phpbb.com even sold text links (and still does, not that there's anything wrong with that). Google recognized that link farms were polluting the "intent" of their ranking system, so they added code to discount or even penalize links from those sources.

Don't want to write an entire dissertation on SEO evolution here. :) But the point is that when I personally search for something, I want content. I don't want ads. I don't want sites that don't do anything but redirect my search terms into a new search engine. If I want to look on amazon or ebay, I will do that myself, thank-you-very-much. So I read the article above with interest, because it goes back to focusing on content. Search engine algorithms have become more effective at identifying original content.
Google wants to see backlinks sprout up naturally, rather than through the efforts of professional SEOs. What makes links sprout up naturally? Unique and relevant content, according to Google.
I hope this is true, because in my opinion right now 90% of the Web is crap. If Google and other search engines can make it harder for these sites to make a buck (by collecting a few pennies at a time, from each visitor) then maybe they'll go away.

Then again, maybe I'm dreaming.
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by Pony99CA » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:54 pm

t_backoff wrote:Tell me, how can phpBB be so SEO unfriendly, yet any search engine on the internet is able to crawl it, index it, and list it with no problems? :|
Because Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a misnomer. SEO would be about making it easy to crawl your site (which things like Site Maps may help with).

What most people call SEO is really Search Engine Results Placement Optimization (SERPO -- my own term, so it may or may not be used elsewhere). SERPO is about giving your site a boost in the results compared to other sites (presuming that not everybody is doing SERPO, of course). So, for certain keywords, say "dog walking New York", it's not just about getting crawled but about getting ranked higher than competing dog walking Web sites in New York.

I have no doubt that you can slightly improve (and maybe greatly) improve your SERP with some techniques (like ensuring that your content mentions the key words -- especially in H1/H2 tags -- that you want people to find you under and getting your content linked to -- at least by reputable sites). I suspect that having those keywords in your URL will also provide a small boost. The question is how small.

Also note that, contrary to the Subject of this topic, the article did NOT say that SEO/SERPO would be "obsolete"; the author merely wondered whether "SEO as we know it will be around in 2015" (emphasis mine). In other words, SEO/SERPO may still be around, but it won't be using the same techniques as today (and hopefully blackhat SEO will die off, although there will probably always be scammers, as nadermann said).

And, one of Google's tenets for white hat SEO -- optimizing the usability of the site -- could arguably be construed to include human-readable URLs. ;)

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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by stevemaury » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:46 pm

Humans don't read URLs. They copy them, they paste them, and they left and right click them.
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by Pony99CA » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:12 pm

stevemaury wrote:Humans don't read URLs. They copy them, they paste them, and they left and right click them.
I've usually considered myself a human, and I do look at them (occasionally). For example, if I see a link on a Web page, I'll often hover over that and look at the status bar to see where that URL goes. If it's a .cn, .ru or URL shortening domain, I probably won't click it.

The point is that human-readable URLs (HR-URLs) do help give people information about what they'll be clicking to. It always bothers me how people here just paste naked URLs into posts; I almost always use the long form (for example, SEO - Obsolete? for this topic) to give people information about where they'll be going. Something like http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopi ... &t=2157826 tells me absolutely nothing.

I have even submitted an RFC proposal which would get some form of human-readable URLs with very little effort.

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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by Techie-Micheal » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:55 pm

Pony99CA wrote:
stevemaury wrote:Humans don't read URLs. They copy them, they paste them, and they left and right click them.
I've usually considered myself a human, and I do look at them (occasionally). For example, if I see a link on a Web page, I'll often hover over that and look at the status bar to see where that URL goes. If it's a .cn, .ru or URL shortening domain, I probably won't click it.

The point is that human-readable URLs (HR-URLs) do help give people information about what they'll be clicking to. It always bothers me how people here just paste naked URLs into posts; I almost always use the long form (for example, SEO - Obsolete? for this topic) to give people information about where they'll be going. Something like http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopi ... &t=2157826 tells me absolutely nothing.

I have even submitted an RFC proposal which would get some form of human-readable URLs with very little effort.

Steve
I think it depends on what you mean by human-readable URLs. Technically speaking, any URL is human-readable. But barring that, here's my stance:

www.example.com/I_cannot_stand_these_page_titles
www.example.com/blog/entry.php?id=1245123123

In this example, the "human-readable" (no offense meant to you Steve, just in general) a) removes any sense of structure on the site and b) is no more useful in my opinion than the id parameter. I have seen sites that remove any sort of structure and push everything on to the root, which is painful to look at.

www.example.com/blog/123413422112/
www.example.com/blog/123413422112

Similarly, this annoys me:

www.example.com/blog/t-1234-Some-title-in-here

To what end? That just looks dirty.

In this example, file extensions were removed, but the first one is treated as a directory. It. Is. Not. A. Directory. That irks me when Wordpress and others do that. It's a direct resource, not a directory. Now, the exception is this:

www.example.com/blog/123413422112/page/1
or
www.example.com/blog/123413422112/print

or similar such functionality.

Personally, I prefer something like this:

www.example.com/blog/view/123413422112
www.example.com/blog/edit/123413422112
www.example.com/blog/view/123413422112/print
www.example.com/blog/view/123413422112/share

Why? I don't know. :P This way it is clear what is happening. You are viewing a given entry with id 123413422112, or you are editing it. Then you are viewing a given entry, and performing action print on it, or share, or whatever.
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by Pony99CA » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:58 pm

I think the point is that most people don't care about ID numbers; they care about content. Think of it in the same way that most people treat domain names vs. IP addresses -- how many people care what IP address Google has (or could remember it even if they did care); they care that google.com works.

In My proposal, I think you have the best of all worlds:
  • You have the title of the forum/topic/post in the URL (so people know what it's about).
  • It shouldn't take long to implement my proposal (compared to other proposals).
  • The performance should be almost as good (as the human-readable part is just ignored -- unless you want Phase 2).
  • IDs are still there for those who care about them (which keeps phpBB working just like it does now).
  • It doesn't require things like mod_rewrite to work.
What''s the downside? URLs are longer and, because the title is really irrelevant, the title could be spoofed by some malcontents (example.com/viewtopic.php?t=1234&safe-topic actually goes to example.com/viewtopic.php?t=1234&porn-topic). The latter isn't that big a deal because the OP could have used a safe-sounding title in the first place (and probably would).

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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by tbackoff » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:13 am

Pony99CA wrote:I think the point is that most people don't care about ID numbers; they care about content.
With this stance, then there is no need to change the URL is there? The content is the post, not the URL. ;)
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by Oleg » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:42 am

Seo (or more precisely, obtaining a higher placement in search engine results by means of changes to one's site) is going to be relevant for as long as traffic from search engines results in paying customers, which is going to hold in the foreseeable future.

The term "seo" was probably invented when the alternative was writing the site content, markup and urls any way you wanted, at the time when search engines were only becoming important in driving traffic. Nowadays there are all kinds of distinctions.

As far as what google is doing, what I suspect they want is as much control as possible over the search results. Search engine placement optimization takes a site X that initially google ranks lower than site Y for some keyword, and makes site X rank higher. Thus google's search result order is changed by a party that is not google. They obviously don't like that.

Therefore google is (constantly, and has been since seo was invented) clamping down on optimization techniques they can put their finger on. As soon as they can identify a characteristic of the data they crawl that is used for altering their search result order, they work on eliminating their usage of that characteristic. The obvious issue with this is they still need to show *some* search results, therefore they can't simply blacklist the entire internet, and the results they do show they still need to rank, and ranking is a function of the sites' content and organization. It is a necessity then that a site can influence where it is placed in search results via some means or other, regardless of what google does. Which is why I don't expect "seo" to become obsolete any time soon.

Case in point: google now wants to incorporate response time from the site into how highly it ranks. Making response time lower is mostly a purely technical challenge. Up to now it wasn't a priority because google didn't care about it (ever noticed how slow paypal is?), but now people will improve their backend performance.
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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by darksminky » Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:18 am

I agree, Oleg, and it becomes especially obvious that they jilt the results when:
look up something in google, and then another search engine of your choice.
Go to Videos
Wa la, Youtube bias on part of Google. Other engines almost always have variety in the video site. Google shows Youtube almost exclusively.
Case in point: My youtube channel and my Website competed for top spot for "Darksminky", and I don't use my youtube. Not even for commenting or viewing anymore. It's a literally dead page. Meanwhile, my website has users and activity (real shocker there), and my youtube still beats it.
Wrong?
Yeah, pretty much
I've also heard stories of people who plagiarized a video, put up less tags, less title, had less views, and still ranked higher because an Adsense ad was on it. (On youtube, rather)

(Speaking of search engines, have you noticed that every time Google changes the UI, everyone calls it "revolutionary" when all they change is a color or two?)

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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie » Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:14 am

one thing to keep in mind is that google doesn' t care about any of that. they care about money. that is their whole purpose in being.

just like the other search engines. google just happens to be the best at it.

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Re: SEO - Obsolete?

Post by drathbun » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:34 pm

Google is an advertising company first. Search engine just happens to be their delivery mechanism. The last time I read one of their corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC in the US) they said something like 96% of their income comes from their advertising business.
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