A Question of Greatness

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Ok, the title is overstated, but I’m tired of writing boring titles to get better search results.

Today, I have questions rattling around in my brain, some of which are more important than others, some of which could change the way do things or handle my workflow, and some of which are nothing more than minor concerns that an inquiring mind wants to know about.

  1. Is it really worthwhile / doable / smart to use WordPress to manage a normal "static" website?  The truth is that static websites generally aren’t really all that static, but they do have a more set structure, unlike a blog. Often, the changes and tweaks made to a page are relatively minor and it seems like overkill to fire up Dreamweaver CS4 just to add a link to a freelance writing samples page, for example.  On the other hand, I get more flexibility and understand more of what is going on from a non-WordPress angle. (My HTML / XHTML / CSS is stronger than my PHP / mySQL.)
  2. Why can’t I find a non-complicated way to make lists on a website with explanation text?  Take the list you are looking at. Ideally, there would be a number followed by the question.  Then, underneath that there would be this explanatory text instead of having to rely on the bold to separate the question from the text.  I know it can be done, but it’s just so much effort to click all the buttons to make it happen or keep all of the <ol> <ul> <li> code straight.
  3. Is Technorati (or any others) really that important? Unfortunately, the worlds of web design, search engines, SEO, and social networking are all dominated by techie types.  That means that when it comes to things like Technorati, Digg, Twitter, or whatever, the volume tends to be disproportionately loud.  Is getting indexed, listed, or whatever on these sites worth the time and effort?  Or, more specifically…
  4. Is It Better To Add Technorati Specific Tags to Posts, or Will WordPress’ Ping Take Care of It?  Considering that I have no real interest in trying to force my way to the top of Technorati or any other site by any means other than writing good stuff, do I get any benefit from taking the extra time to "tag" my posts with Technorati tags? 
  5. Do All Those Incoming Yahoo Glue Links Count for Anything?  My incoming links for some of my sites are filled with links that come from Yahoo Glue.  Do I get anything out of those? 
  6. What If Google Knows What It Is Doing? Pretty much all SEO techniques both on-page SEO tactics, and off-site SEO linking, assume that Google needs a lot of help getting its index and search rankings results right. In other words, that Google isn’t a very good search engine.  That doesn’t seem right does it?  I mean, it’s the #1 Search Engine in the world for a reason.  Microsoft has tried 3 times to create something that even comes close and couldn’t.  Does it really make sense then that Google’s search results are so delicate that they can be heavily influenced by something as simple as changing a few HTML tags?
  7. If Google Knows What It Is Doing, Then Why Do So Many Search Results Suck? As a corollary to the above, why are some search results so terrible?  Is it that Google’s famed reliance on incoming links, or links pointing to a webpage or website, makes it too vulnerable to being conned into ranking lesser sites above better ones?  This seems especially true when it comes to authoritative websites.  Consider this search for california school rankings

california-school-rankings-screen-shot-search

The obvious authoritative source is the actual rankings published by California.  In fact, both of the sites that rank higher are nothing more than interfaces tacked onto the data provided by the third link.  A search for california school ratings produces a similar result except that the #4 result becomes the #2 result.

There are much worse examples, this is just the one I came up with off the top of my head for a quick blog post.  Fortunately, the other sites listed above the official one aren’t scam sites or obvious web spam.  They are both trying to milk free publicly available information to show advertising and get people to sign up (get email addresses) and perhaps even pay for "premium" information.

The fact that the official California API results ranks so high, however, is a testament to Question #3.  Look at the Academic Performance Index (API) page from the California Department of Education, and you will see a website that has no redeemable SEO qualities whatsoever – in the traditional sense, at least.  And, yet, there it is at #3.

Like most "official" websites, they have better things to do than keyword research, emailing other websites to beg for links, and so on.  On more competitive keywords, this is often much worse, with scam sites or obvious web spam ranking above the official resources. 

The worst examples are often those where the higher ranking sites offer biased or otherwise slanted information, while the official, unbiased, sites rank much lower.  This is because of a combination of using every SEO trick in the book, and then the fact that like minded supporters will link to the websites that promote their point of view, rather than the straight factual websites which might include information that they don’t like.

Search your favorite, financial, political, governmental, or judicial topic to find examples.

Back to Work

Ok, I’ve spent too much time writing this today already.  Off to make money freelance writing.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back later.

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