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Thread: SEO Insanity : Confusing Correlation With Causation

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    m42's Avatar
    m42
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    SEO Insanity : Confusing Correlation With Causation

    Something I see all the time from both my fellow webmasters and from search engine optimizers is the problem of confusing correlation with causation.

    Frankly, it drives me nuts.

    Let me explain.

    This is also known as the “cum hoc fallacy.” Basically, it’s the assumption that because two things happen together, one of them must have caused the other.

    So how does this relate to search engine optimization?

    Well, part of the problem for SEOs (and their clients) is that the process and criteria the search engines use to rank pages is pretty much a “black box” to those of us standing on the outside. By that I mean, we can try to figure out how they do it, we may even feel we’ve got a pretty good handle on at least some of the factors, but we don’t really know everything. Not for sure. Not all the details. (And, you know, the devil often lives in those details.)

    Add to that the fact that the search engines themselves are....

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    Will.Spencer's Avatar
    Will.Spencer is offline Retired
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    This is a really sore spot with me. People in this business are, on average, horrible at testing.

    They see a change and they assume "Hey, this change is because of the last thing I did." More than likely it was related to something someone else did, or to something they did so long ago that they have forgotten what they did.

    Then, they fail to do reverse testing and they fail to try to replicate their test results on other sites.

    These failures are caused by laziness and this costs these people huge amounts of wasted investment and lost revenue.

    It makes me crazy to watch people do this over and over again. It's like watching a person stick their hand into a blender -- repetitively.
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