WebMythWorld Strikes Again!

January 16th, 2007 by Chris

I know it may seem like I rant on this issue a lot, but it frustrates me so much.

Brett Tabke is the founder of WebmasterWorld, better known as WebMythWorld. A really crappy webmaster forum that has been riding the first mover advantage for years. It was the first major webmaster forum, and that head start is the only reason it exists today. It spawns more incorrect and plain bad information about SEO than any other site on the Internet. Any once popular SEO theory that ends up proved wrong can usually be traced to a thread on WebMythWorld. Over optimization penalty anyone?

One problem is that the forums are by and large anonymous. Members are not allowed to give specific information about their business, as such you have nothing other than post count to gauge a person’s experience or proclivity to success. The end result is a case of the blind leading the blind. People latch on to coincidences and form theories and they’re believed, without any actual testing, without any actual proof, because the membership of WebMythWorld by and large needs to obsess about their SEO theory du jour to get through their day.

The other problem is that the membership idolizes Brett Tabke to the point where his thoughts are not questioned. This would be alright except he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I have never seen someone labeled as an expert who is so obviously undeserving of said title.

A while ago he had a top 10 list of factors for search engine rankings and high up on that list were outgoing links. He said they would be important for the future (people who predict things also annoy me). Such a future has never come to pass, no one, to this date, has ever offered any concrete evidence of outgoing links boosting you in the SERPs, and countless evidence to the contrary has been provided.

Today I read a post at Search Engine Roundtable that just really puts the icing on the cake. Apparently Brett now says that the age of the domain is one of the top 5 factors for SEO. Cue up Janice from Friends, “Oh, My, God.”

It just exemplifies the problem of WebMythWorld in taking coincidence and attaching significance to it.

Of course older sites rank better. They have more content, more incoming links, more diversity in their incoming links, and obviously if they’re still around after a number of years they can’t be half bad.

This again touches on the issue with PageRank and how so many so-called experts do not have a clue what it is. As I explain in the above linked essay, why would Google second guess their own algorithm and make something as arbitrary as domain age a primary factor in ranking sites?

Never mind the fact that there is no proof of this, and they’re he’s making this huge conclusion based on nothing more than coincidental observations. The fact is, there isn’t a single good reason for Google to do this. Their incoming link algorithms already appropriately award good older sites, and do not so award bad older sites. Whereas a blanket bonus based on age would award all older sites, good and bad.

Now I’m sure Google looks at things like domain age and whois information, especially when checking for spam. But to say that it is one of the top 5 most important factors? Some people can’t see the forest for the trees.

7 Responses to “WebMythWorld Strikes Again!”

  1. Peter Davis  Says:

    Well, it’s a matter of perspective I think. For example, if you wanted to setup a spammy scraper type site, having an old domain with backlinks and establised in the search engines might be one of your top five factors.

    Sometimes I wonder if the people at WMW don’t show their sites, because there’s nothing to show. Personally, if I ever build a blatant spam site, I wouldn’t want to show it off in public.

  2. Chris  Says:

    Well thats just it peter. It is the established backlinks that give value to older sites, not purely their age.

  3. Kyle  Says:

    Before I became self employeed in 2003, the company I used to work for was convinced of the over optimization penalty. I couldn’t change their minds either…

  4. Peter Davis  Says:

    Well, I wonder if age of the domain is a factor at all, maybe it’s really age of the backlinks. Dunno how anyone would prove/disprove that though.

  5. Chris  Says:

    It is not even that though. The point is that older sites have more backlinks. It doesn’t matter if there is a direct bonus for older links or not, older links tend to be worth more naturally.

    If you think about it, what types of sites provide older backlinks? Older sites. If a site has been linking to you for 5 years, that site itself is atleast 5 years old, so like any other older site, it probably has more links & more PageRank to pass.

  6. GeorgeB  Says:

    Also Chris, not siding with Brett because honestly I think you both make good points. But the fact that Google registered as a registrar about a year or so ago (and they don’t sell domains)is a pretty big coincidence.

  7. Chris  Says:

    There are literally dozens of reasons why Google could want to be a domain name registrar. Furthermore, considering they could simply check when a site first appeared in their index as a reasonable estimate of site age, it doesn’t even mean they didn’t have the ability to do so until they became a registrar.

    The problem is taking completely circumstantial “evidence” like that and making a concrete definitive statement based upon it.

    The problem is one of arrogance. People arrogantly think they know more than the search engines and they assume that if something makes sense to them, the search engines must be using it. Personal intuition should never be considered hard evidence.

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