Observations on SEO Metrics

For many years, Google PageRank has been a hugely significant factor for search engine professionals and anyone with a web site. I know that I was not alone as I agonized over every Google update, or as I watched the Google dance. However, I haven't danced with Google in quite some time, and I think it's time we put its PageRank to rest.
Although I have not used SEO metrics in my directory rankings since the first quarter of 2013, I have been reporting on each directory's Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rank, and some other metrics, including social media statistics.

Beginning the second quarter of 2014, I will no longer report the Google or Alexa statistics and, while social media can be valuable in driving traffic to a site, I don't know that there is any value in reporting the number of Facebook likes or Twitter tweets.

Google PageRank has long been a standard that could make or break a search engine optimization campaign, but Google itself has deprecated its metric years ago, and the company seldom updates its PageRank statistics any longer.

Sites with low PageRank routinely appear above those with high PageRank in search engine result pages (SERPs), and that is what matters to real people.

In today's world, Google PageRank is useless as an indicator of the value of a directory or any other website. Google's own spokespeople have told us to look elsewhere, so I think it's time we do that.

While many directories display Alexa Traffic Rank graphics indicating automatically updated Alexa statistics. As attractive as this may be, Alexa primarily measures the popularity of a site by measuring the number of visits that it receives from users who have the Alexa toolbar installed, and comparing this number to other sites, the lower the number the better.

The Alexa toolbar is often flagged by computer security software as spyware, and is generally used only by those who are concerned with things like site statistics, so it is not a reliable indicator of site popularity.

Due to the low percentage of Internet users who are using the Alexa toolbar, its Traffic Rank can be easily manipulated. I have noticed that if I neglect to visit my own sites using the browser that has the Alexa toolbar installed for a few days, my numbers go up considerably. A few days of clicking on my own sites can restore my positions, but that is not a valuable use of my time.

I once ran a local news site covering a town of about two thousand people, most of whom didn't even know about my site. Yet, with the assistance of two friends who had the Alexa toolbar installed, I was able to achieve a better comparative number than either of three statewide newspaper sites, all of which were immensely more popular than my little online newspaper. Still, I was able to publish the comparative graph from Alexa that showed my site as being more popular than any of the statewide newspapers, through the efforts of only three people clicking like trained monkeys.

Alexa Traffic Rank numbers can be interesting, but they do not necessarily reflect the comparative popularity of a site, as the numbers are not reliable.

Nevertheless, there is a place for metrics in search engine optimization, which is why so many people are still hanging onto Google PageRank despite the fact that Google has asked them not to do so.

Seemingly more reliable are Moz Domain Authority and Majestic SEO Trust Flow and Citation Flow, so I will be reporting on these metrics, although I will not be using any SEO metrics in my rating calculations.

Moz Domain Authority is often heralded as the replacement for Google PageRank, and may prove to be a reliable tool for measuring, tracking and comparing the authority of a website. Moz uses an algorithm that is designed to calculate how well a site might perform in Google search rankings.

While I wouldn't rely on any SEO metric to determine whether a directory is worthwhile or not, for those who want the numbers, the Moz statistics are probably more reliable than the Google or Alexa numbers. I will also be reporting the Moz PageRank and Moz TrustRank statistics

Majestic SEO Flow Metrics includes Citation Flow and Trust Flow.

Citation Flow tries to predict how influential a site might be according to how many sites link to it, measuring the flow back through a number of websites, with some links having greater weight than others.

Trust Flow began with a large list of manually vetted URLs across the web, and the assumption that trusted sites will tend to link to other trusted sites.

I don't swear by either of these metrics and, while I will report the Moz and Majestic SEO metrics, they will not influence the ratings that I assign to a directory.

I strongly recommend that you do the same. If a directory looks good to you, after a careful evaluation, then you should consider it to be good regardless of the numbers. Conversely, if a directory looks bad to you, don't be persuaded by high numbers in the metrics. Don't let the statistics overrule personal observation.
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