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Matt Cutts is so often quoted when attempting to provide facts that support the SEO logic which, without him, is otherwise just deduced or reverse engineered. We hang onto his statements to make facts out of the things we have culled together... and that's a good way to describe the knowledge base of the SEO community... "culled together."

I mean this in no disrespect to anyone, including Matt Cutts and our profession as a whole. I have to wonder, though, who is an authority on SEO who is an active participant in online communities, but is not conflicted due to their responsibility to their employer, such as Matt Cutts.

My reasons for looking past Matt and the Google Webmaster Forums are:

  • "We can't tell you what we're doing because you'll game the system."
  • "Don't game the system because we'll catch you programmatically [and it will hurt]."

To me, the natural response to those should be (in order):

  • Seriously? I'd like to make sure that I publish my information in an optimal way that complements your particular algorithms because it's good for everyone.
  • I know that my competitors cheat and you haven't caught them, and because they are cheating I cannot outrank them even though my pages are equally relevant and "do no evil" (to quote the GOOG). What am I to do? Should I resign just to hope your next algorithm will de-rank them and I'll suddenly benefit from my wholesomeness?

Who are the people publicly providing guidance to SEO technicians, backing it not with inside information (and the restraint that requires), but with evidence such as test results and citations from patent filings?

While some may decry my question as completely subjective, I'll state that in some other disciplines of our profession there are a number experts we have knighted such as Jakob Nielsen (usability).

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Google only wants your content to be usable, accessible, and contain good content. Isn't that what you're after, too? And you can't trust anyone who makes money from SEO which rules out almost everyone to be listed below. I'd say instead of thinking SEO is a conspiracy or control method employed by Google, why not just think of it as natural byproduct of a well built website and focus on that first and foremost? –  John Conde Dec 7 '10 at 18:31
    
John, your points are very constructive. Still, I wonder, who is the "Jakob Nielsen" of SEO? You know?! Jakob makes money in and around his discipline, but that does not make him less trustworthy. Noting we're at risk here of me being the Google critic and you being their defender (not my intent), I feel like the SEO profession would benefit by having an alternate authority figure. If the rules were less secret, I would make content more "usable, accessible and good" -- using your words. So, yes, it is what we're all after (the end user too). More openness would help, but worthy of debate. –  Chris Adragna Dec 7 '10 at 18:49
    
While I'd say this question is subjective, it's also a great question. Would love to see answers, backed with experience as per blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective Made CW. –  JasonBirch Dec 7 '10 at 19:02
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3 Answers 3

Notable SEO service providers, such as Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwartz, Aaron Wall and Jill Whalen, have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have published their opinions in online forums and blogs.

While I don't follow any of those listed closely enough to suggest that they consistently provide the kind of testing, statistics, and other evidence you'd like, I would definitely give credit to SEOmoz.org for the development of a crawler-emulator (Open Site Explorer) which provides limited reporting at no cost.

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+1, Thanks! I'll follow through on the people you listed above. Regarding SEOmoz, I do consider it a good source of information, particularly the Open Site Explorer. Having said that, they're also an offender often times in their blog postings styled as easily digested lists such as (fictional) "The Six Critical Attributes of Anchor Text" or "Ten Mistakes Most Developers Make", etc., etc. Catchy, and thought provoking, but sometimes lacking the facts we need, which leaves us where we are, mostly: needing to cull it all together. :) –  Chris Adragna Dec 7 '10 at 20:05
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Chris Beasley is a website publisher who is very successful at SEO. He's been saying things for years that have turned out to be true and accurate (as confirmed by Matt Cutts). His SEO Guide is what I refer all newbies to to learn SEO.

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Good source. Thanks! –  Chris Adragna Dec 7 '10 at 20:11
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The author of Blue Hat SEO (I can't remember his name at the moment). It's very logical in his posts and argumentation's. His posts about "SEO Empire" are really loved in some circles, although they are a little bit outdated now.

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Good site, yes. I would add that it's not updated enough -- not enough to "knight" the writer(s). Good, truthful stuff, though and unique in its tone, pragmatism and use of statements backed by empirical evidence. –  Chris Adragna Dec 7 '10 at 19:58
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There is a great post there: look for one name "advanced white seo" or something like that. Really clever –  NicoGranelli Dec 16 '10 at 2:34
    
Nico, thanks for pointing that out. It's a great commentary. Here's the link: bluehatseo.com/… –  Chris Adragna Dec 17 '10 at 21:25
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