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I don’t know everything. I’m really, really close though. In fact, I pretty much have everything down except for the finer points of string theory. That, and how Roland Emmerich (Director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow) was able to make more movies after the Godzilla catastrophe.

In all honesty, there are actually a lot of things that I don’t know, and more importantly, a lot of things that I can never know. Like Women. It’s just the nature of the universe.

Here are three items that SEO’s just don’t know, and CAN’T know. It’s not that we don’t want to know them; it’s just that they are either kept secret from us by the search engines, or it is a physical impossibility (meaning we can’t look into the future).

  1. Google’s Algorithm. We don’t really “know” Google’s, or any search engine’s algorithm. When it comes to actual calculations, or how a search engine brings up a specific listing, we don’t know anything specific. Search engines keep it an extremely closely guarded secret. Some SEOs suspect that even if we did obtain access to the algorithm and code, it wouldn’t change our practices anyway, so there’s no point in trying.
  2. When a site will rank. This should be obvious, but it is still a big issue for many site owners. When it comes down to it, we have no certain knowledge of any timeline for SEO to work. Any estimates that SEOs provide are based off of past experience and successes. Even then, the ranges can vary greatly, especially from industry to industry. Some sites see (some) progress in a month or two, others take as long as 6 months to a year.
  3. Where a site will rank. Anyone who claims to get you to a specific position in Google is lying. For that reason, be extremely cautious of guarantees and promises incorporated with SEO contracts (look at my earlier post about shady SEO deals). Just like the timeline for when you will rank, we can create estimates (never guarantees) for where your site will finally place.

Any rational person may think, “You don’t ‘know’ anything!” In response, I reply, “That is true.” Except that these are the things that SEO experts DO know:

  1. We know what Google and other search engines are looking for. Google wants relevant results that motivate surfers to return to the search engine. We understand Google’s guidelines, from information provided from the search engine, as well as from years of testing and experimentation.
  2. We know that good SEO Practices WILL make a site rank. Although the timeline might be hard to pin-point, if work is put into the site, and the right SEO practices followed, ranking is the natural by-product
  3. No one can claim that a site will be #1 in Google, as there are numerous factors that play into that, many of which are unknown or misunderstood. Be careful thinking that you should be #1, because sometimes it’s just not possible.
  4. Your rank will be better with SEO than without. You absolutely will see results from SEO.