SEO Debates: Are These Worth Our Time and Effort?

If you’re up for a debate, the search engine optimization community has a lot of topics for you to affirm or contradict. No human being is qualified to be an arbiter since search results are served by machines dictated by elaborate computations (also known as search engine algorithms). In a subjective world of SEO, the conclusive verdict of a debate is solely dependent on search engine rankings and overall increase in visitor traffic.

SEO Debates: Are These Worth Our Time and Effort?

I’d even say that it’s not called a debate. It’s more appropriate to call it SEO experimentation. Try, fail, refine. Try, fail, refine. Try, fail, succeed. Whether a lot of people have a lot of time in their hands or aim to create some ripple in an otherwise chaotic atmosphere, a lot of debates are being deliberated across popular forums and eventually to the observant eyes of renowned search professionals who keep track of what’s going at SEO forums.

I have a list of possible topics that are probably used, reused and reincarnated across many search engine discussion boards.

htm vs html
Classic. Sometimes we get the urge to ask what is really the reason there is HTML and HTM file extensions when they function almost exactly the same way? Now, they are dragged into being influencers of SEO.

Static vs Dynamic pages
For those who can’t figure out that the output pages of all dynamic pages are pure HTML and are the ones crawled by search engines, this is a big topic to discuss.

Common line: It’s better to optimize page using html than php extension. How on earth can we display a page if we don’t use HTML?

Hyphen vs Pipe Page Title Separator
I don’t know if there is ever an impact if we use hyphen or dash instead of a pipe or vice versa. Elements in page titles that influence page ranking are the text contents themselves and not the special symbols as discussed in some of the posts within a DigitalPoint thread.

Order of Page Title
My personal take on this is to make the specific subject of the page placed in the most prominent portion. That means I will place it at the leftmost part of the title. I will add on generic category name next and then a brief description of the category next. I won’t mind leaving off the name of the site on the homepage and using its URL in the title is a no-no to me.

com vs org vs gov Top Level Domains
Though this debate warrants a little more consideration than the others, I feel that the choice of domain name extension relies more into the type of organization a site is devoted to: commercial or charitable/non-profit. The reason for this debate is the fact that a pattern of search results favored certain domain names that have specific extensions. I think the reason is about content and inbound link power instead of the attached top level domains.

Importance vs Unimportance of PageRank
I once exchanged an emails with a business owner who has a business in Central. He asked if our company could provide services that’s able to raise the PageRank so that his Adwords Quality Score will increase, thereby enabling him to rank higher for ads at a lower cost per click. I begged to differ and showed him some explanations on how Quality Score is computed and some updates. There are several issues surrounding this argument of importance of PageRank but I’d rather stick to some who prefer to replace importance with unimportance.

Traffic vs Rankings
I think it’s unfair to consider comparing web traffic against rankings. Traffic, if measured correctly, will tell us how successful is our SEO campaign by indicating the amount of visitors who came into the site using search engines. Rankings can be a superficial sugar coating to masquerade an inefficient SEO process. You can rank on top for some phrases that are unknown or nobody uses at all.

Subdomain vs Subfolder
This one debate does not resolve and the selection of either subdomain or subfolder relies heavily on the website’s content itself. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. But in general, I’d like to lean on subfolders structure for its ease of usage and preserved link power.

Hyphen vs Underscore File Delimiter
This is a one-sided affair. Hyphens or dashes can be used on both domain names and is thought to be a good replacement to whitespace (a forbidden character to use in domain names and filenames). On the other hand, underscore is used only for filenames. I’d go for hyphens, needless to say.

Link Building vs Content Building
Instead of deciding which is better, we better do both. We can’t take one and have the other taken for granted. But if I were in a situation to pick which is better and should be the first priority, I’d go for content building as one highlighted item for SEO best practices. Website owners, let’s ask the question: how can I get links if my site has little or no content? Simple question, right? And Link building, if relied solely, is a temporary thing. We can’t sustain building link if we can’t provide sustain providing content to our sites.

A few more SEO debate subjects
Take your pick (or make some comments if you have more in mind):

Pay-per-click vs Organic SEO
In-house SEO vs Outsourced SEO
Ethical SEO vs Unethical SEO (White Hat vs Black Hat SEO)
SEO is Easy vs SEO is Rocket Science
Paid Links vs Natural Links
Relevancy of Site vs Relevancy of Page
SEO for Search Engines vs SEO for human visitors
Country-specific Domain vs Country-specific hosting
Meta Tags: Useful vs Not useful