I don’t know exactly how it went or who mentioned it first. And I don’t think it matters. What I do know is that a couple high level SEO’s made statements that alluded to the fact that it was true and the next thing you knew, hundreds of other SEO’s were printing it out as fact.
Soon thereafter, you would find advice from “SEO professionals” parroting the “facts” because they read it enough online that it must be a “fact”. This is despite testing it for themselves.
What I am talking about is no follow and whether the links “counted” in terms of SEO rankings. But to be real honest, it could literally be anything on the web. Just as lawmakers make laws and would be put out of work if suddenly they couldn’t, bloggers, blog. And the information cycle is usually set in motion without verifying the sources and / or testing it out yourself. Because, really….how could 100+ “authorities” be wrong, right? Right? As more and more bloggers repeat it, it solidifies the trueness.
For instance, if enough people say you need a plugin for wordpress that will do your SEO for you, then people will download it, and if they happen to have a platform, promote it, even though they don’t know in what way it will affect it. Forget the fact that wordpress is pretty SEO friendly out of the box. And forget the fact that you are suddenly doing SEO using someone else’s theories (ie. plugin developer).
Another example is links. We tend to correlate events in relation to links (I just added 100 links and because I moved up 10 spots, it must be because of the links). A novice SEO won’t take into consideration competition, domain age, random search permutations or any of the other 200+ things that affect rank. Suddenly, it is just links. Which, consequently, is why so many webmasters are feeling screwed at this moment.
I’m going to sound cynical when saying this but when something gets paraded around as fact, a new industry blossoms. For instance, when the no follow charade happened, you could suddenly buy software to find “do follow” links. And for those that supported the “do follow” philosophy, you could buy a plugin for that (which I have on this blog).
Of course, the link building conundrum is big commerce for SEO and webmasters. And now, you have social media with all the “plausible” effects on ranking. This will be the next sector of commerce for SEO developers. And all it takes is for a couple people to start the ball rolling and say it is true.
The point I am making here isn’t that any of the above is true or not. The point is that if you blindly follow what the status quo deems to be true in any market, you will never know if it is true. Truly.