Here’s a head scratcher I’m throwing out to the crowd. I was curious, with the abolition of keyword rankings and keyword data in general, to see what other ways I could measure the effectiveness of SEO. One way I thought up that might be interesting was to match volume of inbound links with organic search traffic. After all, links = rankings = traffic, right?

So I exported a count of all my new inbound links to my website for 2013, and matched it against my daily non-paid search visits for 2013:

SOFA_Statistics_Report_2013-11-05_06_35_13Variable 3 is non-paid search traffic, Variable 4 is new inbound links

If you’re not fluent in reading Pearson regressions, we’re looking for a diagonal line that goes from the lower left to the upper right to indicate a strong correlation. Instead, we got a horizontal line that says no correlation at all.

This implies a few possibilities to me.

1. The formula of links = rankings = traffic could be broken. There’s much more to the rankings algorithm than just links, and it’s a sufficiently large enough scope that links by themselves don’t matter at all.

2. There’s an intermediary step between links and rankings that I can’t see. This is a riff off of #1, in that there’s more to search algorithms than just links. How much, I can’t tell.

3. Maybe I just have crappy links. Just because it’s in Webmaster Tools doesn’t mean it’s authoritative or high quality, which means that these links in aggregate may be doing nothing for my rankings and thus search traffic.

4. Maybe what I get links for and what people find me for have nothing in common. I could be earning media for articles that don’t get searches, while everyone else is searching and finding me for something else. This seems less likely to me because I write on a fairly narrow set of topics. There would be no reason for someone to link to me for something unrelated, but it’s a possibility.

What do you think is behind this strange lack of correlation? Leave your thoughts in the comments! If you’d like to process the data yourself, I invite you to download the CSV.


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