Is linkbuilding dead? (the great LDA debate)

Posted on by in Organic SEO

The last week or so since the seoMOZ pro seminar in  Seattle have been fantastic to watch to say the least.

Ben Hendrickson, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last years London PRO SEO seminar, presented a talk on his research into LDA, or Latent Dirichlet Allocation to give it its full name, which blew the crowd at the event away.

What is all this LDA stuff you ask?  Well, rather than try and explain myself, and come up short – I feel it more appropriate to share the video of Ben discussing the concepts with Rand Fishkin, CEO of seoMOZ:

The topic of LDA has been discussed by pretty much every SEO on the planet over the last few days, with people on either side of the fence and some being quite vociferous about it (Michael Martinez for example, having said that he has a quite anti-seomoz stance on most things, irrespective of the quality of the work).

Frankly, I think the whole concept is pretty much a no-brainer.  Not that profess to having a great handle on the raw maths behind it, the concept is pretty straightforward.

To use an example coined by seoMOZ a few days ago, if your site is targetting keywords on the Stones (rock band), you are well served using keywords such as “rock music”, “Live Concert”, “Aging Rockers” or “Mick Jagger”, than you would be using keywords like “Ruby”, “Emerald” or so on.  Those words that have a non optimal semantic relationship will only serve to confuse the search engines in the classification of the intent of your page.

The one benefit that I sincerely hope this has, is to remove (or at least lessen) the thinking that many optimizers getting started have that all you need to do is choose a keyword term, find out the density of the site in #1 for that search term, match it, and add another repetition.  That is rubbish, and has been for the last 5 years.

In my mind there is no doubt at all that semantic topic matching of some variety (whether it be LDA is the topic of a lot of debate) is in use at the major search engines, and will continue to be so for as long as websites have text to index.

I would go one step further, and also propose that semantic phrase matching is also an important factor in inbound links, rather than just the target keyphrase itself.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the video, Ben is a Genius – fact.  He is not, and does not claim to be, an SEO. Regardless though, we can all learn something from him.