Ch. 14 – Which is your Font of Wisdom – Critical Thinking

Which is Your Font of Wisdom?

 

From my standpoint, the most reliable source of information is that which only offers what is known to be true. Opinions are fine, but they should be couched as just that… opinion. Opinions, however, usually won’t stand the scrutiny of someone on a fact-finding mission.

I rarely seek facts from others. I may ask their opinion, suggestion or observation, but I tend to tune out those that present them as facts. A fact is something that can be independently substantiated, and if the source is reliable, I’ve found that they’ll usually offer that substantiation up front. If I am looking for facts, I’m more likely to ask for a reference where I can find the information myself.

The blogs that I most enjoy reading are those that present their opinion and offer the evidence that led them to it. They make me think it through, and the result will usually carry more weight than simply stating their opinion or offering the evidence, separately.

Bill Slawski, for instance, in his dissection of patents, will cite certain aspects of the patent application, present the possible alternative interpretations that he sees there, and then offer his opinion as to which interpretation is most credible. That’s ideal, in my opinion. He makes me think, he teaches me something in the process and he makes it quite clear that his opinion is only that… an opinion.

I’m sure his opinions have been wrong many, many times… I just haven’t seen it happen yet. 😉

For the purposes of this question, my “font of wisdom” is whichever source I may be listening to  that offers substantiating support to their argument and presents a reasonable and credible opinion that is supported by the evidence. As to which font that may be, it varies by day and by topic.

But I will never automatically give credence to any source simply because of who it is. I’ve been offered claptrap opinions from sources that I had previously considered to be impeccable. I’ve also heard some pretty enlightened ideas from sources I had previously discounted as being way out in left field.

We put this question to our contributors:

 

13. What do you feel is the single most reliable source of information pertaining to your field?

 

Alan Bleiweiss

My own experience.  Anything you read or hear is nothing without weighing it against or testing it as relates to each unique situation you’re dealing with.  It’s what speaks to us when we have an intuitive, or gut feeling about how to go about something.

Andrea Scarpetta

I always read with the utmost attention the blog of Alan Bleiweiss, SearchMarketingWisdom.

Andrew Bleakley

Hard work coupled with your own research and testing is the only way to be sure that any theory has weight. Search is now different from location to location and nation to nation, you cannot assume that just because you read it on a reputable website that it applies to the markets your clients are competing in.

Anthony Verre

The most reliable source, for me, is Google. Anything published officially by Google is about as reliable as you can get.

Barry Adams

I’ll not fall in to the self-promotional invite that’s implied there and won’t recommend any of the sites I write for. 🙂

As much as I like to slag off the big boys, the quality of their reporting is often beyond questioning. They’re the big boys for a reason, after all. So for SEO, Search Engine Land is unquestionably the key resource out there. They’re on the ball nearly all the time and have the insider contacts to get the juicy stuff sooner than anyone else. And their blogger team boasts some of the sharpest minds in search & IM. Their content is a bit US-centric so Europeans will have to use other sources as well, but if your market is the USA you can’t go wrong with SEL.

Dana Lookadoo

SEORoundtable.com – Barry Schwartz is the Walter Cronkite of search. He keeps his finger on the pulse and provides mostly unbiased reporting of the latest, nearly as it happens.

Danny Sullivan

For search, our own Search Engine Land site.

Dean Cruddace

The SEO Training Dojo forums and chat room is for me the fountain of knowledge to my questions, even when there are no answers we work together to find solutions, for me that is gold dust, everybody is on a level playing field where image and reputation gets left at the door and we all muck in.

Eren McKay

Like I’ve said previously… I don’t follow single sources. I research a lot before making an informed decision. If I had to narrow it down to what I feel is the most reliable way to research, it would be: knowing how to use a variety of advanced Google search operators.

Gabriella Sannino

Single, shezz – I’m not sure there is ONE single place. It’s an antipasto for me – blogs, news sites, journals, TV media…

Garrett French

Personal experience – mine and the experience of my valued and trusted peers in the space.

Heather Lloyd-Martin

That’s a tough one, as there are some great publications that all have their own “take” on SEO copywriting. Copyblogger is a good resource.  Convince and Convert is another. Anything from Level 343. I’d also include my SEO Copywriting blog as well.

Hugo Gill

Radio: SEO Dojo Radio

Website: Search Engine Land

Ian Lurie

I’m probably getting obscure, but the Harvard Business Review tends to have really insightful, well-researched work. I tend to pull in advice from lots of different sources, but if I was on a desert island (and still running my business, for some reason) I’d want HBR.

Jahnelle Pittman

The Internet! 😀 Seems like a flippant answer, but it’s not. The Internet is so full of information – yes, a lot of it is unreliable, but that’s why you do the research, compare what one site says with another and dig for the truth. As with most fields, articles about SEO are written from the perceptions, experiences, knowledge and ideas of the writer – which may differ widely (and this doesn’t necessarily mean the five points of view are wrong!) Finding good information is a treasure hunt!

Jey Pandian

Nothing. All information on the web is written through another individual’s perspective, never trust information at face value unless the veracity is proved beyond doubt.

Joe Hall

There isn’t one.

Joshua Titsworth

I don’t think there is one piece of information that’s more important than another when it comes to search marketing. All aspects can influence each other for the better or worse. So I guess if there is one piece of reliable information, it comes down to knowing how on-site and off-site tactics effect each other for the long term, not the short term.

Justin Parks

There isn’t one.  The whole industry needs and indeed thrives on  variables, conversation, opinions and suggestions.  Take them all and NEVER ever focus in on just one place as the be all and end all, the Holy Grail, of information.  It simply doesn’t exist.

Lyena Solomon

There is never just one source of information.  If everyone agrees, it means that they missed something. I like to read different sources, be aware of different opinions, have different perspectives.  I read blogs: SEOmoz, SEObook, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine People, etc.  Following just one source makes you narrow-minded.

Michelle Robbins

For me, the single most reliable source for search and internet marketing information is Search Engine Land.

M.J. Taylor

SEOmoz  – and I am not even a member.  I need to change that.

Rand Fishkin

If we’re talking about search in particular, http://searchengineland.com is very good. As an aggregator for the wider world of web technology – http://techmeme.com is excellent.

Rebekah May

It’s difficult to say what the single most reliable source is, while I can cite many popular search engine marketing blog – not everyone always agrees on the degree of accuracy or the method of discovering that information.  To ensure you are finding the most reliable information, always rely on yourself.  If you are don’t know the answer, go out and test it and document your results then come up with your own conclusions.

S. Emerson

The search engine webmaster guidelines and their blogs.  They are the one reliable resource you can go back to verify something you have read elsewhere.

Tim Nash

Feedback, both analytics or direct user feedback. Everything is about results, both tangible and intangible. Learning from your successes and failures will give you far more information than any single blog posts. If you have direct access to your user base (customers, clients etc) then direct feedback from them can be exceptionally valuable, especially if you are responsible for a sales funnel or lead acquisition. Likewise, testing, be it simple split testing or behavioural testing, will often return unexpected results. If you’re ever in doubt, run a test – then run a few more.

William Slawski

Again, I would turn to the patent filings I find at the patent office, primarily because they are directly from the search engines. While I wouldn’t read a patent and assume that something described within it has or will be implemented by the search engines, the ideas and assumptions set forth are ones that I feel I can place some faith in as being genuine.

 

You can begin with Chapter One of Critical Thinking for the Discerning SEO here.

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Doc Sheldon has been writing professionally since the 1970s, and has worked in marketing since the 1980s. He owned and published weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines during the ’80s, before becoming a business consultant and ultimately "retiring" in 2008. He began studying SEO in earnest in 2003, and now specializes in technical SEO. His passions are the development of the Semantic Web, trying to figure out what changes may be coming next from the search engines and eliminating misinformation.

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