Why the Marketing World Needs More Correlation Research

Posted by randfish

Do more tweets of a URL lead to higher search rankings on Google? Do longer articles get more shares on Facebook? Do emails that contain images have lower open rates?

These, and hundreds of other questions marketers are constantly asking, can be answered mathematically through correlation data. Yet, it seems there's an unfortunate bias against correlations, specifically in the SEO community. Part of this has to do with the well-known maxim "correlation is not causation." This is eminently true.

Correlation is Not Causation

However, I LOVE to know correlation, even when it's wholly disconnected from causation, and I'm surprised more marketers rail against the acquisition of this knowledge. After all, we constantly use correlation-based observations in our everyday lives, scientists use it frequently to discover potential hypotheses and put forward experiments to test them. 

For example, I personally care less about what Google actually uses as ranking elements in their massive algorithm than on what kinds of sites and pages tend to perform well. To my mind, it's much more fascinating to learn, that, for example, stories that appear in the Google News results are much more likely to have images originally sourced by the news publisher than it would be to … Read the rest

May 27, 2012  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Correlation vs. Causation (A Mathographic)

Posted by Dr. Pete

As part of our quest to understand the Algorithm, we do a lot of correlation analysis here at SEOmoz. We tend to dive right into the deep end, so I thought it might be a good time to take a step back and talk about the absolute basics of correlation, including some warnings about causation. We’ll often say (and hear) the fallback phrase – “correlation does not imply causation”, but people rarely dig into what that means.

To make this experience as pleasant as possible for the math-phobic, I drew you a picture. I’d like to introduce the world’s first Mathographic. Ok, it’s probably not the world’s first, and it’s really just an infographic, but give a guy credit for trying to keep you entertained.

View Full-sized Infographic (796 x 2200)

Correlation vs. Causation (A Mathographic)

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Obviously, our actual studies get a lot more complex than this, but everything has to start somewhere. If you’re interested in more advanced topics on correlation, here are a few references … Read the rest

September 22, 2011  Tags: , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Correlation Data for SEO and Social Media Analysis – Part 2 – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Last week, Rand discussed the importance of correlation data in general and how you can use it for SEO research. It’s a lot easier to get things done if you know which tasks are high priority and which are low, and correlation data can help. This week, Rand finishes off this two-part series on correlation data by discussing some specific observations we’ve made about correlations between SEO tactics and their effects on rankings. There are some very interesting conclusions, so check it out! Also let us know in the comments below if you’ve been able to draw any correlations of your own.

 

Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week the second in our two-parter on correlation data for SEO and social media analysis. I’m really excited about this one. We’re going to be talking about very specifically a few of the really interesting things that we’ve observed from correlation data.

Last week, if you recall, we talked about a lot of the basics of correlation data. I showed some simple examples why it’s useful both

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April 30, 2011  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  2 Comments

Correlation Data for SEO and Social Media Analysis – Part 1 – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 One of the most helpful aids in doing SEO is knowing what factors actually affect your rankings. It seems obvious on its face, but not everyone prioritizes their SEO work with the knowledge of how changes to a site and link profile actually affect the SERPs. It’s important to at least have some heuristics to use in pursuit of higher rankings, and while it’s not always easy, it is possible to correlate optimization techniques with positive (or negative) movement in SERPs.

SEOmoz tries to establish these correlations in our bi-annual Search Engine Ranking Factors project by running tests and consulting with professional SEOs; for instance, in 2009, we discovered that keyword-focused anchor text from external links was highly correlated with positive rankings (we’re currently working on a new iteration of the report for 2011, so keep your eyes peeled!). As you probably know, and as Rand spends a little time explaining in this week’s Whiteboard Friday, correlation is not causation. That being said, correlations are still important and useful information! In today’s post, Rand begins a two-part series on how to use correlation data in your SEO and social media research.

Read the rest

April 23, 2011  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Correlation Data for SEO and Social Media Analysis – Part 1 – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 One of the most helpful aids in doing SEO is knowing what factors actually affect your rankings. It seems obvious on its face, but not everyone prioritizes their SEO work with the knowledge of how changes to a site and link profile actually affect the SERPs. It’s important to at least have some heuristics to use in pursuit of higher rankings, and while it’s not always easy, it is possible to correlate optimization techniques with positive (or negative) movement in SERPs.

SEOmoz tries to establish these correlations in our bi-annual Search Engine Ranking Factors project by running tests and consulting with professional SEOs; for instance, in 2009, we discovered that keyword-focused anchor text from external links was highly correlated with positive rankings (we’re currently working on a new iteration of the report for 2011, so keep your eyes peeled!). As you probably know, and as Rand spends a little time explaining in this week’s Whiteboard Friday, correlation is not causation. That being said, correlations are still important and useful information! In today’s post, Rand begins a two-part series on how to use correlation data in your SEO and social media research.

Read the rest

April 22, 2011  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments



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