Does SEOMOZ’ New LDA Tool Really Answer Any Questions?

Updated September 7, 2010

Doc Sheldon

The Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin, posted yesterday on the topic of Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), on the SEOmoz blog. It’s stirred a lot of conversation, which was probably at least part of the intent. Most of the comments I’ve seen fall clearly on either the “Cool!”, or the “Gimme a freakin’ BREAK!” side, with relatively few taking the position of “Could be handy… I’m not sure.”

Of course, in the SEO – SEM community, you don’t encounter a lot of “not sure” opinions. Theories abound, and are often passionately defended. It’s been my observation that the level of passion is often inversely proportional to the amount of supporting evidence. That isn’t true of all, of course. The people whose opinions I most respect are usually those that are the most objective and open-minded. One such is Andy Beard. He responded with some observations on the SEOmoz LDA tool, on his blog, SEOmoz LDA Tool – Just 3 Points, in his typically fair manner. It addresses some concerns that I share, and makes one think, as it should.

My Sensei at the SEO Dojo, David Harry, is another person whose writing I tend to give a second read. His post, The New LSI for 3rd Generation SEOs? makes some excellent points. And given the almost nuclear passion that David holds on the topic of search (and particularly anything even remotely related to LSI), I gotta tip my hat… he presented a fair, even-handed analysis, without using the term “bullshit” even once.

Must have been tempting, though.

My opinion, at this point, is that the moz LDA tool might give us some help in discovering a relevancy problem, but it falls short of the more subtle implications in Rand’s article. I also share the concern with others, that this may simply turn into more “snake oil” for wannabe SEOs to peddle.

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Comments

  1. I’m sure you’re right, David. There’s been some sort of semantic analysis drum being beaten for several years, and it’s not likely to go away now. Great post you put up, BTW!

  2. I’ve gotten fairly jaded with tools. There are several I use, but I always take them with a grain of salt.
    My first litmus test is to test it three to five times under identical conditions (or as close to identical as repetitive search will allow), and if the variation isn’t typical, I usually don’t use it again.
    I’m not geeky enough to understand all of how such tools work, but I am engineer enough to usually be able to spot BS results. πŸ˜‰

  3. You’re probably a good bit more qualified than I, Andy. I’ve got some ball-park ideas of how semantic search can work, on a small scale. But applying that to an index like Google works with is a different game entirely.

    Google? Follow their own guidelines?

    Surely, you jest! πŸ˜‰

  4. I am certain this will not be the last of this Shel. I know it isn’t sexy marketing, and we are at the end of the day, marketers, but I really want some clarity. If not it becomes the next messy snake oil we all have to deal with. I tried not to take away from what the Moz crew had worked at, more just ensuring a realistic understanding of what it can and cannot do.

  5. safcblogger says:

    I have steered clear of new shiny tools for a while now, sometimes you can have too many and become blinded by data. If it`s not broke why try to fix it?

    Maybe I am set in my ways now with regards to tools, not exactly brand loyalty but I think I am cracking on quite well with what I have.

    The invention of another acronym will not have me spinning with panic if I do not have a tool to measure it.

  6. Hi Doc

    I don’t feel I am qualified to comment on the geek side of this – I know Google might use something to do with related terms, but that would be to understand the document.

    Plus what ever theories people throw at this, Google still have a long way to do with other things – such as canonicalization of their damn analytics tracking links.