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When I got curious about the answer to the question featured in the recent blog post about the iPhone app, I decided to search it with Google. Surprised the question doesn't appeared in first result, nor the first page, I tried luck and nothing in the second one! D:

The search query is "What is the difference between white and brown eggs?" and family/permutations:

  • difference white brown eggs
  • white eggs brown eggs difference
  • what have in common brown and white eggs?
  • etc.

Is the SEO somehow wrong? Or we have low ranking when talking about food?

4

You're probably just reading too much into one example. Plenty of other questions do rank for the relevant queries, and we do get the vast majority of our views from search. The fact that this particular question doesn't appear to rank doesn't really mean anything about SEO or our ranking in general.

Really, this isn't a question I'm super worried about seeing in search results anyway. It's a very very common one, and our answers really aren't that substantially better than the pages you do see for your queries. I see us as the 25th result, which is honestly pretty good - there are tons of pages on the internet that say there's no difference between white and brown eggs, and they pretty much all say it just as well as we do. What would be worrying is if there's a question here that isn't answered anywhere else, and somehow you see 10 results that don't answer the question ranking above our page.

On that note, worrying about "the SEO" is really not a good approach. Sites rank well when they have good content and don't shoot themselves in the foot (you'd be surprised how many sites have the title of the site only in an image...). If we want to keep ranking for more and more queries, we just need to keep asking and answering more and more questions, particularly the ones that take some expertise to answer and may not already have a good answer out there. So even if there is a problem with our ranking, the solution is not SEO, it's just making content that people want to read and link to.

1

I'll just add in my two cents: If you want proof that we are getting indexed and that our Google ranking isn't artificially low, check out some other queries, such as:

Where we don't rank as high is with the ridiculously common/popular questions, which definitely includes the difference between white and brown eggs. Another instance of this is our question about how to chop onions without crying or how to peel garlic - they're quite popular on our site, but they're so popular in general that we just get buried under the pile-on. There's just no way we're going to be able to compete with sites like YouTube, chow.com, or Lifehacker, considering their traffic.

No site is immune to this. Even one of Stack Overflow's most highly-trafficked questions ever, How can I prevent SQL injection?, ranks #2 for that exact phrase, and #4 for "preventing sql injection". The gap is less marked because Stack Overflow has over 100 times our traffic, but it proves that you can't just "SEO" your way to the top of every query. The internet is a big place.

But that doesn't matter. The whole idea of Stack Exchange is to cover the "long tail" of questions - to make it easy to find quality answers to questions that are normally hard to find. If the question is already answered comprehensively in 46,000 other places, it's not our mandate to compete.

FWIW, I suspect (can't prove) that part of the reason we rank fairly consistently above sites like wikihow is that Google recognizes them as content farms and penalizes them.

Moderators have access to Google analytics and while we can't share the specifics, I can tell you that our search engine traffic is very high and dwarfs all other forms of traffic - just like every other Stack Exchange site including Stack Overflow.

  • +1 for long tail strategy – Preston May 28 '14 at 2:27

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