SEOmoz’s SEO Quiz

On Monday SEOmoz released an seo quiz that’s been taking a little heat ever since. The criticism is fair, but it’s still a fun quiz to take and the criticism does miss the point somewhat on why the quiz exists in the first place.

The quiz is

  1. Entertainment
  2. Linkbait

I don’t think it’s meant to be the authority on how much you really know about seo. No 75 question multiple choice test is going to honestly assess your seo skills. Is it important that you know who Danny Sullivan is? Not really. If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes with seo you should know who he is and chances are he’s taught you something in those 5 minutes, but does knowing who Danny is make you a better SEO? Of course not.

The quiz is entertaining, though and it’s already generating some links, which are it’s two main goals. To a lesser degree you might find it educational depending on where you are on the seo learning curve. If you’re new to seo you probably will learn a few things. At the very least you’ll learn about a few issues that an seo thinks about that you might not have realized were important.

If you’ve been a practicing seo for awhile you probably won’t learn much new, but you might find a couple of interesting topics for discussion. Contrary to Rand’s warning the quiz isn’t all that difficult if you’ve spent any time in the industry. The most difficult questions are on par with the 10 seo questions Rand asked about a month ago.

You can see from the badge at the top of this post that I did quite well. However the badge is the result of my second time through the quiz. I scored 83% the first time through, though I disagreed with about half the answers to the questions I got wrong. Today I got one answer wrong and only because Rand changed the answer from yesterday based on some of the criticism.

My guess is the questions are easy enough to appeal to the ego of people like me so we’ll display the badge along with the associated link back to SEOmoz. It worked. What can I say? I wasn’t going to display a badge saying I’d failed the quiz after all.

Vanessa Fox is right when she says your score has more to do with how your seo philosophy is aligned with the philosophy of SEOmoz than it is with your skill in optimizing a website. As a reader of SEOmoz I knew what the right answer to some of the questions would be even though I might not have agreed with it. Remembering Rand’s post on the subject certainly helps boost your score a little.

Vanessa is also right when she points out that seo is art as much as it is science and many of these questions have no one right answer. The answer depends on the situation of the site being optimized and context of the question being asked.

Still the quiz is a worthwhile effort. It is entertaining and if you have 15 minutes to a half hour of time to fill go ahead and take it. I’m sure the quiz will generate links and if it teaches you even one thing or gets you thinking about why one answer might be better than another it’s served an educational purpose.

So give yourself a diversion and take the quiz and then come back and share your thoughts about it.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

6 comments

  1. Sorry, Steven, I’m not with you on this one.

    Even if I take it for entertainment purposes only, this quiz met the three strikes and you’re out rule for me by the 9th question.

    1) Half of my window got “blacked out” so that I could sign up for premium membership if I wanted to. Piss off with that stuff, SEOMoz.

    2) Question 7:

    Question 7/75
    Which of the following is the WORST criteria for estimating the value of a link to your page/site?
    The number and quality of other external links on the page
    The ranking of the linking page for its targeted keywords
    The inclusion of the page in the indices of the major search engines
    The popularity of the domain on which the page is hosted according to Alexa
    The PageRank of the page in the Google toolbar

    That’s like asking me if I’d like to stab myself, shoot myself, beat myself about the head with a bat, pour gas on myself and light a match, or drink $50 worth of bleach. I’m gonna die no matter which I choose, and none of these are “good” criteria…they’re all bad.

    Question 10/75
    Which of the following sources is considered to be the best for acquiring competitive link data?
    Alexa
    MSN/Live
    Yahoo!
    Ask.com
    Google

    Why would anyone who knows how to build a site properly even need to know or care about competitive link data? They’ll get their own organic traffic.

    I never even bothered to finish it after that. This is a joke, but not in a good way.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Vanessa. I think the badges and the quiz in general show yet again how we SEOs are the most baitable people on the planet. Need links? Target SEOs.

    Adam I agree about many of the questions. I don’t think question 7 is all that bad. The first three answers as you have them listed are reasonable criteria for looking at the value of a link. It comes down to which is worse Alexa or PageRank, which isn’t much of a choice. That’s one of the questions Vanessa pointed out by the way.

    I think question 10 is reasonable too. Knowing how many links another page and site has is good to know if you want to beat them for certain keywords.

    But I agree there are some questions that could have been better written and there are more than a few that don’t really test seo knowledge. They’re more about seo trivia. I still think the quiz is entertaining and I think people new to seo can learn something.

  3. I do see your point Adam. I think with the quiz the idea was purely which would help more when it comes to ranking a page. I think the main issue with the quiz is the answers really aren’t absolutes and anyone with seo experience can see that and know it’s not the most useful test of knowledge.

    The quiz came across to me more for people a little above the newbie who know enough about seo to understand what the question is asking, but maybe not enough to really understand the question. If that makes sense.

    There are some better questions in there if you decide to go through will all 75. A lot where you’ll probably dislike the answers, but a few that might make for an interesting discussion. Maybe even a few ideas for blog posts.

  4. Steven, I’ve got two words to answer that: Stumble Upon.

    A StumbleUpon link usually has no internal PageRank.
    A StumbleUpon link usually has no external links to it.
    A StumbleUpon link isn’t meant for SEO purposes, but to direct traffic to a site…and a buttload of it.

    There are many other links in this vein that are out there, and some that wouldn’t even register a pass on any of the five criteria (IBM’s intranet links come to mind), but I’ll take them over 99.999% of “search engine friendly” links simply because of the traffic they generate. And isn’t that the whole goal of SEO in the first place?

    Now, I do realize the question was intended for SEO purposes, and that actually was part of the reason I felt it was a bad question; it promotes the idea that a link only has SEO value to those who could misinterpret the question, and it’s quite easy to do in that context. Couple that with the outdated and oft-repeated “statistic” that 85% of traffic comes from search engines and BOOM! Houston, we have a link problem.

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