LSI Siloing, Co-Occurrence Proven: Debunking Stompernet's Ploy

Currently, Stompernet has two new videos by Leslie Rohde that have stirred debate about what LSI, siloing and theming are, and their role in ranking in Google. First of all, don’t waist your time or money with Stompernet. They charge too much, and DO NOT listen to the first video and abandon LSI, siloing and theming. Let’s get on with it.

Stompernet Claims that Google does not use LSI in its ranking algorithm and they can prove it. In truth, this is a false claim, and I’ll show you why. Their whole video series is just a strawman, Strawman is a rhetorical technique (also classified as a logical fallacy) based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s positions. Their whole LSI debunking argument is based on a misrepresentation of a rival’s (Charles Heflin) position.

Stompernet is unethical. They create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (i.e. their mathematical definition of LSI), and their proof is simply a search for a word in singular and plural.  Leslie suggests that if Google used LSI, the results would be identical in terms of search results and number of results returned.  The fact is, they are not.  I would argue that this would only be true if LSI were the only ranking factor – something I don’t think anyone believes.  In this case by claiming to refute the original proposition without ever having actually refuted it.  In doing so, they misrepresent the idea of LSI, and simplify it to a mathematical equation.

Secondly, they claim to have debunked a rival’s theory, when in fact, he has never put forth such an idea. When they claim that Charles Heflin has stated that LSI is what google uses to rank websites, this is simply a false claim.

Finally, their proof just does not make sense.  They simply do a search for a word in the singular and plural, and suggest that if Google used LSI, the number of results returned would be identical.  When the number of results returned are not identical, they claim to have made their point.

Leslie simplifies LSI to just an algorithm.  When webmasters refer to LSI, they are most often referring to theming or siloing. Often, a word takes on more than one meaning, i.e. Band-Aid is a brand, but it also refers to a bandage.  In the first video, Leslie Rohde states that Google does not use LSI in its ranking algorithm, and says he can prove it. The proof is simply a search for a word in the singular and plural.  Leslie suggests that if Google used LSI, the results would be identical in terms of search results and number of results returned, and they are not.  I would argue that this is only true if LSI was the only ranking factor – something I don’t think anyone believes.  For me, this creates a major problem with the first video, which means that whatever else Leslie says is simply not relevant.

This post is about defending Theming or Siloing, LSI (or better phrased Relational Semantics), Co-Occurrence and Expert Verbiage to outrank websites.  You see, IMO, Leslie seems to be trying to convince people that something they believe to be true, isn’t, when in fact its not really something they believed in the first place.  You see, when Leslie uses the term LSI, he does not use the term in the same sense that most people do.  To Leslie, LSI is the mathematical equation laid out in a research paper.

Of course, to give a little background, this LSI (and talk of Siloing) was created by Bruce Clay way back when, which he called theming.  Here’s a quote…

“Silos and theming have been around for a long time, and back in 2007 you would have heard the newest buzz words on popular webmaster forums: such as “silos”, “themed websites” and “expert verbiage”. But IN REALITY professional SEMs have been using these very same strategies for years on end for consistent, high SE rankings for their clients. The proper application of silos and themed websites had been a closely guarded secret of these professional SEO firms… up until the advent of Latent Semantic Indexing.”

However, Stompernet doesn’t seem to want to educate its viewers about this.  For those who would like to be in the know, this is what happened in 2006: (when the tables really started turning in Google’s favor). explains what was going on at Google:

On December 28th 2006 Google filed a new patent application titled “Detecting spam documents in a phrase based information retrieval system”. Google engineer, Anna Lynn Patterson is the inventor or this patent. Here is a quote directly from the patent:

“An information retrieval system uses phrases to index, retrieve, organize and describe documents. Phrases are identified that predict the presence of other phrases in documents. Documents are the indexed according to their included phrases. A spam document is identified based on the number of related phrases included in a document.”

So Google has filed a patent for an algorithm that will index and rate the “relevance” of web pages to determine if there is also an occurrence of phrases related to the subject matter of a web page.

To give y’all some more background, I came along in 2006 and started doing SEO based on Relational Semantics, Co-Occurrence, and Siloing, guided by The Master Plan, written by Charles Heflin.  I am still a member of Charles Heflin’s membership site. The principles he teaches, Siloiong, LSI and Social Web, have been taught by the greats such as Bruce Clay, and these techniques have proliferated.  Although I am no longer a member of Themezoom, their keyword research tool not only utilizes LSI but also the theory of Co-Occurence.  It also has the ability to organize a site that, done manually, would take a long time.  As Dan Thies puts is, “What I do know is that LSI techniques can be applied very effectively for Keyword Discovery, and as far as I know that’s the main thrust of what Russell has done with LSI for Themezoom.

So while both Google and ThemeZoom stake their work on LSI, Stompernet’s video is taking an extreme position (and creating a lot of controversy in the process); simply stated, the intent of the video is not to create clarity in SEO but to attract attention and sell their products.

But that alone will not negate their well made ‘social proof’ video.

What they are failing to tell the viewer is this: while LSI is only one aspect of ranking (there are other factors), in no way has it been debunked.

I’m a member of SEO2020 and bought it upon first release.  That’s when I first learned of LSI and Siloing. Google came out with their patent on LSI in 2006.  Here’s how you can save a whole bunch of time: read what Charles Heflin has to say when it comes how to ranking in Google (hint: you have to add links to make it grow).  Anyway here’s his quote.

Couple “social buzz” with relevant and semantically relevant words in your documents and the categorical structure of your site and BAM . … you’re at the top… simple, repeatable, no mystery … and it certainly is NOT LSI but like Leslie said …much more intelligent than using a theoretical LSI engine.” Charles Heflin


Courtesy of Radar Networks

So I guess keyword density is the answer for your content, right? I’m sorry, excuse the sarcasm, but if you knew anything about LSI, you’d understand LSA, Latent Semantic Analysis then you’d understand the concept of theming–which you actually talk about in video 2. And I’m not gonna front: Stompernet has made some great videos before. It’s tough times right now, so they need money.  I understand.  So I don’t blame them for trying to create a marketing frenzy for their next SEO product, and every other video of theirs.  Their tests of Ecommerce sites are fantastic examples of SEO applied theory, and it made sense. That’s what SEO is by the way…applied theory.

But this video is about ranking in Google, and they state that you DO NOT NEED strategies involving LSI, because Google does not base their rankings on LSI.  And Leslie, the author of the video, further states YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE PROPER SITE STRUCTURE.  Hmm, so this premise is that Siloing or Organzing your site is not needed at all to rank.  It is true that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, but I prefer the most effective way of ranking in Google, the way that Google values with its own patents.  And that is LSI.

This is a tricky value proposition and confuses the shit out of people.  You can get a site to rank if you have very strong links, but what the video fails to tell you is that Charles Heflin and company never state how LSI content writing and keyword research is now combined with social web and expert verbiage.

Their simplification of the matter is intriguing but more likely insulting to people like Bruce Clay, Russel Wright, Charles Heflin and myself, reducing our applied theories to meaningless case studies.  They are attempting to mislead for their own gain, and they are actually deleting Charles Heflin’s replies to their blog–that’s right, DELETING COMMENTS.  That’s like beyond lame. I also work in Online Reputation Management and this is about as spammy as my worst clients–old CEO’s who don’t get that the internet is about dialogue not monologue. You would think an Internet Marketing and SEO company like Stompernet would embrace this.  Absolutely unbelievable.

So how do you rank in Google, Stompernet? Could it be related to themeing as you refer to in the second video?

Google doesn’t rely solely on LSI to rank, but it’s crucial; they rely on many factors to determine rankings, and now that the social web has arrived, they also rely on that as well. LSI is simply related keywords: an idea that is contrary to the once dominant idea of keyword density–say a word enough times on your page and the search engines will rank your page higher.

Of course, search engines sucked and then Google came along and developed a new information retrieval system that uses phrases to index, retrieve, organize and describe documents. That is why they have a patent for LSI or Phrase identification in an information retrieval

I’d be happy to discuss information retrieval any day of the week with Stompernet members.

The patent states:

“The system is further adapted to identify phrases that are related to each other, based on a phrase’s ability to predict the presence of other phrases in a document. More specifically, a prediction measure is used that relates the actual co-occurrence rate of two phrases to an expected co-occurrence rate of the two phrases. Information gain, as the ratio of actual co-occurrence rate to expected co-occurrence rate, is one such prediction measure. Two phrases are related where the prediction measure exceeds a predetermined threshold. In that case, the second phrase has significant information gain with respect to the first phrase. Semantically, related phrases will be those that are commonly used to discuss or describe a given topic or concept, such as “President of the United States” and “White House.” For a given phrase, the related phrases can be ordered according to their relevance or significance based on their respective prediction measures.”

Fact is, there are tools out there that are getting just as good as Themezoom, namely Nichebot Wordstream KewordSpy, SEMRUSH and Market Samurai, but Theme Zoom does integrate so many of these functions under one system it can be beneficial for some. One thing I will say is they need to work on their layout. That patent is the BASIS for Google relevancy, starting in 2007, as well as their patent for Co Occurence.

Yes, they have a patent on Co Occurence, which basically means they are looking for clusters of semantically related words that show a mastery of a topic, so they can safely send a searcher to your website and be sure she will be satisfied.

So this why some documents can outrank authority news sites like the or I’m going to give you three great examples. And as an aside, though Dan Thies doesn’t believe in Silos and Themes, he certainly believes that by using LSI and Co Occurence to conduct research, he can outrank his competitors (without these techniques it would probably take a backlink from ungodly sources…)

Case Study 1:

My first example involves the site about heart valve surgery.  At 33, a guy had to have this surgery and wrote a book to help people go through this life changing experience. This topic of heart surgery is complicated, and so you’ll notice only .edu and very authoritative sites ranking for such keywords about heart surgery.

Yet his site ranks Number 1 in Google for over 60 keywords.  He ranks in the top 20 of Google for over 1,400 keywords!

This is a perfect example of expert verbiage and LSI (or Google determined synonyms) in effect. Google is ranking his site ABOVE, and, the most respected heart institute in the world for 100’s of keywords, which I’ll show right below.

The website started a couple years ago,, contains the expert verbiage and related words that Google is looking for, a topic that is difficult to outsource to writers because its a complex subject matter. Which is why it’s a great example for my case study.  And yes, he gets many comments and feedback which adds to the social aspect.

The Proof:

A Google search for “valve replacement aortic” which only contains one keyword in his root domain, outranks authority sites named above including .edu sites and others with less page rank.

The expert verbiage and relational semantics Google is looking for is used in which results in these google results

For further showing of this site, go to

I can’t give further rankings of his keywords, but if you are a professional SEO, then you’ll be able to utilize the proper keyword tools to reverse engineer his rankings, proving a simple applied theory: That Google awards sites that employ expert words, semantically related, and can scan the text and understand using Co Occurence algorithm.

Thus, this site outranks the most trusted, authoritative websites on the internet. So now you understand that what Stompernet is stating is not true, and of course keyword density is not important.  It’s the various related words, the theme density and semantically related images and links on a website that matter.

You could argue that the heart valve site does use a proper url structure, but that’s not enough of a retort to explain how it outranks the sites it does.

Case Study 2

When I have a website that needs top ranking for clients, I employed Siloing and got incredible results.  Most variables stayed constant and it was quite obvious what happened.

A website about hemorrhoids, called, wanted to rank on Google Page 1 for “hemorrhoids.”  Of course that’s not the best keyword to rank for since the intent of the searcher is informational, but you try convincing a bunch of doctors and professionals who want to be THE SOURCE, you do the long tail and give them what they pay for.

I employed the tactics of Siloing, using a virtual directory style of no-following, sprinkled with one wikipedia link (only variable, it was to a resource page), and their rankings catapulted to the first page.acne related keywords

Another example: acne

Google ranks websites that use images, videos, and words that only experts and well-versed writers would offer: an authoritative website about acne wouldn’t rank very highly by just repeating that word, or by organizing the site in a way that wasn’t relevant for a user.

The acne site would use related words such as eczema, rosacea, daily face wash, neutrogena, etc.   It’s what I call ‘expert verbiage.’  My father was a dermatologist so I bring up this as an example.

In other words, if you intend to rank for the phrase acne then you’d better discuss things related to acne, which you can easily find using the keyword tool KWBROWSE

More Proof: Google Books, and uh like everyone’s info

Think about all those books Google has indexed in Google Books? And all of those scholarly journals as well? Well those words are being filtered into the algorithm. Google rewards your page as relevant because you know what you’re talking about and it wants to give the most relevant results to users.

Take a look at my resources below: here is a dissertation on LSI from last year.  I was used as an expert witness in one and there’s also another lighter one here that is in my opinion the ultimate resource for LSI in academia.

The reason Google can do this (search this way) is because people are actually contributing to the web.  And to give another definition of  Co-Occurence, here’s what states that it is

“the percentage of websites that contain both the main theme keyword (or keyphrase) and a secondary keyword (synonym) as well” and this ties in with keyword relevancy and your site having properly organized themes or silos. And themed links.

Anyway, back to some examples.

Google’s Recent Algorithm Change

Now to add to the mix of LSI, and Relevancy, and Siloing, and ranking in Google, which is what this is about–btw I named my SEO company Highly Relevant just because I believe so strongly in Relevancy–Google has just announced an improvement to their ability to index and retrieve content based on long tail searches, ie search phrases that contain several characters.

That’s right. Google has gotten so good with their relevancy engine that they recently updated their search algorithm to give better, long tail results See:


I have been in the industry a few years, and SEO is about applied theory, and I have the rankings and credentials to back it up.  Putting theories into practice…. So what that means is you can’t claim something to work in SEO unless you have proof, because there are no rulebooks. The leading publication in SEO is and they survey the leading SEO’s and publish the most agreed upon factors for ranking in Google every year. Take a look here:

I know for a fact that it’s difficult to get credible sources–I was an expert witness in an internet case and had to prove the value of a website that ranks for two, three and four word phrases, whereas the defense countered that the sites were unimportant and unprofitable since they didn’t rank for general one and two word terms.


Time Magazine recently referred to it as magic in order to explain Huffington Post’s incredible web traffic.

So Stompernet is taking advantage of SEO controversy, and I know that they are doing so to sell a product.  But it’s one thing to be the Shamwow guy showing you how easy it is to clean up your spilled wine in your rented hotel room in Florida… it’s an infomercial so you take it with a grain of salt.

But to me, so is Stompernet’s video: it contains characteristics of an informerial–attention, controversy, interest and desire. They have done a damn good job in the video: it is clearly explained and convincing.  But let me be clear, they are using a logical fallacy by basing their argument on an a false assertion– that LSI is the main way to rank in Google.

And here’s the problem. All you can do with SEO is demonstrate applied theories since the algorithms are not public. AT ALL.  So in this field that we find ourselves in, I encounter differing theories on a daily basis, and I am not one to argue that one works over another, although certain techniques are more effective than others, and we learn this as time goes on through testing, and whenever Matt Cutts (Google Engineer) divulges information.

In videos prior to this, Stompernet wasn’t attacking any well known, applied theories as it is doing here.  In this case, they are taking an extremist, absolutist position that allows for little debate. It’s a problem that continues to exist.  I learned when living in Thailand for years that in Buddhism, and Hinduism, and even Aristotle, that two extremes serve no purpose in finding an answer.

Russel Targ says it best and it applies to SEO: “The exclusion of a middle ground between the poles of logic is the source of confusions.” Exactly Russel.

Stompernet’s extreme position does nothing but ABATE SEO. Is it a good thing or bad thing? Well that’s not necessarily the question to ask, there are both positives and negatives of this Stompernet LSI position.

The real question is what is their intent with this video? So moving along, it’s probably becoming clear that this video is extremist. But why? To help clarify or demystify? To trigger interest for their next product? Or allow for a healthy debate on their website? I’d give them the benefit of the doubt, but since they enjoy deleting comments of people who support the theories they ‘attack’ in their video, I unfortunately come to a conclusion of ill intent.

Intentions are important in my own ethics. It’s a fine line in marketing, since incredible promises are made all the time without evidence but of course with disclaimers.

So you have to ask the INTENT behind this video…is their intent to solve SEO myths once and for all or create confusion, attention and interest in their product? IT IS THE LATTER. So even though Andy Jenkins can quote Lesli Rohde, a SEO Engineer, and by the way Stompernet Faculty Member, and claim Leslie is the first guy to reverse engineer link reputation, it doesn’t necessarily support the argument of their video–you might as well have inserted a Paris Hilton quote saying she is patenting the words “That’s Hot” because she was the first person to use the words in every sentence she spoke.

So, in point of fact, I’m going to include resources that I’ve used to write this entry, unlike Stompernet.


Siloing and Internal Linking

Another resource you may find useful is one I wrote on Internal Linking and Siloing: The password is rex and is located at

Academic Papers on LSI and LSA

More Resources

30 Resources on Siloing

I have collected 30 resources on SILOING on my highlyrelevant blog, which covers the topics of LSI, Co Occurence and everything dealing with Siloing.

Usually I’d end my essays with resources, but I’m not done yet. I’d still like to Pwn Stompernet. And include Mr. Heflin’s comment Stompernet deleted.

Not that I already haven’t. I’ve spent my  Saturday reviewing LSI and social buzz, and I could go on and on, but let me make one last point.

Do a search in Google for mobile phones or swimming pools and take the top three results, and put them into Google Adwords keywords tool.  They rank sites higher that are well organized by relevant themes. You will start seeing common themes as Google groups the sites keywords.

You will notice that Google reveals its understandings of this site in proper keyword groupings. This is also called Theming, based on Co-Occurrence and is one of Google’s central way of understanding text. Google’s loves an organized site. That’s what Siloing is about. Easy navigation for a user, or a search spider, with well organized content, containing expert verbiage, resources to other websites…. That’s what Google wants.

Now, that doesn’t mean a site can’t rank without proper siloing and LSI/synonyms.  It can rank because powerful links can get a shitty site ranking, but not for long, and it’s more effective for ranking to stat with the end in mind.

Stompernet, you need to rethink what you’re saying here, because I am calling your bluff. And so is Charles. Your marketing intentions. Your sales hype. Because you are attacking my field of SEO in the wrong way. Why are there are no resource links provided about LSI and Co Occurence? And quite frankly Leslie, I’ve never met you but guess what, if you think that people are cashing in on LSI, you are actually using marketing scare tactics to cash in on your product. This is what Charles Heflin has to say about the whole matter and I think it finishes the post nicely.

Who ever said that Google is using an LSI algorithm? It is computationally impossible to reach a pure form of LSI. Google initially looked at this as a way to artificially determine “human relevance” so the best (most relevant) results will come up from a human query. Now they use social proof (social buzz if you will) to determine the relevance of your documents coupled with the use of keywords within the document. If you ever want to see what keywords Google finds related to a word or phrase simply use the “find synonyms” feature on their free AdWords keyword tool… Sprinkle those keywords in your document in a way that makes HUMAN sense. Couple “social buzz” with relevant and semantically relevant words in your documents and the categorical structure of your site and BAM … you’re at the top… simple, repeatable, no mystery … and it certainly is NOT LSI but like Leslie said …much more intelligent than using a theoretical LSI engine. The cool thing about coupling social buzz with semantically related words and synonyms on a document is the fact that you can rank with FAR, FAR FEWER inbound links regardless of pagerank or site age… Call me a liar… I have case study, after case study, after case study. I believe this video to be an ATTACK on the integrity of the teachings of Russell Wright, Bruce Clay (and others) and I can vouch for the fact that neither has EVER stated that Google uses an LSI algorithm. They simply teach their clients how to use semantics to determine market value and to plan the overall design (engineering) of a web presence to appeal to human visitors and appease the social calling of Google. I know for a 100% fact that this video is the beginning of a marketing ploy. A herding of the sheep… I here a bunch of bhaaa, bhaaa, bhaaa in here. Just beware of the wolf in sheep clothing who is after the contents of your wallet using terrible evidence to support a claim that is not founded in reality. Instead it is founded on assumption of the teachings of others when that assumption is a mirage designed to sway your opinion. Confuse the public, show (poor) evidence using nice videos and suddenly you have a herd of sheep with whom you can shear dollars from their hide. I encourage everyone to do their research before falling victim to mass media. We all should have learned this lesson already… We’re in a recession because of it. Nice strawman technique by the way. Just kidding, you didn’t even know you were employing it did you?

Well said Charles. Well Said.

I haven’t listened to this, but Charles is really into social media, and here is a free download.

Link Ecosphere

Related Blogs on lsi

Related Blogs on siloing

Related Blogs on stompernet

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21 thoughts on “LSI Siloing, Co-Occurrence Proven: Debunking Stompernet's Ploy

  1. Dan Thies

    Hey Rex, I’m a little busy working right now, but I’ll do you the honor of a proper response via my blog in a few days.

    I don’t recall Charles Heflin or Russell Wright claiming that Google is using LSI to generate their rankings, but I may be mistaken about that. In any event, if you consider Dr. Garcia credible you’ll surely believe that neither LSI nor PLSI is in use at a production scale.

    I also don’t recall Leslie attacking Charles or Russell in his video, and I am not mistaken about that.

    There are a *lot* of folks claiming that LSI is at the core of Google’s rankings, and claiming that they are able to use that knowledge to manipulate rankings. All you have to do is search in Google for [Google LSI] to see a whole bunch of ’em. Co-occurence patents are described as “the smoking gun for LSI at Google” etc.

    Again, if you’re willing to trust Dr. Garcia, he’s written about how nonsensical such claims are more than once – in response to the volume of the LSI “practitioners” – I daresay he’d call most of this post snake oil:

    Semantic analysis can indeed aid in keyword research, content development, and more… we haven’t said any different… but if you want me to drink your Silo Kool-Aid, you’re going to have to give me more.

    The simple fact is, a site that does detailed content development, builds out all the good stuff that people want, and uses rich descriptive copy will be more successful than if they didn’t do those things – whether it’s LSI, Silos, or Pigeons driving the train at Google.

    (BTW, good web sites also convert better, “stick” better, and do all kinds of other things that Google could sniff out just by watching user behavior…)

    Heck, just building a larger site will help your results immensely – and it will do so whether you did it with LSI in mind, or if you received those instructions from space aliens via a tinfoil antenna on top of your head.

    So, you can keep your Straw Man. Stay here and beat up on it all day if it makes you happy.

    BTW, you say that StomperNet charges too much, and I wonder how you arrived at your conclusion – are you a member? I assume you’re talking about our “full membership” coaching program, but are you aware of what we offer to our members?

    Such as (to offer a few examples) personal coaching, direct access to the faculty several times a week, and a staggering amount of instruction that goes far beyond search.

    Anyway – the SEO course in question will be sold for one (1) dollar, and the results of our students do speak for themselves.

    1. Rex

      Dan I appreciate the response. I have to get to radio shack before it closes, and before I negate your response, I love your wordpress seo sniper plugin, sad to see support go, but i’ll take that over All in One SEO or Platinum SEO anyday. I only learned about your ‘applied theories’ last year, and quickly realized through your free pdfs just how knowledgable you are. And you know dan, I’m glad you’d like to debate the issues, which is what is supposed to occur when someone like yourself and Andy Jenkins and Brad Fallon claim to have debunked an advanced seo technique. So Stompernet comes out with one of their famous SEO videos that employs fallacious arguments, stifles debate, clearly with the intent to confuse, stir interest and desire, and I’m telling you now that its fine to debunk or claim anything, but the method of your video, the stifling of conversation, for instance deleting Charles Heflin’s comments–who by the way is obviously implied here along with Russel Wright, and all of a sudden Stompernet has lost its credibility.

      Your previous videos were tests, like visitor conversion using hackersafe, or discoveries and implementation, such as how to create an indented listing.

      You seem like a great guy, and wouldn’t stoop to the strawman rhetoric of Stompernet and I’m not saying your guilty by association. What i am saying is that video sounds like an infomercial, Stompernet has gotten greedier and greedier and keep trying to claim they have the ‘magic formula’ so people will still listen to them, when their own medium, the internet, proliferates knowledge and connects people like never before–its just as important as the invention of fire, according to the Cluetrain Manifesto, but its also about communication and for me, ethics.

      Who are these many people that say that Google heavily relies on LSI to determine their rankings at a ‘production level?’ Are they listed in seomoz’s list of ranking factors? I mean SEO2020 and Themezoom are the leaders in that movement, but really I don’t know what snake oil salesman lurking out there saying LSI is what you need. Yeah it is. Stop keyword stuffing your fucking content. Write like a human being for once.

      Yeah LSI? The nuanced manipulation of that word to ‘debunk’ a misrepresnetation of an idea is snake oil tactics 101. I’m starting to feel like Stompernet, since their on page software came out, turned into a mass market money machine.

      Let me pretend I’m Stompernet and use your rhetoric, it would probably involve using the phrase ‘evil axis’ of seo gurus who pretend to be the messiah but are really just pariahs.

      Would love to talk more about this later, but I hope I don’t insult your intelligence with this question: Do you not realize that before LSI, Co-occurence, data retrieval was not relevant? Those patents changed the landscape. And now Google can recognize even more complex, long tail phrases, providing even more relevant phrases to their searchers. Yeah, links are important, but in case you didn’t know, Google just made improvements to their algorithm further proof that you can ignore semantic language and expert verbiage all you want, I’ll continue with my on page techniques of relying on semantic language, which includes social web language, and expert verbiage, and let others get their 1000 links while I outrank them with a brand new site.

      Thats well stated about what is used at the production level at Google, but Leslie doesn’t state it the way you just did. Also, thanks for the permission to keep my straw man argument and spend all day on it if it makes me happy. You’re right, i should get out more! But debating SEO makes me happy and I enjoy a good competitive round. I haven’t had a worthy opponent or mentor to speak of, perhaps maybe one or two people I’ve come across that know more about SERM and SEO than I do. And yes, that’s arrogant, but I admit that I’m bombastic for the wit and game of it.

      Back to one of your points about user behavior, definitely is becoming more important now. I agree that Google now watches user behavior, tracks bounce rate and time spent on site, to determine rankings. Because I’ve seen spikes and falls in ranking based on, to my statistical prowess, usability factors of the site.

      The point is, there are many factors and I dont espouse one over the other without A LOT of proof and a healthy debate about it. Stompernet on the other hand has decided to take it upon themselves to be the SEO Kings of the internet marketing niche, and it rubbed me the wrong way. I’d ask they stop their tactics, because with each fallacious clam , each comment they delete, every ill intention unmasked, there will people like myself and Charles Heflin espousing the truth. Its so tempting to use that brilliant marketing no doubt inspired probably by Frank Kern’s US vs Them theory, but we’re talking about SEO. Google. The internet. Social Media. Basically, the future of the semantic web that will connect us in ways not thought possible. Oh, can I get a discount for the membership? Say $.50 the first month. But the second month, you can only charge me $500.

  2. Dan Thies


    I didn’t create or sell that wordpress plugin, and haven’t actually used it. As I understand it, he read my book, and developed the tool so that he could do some PageRank sculpting.

    You keep putting words in other people’s mouths, so that you can either:

    1) Have them saying something outrageous that everyone can disagree with (that’s called a straw man argument)


    2) Create the illusion that they would agree with you, cloaking your argument in borrowed credibility. (dunno what that’s called, don’t care)

    You attribute motivations, even ACTIONS, to others that are patently false. Under such circumstances, rational discussion is not possible.

    My next StomperNet video will be out in a day or two, and while I wanted to talk about the folly of “opinion poll SEO” I just didn’t have the time in that video. Another time, perhaps.

  3. Rex


    I said you developed the SEO Sniper plugin? I apologize, you didn’t develop it. You’re not a coder and I’m sorry for attributing that to you. My intention was to show respect for your internal linking structure ideas.

    What motivations and actions am I attributing that are patently false?

    Oh you might be referring to the fact that Andy Jenkins and Frank Kern are good friends and Frank teaches Andy how to manipulate/market to people. Its clear the marketing tactics you are using. I think Kern’s ideas are brilliant, but not when it comes to manipulating SEO.

    Perhaps you didn’t know, but Frank Kern edited the first Stompernet sales letter, and the technique of Us vs Them, Hero, etc, Stompernet uses them very well in their videos. So I’m not putting words into people’s mouths. I’m calling it like it is.

    Let me continue on with what you mention. You see, I don’t personally attack someone to avoid negating their points, that’s a cop out, and a typical ad hominem fallacy.

    You mention “opinion poll SEO” — I look forward to hearnig that video. Because I actually think thats the problem with a video that Stompernet puts out like Leslie’s video 1 and other videos you use. Most of your techniques are sound, but this is not.

    So this is what I think “Opinion SEO” is – the acceptance of an SEO idea as true, because of its growing popularity or trendinesss. That’s opinion SEO and I adhere to “applied SEO” as I repeat throuhgout my post.

    Peer pressure, mass stupidity and tangible benefits $$ sometimes leads to a false idea being adopted by a lot of people. Which is my point. Stompernet tries to shake up the SEO world with their new groundbreaking discoveries.

    Of course there is a difference between jumping on a ‘bandwagon’ as that’s a trend, or doing something because its popular. But I digress.

    Both are not what people should be basing SEO efforts upon; instead, I suggest applied theory as I did in my post.

    I don’t take LSI, Siloing and Theming as fact because its trendy. I do it because it works. Since 2007. Your new video series doesn’t invalidate LSI. It is useless in debate.

  4. Thomas Rozof


    Just wanted to say thanks for your excellent thinking on this issue. You have done a great service here and I know the amount of time it has taken to put these thoughts in writing. Many more need to read your contributions and I for one will be sending people your way.

    What we are seeing with the intensity of response to the recent Stompernet LSI video is evidence of the social web at work. What I love is that it’s getting harder and harder to pull the old marketing one-two shuffle on people, like in the past. You better have a product of VALUE that does what you say it does, or you will be discovered. This is what is finally happening to Stompernet, and it’s a welcome occurrence.

    Frankly, I don’t fault Stompernet for trying to build their business. I don’t even care how much they charge. If people are willing to pay it thy can be the judge. But what I very much dislike is their cutting off honest dialogue (like they did with Charles Heflin–and others I know). That is all the evidence ANYONE should need. After all, if Charles’ criticism is wrong, or his logic faulty, then let the Stompernet community tell him so. But they have just proven that they do not BELIEVE IN THE COMMUNITY, nor in the social process they teach about. Instead they are trying to dominate and manipulate the discussion, ALL TO GAIN BETTER SALES. That is what I don’t like and it’s caused me to lose almost all respect for them.

    I took their social media course. It cost a lot. I did receive a good education, and I did appreciate the many adjunct professionals they brought in to help. There was not a lot of new material, but it was good to have it all in one place. But this recent tactic will cost them. Right now there are people putting up blogs just like yours to protest Stompernet heavy handed “post burning” tactics. This tells me all I need to know about their true intentions. Whether they started this way or not, they now are driven almost entirely by profits and less and less by their original quest to be the BEST. They have not just lost focus, but heart. They now see their future customers as nothing more than dollar signs and this is sad.

    All of this is a great lesson for me. I’ve had a lot of success in this business and Stompernet is a GREAT reminder to me that no matter how big, how successful, or how many giant launches you have under your belt, if you spam your customers, cut off intelligent dialogue, or use unethical tactics to gain leverage, your entire business model could evaporate in a matter of months. Right now I don’t think they believe this can happen to them. They feel invincible. Another sign of how out of touch they are. I have no intention of helping Stompernet to meet their demise, because I know they are doing that all by themselves. It’s a great lesson indeed. If they are wise they will open up their forum, stop their current tactics, stop the way they are marketing this new product launch, apologize to the Internet marketing community, and let the truth flow again…but I bet they don’t…let’s see.

  5. Pingback: The LSI theory, Which Side Are you On?

  6. Chris Kellum

    Referencing Kern in a SEO debate? Jeez, never thought I’d see that one . . . Anyway, Frank’s stuff isn’t about “manipulation.”

    In fact, throughout his course material, seminars, freeline content, etc. he continually talks about being congruent and honest in your marketing. Using storylines like “us vs. them,” “reluctant hero,” and “hometown boy makes good” are merely ways to accentuate a *true* story.

    Nothing “manipulative” about that, it’s just good old fashioned selling. You don’t go out and *invent* a “them,” but in almost every market, there already IS a “them.” There certainly is in this market. Heck, $150 “complete SEO solution,” anyone? 🙂

    Anyway, in the interest of being the dude who does SEO – never claims to be an expert, just takes clients and does the best he can, I’m going to interject in here and ask a question or two that’s on my mind . . .

    Hate to throw my man JW under the bus here, but he did post this on his blog, so I think it’s ok . . .

    Jerry West recently wrote a new blog post about Leslie’s videos and first, said that he’s talked to Bruce about the material in Leslie’s videos and that he (Jerry) does not believe that Leslie is trumping any of Bruce’s methods. Thoughts? I’ve not studied Bruce Clay, so I can’t comment on this.

    Also, and I think this is where Dan might be going with “opinion poll SEO,” what do you think of Jerry’s statement that when he removed the LSI components of his sites that their rankings didn’t move?

    I mean theoretically any change made to improve rankings would cause the rankings to go back to their previous position if those changes were removed, right? And considering the guy’s got almost 600 sites under his control, I’d feel pretty confident in saying he had a large enough test set.

    Also, I don’t want to give away anything he’s released privately, but if you happen to talk to him (Dan should, at least), ask him about his studies on bounce rate and their effect in the SERPs.

    Like I said, I’m not the expert, I’m just the guy riding coattails, but given Jerry’s record of testing the *heck* out of everything across many sites of all different sizes, I tend to believe the man when he speaks.

    Just curious to hear your thoughts.


  7. Rex

    Thanks i appreciate ur response, it took me a while to write, i woke up saturday morning at around 730am and basically wrote all day. Don’t know what the hell got into me, it was like some stream of consiousness.

    And you hit the nail on the head, the internet is about dialogue, not monologue, and stompernet should get that, its deletion of comments and false use of logic to spread crap ideas about seo has revealed their the inner workings of a large machine. Its a very big corporation now with lots of money changing hands, and so their videos are tempered by these intentions.

    I’m glad you thought their social media marketing product was helpful and I’ve seen the blue discs and red discs but was unimpressed with their SEO on page tool. Yeah its fine to market and sell your own product, i love marketing. But you really think they won’t change their ways? You might be right, offering an apology doesn’t jive with their expert marketing angle they employ. thats th fine line i guess you walk with that tactic, isn’t boys of Stompernet?

    @Chris I know! Frank Kern referenced in a SEO debate, man this has come full circle and its funny, Frank Kern acts like a mystic dude who believes in karma, and is simultaneously a marketer, and I have to admit I see a little bit of myself in him in this regard.

    To address your point that Leslie’s videos don’t debunk Bruce Clay’s teachings, I think they do. Bruce is pretty heavy on theming and co occurence and Charles and Russel were Bruce’s pupils.

    Here are some of BC’s stuff:

    There is an inherent flaw in a test when you use a method such as lsi and theming to accomplish a goal, then ‘remove’ and the rankings don’t change:that is, you can not ‘surgically’ or remove something permanently anymore, Its the idea of interconnnectedness and with such a test, I belive residual contextual effects occur to dilute their findings.

  8. Rex

    fltering is a component of ranking. they are not mutually exclusive. drongo? are you serious? wow, you are the worst troll ever. but i give you props for using the email address. thats an oldy but goldy

  9. Jim Hickey

    Wow, what a post and great info even with the presence of trolls :). I am by no means an SEO expert just someone who is trying to learn. Debates are always a good thing as long as a sense of civility is maintained.

    I joined SEO20/20 a couple of months ago and used some of the techniques I was learning coupled with social buzz to launch a new site about 7 weeks ago. That site already has 4X the average daily visitors than my former site (which was 6 mos old) and the organic SE hits have risen from 5%/day to over 23%/day. The posts on the site use a combo of long tail keywords, related phrases in the text and social buzz.

    Thanks for the info links and assisting us less fortunate ones in our quest for education.

    1. Rex

      Wow thats awesome Jim! Thanks for posting those statistics of your site. As Dan Thies has mentioned, as well as Charles Heflin, social buzz, ie blog comments, 3rd party social news submissions translate into an active web page that increase page time, an important ranking factor for google. Thank for your input Jim. Look forward to learning more from you. All the best!

  10. Sheri

    Keywords- singular, plural, 2 word phrases, 3 word phrases. What works! I am confused. Theme Websites – Theme Websites – Themed Website – Themed Websites – What keyword do you suggest. List all or list keyword search top searches?

  11. Brenda Bunney

    Well, people are reading the information in this article and there seems to be no real neutrality here. The people commenting have strong opinions one way or the other. Very interesting article and views.

    1. Rex

      I think its a middle path we must look at. Debunking a theory, such as LSI, co occurence and siloing is Possible, if one were to write a dissertation, with referecnes and citations, that reveals case studies and evidence. Though the videos are somehwat sufficient, they wouldn’t pass much of a hearsay argument in my mind. I thikn we are all on to something, and we shall find the answer though Jimi’s purple haze.?! adhhh

  12. Chris Kellum

    Rex – Yeah, I know, right? Even Kern would say a hearty “WTF?!” if he saw his name come up in a talk about SEO strategies. lol

    Anyway, yeah, Frank’s a good guy. I mean he litters his teachings with talking about how to always tell the truth, and how doing otherwise bites you in the ass.

    As a for instance, for the “make money” crowd, his persona is that of a lazy, half-retarded surfer guy who makes money without working very hard.

    He is pretty lazy and he is a surfer. He’s actually pretty damn smart, but he does just type with 3 fingers, and he works hard – sometimes.

    So as you can see, it’s more of just accentuating his personality in a way to where it resonates most soundly with his intended market.

    And if you look into the Mass Control principles, it’s to give away a bunch of cool stuff, and then sell in a way to where people are actually cool and excited about your product – manufacturing “good pressure” instead of hypey “dog gets it if you don’t buy” bad pressure.

    Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Yes, I am curious to know what Jerry meant by “taking out the LSI components,” but if there’s anything I’ve noticed so far (and Dan hinted at it), it seems as though there’s a lot of definitions of exactly what LSI is that are floating around.

    In fact, I just checked out some comments on the 2nd SN video, and Leslie talked about how “siloing” worked well with what he talked about.

    Also, in the first video, I could not reconcile what he mentioned as “LSI” with siloing. So it would seem to me that it’s more a matter of different ideas of what LSI *is.*

    1. Rex

      i agree with everything you say…LSI definition must be taken as a whole concept when referring to SEO. ITs contextual ethics.Blood without the context of a human body has a completely different funtion, meaning and ethos. So what lesli did was make the mistake of de contextualizing LSI from Google rankiong, destroying its contextual relevant meaning to SEO, and labeling it as impotent rage.

      If you talk to Frank tell him I’ve been dying to meet him! ill in charleston, sc for weddings and am getting back to LA next week…big things cooking, would love to meet up with you and him…

  13. Dan Thies


    A part of the response I am writing to this so-called “controversy” is based on the same things Leslie discusses there. Not surprising, since we’ve been working together for years.

    When you “silo” a web site, some folks say that you are doing something that causes Google to view your “theme” differently. I was one of those who actually bought that stuff, back in 2000 or so when the idea was new. Then I learned better. It’s a little amusing to see the old ideas recycled as new inventions nearly a decade later.

    What you are *definitely* doing when you “silo” a web site is radically changing the way PageRank is distributed throughout the site. You can actually do the math on that – I have written my own tools to do that analysis, others have as well.

    So we *know* that PageRank flow is modified, but some folks just ignore that, and attribute the outcome to LSI or themes. That’s kind of like a baseball player taking steroids, but attributing their improved slugging percentage to the inspirational poetry they read in the morning.

    One is based on a known and well understood principle, the other is based on speculation, and can’t be proven wrong because it is not even testable.

    Clearly Google has some sort of topical/theme technology available to them – as evidenced by the “site flavored search” and personalized (topical) search betas they rolled out around 5 years ago. But the treatment of topic was very course – roughly 80 total topics if I recall correctly.

    For those who choose to silo and would like to have a sense of what’s going on, I’d suggest examining things like index penetration *before* you begin. If the number of indexed pages increases, that is a far more likely explanation for ranking changes – and this is based on known facts, not speculation.

    If anyone has actually come up with a real testable hypothesis here involving theme magic, I’d love to know about it. That means you actually have a description of the mechanism that does whatever you think is being done. That means you actually have a model that makes testable predictions about things that can be measured, and it’s possible to discuss the validity of the ideas without you falling back on belief or quoting each other for social proof.

  14. Dave

    Well… this one sure does have some legs since it was first brought to my attention. I did enjoy this post though…

    I’ve called it the ‘inverted snake oil’ approach – cashing in on LSI crap like many have over the years – simply taking the contrary approach. There are so many bad facts and poor representations with the Stomper vid one wouldn’t know where to start.

    As far as (Dr. cough cough) Edel Garcia is concerned, not many in the IR world care for his theories and they’ve busted him more than a few times… here’s the problem in simplest terms;

    A. The purchase of Applied Semantics (2003 not 06) was for Ad Serving… thus their flavor of LSA – (LSI) was for the AdSense/AdWords programs.. You know, matching the ads to the content… it was never for the reg index SERPs.

    B. The so-called LSI patents mentioned by Leslie, are actually part of the series of 7 Patents on Phrase Based IR…. nothing to do with LSI actually. Strangely, Anna Patterson came on board in 2003 as well (just after the Applied Semantics purchase).

    So in the end, is LSI actually being used? Unlikely, it would be more likely PLSI, HTMM, LDA or the Phrase Based approaches are at play.

    I was also saddened to see the statements made by Leslie and found it a tad misleading to be certain (left my own lengthy comment there). At first I felt like tearing it apart, but in the end… bah… it wouldn’t be the first nor last bit of SEO crap out there from folks with a lack of understanding how IR works…

    As for behavioral metrics, better known as implicit user feedback, that’s
    an entirely different can o worms and my own rant on that BS is here;

    Anyway… its late… just wanted to throw some thoughts into the ring – I enjoyed the post and the comments… thanks for that!!



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