SEO summer reading: Some great dissertations from students all over

Ever since I started reading more technical SEO blogs such as SEO by the Sea, SEO Theory and more I’ve been on a quest to find great SEO content.

And what better place to find huge amounts of quality SEO content than academia?

Some of these are from the last few years, some are as old as ’99. Some are very technical, some are more philosophical. So without further adieu here is the list (most are in PDF format)

The list

An analysis of the application of selected search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and their effectiveness on Google’s search ranking algorithm

Probably the most generalized thesis out of all the papers listed here, but still very well done.

Year: 2012

School: California State University

In Google We Trust: Consumers’ Perception of Search Engine Optimization and Its Potential Impact on Online Information Search

A study on SEO with a consumer angle.

Year: 2013

School: University of Minnesota

WebCrawler: Finding What People Want

The cool thing about this one is that it was written by a guy named Brian Pinkerton who later went on to start his own agency and do great things.

Year: 2000

School: University of Washington

Detecting colluders in PageRank: Finding slow mixing states in a Markov chain (Removed, anyone have a new link?)

Very technical, have not read but perhaps Bill Slawski might be interested.

Year: 2005

School: Stanford University

Manipulation of PageRank and collective hidden Markov models

Kind of an examination of black hat techniques but again very technical and from an engineering and mathematical standpoint.

Year: 2010

School: Cornell University

The PageRank citation ranking: bringing order to the web

Year: 1999

School:Oregon State

Deception in Authorship Attribution

Very relevant and forward thinking thesis. Talks all about authorship attribution as a whole on the web.

Year: 2013

School: Drexel University

Contextualized web search: query-dependent ranking and social media search

More of a social media paper but very in-depth and technical.

Year: 2010

School: Georgia Institute of Technology

Modeling User Behavior and Attention in Search

Year: 2013

School: University of Washington

Google AdWords as a Network of Grey Surveillance

Year: 2010

School: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Search Visibility and Online Social Presence for Bed and Breakfasts

I thought this one was really cool because it focuses on a specific niche. A savvy business owner could probably extract a comprehensive online business plan from this dissertation.

Year: 2012

School: University of Deleware

Identifying search engine spam using DNS

Year: 2011

School: Texas A&M University

Relevant factors for the impact of social media marketing strategies. Empirical study of the internet travel agency sector

Another niche focused dissertation. Focuses on smaller travel agencies in the European market and gives an overall strategy and approach for someone in this sector.

Year: 2011

School: Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya

Patrick Coombe
Hello I'm Patrick Coombe and I'm the CEO and Founder of Elite Strategies, an agency I started in 2009. One of the main reasons I love blogging about SEO is the research it takes to come up with the posts. It allows me to not only write about what I love, but to learn more about the industry in the process. I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did consider sharing it or even better linking to it!
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  • Written by: Bill Slawski

    They are very interesting. Don’t let the math within them dissuade you from reading more – often most papers can be understood to a large degree in spite of the math.

    When I find a paper I really like, I’ll often dig through it’s citations and check out some of those, too. 🙂

    • Written by: Patrick Coombe

      Bad memories from high school math I suppose :/ No for sure, I always try to “press through” any info I don’t fully understand and either go past it or figure it out later. A good friend of mine studied math in college and we talked for a long time about PageRank and such, I’ve always found it fascinating even the parts that I haven’t learned. Even the vocab used within these papers are so advanced compared to the blogs I read or even most books! Also if you come across any more good ones let me know!

      • Written by: Bill Slawski

        I noticed my vocabulary increased dramatically after starting to read Scientific American on a regular basis. I was interested in the material enough so that I was learning the words it was presented in.

        Blogging about patents means spending every day reading some challenging material, and trying to put it into simpler words, which I take as a personal improvement opportunity. If I can do that consistently for blog posts, I can also do it for clients. It’s a little like a workout for your mind. 🙂

        • Written by: Patrick Coombe

          That makes sense – yes the patents look even crazier! You have mathematics, law, theory, philosophy and all sorts of other stuff rolled up into one!

  • Written by: Bill Slawski

    Hi Patrick,

    You’ve found and listed some very interesting academic papers – including at least one that everyone doing SEO should have read. I’m definitely going to be bookmarking this page and returning to it.

    OK, titles like “Deception in Authorship Attribution” could be a pool-side mystery novel, but I’m looking forward to the plot twist, or at least to what the author might cite that makes authorship flawed.

    My summer reading so far includes Ray Kurzweil’s “How to Create a Mind,” and oddly enough hidden Markov models play a role in that one – it will be interesting seeing what “Manipulation of PageRank and collective hidden Markov models” has to say about them.



    • Written by: Patrick Coombe

      Well I’ve skimmed maybe 3-4 of these and haven’t even made it through one of them yet! The reason I thought they were cool is because they are so well researched and cited and not just a blabbermouth SEO blogger like me 🙂 Its very humbling for me reading this in the fact I’ve been doing web development more than half my life and a lot of this is so foreign, particularly the mathematical concepts.

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