I’ve always belonged to the faction claiming SEO is a Science rather than an artform. The debate is not uninteresting though and I’ll try to explain to you why I might be wrong.
The arguments for SEO as a Science are rather obvious, if someone can come up with a unifying theory for physics in the universe that is a billions times more complex than the Google algorithm for sure it must be possible to understand the ranking factors? There is a very good reason this statement might be flawed though.
Compare the search algorithm to the basics of quantum mechanics for a second
Quantum mechanics, that’s a really complex area of science but it’s still a science. Lots of smart people cluster in Universities all over the world and they are adamant in believing that quantum mechanics can be understood. Meanwhile there are actually people claiming the algorithm Brin and Page built is to complex to be mapped, how can this be?
The major problem with mapping out Google is that they are constantly changing. If there is something we know about science it’s that it’s slow. It’s easier to change the direction of a slow moving major corporation (if you work in one you know what I’m talking about) than to rush science. The scientific method demands time.
This would mean that a Master or PhD in Google Algorithms would be outdated once you actually got the degree, any reasonable research on ranking factors would be wiped out with the next update. I promise you, The Royal Institute of Technology where I studied would still be building content farms, they are just too slow.
But shouldn’t we test?
Of course you have to run tests but don’t ever think that the tests you are running would ever make it through a peer review. What you are doing is not science, it’s just testing, trying, testing and trying again. SEO is a craft, you build experience and you make guestimates and that’s the best you can do. Do not stray to far away from scientific method though. If you make it an art you’ll soon be like the social media experts, taking 1 gram of truth put it in 99 grams of water. Take one gram of that water, put it in to 99 grams of other water and keep doing that until you are certain you’re an expert.