Fifteen Major SEO (Search Engine Optmization) Myths: You May Make a Fool of Yourself If You Follow Them!

Google and various other SEO experts have from time to time talked about various things in search engine optimization that you no longer have to worry about. Here are the most common myths in SEO.

1. You have to submit your site to hundreds of directories and search engines

You may occasionally receive emails from emerging SEO firms and freelancers talking about their private analysis of your web page and how you stand in search rankings (pure spam emails). They may tell you that your page is not indexed in many of the major search engines and they can help you get indexed.

Before acting upon these lures, think twice. It's not going to give you any advantage. Google holds 63 per cent of the browser market share. 20+ per cent is held by Yahoo and about 8 per cent by Live search. The other smaller search engines like Altavista, Ask, AOL, etc., hold the rest. Therefore, getting into these top three search engines is all that really matters.

You don't really need to get indexed in other search engines. But did you know that many of the smaller search engines actually serve results from Yahoo or Google? Therefore, normally you will get visits from them too.

Getting into many directories is not going to help either. Though the most important ones like Dmoz, Yahoo, Business.com, Best of the Web, etc., will help greatly, others don't.

Did you know that even Google occasionally gets such spam email offers for higher ranking for their site (http://www.google.com) in many small search engines and directories?

2. Submitting manually to search engines is important until the page is indexed

No! You don't need to go to the Google add URL site and submit every new post you make on your blog. Other than that, try to get a few links from moderately high traffic relevant pages. These links can facilitate indexing.

In fact, if you don't have any link to your page, no matter how many times you submit your URL, it may not get indexed at all. This shows how important is link building. For individual post indexing, try to upload a sitemap and sign up on Google Webmaster Tools and link to your sitemap from there. It will facilitate individual page indexing (another trick for individual page indexing).

3. Keyword richness means keyword density

Stuffing one keyword is not what SEO is all about. More than that, you need to concentrate on writing content for users, with all major keywords placed in optimum density.

Also, though there is theory that 2 per cent keyword density helps in search rankings, the test results show otherwise. Your page ranks well if you allow space for major related keywords and synonyms that will explain your content well to your audience, and not for that one or two keyword you want to optimize for (which is keyword stuffing).

Don't underestimate Google's language capabilities. It can virtually understand blocks of text just like a normal human being. It's, hence, child play for the search engine to spot blocks of keyword-stuffed content. You can find a good example of keyword stuffing vs. useful content in this post, my Google recommendations.

4. You need PageRank for traffic

There are PR0 sites that get thousands of visitors daily, while PR5 page gets a couple of hundreds.

PageRank is one of the two hundred factors that Google uses to determine placement of a page. Therefore, it is no surprise that PageRank's value is getting reduced day by day.

Also, understand that PageRank holds no value for Yahoo or Live.

The same is true for Alexa rank. If you look at my blog, you will see it has recently come below 100,000 in Alexa. But I can send you to professional bloggers getting thousands of daily visits with Alexa rank above 100,000 and 200,000.

5. More links will increase my ranking

No, they will not. You need more high quality links than just more links. High quality depends on various factors. But the best advice I can give is this. If you have a keyword, you want to optimize for, then Google this keyword. The links on the result pages are all highly related to the keyword in question. Try to go to these websites and get links from these pages. Google will rate these links as highly relevant, notwithstanding their PageRank value.

6. High PR links will increase my PR too

No, high PR alone will not effect your site's PR growth. There are other factors such as the number of links on the page from which you build links; number of NoFollow links on that page; topic relevance of the page; etc. If you get a PR3 link from a highly relevant page, which links out to only 10 resources, it will boost your PageRank better than a PR5 link with thousands of links that is not relevant to the topic.

7. Duplicate content is other bloggers copying my content and publishing it in their own blogs, and it will thwart all my rankings

No. Other people's copying your content is called plagiarism and it deserves another treatment. If you find anyone copying your content deliberately, make sure you stop him from doing it. If you like to go legal, then check out Google's DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) website.

Duplicate content in search engine perspective is your own activity of duplicating the same content on various URLs in the same domain (or many different domains) for manipulating search results.

Plagiarism will not affect your search rankings in any way. But it will definitely affect search rankings of the copycat if he continues to do so and makes his blog a copy domain.

Duplicate content normally doesn't affect your rankings, but it is in excess to the point of thwarting search results, Google does some adjustments to the effect of eliminating offending sites from the index.

8. Once you achieved high rankings for a particular keyword, your work is finished

No, it isn't. Google emphasizes this aspect. Don't stop working on the content after achieving ranking for the desired keyword. Tight competition will come to you soon. Blogs should be able to continue to provide content in order to grow and be successful. Therefore, update regularly.

9. Google gives more importance to Blogger than WordPress or self-hosted blogs

This is something many self-hosted bloggers take for granted. They may have no first-hand experience with Blogger CMS or the way Google views it. Since I use it and I am fairly knowledgeable about it, I can testify that this is just a myth that Google ranks Blogspot subdomains better.

In fact, I have a feeling that Google loves WordPress more than it does anything else. Blogger blogs do not even get indexed as fast as WordPress ones do. So, no. There is no discrimination for Google between Blogger and WordPress. You should be more than fine with a WordPress blog.

10. W3C Valid XHTML means better optimization

You should easily assume the falsehood of this suggestion at the fact that Google's home page (the most visited page in the planet for search) itself doesn't validate to XHTML standards.

Less than one per cent of all the blogs validate to the WWW Consortium's W3C standards. Hence, it is not at all a criterion for search rankings. Googlebot is efficient enough to scan the content coded in extremely wrong code structure. Therefore, you don't really have to worry about this. But, the validation definitely helps in browser compatibility and also makes the task of the bot easier.

11. For higher rankings, acquire all domains you can and put up 301 redirects

I have seen many webmasters acquiring other domains and redirecting them to their main site in order to get more traffic. This practice of course gives you better search rankings. And in time, the links to your acquired domain will be counted toward your main domain.

But

Make sure you acquire domains that are topic-specific. For instance, acquiring a domain related to men's sexual health and redirecting it to your blog on creative writing will red-alert the search engines. So, be careful and acquire only topic-specific domains.

12. You have to use the Robots Meta tag

Usually webmasters feel that without using the Index, Follow Robots Meta tag on their pages, pages will not get indexed. In fact, having robots Meta tag doesn't facilitate indexing. However, if you use the noindex, nofollow attribute, then your pages will not get indexed (i.e., if it is already not indexed). Therefore, the Meta tag is effective only when you wish to remove your pages from the index.

13. Having disallow in Robots.txt removes your site from the index

No, it will not. If you wish to remove any page from index (in cases of possible content duplication you wish to avoid), disallow your pages using the Robots.txt file and make a specific content removal request at the Google Webmaster Tools->Tools->Remove URLs. Otherwise, the content will not be removed from index.

13. Hosting several sites on the same IP address is not OK

Some people doubt that they cannot have their sites hosted in the same IP address or domain. Google web spam team head, Matt Cutts actually discussed this myth on one occasion. You actually don't have to worry about this if you have ten or so websites, just as any normal entrepreneur. But if you have thousands of websites in the same IP? Then it's a problem. What Matt himself says is:

You actually have to ask yourself if you have valuable content in all of them, because the answer is "Probably not".

14. Link building is more important than site structure improvement

In fact, it has been seen that on page SEO factors hold a greater importance than many off-page factors like link building. If you have built so many relevant links to a blog without proper link structure, titles, descriptions, keywords, and most importantly content, then all your efforts are going to get wasted. So, concentrate first on on-page factors and in parallel on off-page factors.

15. Accurate Meta description and Meta keyword tags are important

While title tag has great importance in SEO, Meta tags do not have any relevance. It neither facilitates ranking, nor thwarts it. But your Meta description will be shown to your visitors through search engines. Therefore, it's important for getting optimal traffic to your pages. Here is a tutorial on how to enable individual Meta descriptions for Blogger.

Conclusion

So there it is! Fifteen myths. Probably not in the perfect order, but readers can easily scan and skip to the ones they want, right? If I missed any other major myth or if you have doubts, post comments.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

3 Opinions:

  1. Hi, I enjoyed reading your article particularly the point #13 about robots.txt. A lot of folks I know use it as a shortcut, but even if you use robots.txt to request that search engine spiders not read any of your pages, search engines like Google will still index your site.

    Also #7 about plagiarism, which people need more education on. I've spoken with some who genuinely don't see how a cut-and-paste job of one or more articles is not original content.

    The one point about #7 that might need a little more clarification is that Google and other search engines don't make value judgments about the original source of the content.

    So, unless (and even if) you report the plagiarism using Google Webmaster Tools, there's no telling which content a search engine will choose when presented with duplicates.

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  2. Steve, thanks a lot for the comment. Yes, Google does make almost correct guess about stolen content. They have the provision to rank a site that engages in extensive copying lower.

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  3. Excellent post. Must say, most of the things mentioned by you were unknown to me. I think I can work on my SEO strategies much better now.

    ReplyDelete

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