Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Top 10 SEO Myths

Almost every time we speak with a new potential client we find they’ve been told something about SEO that’s either an exaggeration or downright false. In a recent issue of .Net Magazine, Mark Buckingham, owner of an SEO company in south-west London called NetSeek, wrote about his top ten favorite SEO myths. Have you heard any of these? Let us know in comments, below.

1. Satisfaction guaranteed

There is no such thing as guaranteed organic rankings. Distrust anyone who promises otherwise. There are about 200 factors in the Google ranking algorithm, and no one can control all of them. Most people who “guarantee” top rankings only do so for long-tail searches that get very little search traffic — phrases like “podiatry malpractice lawyer on Main Street in Chatham”.

2. High Google PageRank = high rankings

Google PageRank is one of the 200 or so ranking factors in Google. It’s at best a fair indicator of a page’s link popularity, and it may be weighted more heavily than many of the other factors, but it’s not uncommon for a web page with a lower PageRank to rank higher in search results than a page with a higher PageRank. It’s a visible indicator of what Google thinks of your page, but again it’s only one of many ranking factors.

3. Endorsed by Google

Any company that says they’re “endorsed”, “approved” or “certified” by Google is probably a fraud. Google has a certification for Google Analytics and Google AdWords (the PPC ads), but Google has no stamp of approval for any SEO company .

4. The meta keyword tag matters

I heard this one as recently as last week. Mark quotes Google’s Matt Cutts to totally debunk that one. Google considers the meta keyword tag to be a waste of time. We typically use it, only because it may be used by some smaller search engines, and because it’s so quick and easy to do. But we never agonize over what to put in there — as Matt says, that’s just a waste of time.

5. You can cheat your way to the top

This reminds me of an old database client of mine who once asked if I would help him send out spam. (It should go without saying that I strongly declined.) Cheating (considered “black hat SEO”) is always a bad idea. Even if it works once in awhile, as soon as the search engines find you out (or when a competitor rats you out) you risk being banned from the search engine results with disastrous bottom line results. This happened to JC Penney recently and to both Ricoh and BMW before that.

6. Cram those keywords in

There’s no magic number of keywords needed to get a high ranking. You need to use the keywords, of course, but using them too often creates what we call “overredundancy”. Forcing your keywords into a web page almost always destroys the page’s power to influence the person reading it and encourage them to want to buy what you’re selling. Pay attention to your keywords, and use them on the page, but make sure you’re always writing for your visitor, not for the search engines.

7. Spending on Google AdWords boosts your rankings

Google has repeatedly denied any connection  between participating in AdWords and organic rankings. SEO experts agree. There is some research showing that if you show up in both the PPC ads and in the organic results, that boosts the likelihood of the searcher clicking on one of your listings. The organic listing super-validates your PPC ad, increasing the likelihood of a click on one or the other. But having a PPC ad has no impact on where you rank in the organic results.

8. Landing pages

The concept of a “landing page” is relevant only to PPC. Almost any page on your website can show up in the organic listings. Don’t assume that people will always enter your site through the front door, for example. In SEO, any page on your site can be a “landing page”.

9. Set it and forget it

It’s true that once your pages are well-optimized there’s little or no need to constantly tweak, change, or “freshen” them up. However you can’t just forget your SEO as soon as you get great rankings. An ongoing stream of inbound links may be important to maintain your rankings, and if those links aren’t happening by themselves it may require some level of continued effort. A blog is a great way to add new content on a regular basis. But you also need to monitor your rankings. There’s no guarantee your great rankings will be permanent, especially if your website undergoes even a minor redesign or your competitors become more aggressive in their social presence and link building. At least keep an eye on your rankings so you can respond if they begin to fall.

10. Rankings are your goal

Content is what converts visitors to customers.Rankings aren’t everything. High rankings are great, but you’re not in business to get high rankings. The bottom line needs to be your bottom line. Do those rankings result in visitors? Do those visitors convert into paying customers? SEO can get more people to your website, but it’s the job of your website to convince them they want to do business with you and with no one else. You need great content that’s effective in closing the sale. All the rankings in the world can’t make up for a poor user experience on your website.

Need help with your web site’s rankings? Rank Magic can help.

  1. Nice top list my friend! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Webmaster began optimizing sites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were classification the early Web. At first, all webmasters needed to do was to submit the address of a page, or URL, to the different engines which would send a “spider” to “crawl” that page, take out links to other pages from it, and return in sequence establish on the page to be indexed.

    • Yes, and that resulted in lots of spam emails promising to submit websites to hundreds of search engines. That and the keywords meta tag were perhaps the two most abused techniques, neither of which has any value today.

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