Seo Myths


No name given, SEO Myths, September 23, 2009 via Flickr, Creative Commons License

If you’ve had a website up and running for any length of time, or if you’re just getting started and have been researching proper search engine optimization techniques, you’ve probably come across plenty of false tips masquerading as great SEO advice. Some of these “best practices” are so widespread and well known that few people even realize that implementing them could have an adverse effect on site rankings.  How do you dig through the clutter and determine which tips are worth trying and which are either ineffective or “black hat” SEO techniques? Read on!

Myth #1: Content should contain as many relevant keywords as possible.

This is one of the most widely used practices out there, and it’s also one of the most surefire ways to create crappy content that could get you placed on the very last page of search rankings, or even worse, blacklisted altogether. The thinking behind this myth is that the more keywords used, the more search engines will realize a web page must be about X topic, and therefore, the more important it must be. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.

If your website is about cats, it will be no more or less about cats if you use the word “cats” 35 times on each page. Keywords are meant to tell engines what your site is about, but once you’ve accomplished that by adding a few of them throughout each page, it’s time to stop. Using too many keywords is worse for your site rankings and potential sales than not using any at all. Not only is it considered SPAM, but it’s also very easy to go overboard until your content is virtually unreadable. Neither of those scenarios will do you any favors.

Myth #2: Adding meta tags will up search rankings.

Unfortunately, the meta tags have been so widely misused by spammers, they are no longer relevant when trying to increase your page ranking. You can type meta tags into your site’s backend until you are blue in the face, but they probably won’t have any major impact on your site’s traffic. The best way to get a better ranking is to create quality content with a few keywords lightly sprinkled throughout the page.

Myth #3: The more content, the better.

This is both true and false, but it’s worth clarifying since the meaning of this statement is so often misconstrued. It’s true that adding new content regularly will eventually help a site’s search ranking. If that content is duplicated from another site, or even a page from the same site, it will do the opposite. If you’re going to add new content in an effort to enhance site traffic, it has to be good content with relevant and interesting information. Anything less and you’re better off updating less frequently. Quality beats quantity.

Myth #4: Hundreds of inbound links are a sure way to increase traffic.

Nope. The problem most site owners make when it comes to this “rule” of thumb is that they have links coming from irrelevant or low quality sites. This is of no real value and it may actually hurt search rankings.

That said, inbound links are good for traffic. Just keep in mind that Google can tell the difference between a high quality link and a low quality one. What you want is for readers to share your posts via social media, and for other blogs to link to you from their pages. How do you accomplish that? Write content that people actually want to link and share. It’s as simple as that. Doing so may also open up opportunities to guest post on similar blogs and websites where a link back to your site may also be posted.

Myth #5: Using bolded text and H1 tags will increase search rankings.

Research has indicated that using heading tags and bolded text do not provide much benefit when it comes to SEO. That doesn’t mean they should be avoided, as a site’s navigation is dependent on being easy to follow. This requires the use of headers and other style options. Just make sure you are doing it for your readers and not for search engines.

Myth #6: Once you’ve finishing with SEO, you can move on to other ways of marketing the site.

If only things were that simple. Unfortunately, search engine optimization is a continuous project. Google makes changes to its algorithms, and companies have to make changes to their sites to keep up. Content needs to be updated. Blog or social media comments should be responded to in order to increase interaction. Once good search rankings have been achieved, it is an ongoing task to keep the site at the top of the page. It’s really no different than any other type of marketing. If you stop trying and reaching out, the customers and readers will eventually disappear.

Now that you know of just a few things you shouldn’t believe when getting started with SEO, here are a few tips on what you should do in order to get off to a good start:

DO write quality content. That means unique, informative, and reader centered. Remember: just because you find something interesting doesn’t mean anyone else will. Try to determine what your readers would like to know, and then give them the information they crave.

DO get high quality backlinks. Guest post on blogs. Write something so totally awesome people from everywhere scramble to share your brilliance on Twitter. Just make sure the sites are relevant to yours and your industry.

DO keep up to date on site traffic using Google’s web master tools and analytics.

DO take any warnings by the search engines seriously. If you are penalized for SPAM, fix it. Don’t wait.

DO ask for user feedback on your content and site navigation. If your goal is to sell something to readers once they find your site, how it’s designed makes just as much a difference as content.

DO take advantage of sponsored ads, but choose them wisely.

DO add new content to keep readers engaged. This doesn’t mean you have to update your home page every few hours, but a new article or company updates can be beneficial.

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