Domaining SEO Sunday: 3 Common SEO Misconceptions aka Don’t Believe The Hype

Domaining SEO SundayI’ve been doing SEO since around 1995. Back in those days SEO involved repeating a keyword a few more times than your competitor. I had many a battle adding more tiny links at the bottom of my website to outrank a competitor. Well, we all know that technique doesn’t still work now…right?

Today I thought I’d share three common SEO misconceptions. If any these have somehow been ingrained in your head – get them out! If you haven’t gone through either the SEO Book or SEOMoz’s Beginners Guide To SEO go through one of them the second you finish this post. Without the basics you could be doing things you think improve your SEO without really understanding how SEO works!

  1. Meta Tags – Meta tags used to be a BIG deal, now it’s just the Meta Description tag (and the title tag of course) that mean anything to search engines. Both Google and Yahoo have admitted that they do not use the keywords in the Meta Description or Meta Keywords for ranking. Yes – the Meta Description tag is important from a usability perspective as it will display below your title tag in the search results page. However, the keywords you use in the Meta Description tag will not be used for ranking, and the keywords in the Meta Keywords tag will be used for…nothing. It seems that after all these years people still put too much emphasis on Meta Tags when really the Description is all that matters, and in it’s case there is no impact on SEO!
  2. Keyword Repetition and Density – Like I said in the beginning of this post, you can’t repeat a keyword more than your competitor and magically out-rank them. Also the concept of Keyword Density, or a perfect number of times to repeat a keyword is a myth. Yes – you should use the keyword you are targeting more than others, and try to get it in there once in bold. However the SEO impact here is very small, remember just one high-quality one-way link (like that from an article directory) has far more impact since it’s a one-way link with your keyword as the anchor text.
  3. Using Adwords Will Increase My Google Rank – This is just 100% wrong and always have been. Google and Yahoo have separated these two organizations and put phenomenal security measures in place to assume nothing like this ever happens. Companies that spend millions of dollars in search/month have complained that Google won’t even listen to them when they talk about getting preferential treatment for their website. Advertising your site will get more traffic to your site since you’re paying to appear on a better page. Outside of that it has no impact on SEO.

You can read more about these and more on SEOMoz’s Beginner’s Guide To SEO, Chapter 9: Myths and Misconceptions About Search Engines

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • mrx July 25, 2010, 3:23 pm

    Speaknig of SEO. How about fixing the broken tag at the top of your page, unless ment to add ” < " after the body tag.

  • Michael Rhodes July 26, 2010, 1:32 pm

    Morgan, always good to stimulate discussion about SEO since I see soooo many missing or badly implemented methods throughout the domainersphere, but I would love to get more feedback on the second point from anyone that cares to offer it up.

    I’ve read that “Beginners Guide” before, among many other articles and discussion points, and either I haven’t had it explained to me clearly or the point being made actually refers to some magical density algorithm that doesn’t really exist, which I kinda agree with, but Google does take keyword density into account. Google refers to it as Keyword Significance.

    If you check your Webmaster logs you’ll see that Google measures the frequency of keywords in the site’s content so they ARE measuring keyword density for sure. Google goes on to explain it, as follows;

    “The Keywords page lists the most significant keywords Google found when crawling your site. When reviewed along with the Search queries report and your site’s listing in actual search results for your targeted keywords, it provides insight into how Google is interpreting the content of your site. The significance of each keyword reflects how often it’s found on your site’s pages. Click each keyword to see a sampling of pages on which it appears.”

    Granted, Google doesn’t explicitly suggest that the more significant a word is, the better it will rank for it, but I can say that from personal experience that if you run a tight ship and your primary keywords show up in that list in the order in which you intend (most to least significant) then the better SEO’d the site is, not just for Search but for Adsense. I’ve manipulated that list for a few sites, at the granular level, changing the words I use or the way in which they are presented so that I’m left with a clean list of intended words, and it does have an effect on SERPs.

    So, Google throws out the common words, and sifts through the rest to determine what your site is all about, and then Google presents it to you in a report. I think it is just irresponsible to acknowledge their crawl interpretation of your site but then assign no value or weight to it.


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