November 15, 2011
With so much misinformation about SEO having been dispensed over the years, it’s hard to know what’s true and isn’t true – making it all the more difficult to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff, as it were. Concerned about the potential harm misinformation about SEO can ultimately cause, I decided to compile an alphabetical listing of the most popular and persistent SEO myths, to either debunk or confirm their factuality.
Since the arrival of Google Adwords, there has been an ongoing debate over whether or not running an Adwords campaign can improve search engine rankings. Ultimately, only Google knows the answer to that question for sure. However, to my knowledge, there is no credible evidence to support the notion that Adwords can improve your search engine ranking. If there were indeed concrete evidence to the contrary, it stands to reason, everyone would just start an Adwords campaign to boost their rankings.
2. Anchor Text
Although it can be other colors, anchor text is typically the blue, hyperlinked text you see on a web page – the words that you click onto take you to another page. For example:
Okay, but is anchor text important? Yes, it is because it’s a crucial element in the search engines complex algorithmic formula that helps determine the rankings of websites.
For example, suppose you have a blog that reviews digital camera’s; the more links you have with the words “digital camera reviews” in your anchor text, the greater your chances of increasing your ranking for the keywords digital camera reviews.
3. Alt Tags
Alt tags are used to display a short text description of an image. It gets displayed when you hover your mouse over the graphic. But are Alt tags an important part of SEO?
It depends on whom you ask. Some experts dismiss the importance of Alt tags altogether, while others tout its importance. Personally, I used to lean in the direction of “not important,” until I read a couple of outstanding articles that made me rethink my position.
SEO expert Bill Hartzer makes a strong argument for the use of Alt tags. In his article, Search Engine Optimization: Why Image Alt Tags are Important.
“There is strong evidence that the search engines are now giving more weight to Alt Tags than they are the Title Tag or even an H1 Tag on the page. What?!? Yes, that’s right. You do need to make sure you use proper Title Tags and H1 Tags, but more SEO value for organic search engine rankings can be gained by using proper Alt Tags than using proper Title Tags or H1 Tags.”
And in his article, Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Image Alt Attributes, AJ Wilcox of OrangeSoda.com makes a compelling common sense argument:
“Keyword usage in image alt text is classified as having minimal importance by a consortium of SEO experts, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It is yet another opportunity to declare your relevance to your given keyword. The little things add up to big things together, so don’t ignore them.”
I agree with AJ. A lot of little things in combination do indeed add up to big things.
4. FFA Pages
FFA is an acronym for “Free-For All.” Here’s an example of an FFA page:
In a nutshell, FFAs are basically web pages of worthless links where anyone can submit their website’s URL for free (hence the term Free-For-All). One of the biggest and oldest SEO myths is, if you post your website’s URL on FFA pages, you will get massive traffic, as well increase your link popularity and search engine ranking. Here’s the truth: People who visit FFA pages do so only to post their own ads – not look at someone else’s. And any traffic you do get will be completely worthless!
In addition, FFA pages are considered both spammy and scammy, and posting on them could adversely affect your website’s reputation with the search engines – which could in fact hurt your ranking – or even get you banned. Why? Because in essence, FFA pages are nothing but link farms – and you know what Google thinks of link farms.
My advice: RUN, DON’T WALK away from FFA pages!
5. Header Tags
Header tags, for example H1, H2 are standard HTML elements used to define headings and subheadings on a web page.
Are they important? To my knowledge, there is no credible evidence to suggest that header tags have an effect on search engine rankings one way or the other. My advice: If you’re currently using header tags, continue using them if you wish. If you’re not using them, don’t worry about it.
6. Keyword Density
Question: What is the correct density of keywords on a web page?
Answer: There isn’t one.
Yes, I know this topic has been debated back and forth, but personally, I don’t think keyword density even exists as a calculable numeric constant. In other words, don’t worry about the correct keyword density. And don’t worry about counting keywords. Just create your web pages naturally, without trying to force or stuff keywords where they don’t belong. Then, let the proverbial chips fall where they may.
7. Keywords in Domain Name
Do keywords in a domain name help your ranking?
Based on my own personal experience, yes, having your primary keywords in your domain name does help with your ranking. To what degree, however, only Google knows the answer to that. But since Google uses over 200 signals to determine the ranking of websites, I can’t imagine keywords in your domain name not carrying some amount of weight.
A meta-tag is the HTML coding that describes the contents of a web page.
Opinions vary on the importance of meta-tags, but in my opinion, they’re not nearly as important as they once were. They don’t have a significant impact on your rankings one way or the other. That being said, if you want to use them, it certainly won’t hurt anything – provided you don’t abuse them (i.e., keyword stuffing).
9. Nofollow Links
As you already know, Google doesn’t count “Nofollow” links, right? Wrong. Google looks suspiciously at sites that have an unbalanced ratio of Dofollow links to Nofollow. Why? Because it’s an unnatural linking pattern that’s why. It’s also a huge red flag! Google prefers a healthy combination of both Dofollow and Nofollow links. So contrary to popular belief, Nofollow links do add to a site’s overall link profile, and has the ability to rank for keyword phrases. And while Nofollow doesn’t influence PageRank or pass link juice, it does contribute to your overall search engine ranking.
10. PageRank (PR)
Is PageRank important? One of the most controversial, misunderstood, confusing and debated topics in the SEO universe is the importance of PageRank.
However, in my not-so-humble opinion, Google’s 0-10 logarithmic toolbar PageRank is nothing more than a “superficial beauty contest” vanity tool – very much out-of-date, and does NOT have a direct impact on a site’s ranking. That fact was established long ago.
I’m going to say this as succinctly as I possibly can: Toolbar Pagerank Is Not An Accurate Representation Of A Website’s True Reputation With Google. In fact, if you do a little research, you’ll discover lower-PR URL’s consistently rank higher than higher-PR URL’s in Google’s SERP’s (search engine results pages). Therefore, the only page rank you should be concerned about that has any significant importance, is where your web pages rank in Google’s SERP’s.
Does toolbar PageRank have any importance at all? Yes, it has some…just not as much as many perceive it to have.
11. Reciprocal Links
Yes, reciprocal linking is an important part of SEO, but all links are not created equal. Achieving a high search engine ranking depends not only on the number, but also the quality of inbound links you have pointing to your site. For example, if your website does movie reviews, exchanging links with Betty’s Homemade Fudge won’t do you nearly as much good as exchanging links with a site that is thematically related to yours. So if you exchange links with other sites, be sure to keep relevancy in mind.
12. Site Maps
A sitemap is a collection of hyperlinks that outlines a website’s structure. These links make it easier for visitors to navigate their way around your site, as well as make it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your site.
But do they have any SEO importance? Not really. A few years back, I thought they did. But recent experience has taught me sitemaps have no direct impact on search engine rankings.
13. The Open Directory Project (DMOZ)
Is getting a backlink from DMOZ still important? With the arrival of mega-popular social media sites, as well other types of high quality websites and blogs, DMOZ is not nearly as important or respected as it once was. Personally, I think your time would be better served trying to acquire high-quality backlinks from other sources.
Does that mean you shouldn’t waste your time submitting to DMOZ? No, it doesn’t. Since it only takes a few minutes to submit your site, I see no harm in submitting to DMOZ. But be advised, it can take up to a year or more to get your site approved – and it might not get approved at all. So I wouldn’t lose any sleep worrying about getting your site listed in DMOZ.
My advice: Simply submit your site and forget it!
14. Title Tag
The title tag is a critically important factor in achieving high search engine rankings. For those of you who don’t know what a title tag is, it’s the words displayed at the very top of your browser. It is also used as the title of your website in the SERP’s (search engine results pages). Therefore, you should put plenty of thought into writing your title tag – to make sure it’s as effective as possible. Your title-tag should also contain specific keyword phrases, in addition to the name of your company.
David Jackson is a marketing consultant, and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com