Once bitten, twice shy; It’s kind of weird for me to remember this proverb while thinking about Search Engine Optimization. But then again, maybe it’s not that strange. You see, there are times when I begin to think that “Once bitten, twice shy,” should be an SEO factor. Because with all the failings in terms of SEO in websites, nowadays, it’s not that all surprising that SEO Myths do still exist in our current internet age. So, let’s travel to the land of lore, and off to meet some of the more popular myths in our SEO world.
For starters, what is SEO? And why do I have to care about it?
Well, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines. All major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have such results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t involved, as it is with paid search ads.
Now, why should it affect you? Well, if you are a site owner, or run a business that uses the internet as a medium of relaying your products or services, then a good search result ranking will give you a fighting chance against your competitors, and rake in the joys of return on your investments.
Everything sounds great so far, right? Well, if done correctly then you would have every reason to smile for future results. But again, there are things that may cause bumps on the road; and those would be believing in SEO myths.
So, what are these so called, “SEO Myths?”
Here are 10 of them, and the reasons why they are categorized as myths:
Pagerank is Important
Let’s just get the cat of the bag, and just go on ahead and start with this. Pagerank may have in some point been used to rank search results, but the degree of its importance has been lessened every passing year; and that trend still remains up to this day. In the case of Google, they do look at a sites Pagerank, but it’s just 1 out of 200+ factors that they use in their algorithm. Bottom line is, Pagerank is something you can consider looking into. Does Pagerank affect a sites ranking? Yes. Does it have much of an effect? No, it’s just one factor out of over two hundred. Worrying about your sites rankings makes sense, worrying about your sites PR is a complete waste of time. Only the former affects how much traffic you get.
Meta Tags Matter
It’s kind of funny that people still think that Meta tags are still a factor for ranking, since when Google had used it in their rankings, which was way back in the medieval times, even they were admitting the fact that this poses too many legal issues between site owners, and is really a complete waste of time. But then again, it really is mind-boggling as to why there are still people who think that they search engines still base their rankings off of this.You don’t need to worry about this when trying to boost your sites ranking. While title and description tags are obviously important (for the user-experience), meta tags have long been forgotten about by the search engines. Spending your time optimizing them is therefore not to be recommended.
There are SEO Firms that have Google’s approval
If there was such a thing as a Google endorsed SEO firm, then they’d already be a Fortune 500. Really, the whole concept of this is ludicrous, and who ever cooked-up this conspiracy theory should have their head examined for leeches.
Link trading can improve your Page Rank.
If done on a large scale with irrelevant sites, then no, it would be an utter waste of time. Reciprocal link are quite easy for Google to catch. And often, the easy way out is the one laden with traps along the way.
Blog Commenting is an Effective SEO Strategy
Let’s just say, this one really depends on what you are going for. If you’re running a blog, blog commenting is an effective way to reach out to other bloggers in your niche. High quality comments on high traffic sites can also lead to a nice boost in direct traffic. In terms of SEO however, the effectiveness of blog commenting tends to be somewhat limited. Posts on high quality blogs tend to receive hundreds of comments. And this means that the SEO benefit of any comment that you leave is going to be diluted hundreds of times. Yes, a value of a link has a diminishing factor; this is something that an SEO has learned at the very beginning. Can blog commenting help your site rank? Yes. But is your time better spent on other SEO techniques? Definitely.
The Best Backlinks Come from .Edu and .Gov Sites
Because so many of the most respected websites in the world end in .edu and .gov, many webmasters have started to believe that the extensions have some sort of magical SEO powers. Contrary to popular belief however, a .edu or .gov backlink is only as valuable as the site that’s actually on it. A worthless backlink is a worthless backlink regardless of its extension. Again, the search engines don’t place any preferences on any TLD.
The More Words, the Better (The Infamous Keyword Density Myth)
You could say, I saved the best for last. The champion of all SEO Myths. This is the catalyst for all the spammy websites we’ve had during the medieval days. Thinking about keyword density will pretty much result to incoherent content, and raised eyebrows. Adding quality content to your site is obviously an important part of SEO, but past a certain threshold, word counts are largely irrelevant. Many webmasters believe that the more words they pack into an article, the better, but this is actually completely untrue. Using five hundred words to say something that could be said in two hundred words isn’t going to help you rank. Using too many words leads to nothing but bored readers.
Some SEO Companies Can Get You Guaranteed Rankings
Now, this is just plain dumb. There are simply too many factors at play to ever guarantee anything for sure. Even the most talented SEO gurus in the world don’t reach the first page every time. And if you take a look, you’ll notice that they never claim to either.
Smart Webmasters Use Black Hat SEO
I don’t think I need to expand on this any more than I have to. Since the term Black Hat has already been mentioned. But for kicks and giggles, let me just say, that an effect caused by Black Hat methods will never be long term. They are eventually penalised and end up worse than when they started.
Ranking is Everything
Well, let’s put it this way. You have to put your money where your mouth is. Even the rankings don’t guarantee a return on investments, unless your site has the goods to back it up. Basically, if your sites design is confusing and your content is barely readable, it doesn’t really matter where you rank.
With all that has been said about SEO Myths, it really is laughable that in 2013, we still see people that believe in these fairtales. And you would think that when they are penalized for believing in what we have mentioned, that they would learn from their mistakes; but sadly, they don’t. Eliminating the old saying, “Once bitten, twice shy.”
This is a very helpful list! In the seo training I just completed, I learned that seo is more of an art than a science. I'm glad there are many opinions out there!
thanks for sharing and explaining these myths in details really helpful to get more focussed on seo campaign
Hi Jeff, thanks for the informative article.
I have a question about the pagerank.
Does somebody is familiair with the date of the next Google pagerank check?
This article clears all the doubts and confusions that will have issues while pretending & not getting there where they want to. Excellent Article!!!
Interesting article. It is funny how long some of these myths still exist. I can remember back when PR was everything and getting as many links as possible was called a strategy. It is actually more fun now trying to help clients or rank higher on your personal sites. It takes more smarts.
I think your best point is your last. Ranking isn't everything. I have to say over the years my focus was too much on rankings and not enough on content and conversions. The traffic may have been high but the content and conversion strategy was weak. You are bang on that ranking isn't everything.
Thanks Jeff, good article.
Inbound marketing and on page optimization have become the new way of SEO especially after all of the Google algorithm changes.
Blog commenting IS SEO effective from my own experience. I just been doing it for the last 2 months for a new website, and I am already on the first page of Google. That has been actually where my main effort has been, and is giving me results, for a website brand new. This strategy comes from an established SEO consultant, and he advised me to put comments on pages with high Page Rank, otherwise pages with Rank 0, 1 or 2 is a waste of time. Also .Edu and .Gov sites are recommended, but I can't demonstrate that just focusing on this extensions gives better results than others.
I agree with some of them like keyword stuffing, guaranteed google results, google approved seo firms. But I personally feel edu and gov links have good value, and also PR plays significant role in ranking. This is based on my experience.
I agree with you on most of the comments .If key word density and page rank is not relevant , then on what basis Google ranks a blog . I had faced some issues when i relied on unique content. I wonder on what basis they are listing the search results . Also what about TEXT to HTML ratio ?
Finding the right mixture to create a successful website is never easy, I am glad that there are people who are willing to share their hard won knowledge with others.