The problem with SEO today is that there is no set standard to follow. Since Google don’t disclose their algorithm in full or run/endorse an official training course, all we can rely on is ‘Google Webmaster Guidelines’, Matt Cutt’s Blog & a few Youtube videos . Sure there are other credible resources such as: Searchenginewatch & Econsultancy, but none can be as credible as Google after all it’s their playing field.
I’m not writing this as the world’s greatest authority in SEO but a good practitioner with many local, national & international P1 Google Ranks. The objective of this article to save the rest of us a bit of time of having to endure listening the voice of Google (Matt Cutts) http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp#p/u/3/SJtchsFiQUo & having to read his blog http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ I have added a few comments to each myth.
25 SEO Myths Debunked by Google
SEO Myth 1 – Google uses information from analytics in its ranking factors
False – Google deny this, there are some who won’t believe it , I look at it from a business perspective & suspect it’s true else – if they are found to be doing this at any point in future they will end up with an exodus of analytics users & a massive PR disaster for breach of privacy.
SEO Myth 2 – If you build too many links you will be penalized
Google says this is false. That may be so, but no one at Google gives a plausible explanation for a site ending up on the audit list other than having too many links, now do they? It’s not like someone rats you out to Google for having “too many links”.
SEO Myths 3 – You need to submit your site to google to be found
False – Google says that websites will be found if quality established sites link to it. This is kind of obvious to the SEO Pros – most of us have done our own tests of launching a virgin site then link building without google submission – done correctly & your site can show up within minutes. Google themselves say that its un-necessary to use ‘add URL’.
SEO Myths 4 – Google uses the meta keywords tag
False – Google clarified this is not in their algorithm at all – this has been long dead through abuse – there is no real reason to use it – I tend to use 1 or 2 keywords just in case someone finds you through a non main stream search engine.
SEO Myth 5 – Meta description is irrelevant
False – Google hasn’t commented on this as a ranking factor but has specified that can be left blank as the they will choose a ‘relevant snippet’ Google have also clearly stated that it’s used more now than 8 years ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtSzi2MUegs hence a lot of confusion in the SEO community reference to description.
In my tests changing the description doesn’t seem to alter ranking so I suspect it’s a secondary factor – but it can alter CTR dramatically, hence I recommend taking this tag a bit more seriously. Defining the meta description may not always guarantee that google use it – although mostly they do.
SEO Myth 6 – Duplicate pages or similar pages on site will be penalized
False – whilst Google advises to avoid dupes & they say that the algorithm will figure out any dupes & merge info, hence only one page of 2 is shown – which is why many assume it’s a penalty. Google obviously recommends that only single pages exist in a site, however where this is not possible or inbound links already exist for both urls – then the best course of action is using a 301 redirect or link rel=canonical in your page header. Incidentally duplicate sites will be treated the same way.
SEO Myth 7– it’s necessary to use meta robots & robots.txt
False – Nope Google advised to use this if you don’t want the content crawled & indexed
SEO Myth 8 – it doesn’t matter where the website is hosted
False – Google have clearly specified that they use IP geo-location & the sites IP is a ranking factor – hence if your site is targeting UK – make sure it’s hosted in the UK.
SEO Myth 9 – It doesn’t matter what the website name is
False – Google are quite specific about this – domains with the keyword you wish to rank for do make a difference & so does the suffix TLD.ie you want to rank a domain in the UK then .co.uk /.com are good in that order. Where you haven’t chosen the best domain it’s advisable to use Google Webmaster Tools to set your Geo target.
SEO Myth 10 – Flash sites don’t rank well
False – Google has confirmed that they are getting more efficient at crawling Flash. Google have also commented that full flash sites may make linking to the content difficult hence recommend avoid writing flash heavy, especially sites with single swf sites . With mobile phone browsing on the increase and many browsers not being flash enabled by default Google recommend to turn off flash and test to see if the user can still see the content. Here is an example of a flash site I have optimised for martial arts Cheltenham & kung fu Cheltenham.
SEO Myth 12– Google will penalise sites that sell links
False – say Google – you can sell links but must use a rel=nofollow attribute so the link doesn’t flow pagerank – else you break the rules of natural link building and the G-Police will endorse you with a penalty. Hmm translated that spells: you can sell worthless links – kind of a contradiction. Google has also dumped a major player for selling text link ads from the index which is an irony as what are Adwords?
SEO Myth 13 – I will be penalised if I sell ads
False – Google say they have no issue with any major ad networks. I guess we have to remember that Google sell ads and doing anything other than this could be considered as running a monopoly.
SEO Myth 14 – Google penalises a site for over optimisation
False Google say that they don’t penalise sites that are over optimised however advise that sites like that may not be appealing to the viewer. My theory on this is simple, optimise, don’t make it look like spam – only gives your competitor a reason to report you
SEO Myth 15 – Code Quality will affect my SERP
Nope – Google are not a code validator – it’s perfectly OK to leave out paragraph tags & forget to close certain tags, leaving out optional tags is in fact recommended for speed. Google have admitted that thinning the code down will make it easier to spider – so dumping java & css to separate files whilst a plus makes no difference to ranking
SEO Myth 16 – Google algorithm changes all the time so SEO is pointless
False – Google admit that there are 200 or so factors that affect SERPs and every year 20 or so are tweaked. Google say the tweaks are an ongoing process to improve search
SEO Myth 17 HTML/XML Sitemap helps increase ranking
False – According to google whilst it’s useful has no impact on SERPs, but may help to list pages that are currently unlisted – specially new pages that don’t have any external inbound links
SEO Myth 18 Changing webhost will affect my google rank
False – Google advises to set the ‘dns time to live’ to 5 minutes when switching
SEO Myth 19 .edu & .gov links will rocket our ranking
False – Whilst Google say that links from high PR pages (that do follow) are more beneficial – Google algorithm makes no differentiation as to who they are from
SEO Myth 20 – Links are unimportant (As one famous SEO course suggests)
False – Google confirm importance of links but play down how important this actually is by the usual smoke screen of other SEO factors – Mr Cutts further harps on how we should optimise our site titles, descriptions, links, headings, URLS, content and we should also look at keyword proximity & positioning – cool thanks for that Matt –so why does Adobe rank No1 for ‘get’ or ‘click here’ – can someone find me one example of ‘click here’ on page or in code http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/ – case closed (Thanks Brad Callen for this reference). Matt’s Blog June 2009 – ‘If you believe that Google stopped innovating in link analysis, that’s a flawed assumption’– ignore links at your peril
SEO Myth 21 – Pagerank is unimportant
False – Google have confirmed that its one of the more important factors, but not the only factor. Pagerank is also used in computation of link juice passed to your website from incoming links. http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/
SEO Myth 22- Keyword density is important
False – Whilst google confirmed that keywords on page are a factor they confirmed that it’s not a primary factor and whilst keyword presence & positioning is good – percentage is neither here or there so they say but hinted on positioning & headings.
SEO Myth 23 – There is no restrictions site size when launching
False – Google admitted that launching sites with millions of pages is not a good idea and hinted that whilst thousands not an issue – large sites need to launch softly to avoid scrutiny.
SEO Myth 24 – Hosting Multiple Sites on the same Server/IP Range will ranking cause problems
False – Google say that many webmasters host multiple sites on one server/IP Range – they have no problem with that – however they monitor site ownership and may penalise webmasters hosting 1000s of sites specially similar sites geared to driving traffic to another site – doorway pages
SEO Myth 25 – Directory Architecture & page names are unimportant
False – Google admit these are ranking factors used in the algorithm however state these are not primary factors.
I would like to sign off with something not clarified by google but it would be nice if it was:
The old SEO Chestnut Myth: SEO is an ongoing process – True or false?
I hear this one a lot in conferences & seminars & it seemed very plausible when I first started in SEO but now with experience it kind of winds me up when I hear it. I think this started with Google saying they suggest that sites are kept fresh – understatement of the year – some SEOs read it as: ‘you need SEO all the time else your rank will drop’ – perhaps some kind of justification to charge the customer – we don’t need it we have web designers for that!
Of course in contended markets we need to tweak/link build, check analytics for new keyword trends & build topic relevant landing pages in order to keep our clients positioned high in SERPS – so true then? I say the statement is at best deceptive & at worst false!…. – let me explain this…
Most SEO clients are small businesses in small towns, with little competition & usually little web traffic of any substantial value – let’s just say there is a 2 bakers, 2 estate agents & 2double gazing firms in Abergavenny (small Welsh Town)– I say it’s easy to rank such customers in no1/no2 spots in Google with little more than a few links and some on page factors & these listings will remain there for years without new competition.
The statement really should be: ‘SEO is an ongoing process for any keyword niche where competition is strond & there is enough of it to keep pushing your rank downwards over time. I tell my small business clients: ‘well rank you first then we’ll keep an eye on your SERP positions if your rank doesn’t move in the short term then we don’t need to worry – if it does well come up with a strategy to deal with it’. Taking money from small business for SEO work on monthly/annual basis for work which simply isn’t necessary is as deceptive as the statement.
A bit about me I’m Chris Hitman(TM) an SEO consultant as on the international SEO Services team for artviper.net. I have helped Artviper achieve P1 ranks for ‘website design münchen’, ‘webdesign münchen’ in google.de, ‘professional website design’ in Google.com.
As ever your comments welcome – weather you agree or disagree – please remember people other than the last one which is more of an argument this stuff has been debunked by Google not me! – so shoot the horse not the messenger. I’m also interested in any myths that you have been debunked that is not on the list and any referenced you have to validate the information