Most people who are remotely familiar with web marketing, and more specifically with search engine optimization, understand that certain practices that once led to high SERP rankings are now out-dated and ineffective. However, I still talk to clients on a regular basis who believe that repeating their keywords hundreds of times throughout their site will get them front page results.
The SEO misconceptions listed below have been identified and discussed in SEO circles a hundred times over. Still, in the past six months, I’ve clarified these misconceptions to clients on numerous occasions, which prompted me to set the record straight…again.
- Keyword Stuffing is an Easy Way to Get Rankings – Everytime a client asks about stuffing keywords in their META tags, on-page content, navigation, etc., I have to cringe. As far as the ‘keyword’ META tag is concerned, Google stopped placing much (if any) weight in this a long way back once they realized websites were abusing it by placing any and all keywords there. In terms of on-page content, keyword stuffing not only makes the site read terrible to visitors, but it also raises flags to search engines that your site is "spammy". As a rule, on-page content should ALWAYS be written for visitors rather than crawlers, with any keywords appearing naturally within the flow of the content.
- PageRank (PR) is THE Determining Factor of a Site’s Importance – I talk to alot of website owners who think that PR is the end-all-be-all of web dominance- not so. PageRank is but ONE of the many factors used by Google to determine a website’s importance. And what’s more, PR is assigned by Google on a page by page basis so even saying "my site’s PR is at XX value" isn’t a totally accurate statement because what you’re likely to mean is "my home page’s PR value is at XX". Taking a step back, it helps to think of your overall web presence as a puzzle, with PR being a piece of that puzzle. You need ALL of the peices to make the puzzle complete. Althought it is important, PageRank should not take priority at the expense of other important aspects of your site.
- We NEED to Have Tons of Reciprocal Links – Some of our clients (especially ones with older, more authoritative domains) get solicited for reciprocall link requests by relevant and non-relevant sites alike. When it comes to trading links, it’s best to use them sparingly. Because they are not valued as highly by search engines as one-way links are, reciprocal links should not take up the bulk of your link-building efforts. Reciprocal links can be beneficial in helping to diversify your backlink profile, but make sure you trade links with quality, relevant sites.
- NoFollow Links are Useless -In terms of "Link Juice", NoFollow links provide very little (if any) direct SEO benefits to your site. However, there are some other indirect benefits of NoFollow links that should not be overlooked. For one, traffic is still passed through these links, meaning you can still gain visitors by placing NoFollow links on high-traffic, relevant websites. NoFollow links can also help to diversify your backlink profile (rather than having all of your backlinks be one-way, blogroll links for example). Also, a well-placed NoFollow link (say, in a useful blog comment) may garner additional, followed backlinks from other visitors to that site who find your site valuable.
- Rankings are Permanent – Many clients seem to think that once they achieve the rankings they’re looking for, they can put a halt on their SEO efforts altogether. Just like any other aspect of business, if your compeition ups the ante on their web maketing, and you stop, they will eventually surpass you. Continuing to build valuable backlinks, creating new content, and generally being active with your site is necessary to maintain your keyword rankings.
- I Should Submit My Site to EVERY Online Directory I Can – Clients are always telling me about some "new" online directory they’ve heard about that their site NEEDS to be listed in. The fact is, of the thousands of online business directories on the web today, only a handful are actually going to be beneficial to your website. With any online directory, do your homework and make sure your not submitting your site to a spammy or otherwise useless directory. There are a few directories we recommend (some paid, some free) to all of our clients, including The Open Directory Project, Yahoo Directory, Starting Point, Best of the Web, and Business.com.
- Ranking High for Keyord "X" Will Bring Me Tons of Traffic/ Business – Although our clients know their businesses better than anyone, they are sometimes surprised to discover their "most important" keyword is bringing them very little traffic, and thus, is not providing them much value. One example is a client who was very adament about ranking highly for a particular keyword. Eventually, he reached #2 in Google for his "money" keyword, but a look into his traffic analytics revealed that he only had 3 total visits from that keyword over the course of a month. There were several other keywords he hadn’t even considered that were bringing in way more traffic. The point is, keep an open mind when deciding which keywords to target. The keyword you think you must absolutely rank for may not be beneficial to your site at all.
Hopefully these points help to clear up some confusion for those who are not very familiar with current SEO best practices. As the web continues to evolve, there will no doubt be more and more optimization myths that beed to be debunked. As SEO professionals, it is our job to seek out and dispel these myths as best we can.