There are many myths and misconceptions about search engines. Let's take a look at the most popular myths.
1. Keyword Meta Tags are the most important factor in search engine rankings
Keyword Meta Tag is a bit of code hidden away in your web page. It is visible to the search engines, but not to the person reading the page (unless you right-click on a web page and select "view source"). The idea behind this was to give the early search engines an idea of what the page was about. By putting your keywords into the meta tag, the search engines wouldn't have to try to decipher the content of the page itself.
Guess what happened?
Yup. Every man and his dog stuck 'Free Offer' in the meta tag and watched as the traffic poured in.
Guess what happened next?
Yup. Those clever search engines started ignoring the meta keywords tag due to this abuse by webmasters. The only importance placed on meta tags these days is actually the meta description tag, which should appear as the description for the corresponding page on search engine (further detail on this is given in Article 2 : What We Do
The Keyword Meta Tag is virtually irrelevant in the ranking algorithms of the top engines but many people continue to believe that they are the only optimization strategy that they need.
2. Search engine ranking can be guaranteed and is permanent
Search engines constantly change their algorithms, and your competitors' websites are also in a constant state of change. No one can guarantee search engine placement. You can adjust the variables that go into how a search engine ranks websites, to give yourself the best possible chance of doing well but you cannot be guaranteed that you will get that position or that the position gained will be permanent. Search engine optimisation is ongoing.
Credible, experienced, knowledgeable search engine optimizers can demonstrate results from past performance but cannot guarantee future results. In that sense, they're just like stockbrokers. No broker knows how future markets will perform, and no optimizer knows what future search engine algorithms will be.
Except for pay-for-placement advertising, optimizers cannot
guarantee top positions. Only one group has final control over what ranks and what doesn't: the search engines themselves. All of the major search engines have some sort of disclaimer stating they ultimately decide which Web pages will be included in their indexes.
Unfortunately, a large number of the SEO firms that offer guaranteed search engine positions are spammers. To achieve top positions, thousands, even millions, of doorway pages are submitted to search engines. If one such doorway page gets a top position, even if only for a few days, the SEO firm fulfilled its end of the contract.
People like the comfort of a guarantee. Many believe a guarantee shows the firm's confidence in their skills and expertise. Remember, a guarantee is only one part of a sales pitch. The same guarantee that convinces you to sign the contract may very well result in spam practices that will get your site penalized or banned altogether.
3. Mention your keywords a lot
Contrary to popular belief, mentioning your keywords a lot can actually harm
your page's ranking. The search engines have invested huge sums of money, and countless hours of linguistic expertise in creating ways to determine whether a page is written in 'natural language' or not.
People still repeat keywords a lot - you've probably come across a page that reads something like this:
'Bill's great cameras are the best cameras to buy cameras online uk with cameras in the uk. Cameras.'
Pretty obviously, everyone did this at one point. Which made for pretty poor results - for both the search engines and visitor.
By studying the frequency of words, the length of your sentences and the structure of your document, Google can have a pretty good idea of whether your page is written for humans to read rather than a machine. If it thinks that your page has just been written for it's benefit, rather than for people, it will ignore it at best - and penalise you at worst.
4. Submitting your site to 1000's search engines is a sure-fire winner
Actually, there are nothing like that number of search engines - certainly not ones that people actually use. Something like 85-95% of all searches are provided by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
If a company tells you that they'll submit you to this many "search engines," then they will be basically taking your cash and adding you to lots of sites that no-one uses.
5. Pagerank tells you how good your site is
That funky little green bar you might have seen if you've installed the Google toolbar gives you a very approximate
idea of Google's rating of the page you're on. Essentially a mathematical equation, Pagerank takes into account various factors such as the number of links a page has, it's age and so on. It does not tell you where your site will rank.
If you search for almost any keyword, you will find pages with a Pagerank of 8 sitting under a Pagerank 2. Google's rankings are based on relevancy and trust - and Pagerank is only a very small part of that picture.
6. Sites must be constantly resubmitted to retain rankings.
This is a scare tactic popularized by various submission services and software companies. In fact, it is a waste of money to pay to have your site resubmitted once it is already listed in an engine's database. It will not hurt your rankings to resubmit (or else people would constantly submit their competitor's sites to get them penalized), but it will not help either.
7. Having a links exchange page is a great idea
You don't have to know much about search engines to know that having links coming into your website is one of the cornerstones of any search engine strategy. Often, getting a link from someone requires a reciprocal link. This has led to the popularity of the dreaded "links" page - where all of these reciprocal links are hoarded together.
Unfortunately, such pages are pretty easy for Google to spot for what they are. If your site has dozens of links to petfood suppliers, hat hiring companies and gym instructors but you yourself sell shoes, then Google just won't take you seriously. If you must give a reciprocal link in order to gain one from a trusted source, make sure that the link is given in the footer of the page, or within a page of content - perhaps in a news story.
Links that appear within the natural flow of content appeal to Google's sense that links - like content - should be natural and not just there for SEO purposes.
Are all these myths applicable all of the time? Of course not. Some SEO firms offer money-back guarantees. They do this because they're confident they'll get results, not because they practice unethical techniques.
Many other SEO firms know how desperate people are to obtain top search engine visibility. They prey on that desperation. So if you hear any of these myths in a sales pitch, proceed with caution. Read the fine print in the contract. Follow best search engine practices, and achieve the long-term results your company needs.
Any questions? Give us a call on 0845 313 6214 or 0798 271 8059.