SEO Myths, Mistakes, and The Madness of Crowds

By Evan Levy | Oct 6, 2010
More Articles by Evan

Good morning everyone!  Today is the last day of SMX East and this will be the last session I’m going to sit it on.  This session is titled “SEO Myths, Mistakes, and The Madness of Crowds.  Speakers included: Stephan SpencerJill WhalenShari Thurow, and Michael Gray.  Here’s some of the information I found important.

SEO Myths

1. PageRank = rankings. – False!  Page rank that we see is not the real ranking.  It’s a rough approximation at best.  There are two kinds of page rank.  Tool bar page rank (which is basically meaningless) and real pagerank.  Google page rank is still important, but with caffeine and real time search, page rank changes almost too frequently to be a reliable metric.

2. PageRank sculpting = rankings. – False!  Using the “no follow” tags are not effective ways to sculpt PageRank (a.k.a. google “juice”).  There are other ways to do this, like excluding unnecessary links.  Don’t put a link on your site unless you want people to click on it. The best way to increase Pagerank is to build your site right the first time.

3. Flash kills SEO; don’t use it. – It depends!  You can use flash and still rank, and there can be really good reasons to use flash.  The problem isn’t flash, it’s how people use flash.  The technology is very powerful, and can be made more accessible by using SWF object and SWF address tags.  The panel is split on whether to avoid flash for navigation and textual content.

4. Pages must have valid HTML to rank. – It depends!  If your site is showing up fine in the browser, it should be fine.  A misplaced quotation mark can break something, but for the most part, it’s a myth.

5. Must use text links (not images). – False!  You can use images with an alt text tag and put your text in the link.

6. Must use H1, H2, H3 tags help rank. – False!  People can confuse correlation with causation.  When people add H1 tags they also forget that they added headlines that didn’t exist in the first place.  For SEO, it doesn’t make a huge difference.

7. Keyword Density (250 words) on a page help rank. – False!  Pages can have any number of words as long as you get your keywords and your marketing message on the page.  There’s no specific percentage that will work better than another.  Instead, focus on making sure your keywords are present, but not spammy.

8. Duplicate content = penalties. – Mostly False! It’s more of a filter, than a penalty. It’s still indexed, but Google wants diversity in the search results.  If your content is duplicated, it will rank much lower.  Only extreme abuses will actually collect a penalty or ban.

9. XML sitemaps = rankings. False!  An XML sitemap is not a sitemap, it’s a list of URL’s.  Many times the only way a search engine can access your content is through an XML sitemap.  A good reason to have one of these would be if your content changes constantly or you have a very large site with 100,000 pages.  Just having and XML sitemap is not a good way to improve rankings.

10. canonical tag vs. 301- 301′s are better than canonical.  There have been cases where the canonical element was not obeyed even though the formate was correct.  There isn’t a complete transfer of link authority with 301′s but it’s good enough.

11. Inbound links and TLD’s (.edu, .org)- those with higher authority are more valuable links.  It can be chicken or egg question.  The link might not be inherently better, but there is something to be said about the number of good links on these sites.

12. Buying links gets you banned. – False!  Basically, don’t tell them you bought the link, and you won’t have any issues.  You’re making a deal with someone, and there won’t be a way for Google to know.

13. Competitors can’t harm you. – False! There are people out there that can find ways to torch your site if they really want to.  If you have a decent link profile already, the affects will be limited.  If you’ve got garbage links, or dodgy on site stuff, you’re going to want to change your practices.

14. Linking out helps SEO. – Hard to say!  You probably should so you don’t look really greedy, but don’t not link out because you’re afraid of losing your page rank.

15. Off-page vs. On-page. – There are three legs to SEO, links, content, and architecture.  User behavior is also being tracked by engines.  If the off the page criteria and the on the page criteria reinforce each other,

16. Google endorses some SEO’s. – False!  They do not publicly endorse anyone, although some may get recommended if someone has inner talks with a rep, although rare and unlikely.

17. SERP click affect rankings. – It could!  They have all the data and it’s possible that they do take it into consideration.  However, it definitely does with personalized search.  The problem with this in regular search would be it can be gamed like crazy.

18. Goal of SEO is to rank. – False!  The goal is to make money.  If you’re good at SEO, you’ll also be good at conversions.

19. Google cannot crawl javascript. – False!  Google can definitely crawl javascript.  It can be hit or miss enough to not rely on them getting crawled though.

That’s all for me!  I hope you found some useful information in my posts.  I enjoyed SMX a lot and look forward to putting what I learned into practice.

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