I communicate with many people about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). These people range from total SEO novices to SEO experts. Unfortunately many novices waste a lot of time on SEO activities that don’t do any good at all. I therefore decided to write up five of the SEO fallacies that I come across often:
1. Keywords in Header Meta is Good for SEO
This is absolute rubbish! The major Search Engines haven’t indexed or even looked at the Keyword meta tag for years because it is so easily manipulated. Search Engine ‘bots and algorithms are extremely advanced and they no longer need to rely on Webmasters classifying their own data through keyword meta. It really is quite amazing that some SEO advisors are still telling people to add carefully selected terms into the keyword meta tag
2. You must get as many inlinks as Possible
Back in the 1990’s a famous Paper by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, who founded Google, showed that links were used as THE determinant of SERPs rankings (i.e. the more links to a Site meant that it would be listed higher in the SERPs); this was called Pagerank. Times have moved on considerably and, although inlinks hold some value from an SEO perspective, it does not hold nearly the weight that it used to. Nowadays the Search Engines use hundreds of factors in ranking the relative importance and relevancy of a Page of which inlinks is just one factor. Certainly it’s a good idea to get relevant inlinks where appropriate but keep in perspective that inlinks don’t hold the ranking weight that they once did!
3. NoFollow (Link Sculpting) should always be used
Outgoing hyperlinks may be marked as ‘nofollow’ or ‘noindex’. Nofollow was very popular for a number of years and signified to Search ‘bots (crawlers) not pass any link-love to the linked Page. The original intent of the nofollow attribute was so that a Webpage could link to a page on another Site however signify that the destination Page not hold any authority (e.g. if i link to an example of a Webpage that I believe is totally inaccurate then I’d use the nofollow attribute on the link). The problem with nofollow is that it is very easily manipulated and has become widely used for page-sculpting (as well as being totally misunderstood and incorrectly used). Recent surveys have shown that many genuine SEO experts believe that the nofollow attribute is of very little relevance and many in-the-know have stopped using it altogether. I agree with this; nofollow should only ever be used on the very rare occasion when you do not condone a Site you are linking to.
4. Search Engines blacklist Sites that republish
The effects on SERPs in relation to republishing is widely misunderstood. Contrary to what is taught on many alleged SEO courses, Google etc. does not penalise a Site that republishes content. There is often a very valid reason for republishing content e.g. if an Australian travel Website republishes a travel warning that was originally published on a Government travel advisory Website then it is perfectly understandable that the information has been republished. Think also of newspapers, many publish the same Associated Press content but because more than one newspaper publishes the same story doesn’t mean that all the newspapers are ‘bad’.
Where content has been republished, the Search Engines will rank the more authoritative Site/Page higher in the SERPs; if therefore all you have is republished content on your Site you’ll have very little authority therefore won’t rank as prominently in the SERPs.
5. The same SEO activities as a few years back apply now
The algorithms that Google, Bing etc. use to rank Webpages change daily! The SERP Pages themselves also evolve often; just this past year we have seen Google introduce caffeine, Google Instant and other game-changing and hugely influential changes (from an SEO perspective). SEO is a constantly evolving art (part science?) and many of the activities that worked in getting a great SERP result a few years back hold no relevance now. There are also some activities which are even more important today that a few years back (such as having original and appealing content). To rank well in the SERPs you have to be constantly up-to-date with what your target audience and the Search Engines are looking for and adapt accordingly.