In talking with prospects, new clients and even just random people at business events I hear some common misconceptions on search engine optimization. I thought I would give you the top three and also let you know just a bit on why they are false and not part of true search engine optimization.
1. Keyword Meta Tags
This is still the biggest one out there. Once upon a time, many years ago, keyword meta tags mattered. Then people started “stuffing” their website meta tags with hundreds of terms, not just 4 or 5 that were true. This caused Google and the others to say “forget it”… our results are now off from these abused meta tags. Nowadays it is good to still have meta tags on each page with 4 to 6 terms (my recommendation) that are actually on the page, but the search engines barely weigh this as a factor, and some just ignore them entirely. Also keep in mind that keyword meta tags and the meta tag description (this matters more) are two different items. The Fact: While keyword meta tags are not the “rankings gold” people think they are, it is a good idea to include proper use of them in your basic page optimization.
2. “My company is the biggest and the best … better than those guys”
I get a lot of people that want to pull up a Google search on their most popular keyword search in their line of work and then they start telling me how the guys ranked #1, #2, #3 and so on are not as good as them, haven’t been around as long, haven’t won the awards they have and so on. Please make note, currently Google only cares about your online reputation. How many credible and trustworthy sites are linking to you, how valuable your content is, and how search engine friendly and properly structured it is. Yahoo is not going to walk into your office and compare your conference room to your competitors and rank one higher than the other based on this. The Fact: While many offline things make your business a success, they just do not directly matter in search rankings. Focus on making sure your web design is properly structured, has valuable keyword rich content and obtains links to your site from trustworthy websites. Getting links to your site, known as link building is the hardest part of SEO and rightfully so. Try watching this video from SEOmoz on trustworthy websites to understand valuable links better. Of course a link from CNN.com beats out a link from the five spot.
3. Search Engine Submission
Yes, you can tell the search engines your website is out there, but they don’t have to care. Search engines work by crawling the web from link to link and thats how they arrive at your site, provided you have a link or two somewhere on the web to you. The engines prefer to focus their energy on sites and pages that others show are worthy of linking to. If you still think this is a tactic to give you an edge, just spend a day submitting your website to the engines over and over again … and watch nothing happen. The Fact: Search engines are built on “crawling” the web from link to link. They believe the best of the web is linked, from top down to the bottom. Thousands of websites are launched daily, the search engines prefer to focus and learn about the ones that other sites are saying have value … by linking to them. Again, concentrate on link building.
Well I hope if you had any love and hope for these three items to improve your search engine rankings you have now broken up with them and started trying to date the facts. Subscribe to this blog and you’ll get plenty more posts covering the facts of search engine optimization and what you should understand and execute on proper web design structure, content (it is king) and link building. In the end, proper search engine optimization is a process, not a bunch of gimmicks or tricks.