SEO – Myth, Method or Discipline

Certainly there are many schools of thought about SEO. My purpose today is to share with you my own insight in to SEO as a whole — What is SEO?

SEO Myths
SEO Myths

Some may say SEO is snakeoil a myth: Fact is, there are many lies, misconceptions and ill advised bits of information available about  SEO. I can suggest that first and foremost you take everything you read with a grain of salt. Let the things you read serve to enforce what you have learned promoting your website… Not the other way around. Next, check the date of the information you read…. Much professional information that is both linked to and referred to even now has lived long past its recommended shelf date! Hell I read one today linking to a post from 2007. C’mon.

Truth is, SEO is simply the practice of dealing with the optimization and usability of a website for the purpose of improving and/or maintaining search engine ranking. Simply said, SEO is the practice of improving your website’s visibility using organic optimization techniques. This is the method and discipline part of SEO as I see it.

Down and dirty SEO lies you will find on the web:

  1. You need to submit your sites to the search engines… BS, this hasn’t been true for many, many years.
  2. My robots.txt will prevent indexing of the pages blocked…. Just plain not true. Further more, for some lousy search engines it’s a joke less than effective in even preventing crawling of blocked pages.
  3. My sitemap.xml means Google must crawl and index these pages. Ha, ha. This is not a command to any search engine, but rather a document intended to help the search engines find our pages easier because our navigation and internal linking sucks! Fact is you don’t have to have a search engine sitemap at all.
  4. I never have to update my website if it ranks well… This is very out of date. Relevant and high quality textual content is a must for proper organic optimization…. This is a defining difference from 2007 to present. It very much used to be true that great content continued to rank well, even if the site was never updated. I think if you spend a few moments in your own statistics you will see that Google especially, favors well maintained websites. Call this a “fresh factor”. Can you really blame Google here?
  5. Proper on page structure will rank my pages well…. Really think so? Face it, this is just a very small piece of a extremely large puzzle. If you have a website you wish to promote organically, then you are charged with the task of trying to solve the puzzle. On page factors are no lie, we know that relevant page titles, proper use of structural elements like heading tags and page layout can afford better results, however, this is a small piece of the whole puzzle. To be successful in your SEO campaign you will need to continually seek to solve the puzzle by educating yourself, testing your theories and use some (not so common) common sense practices.
  6. If I shove 500 keywords in my Meta keywords tag I will rank well for those words. This is perhaps the most outright lie we will address today. Not only have search engines stopped using the Meta keywords tag, but they never really helped you much without some relevancy within the page’s content anyhow. So if you want to use it, use 10 or less relevant words and phrases… Or just remove the damn thing all together.
  7. I have to write X amount of text per page to rank. Yes and no… Fact is you need enough text only to make that page unique. Most websites use a constant template throughout the site (for effective branding and usability), most times this template has continuous text as well. You need enough text on each page to set it apart from the other pages… That’s all.
  8. Duplicate content will get my site banned. No… Fact is most search engines handle your duplicate content rather well. I think your best practice is not to intentionally create duplicate content, but for most purposes you needn’t fret about this much. In my opinion the biggest issue with duplicate content occurs when a single website has a very large amount — Like maybe 30% or more. I think that at some point there is a level for each search engine that does in fact soften your ability to rank… and certainly slows your spider/crawler visits.
  9. URLs with parameters will prevent my site from being indexed and crawled. Not true at all. Fact is Google and the other search engines handle these parameters very effectively. There is a small benefit to rewriting your urls in to a more readable format (mostly usability), but overall if rewriting your urls is going to be a huge undertaking or cause performance issues with your website software… Then don’t.
  10. I must add my keywords to my page X amount of times to rank. Ok, really go ahead…. Is this really what you think? Yes, words need to should be on the page if you are to rank for them, but intentionally stuffing your page with garbage text to rank them won’t help. For example if the correct word is plural, then use it… How dumb does this sound to your website visitors?

    We have the best pet supply, pet care equipment, dog grooming supplies and dog jacket for your dog or cat.

    Fact is visitors do read your text… and you look too dumb to buy from. Additionally, creating natural and generally descriptive text will bring you many more organic longtail searches as searcher’s queries are getting longer and more descriptive.

  11. I need PageRank to rank my site. I shouldn’t even have listed this outright lie can of worms, but it’s BS! I have nothing more to say on this matter but to direct you to Google and perform some searches to see for yourself that even PR ZERO’s commonly outrank sites with high(er) PageRank.

So, if you read this far, the only thing left to do is exercise some common sense and commitment to improve your website rank. There is no magic sauce, just hard work and common sense. In summary, SEO is both a discipline and a method… but not a myth =-)

2 responses to “SEO – Myth, Method or Discipline”

  1. So for myth 1) its only purpose when adding a site using Google Webmaster tool is so you can see crawl results, sitemaps, robots.txt entries, etc?

    What about those SEO companies who add your site to thousands of directories? Scam? How do you tell your non-technical boss there is no page 1 guarantee even if they believe there is?

    With so much information about SEO it’s hard who to trust and believe. If a company doesn’t have the funds for an Adwords campaign or even spend $,$$$ on SEO, rhen how can they get loads of visitors and sales?

  2. Page 1 guarantees are very simply lies. For myth number one you have the wrong process. I am speaking of the add url for that the search engine have buried somewhere, not webmaster’s tools. Webmaster’s tools is a very handy thing and there is more information there that most even realize.

    With regard to directories, links from good directories are good links, but they should not dominate your link profile. They certainly don’t get you to page 1, but rather they begin to peak to the authority and trust of your website.

    It’s hard work, ongoing hands on things to do as well as learning, keeping up with algorithmic changes and a core commitment that is not for the faint of heart.