SEO: The Ever-shifting Sands
Not sure what to do in the post-Penguin world of SEO? You’re not alone!
After spending quite a bit of time online researching the latest trends and talk in the world of SEO we have come to the understanding that there are a lot of business owners who are having a hard time making heads or tails out of SEO; more and more of these people who could really use SEO to give their businesses a boost are turning away from the very thing that could help them simply because it is so confusing.
Because SEO and the rules that drive it are constantly changing it is easy to understand how one person’s perception or game plan can be seized upon by others seeking to better understand and cope with these frequent changes. From there what was once a idea or something mentioned in speculation can spiral out of control, becoming one of the very myths we are going to outline for you in just a moment. Just like a rumor, once an SEO myth gets going it can be hard to put it to rest – here goes nothing!
Myth #1: Keyword Density & The Magic Numbers Make a Difference
Yeah, not so much. This one has a kernel of truth behind it as most myths do, and this is likely where the misconception surrounding keyword density got started. In the myth, there is a magic number (one source mentions 2.78%) for keyword density on a page that will lead said page toward the coveted #1 spot. In truth, it is more a question of keeping things natural and not giving as much thought to crunching the numbers. It’s like counting calories at a holiday dinner party; if you use common sense you don’t need to be worrying about how many calories are in the slice of cake, just enjoy it and move on. In terms of keywords the same idea applies; keep things natural, don’t stuff your page full of keywords at every opportunity, and exercise common sense when creating your content.
For and against: Keyword density
- Finally Killing Off Keyword Density – by Mark Collier
- What is the Proper Keyword Density for SEO? – by Amanda DiSilvestro
- Keyword Density – Make it Lean – by Ashley Hirt
Myth #2: Title & Meta Tags Don’t Matter Anymore
Again, there is a truth at the heart of this myth. According to the myth, there is no point in bothering with the Title and Meta information at the head of your web site’s code, just forget about it and move on. Yeah you need a title so people will know what the heck they are clicking on, but beyond that it’s a lost cause. This one has us shaking our heads because the people who believe this are missing the bigger picture. The truth of the matter is that because of past abuses, the Title and Meta tags don’t matter much when it comes to optimizing your site in order to increase its rankings…at least not in the purest sense. Instead, when the human element is introduced, we begin to see how these things really do play a role in SEO. The Title and Meta tags and the information that they contain are important for the people who search for information; if your page has an appropriate title it is more likely to get clicked on, and if this title accurately reflects the content of the page visitors are more likely to stay on the page after they arrive. Meta tags are sometimes used by search engines if the information there provides a better description of the page’s contents than a snippet of the actual content would. Something a lot of people miss out on when it comes to these two areas of a web site’s code is the idea that there are non-sighted people using the internet too. These people rely on screen-reading programs, and what do these programs read? That’s right, they read your page’s code. Thus the Title and Meta information is useful as a foundation that others can build upon to help your site reach a broader audience!
On the importance of Title & Meta tags:
- Meta Tags Indexing Limits and Ideas – by Schloss Web Services
- ask the expert | Do I Still Need to Use Meta Tags for SEO? – by Karen Gunton
Myth #3: SEO is a One-Time Job You Can Set & Forget
This couldn’t be farther from the truth which makes this myth one of the more amusing ones we found during our travels around the internet. From a business perspective it doesn’t make much sense and if it were true then so many people are getting taken for a ride by companies that offer services on a month-to-month basis all while tracking progress and identifying areas that could use improvement. Under the myth, all a company would need is an SEO company to go through their website one time, fix everything, and they would be set to go for the remainder of the time the company was in operation. Ha! See, it was funny!
Instead, the truth behind this myth is that a website does need a solid foundation when it gets started, and this is often thought of as a “one-time” deal because a website only launches once. After the construction and coding of the site are decided SEO becomes a constant and ever-evolving process that changes as the website (and the business behind it) grows and changes. Social media? Yeah, that’s in there too! And much like the way social media ebbs and flows, so does SEO and the attention it requires. Not all SEO is intensive and complicated; sometimes it can be as simple as keeping your finger on the pulse of things and tweaking something here or there to keep your momentum going strong.
(Click for a larger version!)
Myth #4: Linkbait is Bad!
Sadly, some people believe this myth to be true and hold back posting great content that could be considered linkbait because they fear that it will draw too much attention to their site and they will be accused of unnatural linking or something else because of all the links that tend to come about as a result of great content spreading around the net. If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how getting a lot of traffic to your website in an honest and legitimate way could possibly be a bad thing you’re in good company because we’re doing it too!
The truth is that your website will not be penalized for linkbait as long as it is relevant to the page it links to and isn’t designed to mislead or misinform anyone. So keep on creating those awesome videos, infographics, and other goodies and reaping the rewards that come with them! Again, if you use common sense and do things in moderation you should be fine dangling a little bit of juicy bait out there to bring in a little bit of traffic every now and then.
Video: Whitehat Linkbait feat. Matt Cutts (of Google fame)
Myth #5: Duplicate Content Will Hurt You No Matter Where It Shows Up
For a long time, most of the world that pays attention to SEO has been laboring under the misconception that duplicate content is something that you will get penalized for no matter what the circumstances are. According to this myth doesn’t matter how or where duplicate content appears, if it’s on your site you could get into big trouble. An example would be you copying something from one page in your site to another page, or even quoting something from another website on one of the pages of your site. Following this logic we should not be referencing any other websites at all, and every bit of content we post anywhere at all needs to be completely original or there’s a penalty coming down the line sooner or later!
In truth, things are a little more complicated than that; the good news is that according to Google there is no “duplicate content penalty” as described in the myth. The bad news is that there are still cases when having duplicate content around can come back to bite you. Something makes us think that if you’re reading this blog you’re not likely to be someone that would be in trouble; only in cases where duplicate content is placed on a page with the obvious intent to deceive or manipulate search engine results does Google stop and take action. If Google finds the same piece of content on multiple websites it will do its best to determine which site is the original source of the content and instead of demoting other pages, it will boost the original author’s page above the others. So no worries if you are posting the same content on a few pages of your website, just keeps things simple and vary the content up a bit to make it unique and relevant whenever you can!
Need to check and see where your content appears? Try the resources on this page:
- Top 7 Websites To Check Duplicate Content – by Amit Chahar
Like many other things, SEO techniques are useful and helpful until a few ruin it for everyone else; sure “a few” in this case could mean millions, but let’s not get bogged down by numbers! Instead, let’s focus on all of the good things that can come from a solid and sensible approach to SEO!
Want to learn more about these and other myths of the world of SEO? Check out these posts:
- Top 5 SEO Myths Debunked - by Rob Cibelli
- 5 Damaging SEO Myths Dispelled – by Tom Ewer
- 10 SEO Myths That Are Hurting Your Rankings – by Kelly Robertson
- Google SEO Myths Exposed – by SEO-SEM