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SEO Myths - Part 1

Let's look at some of the SEO Myths

It might be interesting to discuss some of the very commonly held ideas about the art of SEO.

"The best thing you can do is submit your site to the search engines everyday!"

Boy is that so very wrong. In fact, submission to the search engines takes time, has no guarantee of success and, even if it produces results, it can take a long time before you see those results.

A link from a site regularly visited by the search engine robots or an entry in a quality directory will probably produce faster and better results.

Imagine driving with the family on a long trip. Every five minutes a small voice from the back seat asks "are we there yet?" Regardless of your response to this question the first time it is asked, does that question change the arrival time at your destination? does it make you more inclined to answer politely or at all on each of the subsequent times it is asked?

"Meta tags are the key to search engine success!"

Meta tags have a role to play in most websites, but it's been a long time since they significantly influenced search engine results. In fact, some well ranked very successful sites don't use meta tags at all.

The correct use of the "Description" and "Keyword" meta tags can be useful in some circumstances (e.g. a site built entirely in Flash or sites with landing pages using images rather than text for the greeting). In these cases, most search engines will use the description meta tag as the basis of their "snippet".

Meta keywords should not be seen as an opportunity to list every possible word that is even remotely related to you, your business or your web developer's activity. You should avoid repeating words in various phrases. For example, here's a small section of a meta description I saw recently "wedding photographer, wedding photography, sydney wedding photographer, sydney wedding photography, ..". If the page (not the whole site) is about these things, I think this is a more appropriate list "sydney, wedding, photographer, photography". In other words, use a short list words, all of which are relevant to the page.

If you use a meta description, keep the content simple - one or two sentences describing the page content. Don't repeat whole sections of the page or just list keywords. It should make sense to a human reader.

Finally on the topic of keyword and description meta tags, use one, and only one, of each. More than one will almost certainly raise eyebrows at Google and not in a good way.

Speaking of meta tags ... let's just drop the "revisit-after" tag. Do we really think this instruction will convince or even vaguely influence a search engine to visit at that frequency?

"All visitors arrive at the front door (i.e. your landing or home page)!"

This may be true if you have a small site, with no significant content on your internal pages, or if your navigation system has prevented the search engines from finding any of your internal pages. But a site with good navigation and good content on the internal pages will have visitors land on some of the internal pages.

If you look at your visitor logs and examine the first page seen by all your visitors, you should see a range of first pages where the visitor found you in a search engine. This confirms the search engines can find the internal pages and considers their content interesting. Checking this log shows you some of the search strings real people are using to find your site. You might find this information very valuable.

"Repeat all your keywords as often as possible to ensure success!"

Repeating words in a page does draw those words to the attention of the search engines. There's a lot of talk in SEO circles about the correct percentage of words on a page is correct for your keywords. Most "experts" agree somewhere between 3% and 15% is good. I don't disagree with these numbers. But rather than focus on a formula for success I think it is more appropriate to write content that reads well, and if you are talking about a particular subject you will use those important words and phrases and you will use them in a natural and effective way. Of course emphasising or reinforcing some of these words, through their use in the page title, in keyword meta tag and in header text will do much more than getting the percentage just right.

Whatever you do, don't try stuffing the keywords - endlessly repeating keywords in meta tags, HTML comments or in hidden text. If the search engines detect this, you will be penalised and this could take a long time to rectify.

"If you build it they (search engines or visitors) will come!"

If your business isn't listed in the phonebook and you don't show your address or phone number on your business card, how will people know how to contact you? The search engines aren't sitting around waiting for new domains to be registered and then jump into action to visit, index and list your site. You have to announce to the world you have arrived.

Get a link from someone already in the search engines (preferably in a related industry), arrange for a listing in a directory or if all else fails submit your site to one or more of the search engines (and then don't bother them for a couple of months or ever if they list you).

I'll try to get back to this topic soon, but in the meantime if you would like to discuss what might be possible for your website, please contact us.

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