Google and other major search engines keep their algorithms a secret to reduce spam and while keeping spam down is a good thing secrecy also means that anyone trying to optimize a website is forced to make educated guesses as to what things actually work to improve rankings and traffic.
Thanks to sites like SEOmoz, searchengineland and others there is now a lot of quality information which wasn´t there when I started doing SEO back in 2004. But more information also means there is a lot more bad and outdated SEO advice available. I like to call bad or misleading SEO advice SEO myths and here are seven of them:
Myth #1 – Nofollow links count
I am surprised that this myth is as widespread as it is. Many SEOs strongly believe that google is counting nofollow links in their algorithm even though google have been quite transparent with their statements on how they treat links with the nofollow tag.
People have set up experiments trying to prove that nofollow links can improve PageRank and improve ramkings. The reality is that it’s difficult to detect every link that is created on the Web. Popular backlink tools only find a subset of all links that Google detects and counts which then leads to wrong conclusions.
Another reason some people believe nofollow links count is that they mistake them for social signals. Google’s lack of transparency on how they use social signals is largely responsible for the extension of this myth.
I wish someone could kill this myth with some research, I just don’t have the time.
Myth #2 – Directory links don’t work.
Directory links work and they work really well. What doesn’t work is automated directory submission to thousands of spammy directories. Manual submission to quality directories is still a great source of links
On of Matt Cutts latest videos sheds some light onto the quality standards for directories. Basically the harder it is to get into a directory the higher the link value.
Some possible directory quality factors are:
- Price – an expensive directory is harder to get into because it costs more money
- Submission guidelines, if the requirements are high and it’s harder to get listed it will be a better resource and therefore more valuable
- Niche or topical directories carry more relevance than general ones.
Directory links are a good starting point for any new website. Additionally, they can provide traffic and sales to your website directly.
Myth #3 – All paid links are bad
Paid follow links are a huge part of the cyber economy. Companies pay for links directly and indirectly be they text links, banners, directory listings, sponsored posts or affiliate links.
The line between spammy links and acceptable links is so blurry that white hat SEOs avoid any form of payment for links. While there is something commendable about being competitive without buying links you’ll be hard pressed to find a successful ecommerce site that doesn’t exchange money for links one way or another. Link buying can be effective and efficient.
Myth #4 – Content is king
Content is king is a myth. That’s right I said it. If your website is a blog or a source of news then content is king, but for your average business that is trying to get some traffic to sell their product or service content isn’t as important as it’s hyped up to be.
Having an awesome product is just as good as having awesome content. You don’t need to be trying to produce viral content in order to generate online sales for your business, nor should you have to. I’m tired of every mom and pop Internet shop being told they need a blog by their local SEO. If your new ecommerce shop has no links don’t waste your time writing blog posts, get some links first – submit to some directories and participate in relevant forums.
Even Wil Reynolds recently said “ that the “Good Guys” of SEO, the people who do the things like building great content and community are being made into two faced liars every day by Google.” in an article called How Google Makes Liars Out of the Good Guys in SEO in which he shows disappointment with how anchor text links work so much better to improve rankings than writing quality content.
There is a great post by Ross Hudgens which goes into more detail about this.
Myth #5 – You need a Facebook fan page
Unless your brand is extremely social in nature you don’t need a Facebook fan page so don’t waste your time. Better still, don’t waste your customers time by sending them to Facebook unnecessarily.
If you think Google is interested in sending traffic over to Facebook think again. They are now in direct competition so why would they include Facebook data as an important ranking factor?
Don’t get me wrong, if you have pages or products people will genuinely like and share on Facebook then it’s a great addition, but for most it’s not a must-have.
Myth #6 – You need a Twitter account
While I use Twitter a lot more than I use Facebook (in fact I don’t use Facebook at all for SEO) I mainly use Twitter to stay up to date with the latest SEO news (which is what Twitter is for). If your business is information (such as news, blog, magazine or a movement) then Twitter is a must have. However, if your business doesn’t provide information people would want to hear about on a regular basis then you don’t need Twitter.
Having a twitter account just to bombard you customers with offers is not how you should be using twitter.
I have noticed organic ranking spikes after tweets so while twitter isn’t a must for most it certainly can be a good addition if you’ve covered the fundamentals already.
Myth #7 – SEO is dead
Searchenginewatch has a comprehensive article on this myth and I firmly believe that as long as there are search engines you will need to help them position your website. Usually, ranking isn´t enough, you must get to the top of the rankings for a particular keyword. There will always be techniques to accomplish this.
Requiring SEO to generate traffic is equally a myth. Some of the biggest sites today including the giant Facebbok, did not need SEO to be successful. Having a great website or web application might be all you need in some cases. For most of us SEO mortals though, we are working on sites that want to increase their sales from search engines.