In the realm of SEO There are enough conflicting information on the Internet and if you are the gullible type you may accept what is placed on the plate for you, not realizing that some other ingredients are missing. In the misty world of search engine optimization, there is always the gray area where you don't quite know whether you are on to something or just lost in the wilderness.
Some so-called SEO gurus will tell you to do one thing while others tell you to do the opposite. Pretty confusing, isn't it? But don't get thrown off the track yet. Gather what you have read or heard and relate it to your own blogging experience because somewhere in there lies the truth.
SEO myths are always floating around and people need to be circumspect in dealing with them. A lot has been written about the debunking of these myths but what was considered the 'right way' in search engine optimization in the early days may not ring true today as search engines evolve and techniques change.
One thing that remains a constant bugbear for webmeisters is the thought of not getting a good page rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). For obvious reasons, when you have a website or blog, you want web traffic heading your way. Who doesn't need search engine traffic, especially organic traffic? I'll be a lame duck if I don't.
Lately, as we move into 2009, people are talking about the dawn of personalized search and geo-tagging. Google has launched the controversial SearchWiki which empowers users to rearrange their own search results. They can also vote specific results up or down, make comments and do other things not doable before in the realm of search. But not everyone is happy about this new development, especially for some industry professionals. SEO and ranking will continue to be a much-talked-about topic as the winds of change blow in.
But for now, I won't steal the thunder from Nicholas C Smith as he runs you through his comprehensive article on the myths, risks and pitfalls of search engine optimization. I like his article because it will help clear the air for some of us 'noobs' who are still struggling with the art of SEO and understanding what works and what doesn't work. Read on...
Myths, Risks and Pitfalls of SEO
From my experience, people who try to increase the flow of organic traffic to their websites domain will at some point attempt a whole bunch of “optimisation techniques” without knowing if any of it really has had, or is having, any effect at all. Some of the SEO techniques I have seen people attempt are, whilst quite useless, based on a good idea.
Other methods continually amaze me. Perhaps people that try such things have heard spurious rumours of how to get their site into Google’s top ten listings from certain forums. Incidentally they are probably at such a point of desperation that they are willing to try anything to gain just ten more visits.
I am regularly inundated with the same questions such as: Is it worth submitting my site to 300 search engines? Will I get penalised for cross linking my sites? Should I pay to have high ranking sites link to mine? And what exactly does Google page rank do, if anything?
Questions such as these have driven me into despair and consequently writing this article during which i will attempt to explain definitively the more common SEO myths, risks and pitfalls. In this article we will examine some of the more common beliefs.
Before we get to the list it is worth noting that I have not written it in a particular order and at times I have explained the topic the myth concerns before answering the question.
Q: Will the more links that point to my website increase my sites placement in search engines?
It will help your website as far as the major search engines are concerned. The most popular search engines use the number of links aimed towards a website as an important factor in determining the sites placement. They look for your link to be coming from sites with; high traffic, quality content and a high page rank, amongst other things. Do no cross link, do not spam your address in forums and on social networks and do not put it on irrelevant sites, or even those that seem slightly dodgy. Take your time, aim for directories that are related to your website, aim for directories with page rank 3+ or aim for blogs or similar sites that are relevant to your content.
Q: Is it worth my buying a place on a high ranking directory?
So the idea with this is that, say, a directory has a Google page rank of 7 and is very popular. Any site on it will be getting a big rub off via a higher spot on search engine rankings. However the catch is the directory charges £50 a month for your listing. Is it worth it when there are so many free directories out there?
Personally, I think it is worth it, as long as the site holds its high rank and doesn't have thousands of listings competing with yours on it. The added bonus with paid for listings is that they usually review and include your site very quickly (24hours), which by itself may be worth paying for. And if you could buy 10 spots on decent directories your site will most likely become highly ranked on search engine results.
There are problems with this though. Firstly, it is said to be against Google’s terms of service – paying to get a higher listing on Google’s organic results. (Google want their results to show the best and most relevant websites, not those with the most money behind them) They are, however, unlikely to be too bothered even if they do find out.
The next problem is the cost. For a small company or personal website it is too expensive to pay monthly for many directories to list them, and possibly not worth it. Lastly, it is not guaranteed to help your website. It should, but does not always. I have paid for listings before and noticed very little difference, whilst other times it has made a huge contribution to my sites ranking. So it may be a risk, but it can pay off extremely well.
Q: Will submitting a video about my site or product to places such as YouTube be of benefit to me?
A recent link building trend has been to submit a short video describing the webmasters site or the service it provides, to as many video submission sites as possible. The theory behind this being that search engines give more weight in their results to pages with videos. So if your site or product has a video on YouTube, when that product is searched for on the web that video will often come up in the top ten results. If this video has a link to your site in it, under it or as nearby as you can put it, it should be good news for you and your site. People find the video as it is ranked so highly in the results, watch the video, like what they see and then visit your site to perhaps purchase what they saw.
Does it work? At the time of writing, yes it does and it is probably worth doing. Make a video, even if it is just text, sound or a PowerPoint presentation, and then submit it to as many video and social networking sites as possible. People will find it and it will hopefully persuade them to visit your site. The only real problem with this being that the search engines will not like all of the “video spam” now being posted on the Internet and are likely to change (lower) the priority of videos in their results.
Google Page Rank
Q: Will having a higher Google page rank increase the number of visitors to my site?
Before we can answer that we will have to look at what exactly Google page rank is. Google page rank is a spurious form of measurement for site popularity that the company introduced fairly recently. It is unknown to everyone, except possibly Google, how exactly it ranks sites. It is assumed however that its ranks depend upon on a mixture of traffic a site receives, external links pointing towards it and the content it contains.
New websites may not have a page rank for many months. It is also possible to have a very successful website with thousands of visitors and sales and still not being ranked highly, if at all. This is because Google only ranks pages once every few months, probably around once every four-five months. So if you start your website and straight off advertise heavily you might receive a high volume of traffic but it may still take months for Google to look at your site and rank it accordingly.
To see a website's Google page rank you can download the Google toolbar and then once it is installed right click on it and select show page rank.
So back to the myth – Does having a higher Google page rank mean more visits to your site? Well, yes and no. No, because it alone doesn't actually have any effect on search placement, and as such won’t increase traffic. Yes, because indirectly it will benefit your site.
If you have a high page rank Google will prioritise your site and check back often to see if anything has changed, such as content, giving you a good chance to increase your standing with the search engine. Another benefit is that both people and sites are more willing to trust websites that have a high Google rank.
For example, if you are submitting your site to directories you will want to submit it to a high Google rank directory as Google will check them more regularly and take more notice of them and their content (which will be your link). So indirectly, a high Google rank should mean more visits for your site.
Q: Is it worth me buying 10,000 hits for £££/$$$?
OK, we have all seen the adverts in our email promising thousands of targeted visits for an amazingly cheap cost. And at one point or another we have all been depressed enough to be tempted by them. But just say no.
The idea is, for say 100 pounds (or 200 dollars), a traffic company will direct ten thousand or so visitors to your site who are actually interested in your content. It sounds great and some companies will actually provide what they say as far as traffic to your site is concerned. However I have never found one where the traffic is actually targeted and people even bother to look around my sites. Often it turns out to be a robot that is obviously not going to look or buy anything from me.
If not, it may be that thousands of unfortunate people have had a dozen pop up windows attack them as they bravely try to fight them off. I may be generalising slightly with this, but usually the people that are directed or redirected to your website will want nothing more than to close it down.
It could possibly work for you if your site instantly captures people and most of your money is made off of advertising that these people quickly click on before closing you down. However, do not attempt to use bought traffic whilst using Google Adsense on your site as it is against their rules and your account might be terminated without warning. Another possible benefit is that some search engines rank sites based on incoming traffic, thus 10000 more hits by anybody may actually boost your rankings. However, this is unlikely to fool search engines such as Google or Yahoo!.
Q: What is Cross Linking?
Cross linking is a webmaster practice whereby a person owns many domains, uploads an identical site to each and then heavily links each domain to the others. For example, person A registers lotsofhits,com, but is not getting enough traffic. To fool the search engines into thinking it is a popular website he registers a hundred more domains, so each will have different web addresses but all have the duplicate page content of lotsofhits,com, and all of them link to one another.
This, in theory, should boost the pages rank, as Google, along with other search engines, determine the importance of a site based on links from outside websites pointing to it (along with a few other things). It would also mean that there are a hundred more sites on the web that sell the same product as lotsofhits,com that could all possibly be found.
Q: Will Cross Linking my site(s) be penalised by search engines?
This is not a myth - search engines often penalise or even temporarily ban sites that Cross Link. If Google detect completely duplicate content on even just two sites that link to each other, then they will at least lower your page and result rankings, if not ban both sites.
Q: Heard Cross Linking is fine as long as the sites do not have completely duplicate content. Is there any truth in this?
If you are determined to cross link, the safest way would be to own two or three domains that link to each other but each of which have completely unique content and link to other sites as well as one another. It is hardly worth creating two or more unique sites for the sole purpose of cross linking and I would not recommend doing so anyway.
Q: Is it true that there is no point in doing any manual search engine optimisation or search/site submissions when you can buy software that will do it all for you?
There is a little truth behind this, but not much. Whilst certain software might make for an excellent tool in assisting your SEO campaign, in the end there you will find there is no substitute for hard work. For example you can download a program that will submit your site automatically to 10,000 search engines or put a link to your web page on 50 other sites. The problems there being: only four major search engines exist and between them they take over 80% of all search engine traffic. Those search engines will find your site automatically and rank it according to, amongst other things, relevant and unique content – making the 10,000 search engine submission promise redundant (even if it were true).
There are good tools available that will track your visitors (Google analytics), tell you how your site could be made more search engine friendly and software that even tracks how each of your keywords are ranked in major search engines. However, if you are purchasing such software, try to find a trustworthy independent review first so that you are sure you are not getting ripped off. Also try to make sure that any software you use does not go against Google’s terms of service.
So, whilst certain software can and will be useful to you, there is no replacement for hard work and unique content and regular updates. The search engine rankings should then take care of themselves.
About The Author: Nicholas C Smith is project manager at Breakfrom Limited, who specialize in affordable ecommerce solutions and general web design knowledge and advice. For more information and advice visit http://www.breakfrom.com
Disclaimer: The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of TheNextPost.com and/or its associates.