Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a process that’s always changing. As Google and other search engines refine their algorithms, webmasters must adapt to ensure good organic search rankings. Common SEO myths distract from best practices and may even cause search engines to pass a site by.
1) The More Keywords, the Better
Good SEO relies on keywords, but using too many on any one page makes search engines see it as spam. Also known as “keyword stuffing,” the practice of repeating keywords in an attempt to reach a certain density makes pages sound stiff and awkward. Keywords should flow naturally with the text. The goal is to write content with readers in mind first and search engines second.
2) Link Quantity Guarantees Good Ranking
Although backlinks have an impact on SEO, it’s the quality, not the quantity, that matters. Link schemes that attempt to boost search placement are often in violation of search engine guidelines and do more harm than good. A small number of relevant links will do more for rankings than a large, random collection.
3) Meta Keyword Tags are a Must
It used to be that meta keyword tags played a big role in search engine ranking. These days, search engines often ignore keyword tags. Too many site builders used meta tags as a way to boost the number of phrases a page would rank for by dumping as many keywords as possible into the tag. Similar to keyword stuffing, this makes a page look like spam and does nothing for search rankings.
4) Search Engine Submission is Essential
Submitting a site directly to a search engine used to be a good way to get it noticed. However, modern SEO has rendered this practice obsolete. Search engines regularly crawl the web for new content and new sites are automatically indexed by search robots. A better way to improve rankings is to focus on building a network of quality links and use keywords naturally in site text.
5) Site Maps Boost Rankings
While a site map is useful and can help search engine robots index all pages of a site, it’s not an effective SEO tool. However, visitors appreciate having a quick and easy way to locate specific pages, so it doesn’t hurt to have one.
6) Impressive Graphics Drive Traffic
Sites built entirely from Flash or with a lot of large images may look impressive, but these designs give search engines very little to see. Text embedded in images and Flash presentations doesn’t show up when engines crawl a site. Using keyword-rich alt image tags, text-based links and meta description tags makes graphics-intensive sites more accessible and helps improve rankings in organic search results.
7) SEO Only Matters in Initial Site Design
The keywords that get a site the most hits in the beginning may not continue to generate hits in the long term. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on analytics and tweak site content as new keywords emerge. Keyword research also helps to show what people are searching for to find a specific type of site. Over time, patterns emerge and it becomes easier to anticipate which search terms will drive the most traffic. Spreading these keywords out among different site pages creates the kind of diverse, keyword-rich content that search engines like.
Give SEO Time
Don’t be fooled by these common SEO myths. Good SEO takes time and effort, but the payoff is well worth it. Tip: Keep an eye on keyword performance, building a network of relevant links and focusing on quality content aids search engine ranking more than any quick fix SEO scheme can.