The Top 10 Myths of SEO

By Cayley Vos, President and CEO, Netpaths.net

Seek and Ye Shall Find, the old adage goes. A couple thousand years ago, however, there was no way to foresee that someone seeking new chairs for their card table could simply type “folding chairs” into a search engine and find over a million results in less than one second. In today’s computer-oriented techno-world, there is no doubt that seekers have incredible power and capabilities right at their fingertips. But if you want to be found, you have a bit more work to do to make sure that related quests lead to your business. If you sell furniture, for example – including a wide variety of folding chairs – then you do not want to be website number 957,283 in someone’s quest to outfit their card table.

Businesses turn to SEO, or search engine optimization, to get their websites prominent placement for related searches. Since the worldwide web and use of it has exploded in the last 15 years, SEO practices and procedures have had to keep up and evolve apace. In addition to leading to some common practices and procedures, it has also led to many misconceptions and a lot of misinformation.

Following are some of the most common myths about SEO that can trip a business up if they aren’t careful.

Top 10 Myths of SEO

  1. Meta tags are everything
    Meta tags are extremely important. But if the only aspect of searches you pay attention to is meta tags, then competing sites that also attend to keywords, links, content, and ongoing maintenance will surpass yours.

  2. Once you have a good ranking, don’t change anything
    It sounds logical that if you’ve made it to the first page or so of a search, you shouldn’t rock the boat with changes and risk falling back down. But in order to stay on top, websites need to continually update to keep relevant and ahead of the pack.

  3. Get as many links as possible
    More is not always better with SEO – most often it’s just more. Besides, linking to completely unrelated websites isn’t really going to help your customers once they make it your site. If they found the folding chairs they needed on your site, a link to a tablecloth site might be helpful to your customer, but a link to Fred’s Super Auto Parts Store is just a distraction and potential waste of their time.

  4. Get as many domain names/sites as you can
    Again, more does not automatically equal better, and in the case of SEO it can equal more competition for your time, money and effort.

  5. You Must Have a Dedicated IP Address
    This is impractical, and not possible. The current system of allocating IP addresses is nearing collapse, and IPv6 will eventually replace the current octet address allocation system. IP addresses are scarce, and not all websites can afford this luxury. The search engines do not discriminate based on what you can afford, and payment will not get you to the top. Additionally, all ranking data and historical information is tied to your permanent domain name. A spammer can go through multiple IP addresses per week, but you cannot get a new domain name without major business disruption.
    The reason the domain name system was created was to relieve users from having to type numbers to access websites. Its simply easier and more convenient to use coolsite.com instead of trying to remember 209.8.22.34.

  6. Corporations Pay for #1 Ranking
    In the beginning of the major search engines, there was an intermix of paid/unpaid results in the rankings, however this has long since passed. Now there is an virtual wall between natural and paid results, and all search engines are required by law to clearly disclose all paid results.

  7. Google Page Rank is the be all and end all
    Do not obsess over the little green bar. There is no proof that PageRank has any bearing on your placement. Its likely that publicly displayed PageRank is months behind the actual value in Google’s database. Its natural to try to quantify ranking, especially since Google’s algorithm is such a coveted treasure. We want to put concrete numbers and attach fixed processes to placement. The desire to have a shred of evidence of the workings behind the golden walls of the Googleplex is like the Ring. Don’t fall for this, turn away, be strong, and continue to reverse engineer.

  8. Dynamic sites kill rankings.
    A webserver generates HTML pages that are fed to a users browser or a search engine spider. It is always in HTML format, nothing else. Dynamic sites by themselves are not a problem, however session ID's and long query strings do hinder your website effectiveness. Using page rewrites and a good sitemap can usually fix any spidering problem.

  9. It’s possible to get quick rankings
    Since the web expands, evolves, and exists in warp speed – and searches themselves provide instant gratification – people often think a website SEO tune up should give them a quick boost in placement. The search engines, which have to sort and analyze millions and millions of websites and trillions of words and phrases with every search, beg to differ.

  10. I know all there is to know already
    The half life of a search engine algorithm is approximately half a year. This means that 1/2 of the code is rewritten every 6 months. Search engines are extremely fluid and constantly change. Continuous research, testing, and study is required to keep in the game. Complacency brings downfall!

Finally, a word to the wise:

I'm Impatient. I'm going to use doorway pages, link farms, cloaking, guestbook/forum/blogspam posts, and hidden text.

NO NO NO!!!
Its tempting to want to get top placement without working very hard. Perhaps you've heard of a webmaster who claims they used these tricks and have not been penalized. This is Russian Roulette. It is a short term strategy at best and the downside of being permanenty kicked out of a Search Engine's database far outweighs the temporary reward of a good ranking. Google has publicly stated that any tactic that attempts to manipulate their algorithm, deliver different content to spiders and human users, hides or conceals information or attemps to willfully mislead them is spam and will be handled with extreme prejudice.

Be aware of these myths, and avoid the pitfalls that believing them can cause, and you shall be rewarded with lasting results.

More info about specific website changes to promote a website: 26 steps to 15k visitors per day.