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Ten Myths of Search Engine Optimization

Is what you thought about search engine optimization really true?

On a search engine optimization (SEO) forum, I ran across a list of favorite myths of SEO. It's interesting and entertaining, so I thought I'd change it and use it as the basis for a newsletter. I've usually tried to share things that are true on the newsletter, but the list made me realize that I've never told you what I don't think is true. So here you are:

  1. Submitting to the search engines is the way to get listed
  2. Meta keywords are the key to optimization
  3. Stuffing keywords into alt attributes helps your page to rank well
  4. Keyword stuffed comments give your page "an edge"
  5. PageRank is a measurement of where my page will rank
  6. Rankings are the only goal worth measuring
  7. Hiding outbound links will help me to rank better by keeping all my link popularity on my site
  8. Elvis is not dead
  9. Images are bad for SEO
  10. Optimizing for generic words is a great idea.

1. There is a taste of truth in the first statement. I normally do announce clients' sites to the most popular search engines, particularly DMOZ. However, once is enough, don't repeat the announcements. It is not clear that any announcements are actually necessary, because the search engines will find your site once you get any incoming links, and that's the best way to get into their indexes.

2. The meta tags are of much less importance than they used to be. The keywords are particularly less important, and are said to be ignored by some search engines. You should settle on just one or two keywords per page, and list only thse keywords in the meta tag, and be sure that those words appear in the text of the page.

3. It's OK to have a few keywords in alt attributes, but if you look at the characteristics of lots of high-ranking sites you will not see lots of keywords in alt tags. Don't overdo!

4. All that lengthy comments will do is make the text of the page less likely to be read by the search engines. Don't use them.

5. Page rank is Google's approximation of the importance of the page, based on incoming links. All things being equal, a page with higher page rank will often rank higher in Google's results than a page of lower rank. However, "all things being equal" covers a lot of territory. Pursue page rank by getting incoming links, and do a good job of conventional SEO as well.

6. My favorite measurement is average time on site. I look at it by referral source and by keyword. The time a visitor spends on site gives you a valid measure of the business value of that visitor. You can make average time on site measurements easily with my favorite log analyzer, ClickTracks.

7. This violates everything I have read on the subject, but I have personally seen that when I add a number of outgoing links to a site, even before the number of incoming links as started to grow, there is an increase in traffic from search engines.

8. This statement is not correctly stated, it should be "Elvis ain't dead."

9. Frames are really bad, but images are not bad. And how does a good Web site communication without images?

10. If you measure average time on site you'll learn which keywords bring you business. And it won't be the generic ones--you'll learn that the generic keywords bring you a lot of traffic that doesn't stay and doesn't do what you want them to do on your site.

The Bottom Line: Make your pages relevant to the central ideas of your site as your path to success in getting search engine traffic.

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Dave Roberts provides expert Web marketing services to help you meet your business goals. Visit his Web site at: DaveDoesItAll.com


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