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The Greatest SEO Myths of Our Century Exposed – Part 2

Keller Hawthorne | April 22, 2010 | 20 Comments
The Greatest SEO Myths of Our Century Exposed – Part 2
This post is part 2 of 2 in the series...
SEO Myths Exposed

In Part 1 of this article series, I discussed several general SEO myths that you may encounter on your quest to dominate the search engines. In this post, I will focus on myths surrounding specific search engine optimization techniques.

Keyword Meta Tags Don’t Work Anymore

This is an issue that has been debated for some years. So, is it true? Has the Keyword Meta Tag been denigrated?

TRUTH: Keyword Meta Tags are ignored by most search engines

Yup – Google, Yahoo, MSN and even older search engines like Lycos and Excite no longer (or never did) support the Keyword Meta Tag.

The Keyword Meta Tag was introduced in the 90’s and quickly gained the support of search engines like AltaVista and Infoseek. This tag offered webmasters a way to add relevant keywords to their web pages that would only be visible to search engines. It was another way of communicating a web page’s focus or topic to search engines.

Search engines eventually caught on to the tremendous power this tag gave to spammers. Many webmasters would insert keywords not relevant to their web page or repeat words hoping to fool the search engines on the level of relevancy their page had to a particular keyword. Due to the potential for spamming, search engines like Google never offered support of this tag.

Many believe this tag is completely unnecessary today and in fact a waste of a webmaster’s time. Personally, I still use it, but mainly to keep myself focused on the topic of a page.

Internal Link Optimization is As Important As External

Many webmasters are familiar with External Link Optimization (link exchanges, link building), but many overlook the technique of Internal Link Optimization. Are they equally important?

TRUTH: Yes, Internal Link Optimization is just as important as External.

Internal Link Optimization involves optimizing links on your website that lead to other pages on your website (as opposed to outbound links). You optimize your internal links through the use of targeted keywords, well organized navigations and sitemaps.

Internal Link Optimization alone has the power to help your website achieve PageRank and higher search engine rankings. It’s also MUCH easier to perform than external.

Not only is it absolutely vital for helping ensure your entire website gets cached and indexed by search engines, Internal Link Optimization can also help keep visitors on your site longer by offering them links to relevant pages/posts/products.

Internal Link Optimization is especially important for brand new websites that lack backlinks.

Off-Page Optimization is Superior to On-Page Optimization

So many webmasters focus their energy entirely on link exchanges and link building – Off-Page Optimization. So, is it more important than On-Page?

TRUTH: On-Page Optimization is just as important (if not more) as Off-Page.

On-Page Optimization involves optimizing your Title Tags, Meta Description Tags, Domain Name, Internal Links, and website content. Honestly, I find each of these to be far more important than link building as these techniques alone can dramatically help a website achieve high search engine rankings. They also help ensure your website is properly set up for traffic/visitors.

Off-Page Optimization involves building incoming links, optimized with targeted keywords, from relevant and authoritative (has Google PR) websites. This process can be long and tedious. It’s also something that can happen naturally – on its own – if you focus on building a high quality website.

In my opinion, if you could only do one or the other, I would always do On-Page Optimization. As I mentioned, Off-Page Optimization is something that can happen naturally. On-Page requires your participation.

Link Exchanges Work

Link exchanges can be considered the poor-man’s link building technique. They cost absolutely nothing and are thought to help websites gain high Google PageRank and search engines rankings. So, is that true – do they work?

TRUTH: Not all link exchanges work.

The truth is link exchanges are only valuable if:

  • The web page that links to you is relevant to your website
  • The web page that links to you has PageRank™
  • The link contains your keywords
  • You obtain A LOT of inbound links (if the PR on most pages is small)
  • The web page the link is located on DOESN’T have a million other links on it (debatable)

I spent a lot of time in my first year online building link exchanges – from using software that automated the email requests, to manually contacting webmasters and using link exchange services. They seemed to help with my PR and rankings, but not in a dramatic way. In fact, I’ve seen much better results from my On-Page Optimization efforts than I ever did with link exchanges. And, I save myself loads of time avoiding link exchanges altogether.

I could write an entire series on link exchanges and why I think you should focus your efforts elsewhere, but for this post, I’ll keep my point quick – link exchanges are unnecessary. There are so many more effective link building techniques that you can use.

Link Exchanges = Link Building

Do you think link exchanges are the only link building technique available to you? Are they one in the same?

TRUTH: Link Exchanges are only one form of Link Building.

Since I just got finished telling you how unnecessary I believe link exchanges are, I should probably give you other ideas for link building, huh? Here is a quick list of just some of the Link Building techniques you can use to help increase your Google PageRank and search engine rankings:

  1. Write Outstanding Content People Will Want to Link To
  2. Leave Comments on Blogs
  3. Submit Your Website to Authoritative Directories
  4. Get People to Review Your Website on Their Blog
  5. Review Other Websites on Your Blog
  6. Guest Blog
  7. Conduct Article Marketing

Blog Comments and Social Networks Count as Incoming Links

Will your Twitter profile count as an incoming link to your website? How about all of those blog comments you leave?

TRUTH: Yes, Blog Comments and Social Networks count as incoming links.

A link is a link – whether it sits on a blog, Facebook profile or website. As long as a search engine can find the link, it can be counted as an incoming link.

No-Follow Means Don’t Follow

Is this true? When you add the no-follow attribute to a link, are you instructing the search engines not to follow it at all?

TRUTH: No-Follow tells Google not to pass along PageRank.

That’s it – all this attribute tells Google is, “Please don’t pass along PageRank to this web page.” It’s still a link and one that will be followed by search engines. Plus, your no-follow is a request – Google will decide how it wants to proceed with your link.

Next: Part 3

In part three of this article series, I will discuss the myths that surround getting a website banned from the search engines.

Have Any Myths to Add to This List? Do You Disagree with Any of These?

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This post is only one part of our discussion. Check out the other parts below:

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    The Greatest SEO Myths of Our Century Exposed – Part 2…

    In Part 1 of this article series, I discussed several general SEO myths that you may encounter on your quest to dominate the search engines. In this post, I will focus on myths surrounding specific search engine optimization techniques….

  • address

    It's always a good idea to perform your on-page optimization correctly; however, there have been a few examples I've seen where an essentially empty WordPress blog appears Number 1 for a keyword search solely through inbound links (off-page optimization). So I have a really hard time agreeing that on-page optimization is as important as off-page link building. :-)

  • Dave Doolin

    I'm not qualified to disagree. I'm at PR4 after a year, you're at PR6 in 9 months.

    I'd say you get the benefit of the doubt in my mind.

    I'll also say that I agree with on-page and internal link building helps tremendously. I see a lot of blogs at PR3 or lower that don't have any internal links at all.

    Keywords: I believe it's worth spending 1 minute adding a half dozen keywords… because they could easily be used in the future… and we might never know for months or more. If Google et al. just announced they would slap anyone using more than 140 characters of keywords, there would be no problem at all.

  • Dave Doolin

    I have a domain that will rank first page in google with index page consisting only of a pre element.

    It pops up as a result for searching on the domain name key words. I have forgotten which one it is though (I have a bunch parked).

  • Andrew Rondeau

    Another excellent linking strategy is Press Releases. They can bring in some great backlinks.


  • element321

    Great explanation of the myths of SEO. This is how I would explain it.

    As for SEO strategies, I prefer on-page SEO over off-page. But I will concentrate on both. I preferr on-page because of the organic traffic. If done correctly, you can easily get a lot traffic and if the content on a site is good, then off-site SEO will build naturally. Google Search Engines love natural link building.

  • jcbatucan

    SEO myths has its own explanation by people who really don't know what this thing is all about or how something works. The blogs has just done its part to explain the “UNKNOWN” of and brought real facts about the said myths.

  • Jen Syrkiewicz

    I had no idea about most of this information – I've just learned a lot – thank you!

  • Jen Syrkiewicz

    I had no idea about most of this information – I've just learned a lot – thank you!

  • Robert Bravery

    Great post. Nicely set out. You make a lot of interesting point.
    The ones I like are internal vs external link importance, Social media linking, Blog comment. All so important if understood correctly

  • Jack

    Both are important and this out put came from my experience in SEO industry….Off Page is needed once you completed on page SEO, sometimes results can vary based on some other factors which are related to reputation of your web site with age and quality

  • Keller Hawthorne

    I would like to think they ranked number one for a very uncompetitive keyword – something no one searches for. Otherwise, they may have just sneaked by somehow. An empty website should certainly not achieve such success, but the system isn't perfect.

  • Keller Hawthorne

    Thanks for your thoughts Dave. As I mentioned, I still use those darn keyword meta tags “just in case” as well.

  • Keller Hawthorne

    You know, I've never done a press release before, though I've heard about them since my first year in IM. Perhaps it's time I check the concept out :).

  • Keller Hawthorne

    Could not have said it better myself!

  • Keller Hawthorne

    Thanks Robert. Internal vs External does seem to be the age-old argument.


    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  • BigJohn

    I would agree with most of your points about onsite vs offsite, but it very much depends on the type of site you are going to rank (i.e. commercial site vs blog with ads). With a blog, onsite is going to probably bring you in a reasonable amount of traffic through the longtail. With a commercial site, you are looking at much stiffer competition, who are all throwing serious money at linkbuilding, so the argument kind of becomes irrelevant, you have to do both, and do both very well.

  • Keller Hawthorne

    Thanks for your input BigJohn. I have to disagree however as competition has to do with your niche, market and demand – not whether your site is commercial or a blog with ads.

  • Keller Hawthorne

    Thanks for your input BigJohn. I have to disagree however as competition has to do with your niche, market and demand – not whether your site is commercial or a blog with ads.


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