Seven common SEO myths busted

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Listening to some folks, you’d swear the tooth fairy really did exist. However painful the truth might be, she doesn’t.As much as it would be lovely if she did, she just doesn’t.

Party pooping aside, it’s amazing how some myths just refuse to die. Case in point – there are still dozens of common myths that still float around regarding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Only recently a customer felt that unless he had keywords added to his site using meta tags that the sky would fall down and nobody would ever find him on Google.

Lets have a look at the seven most common SEO myths that simply refuse to die, bought to me by my customers.

1. Any SEO strategy is incomplete without using Meta Keyword Tags

I thought I’d start with the example above. There isn’t really much more I can say, other than Tosh! The big search engines have not used the Meta Keywords for ages, as they are an obvious route for exploitation. Read here for more info:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html

2. If I don’t have search engine friendly URLs then I’m at a serious disadvantage

You’re probably at a disadvantage, but only a minor one. Look at these results, in the image opposite. Do you see the words iphone, or headphones in the URL anywhere? Friendly URLs can help human beings remember your page address, but don’t confuse this with Search Engine Optimisation.

So, how big is the disadvantage of not having search engine friendly URLs? Not much, is the answer. If your site has no inbound links at all, then it will probably make a bigger difference to your rank in relation to other sites with no inbound links. But, as soon as your site becomes more popular, and has more content, then other factors far outweight the few plus points you will gain by friendly URLs.

So, if you already have a huge site based on unfriendly URLs, then you are probably better off spending your money on getting more inbound links, than spending a potential fortune on restructuring or rebuilding your site.

3. URLs sending with .php or .cgi won’t rank as high as .html

Utter rubbish. Search engines are smart enough to realise there are many different web server and website configurations. Why on earth should a static html page be any more relevant than a php (linux) or asp (microsoft) page?

4. A dedicated IP address will boost my google rank

Nope. People are always asking for a dedicated IP address because they think it’s going to rocket them up the rankings. This is plain rubbish. Over 90% of all domains in the world are hosted on shared servers. Some shared server IPs happily operate with several hundred domains on them, so can you imagine the search engine carnage that would occur whenever someone gets a malware infection on their site?

I think the confusion stems from people hearing they need a static IP address for a better ranking. A static IP is not the same thing as a dedicated IP. All normal web hosts use static IPs. Some people try to run webservers on the cheap from home, using a dynamically assigned IP address from ranges that are reserved for dial-up, adsl or other consumer connections. These IP ranges are often blocked from sending email, and google will probably also view websites running on such IP addresses with a dubious eye.

If you are hosting your site with a “proper” hosting provider, then you have nothing to worry about. Or read this for further confirmation:

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/myth-busting-virtual-hosts-vs-dedicated-ip-addresses/

5. Submitting your website with hundreds of websites every month will boost your rankings

Why? Any search engine that is worth it’s salt will know your site is there. Telling it every month is going to do nothing to help. In fact the only thing yo are helping are the profits of the so called SEO companies that still try to sell this crap to unsuspecting business owners.

As soon as a website links to you, the search engines WILL know about your site. It’s in their best interest to increase the scope of their search index. You might as well pay someone to pray for snow in Siberia!

6. Will Pay Per Click PPC advertising will boost my rank

Again, nope. This would rapidly destroy the worth of any natural index. Google and others are smart, and have a serious firebreak between their commercial advertising results, and their natural search results.

7. A sitemap will boost my rank

Nope. Niether an xml sitemap designed for search engines, nor a human readable site map page will give any of your pages a higher rank. Clearly if you have pages that are only reachable via the sitemap, then this will influence if the page appears at all in the search engine index, but it won’t boost the results.

A sitemap can help with canonicalisation, helping your pages appear in search engines with the correct URL, but will do nothing else to rocket you to stardom.

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