4 crazy SEO myths that need to be put to bed immediately

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SEO

There are quite a few myths that are flying around in the SEO world and it is rather interesting as to how these myths actually gain traction when Matt Cutts and other major SEO people keep telling us that it isn’t the case yet we still rely on these myths when we approach clients. So I have decided that it is time to put a little end to them.

1. Social signals like shares and Tweets improve rankings

Google doesn’t really have access to Facebook or Twitter. The only thing that social media signals are used for is validating links to a site. For example, if a post has five shares but 100 links, obviously it’s unnatural and Google will be hesitant in ranking that particular page.

If the same piece of content has 100 shares and 100 or so links, it means that the piece of content actually has something great to say and Google will then rank it accordingly.

Ultimately, Google uses it as a link validator if you will. It is a clever way to ensure that we are keeping within Google’s Quality Guidelines instead of trying to game the system.

2. Meta descriptions affect my rankings

This is a simple one to debunk. Descriptions have no real value to where your site is placed in the organic rankings. It can help with the click through rate because you have 150 characters of prime real estate to place riveting content and an enticing call to action which can trigger click through rates.

Yes it is important, but only for click through rates. Google has announced that it doesn’t look at it for indexing purposes. Additionally it can change it as it sees fit. This is much like the Meta Keywords section.

3. The more pages of content I have the better I rank

Some believe that this is a cut-and-dry topic because people love to believe that the more they produce the better they rank. Clearly they are wrong. If you have loads of rubbish content versus your competitor who has fewer pages of more quality, you are not going to outrank him (or her).

Google looks at your site and places value on quality and relevance to the particular search query not on the amount of content you. If you look at Webmaster tools, you will also find that not all your content is indexed and if it does get indexed it may not be for very long. Stop focusing on quantity, it’s a wasted exercise.

4. H1 tags are the most important aspect

Well no, Google doesn’t access your site from the H1 tag. It crawls the code from the top down, so essentially the title of the page is more important, as is the URL. Never mind the fact that Google can devalue the importance of the H tags as it goes down the page because over optimised tags are a distraction which cause content to be unnatural and for crummy robots.

Rather focus your content structure on users. They read it after all. Place the important parts and the top and then work your way down but keep it flowing and please don’t look at SEO when writing. Look at the topic.

A little secret for you, H tags are styling elements created by CSS folks not SEO.

Those are the myths that boggle my mind when I see people going all crazy about. Clients may not understand it and still think they are rad tactics but this is where you need to consult or guide as to what is right or wrong.

What crazy SEO myths have you come across lately?

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  • Eja

    3 points in this article are absolutely wrong:

    #1 Social signals in fact DO affect rankings as they are genuine indicators that people actually share your content.

    #2 Google pays attention to Meta Tags. In this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3HX_8BAhB4 Cutts says the Google uses three criteria when determining if they should use your title tag:
    (1) Something that is “relatively” short
    (2) Have a good description of the page and “ideally”: the site that the page is on.
    (3) And that it is relevant to the query.

    #4 This point creates even more confusion that it makes things clear. You want to use H1, H2 … headings because while search engines don’t access the site from H1 tag (weird statement to begin with) they do look for information in H headings and just like people, screen readers and search robots the headings are important for scanning and getting an idea of what the page is about.

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  • Gus van der Walt
  • Gus van der Walt

    To add to my previous comment – H1 tags dont affect rankings From Moz The purpose of the given web page should be directly stated in all of the following areas:
    Title tag
    URL
    Content of page
    Image alt text

  • Gus van der Walt

    Descriptions dont count as a ranking factor Google announced in September of 2009 that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search. Google uses meta descriptions to return results when searchers use advanced search operators to match meta tag content, as well as to pull preview snippets on search result pages, but it’s important to note that meta descriptions do not to influence Google’s ranking algorithms for normal web search.

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  • http://www.antonkoekemoer.com/ Anton Koekemoer

    In regards to #1

    They might not directly use “social media” as a ranking signal, but it surely helps. Let me explain.

    We have two major websites and some of the categories/pages do overlap and compete with each other. Both of those websites rank pretty high on the first page for core keywords related to a specific product and both of have Google+ Business Pages.

    We often share content on those two Google+ pages containing those core keywords and links to the content. if you follow anyone on Google+ that is also following those Business Pages and they have +1 or shared our content, when you do a search on Google for those keywords and you are logged in, there is a chance that not only two results of ours will be on the first page, but four.

    This is powerful and really doesn’t matter if they are using “social signals” in their algorithm. The example above clearly shows that it does play a role and I believe it will do so more in the future.

  • http://www.antonkoekemoer.com/ Anton Koekemoer

    Have you tested it with your own results?

  • Gus van der Walt

    Hi Anton, I agree that social is important. My statement above is more on the fact that people are assuming that the more tweets and shares their content gets the better it will rank. I found that this isnt accurate because you can take Memeburn for example where posts get a few shares across the board and they still dont get the organic visibility that one assumes they should.

    In regards to Google+ yes it matters from a Google search perspective and with more and more people being signed in it is highly recommended but they are too many what ifs here. Down the line when more and more people are using it yes it needed. More weight is also given to the network as it is owned by Google and it is their way of forcing you to use the service. Google has also removed the +1s in the SERPs which goes back to it trying not influence social influencing results and traffic.

    But it must also be noted that on Bing and other Search services Google doesnt have the same pull when it comes to its social network. Yes who really uses bing but we cant ignore it if we are true SEO specialists we should be catering for all search services.

    I still would stand by what i said in the article where social isnt a ranking improver as such but more of a validator to our efforts. In the future Social community will be vital to any campaign. Maybe we will see it being an influential aspect in organic rankings.

  • Gus van der Walt

    I have been testing it for some time. I have tested my blogs and client sites.

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