Debunking Conventional Wisdom about SEO

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Search engine optimization seems to be rampant with myths compared to other types of marketing, for the sheer fact that Google is so elusive in determining what and what does not comprise good SEO. It’s all a guessing game. In addition, a site may have great jump in page rank and the site owner attributes the jump to one SEO tactic, when it may be an entirely different tactic that led to the jump. But then information gets spread saying, “You MUST do this!” and these ideas go viral. Sometimes it’s just plain old misunderstanding. Whatever the case, here are some things you should not do to try to game the system in your favor.

1.  Don’t make keyword-rich, but unwieldy, URLs: cramming every good keyphrase into URL, like credit-card-raise-credit-rating-get-rich-quick-place is not going to instantly mean that anyone who types “raise credit rating” or “credit card” into Google will immediately find your site. Your rank is still going to rely on backlinks, content, and all other SEO principles and in the meantime you’ve made one ugly URL that no one’s going to take seriously – leading to a loss in backlinks and cratering page rank.

2.  Don’t think Metatags matter: by all means, write keyword-based metatags for every post, but the real value in using a plugin like All in One SEO (basically a metatag generator) is in rewriting nice, pithy titles that show up in search results – not in bringing in loads of traffic due to meta keywords.

3. Worry about duplicate content, but not too much. If you post an article on your site that appears on someone else’s site, this will not brand you an article farm and diminish your page rank (this could happen in the future, but not today). I feel loathe to admit this because it could inspire people to steal content, thinking it’s not damaging. The only thing that it will do is not be indexed in Google – and potentially it will mean the original content won’t be indexed, not yours. Perhaps I’ve said too much.

4.  Content needs to be loooong: there’s word going around that content needs to be 400 words in order to rank. This is true to some degree, but it’s not written in stone. 400 words is good because it will mean that your keyword density will be kept at reasonable percentage relative to overall content. It also shows content authority, which will be more likely to bring in backlinks compared to a three sentence post. And longer content will contain keyphase combinations that you didn’t even intend to make it into searches. But there’s an argument to be made for volume of posts as well – given that the title tag is such a vital part of SEO, having a series of title tags with reasonable content (250-300) could be a valid strategy. Only people are writing such detailed posts that it can be hard to compete with short content.

5.  Flash is bad. Actually, flash is nice and professional. Using it as your homepage URL means that spiders won’t follow through, but using it sparingly within a homepage is fine. Don’t worry about flash indexing because the other content on your site will be indexed. Meanwhile your page looks much more professional to actual humans.

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