By Marc D. Ensign (c) 2009
We've all done it at some point in our professional lives. We search a keyword that describes our business only to scratch our head as to how our competitor's website shows up on the top of the líst instead of ours. If you've gone one step further and read about Search Engine Optimization, then surely you have come across the conflicting information online.
One article tells you to do one thing while another tells you to do the opposite. Which one should you believe?
This gray area of what you should or should not do is much like the modern day "Bat Cave." If you are lucky enough to stumble upon it, chances are you don't quite know how you got there and if you had to go back one day you would probably just find yourself lost in the woods.
So what should you believe? The general rule is to combine what you read or heard with what you have experienced and somewhere in there lies the truth. To get you started, let's debunk some of the more commonly used myths floating around.
1) Use a Keyword Rich Domain Name:
It is widely believed that if you include your keywords in your domain name like www.professional-website-design-in-nj.com it will greatly improve your rankings. This is not true. It is best to choose a domain name that is short, easy to remember and if possible includes your company name.
2) Google Partnership:
If you are ever approached by a company claiming to have a partnership with Google, run in the opposite direction. There is no such thing as a "preferred" relationship with Google and in fact on Google's website it even states: Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google.
3) Meta Keyword Tag:
It used to be that the Meta Keyword Tag was given a lot of weight in the early days of Search Engine Optimization, but people abused it and now it does very little. You may still want to include your keywords here, but know that it will not do much and in fact most search engines won't even check it.
4) Bold or Italicized Text:
Adding emphasis to certain keywords like using bold or italics can make your text easier to scan for the reader if done properly, but has little to no effect on your search engine ranking.
5) Content Length:
There is no search engine rule stating that your content needs to be a specific number of words in order to get indexed. Any recommended length is more to assist the reader in understanding what you do than to aid the search engines.
6) Duplicate Content:
Posting specific content like an article or blog entry on your site and then on another site will not get you penalized. In the search results, Google will recognize that the content is the same and only choose one of the pages to display, but it will not hurt your overall search engine ranking.
7) Avoid Flash:
Any text that you place in Flash will not be readable by a search engine, but this doesn't mean you have to avoid flash altogether. You can still very successfully incorporate Flash into your site through rotating pictures or a header on the page. Just don't have an all Flash site or use a Flash intro if you are interested in increasing your search engine rankings.
Some say that using Pay-Per-Click will help your organic listing while others say it will hurt. Both are false. The fact is that Google has gone to great lengths to separate the two departments of organic and paid listings to a point where the two departments don't communicate or even sit at the same table for lunch.
9) Update the Site Frequently:
Updating your site often is a good idea if you have something new to say. Just don't change around a few words to accommodate the search engines as that won't help your listing at all. Regularly adding legitimate content like articles, press releases and blog entries will help though.
10) Doorway Pages:
Many companies will sell this idea of increasing your ranking by creating hundreds of one page sites loaded with keywords that link to you from various domains. This is considered spamming the search engine and is not recommended. If you properly optimize your site and focus on the correct way to get listed, you will improve your ranking much quicker than these doorway pages ever could.
Of course there are many other myths out there confusing the general public about what works and what doesn't work. Some of them are spread by people who don't really know the truth and others are spread by SEO companies in an attempt to make search engine optimization confusing... mission accomplished!
Regardless of where the myths come from, if you or the SEO Company you hire use common sense and do things the right way, you will have no trouble finding the proverbial Bat Cave and when you get there please tell them that I want my utility belt back!