My 8 Favorite SEO Myths

Myth #1: You should submit your URLs to search engines. Although Google continues to provide a free submission tool, it doesn’t mean you have to submit your site there. It is not the only way to discover new pages, it’s the links to your pages that invites Googlebot, Slurp and other robots as well.

Myth #2: You need a Google Sitemap. Google Sitemap isn’t a prerequisite to ranking well. If you build your site with sound internal linking structure, it’s most likely that you don’t need Google Sitemap even if it doesn’t hurt if you have one.

Myth #3: You need to update your site frequently. Doing frequent changes to your site contents is a good thing. It makes your site up to date and is therefore a compelling reason for visitors to come back. But don’t use this argument as a reason to boost page rankings. Many pages out there were not updated for a long time and yet stayed on top of search results.

Myth #4: PPC ads will help rankings. I think some people believe that getting PPC account through AdWords helps their sites rank organically because they think it’s a return favor from Google for using AdWords (Google’s major revenue source). It doesn’t and it shouldn’t be. PPC campaigns and organic search follow different methodologies for ranking pages/ads.

Myth #5: Switching web hosts will hurt/increase rankings. There is a little evidence that proves this claim. Once you switch web hosts for one reason or another, it basically retains the properties of your content on search engine index. It’s the content that search engines are looking for and not the technical specs of your site. The caveat of this is that with personalized search, rankings may fluctuate due to geographical locations. If you find that your site is now located in a network of “bad neighborhood” that’s another story.

Myth #6: You need to optimize for the long-tail keywords. It may be a bit of a challenge to do so because the reason why these pages are at that long thin list is that many people aren’t using them to search. They can come in different forms (word order) and sizes (some phrases contain up to ten or more keywords).

Myth #7: Get more reciprocal links to rank better. The statement can be misleading. Google’s PageRank technology factors in the relevance of outbound links (pages your site is linking to) not only the inbound ones. So it i spossible that having more reciprocal links can be detrimental to your site’s search engine visibility. When you do reciprocal links you exchange favors with fellow webmasters for SEO or other reasons. When you get inbound links from sites without asking them to do so, these sites are doing you a favor for delivering good content. Maybe that’s what search engines see as more valuable.

Myth #8: Believe in a company that guarantees page 1 ranking. Here in Hong Kong, a lot of companies still do that. I will not name names but you know who they are. I will not interfere with their business model if it works for them. But clients need to know that SEO vendors don’t own search engines and cannot dictate rankings. They are therefore at the mercy of these search engines on how their client sites rank. The emergence of personalized search should do more justice to it.