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Wading Through The Search Engine Myths

Wading Through The Search Engine Myths

There is an abundance of search engine information available on the web- some of it valuable, much of it contradictory. Throughout the years some prevailing search engine myths have developed. Some of these myths are still encouraged by companies with a financial interest in their continued existence. Others are based upon techniques that were effective years ago but no longer work. Still others come from simple misunderstandings that inevitably come with a relatively new medium. What follows is a few of the most prevalent.

Myth: Using a program or service to "Submit your site to 10,000 Search Engines" is a good idea.

Fact: There aren't 10,000 search engines. There aren't even 500. In fact, the top 10 search engines account for the vast majority of search traffic (studies vary from between 85 and 98 percent). Most of the sites that these programs or services list as "search engines" are called FFA (Free For All) sites, sometimes called "link farms". These sites will agree to place a link to your site on their site, which is usually just a collection of links. Your link will usually only appear for a short time, since as new links are added, the older ones are pushed off the page. Almost no traffic can be expected from such links- but you can expect a lot of unsolicited mail to the email address that you provide them. In fact, these pages are set up largely to collect email addresses to which spam can be sent (and you can get spam for free!). In addition, engines do not like submissions done by computer programs (because of the excessive use of bandwidth and resources), and many of the most popular have taken steps to make automated submission impossible. This means that these programs or services will not even get you listed in many of the top engines.

Myth: Meta tags are the most important factor in search engine rankings.

Fact: Many search engines (most notably Google) ignore meta tags completely due to constant abuse by webmasters. The only importance placed on meta tags these days is actually the meta description tag, which will appear as the description for the corresponding page on engines that use inktomi data (such as MSN). Meta tags are virtually irrelevant in the ranking algorithms of the top engines- but many people continue to believe that they are the only optimization strategy that they need.

Myth: It's impossible to do search engine optimization in-house.

Fact: It often is done in-house, and done effectively. This is typically when a large corporation hires in-house talent that is largely devoted exclusively to promoting the website. However, it is unrealistic to expect someone with many other job functions to do a credible job of SEO. Much of the skills are acquired through experience- and it isn't usually desirable to have someone "experimenting" with the company website (especially considering that certain techniques can get sites penalized on engines or banned outright). SEO isn't rocket science, but it also isn't something that can be learned overnight. When deciding whether to outsource SEO or do it in house, it is important to consider the actual costs involved. Often, when the necessary hours it takes to pay someone to learn on the job are taken into account, it is cheaper to outsource (and the results are almost always better). Only a careful evaluation of your goals and resources can determine the best course of action for your company.

Myth: Sites must be constantly resubmitted to retain rankings.

Fact: This is a scare tactic popularized by various submission services and software companies. In fact, it is a waste of money to pay to have your site resubmitted once it is already listed in an engine's database. It will not hurt your rankings to constantly submit (or else people would submit their competitor's sites to get them penalized), but it will not help, either.

Myth: Search engine optimization is not as effective as "traditional" marketing.

Fact: In many ways, it is more effective. Companies often spend countless dollars on direct mail, television and radio advertising, and bulk email without a second thought. The common thread with each of these strategies is that the prospect is "approached" by the company, and that the company must reach a great number of people to find a few motivated prospects. On the other hand, search engines can deliver highly motivated prospects directly to your website- people who have already demonstrated, through their use of particular keyphrases, an interest in your products or services.

courtesy of medium blue
myff admin

I was expecting to have to add a few caveats or nuggets of my wisdom on the subject, but that is actually a pretty solid set of truths

That tip about meta tags not being used was really helpful! I actually never knew that, and I always update the meta tags on my site (especially the "keywords" tag). Thanks Symon!
myff admin

google never tells us its algorithms! so do not totally discount meta tags. a sensible non abused meta tag may help you.

I know I am a bit late to this debate but I have been meaning to get on here for the last few months and just have not found the time due to work commitments and a partner who insists there is a life outside of the internet

As you may recall I did a childminding website for my partners group and following some of our google results I am beginning to wonder whether they do give more credence to meta tags than they let on.

I only have 29 backlinks, mostly on forum posts. However, I use the meta description tag on each page and target it to each page individually. Meaning it changes depending on the content of the site. (One important thing I learned on this was to use the words you wanted to target early in the description .i.e on the title page I do not have the site title, but instead I have Childminders, Long Eaton, Sawley and Sandiacre as these are the words I want to target).

I also use the meta description tag loaded with keywords, none are ever repeated and they are on their in order of importance.

Now with so few backlinks I was worried about the ranking, however, if you google childminders nottingham the search returns 233000, and we are 6th. Now I would have expected a high return for Childminders Long Eaton as it produces fewer results 931 and we are second. But I have been pleasantly surprised by our ranking out of 233000 results.

So I would still be inclined to use them I cant see that it can do any harm. Good article HERE
myff admin

I wonder if you do well, simply as you have more knowhow by far than the average childminding site?

Actually that is a very good point. I never really thought about it like that. I never really think of myself having "knowledge" just as an enthusiastic amateur. But looking at the results that do come up most of them are for directory style listings so that could be the reason. Forum Index -> Search Engines
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