8 Myths about Google (and SEO)

I’m currently working on a presentation on ‘Understanding Google’ and as part of it I’ve covered 8 myths about Google so I thought it made sense to go into some more detail in a blog post.

Some of these things were true a few years ago but as Google has become more sophisticated they are no longer true.

Some of them have never been true and will never be true.

Putting keywords in your meta tags will improve ranking

Back when search engines were first invented, putting keywords in your meta tags (tags that are visible to search engines but not immediately visible to humans) was one way of increasing your position in the search engine. Obviously this sort of thing  is way to easy to abuse and Google worked this out pretty early on.
These days meta tags have no influence over your ranking in Google (note the meta description tag should still be used as it’s words will often be used for the site description in Google’s results but it won’t be used to determine rank).

Having great content will improve your Google ranking

This is something that a lot of SEO experts will claim. The theory goes that if you create great content, lots of people will link to it and Google will love you for it. The problem with this is people don’t generally ‘link’ to other sites anymore.  They might mention it on Facebook or Twitter which will help but only if they know about it and this will only help if it happens a lot.
It’s also important to always remember that your SEO position is determined by how you stack up against your competition. So nothing in isolation is guaranteed to improve your position in Google, it all depends on what your competitors are doing.
So a more accurate statement would be ‘Creating great content and having the influence and know how to spread this content across the web may improve your Google ranking’.

Being on Adwords will improve your natural position

Google is not stupid. For some of these myths you just have to remind yourself of that. Google is in the business of providing  relevant search results. They would not favour advertisers because that makes the results less relevant.

Submitting to Google will improve your position and get you listed quicker

Don’t bother submitting your site to Google. Put links on other sites to yours and Google will find your site through them (it crawls the web, that’s what it does). I’m not sure why that submission form is there, I suspect it’s because if it wasn’t there, they would get thousands of emails asking them h0w to submit a site to Google and they couldn’t be bothered dealing with the emails.

Get lots of backlinks and you will get onto the front page

The problem with this statement is that it doesn’t give enough consideration to what your competitors are doing. Check out this post on the only way to win at SEO, specifically look at the 5 levels of SEO sophistication. Getting low authority backlinks is one strategy for SEO but it doesn’t guarantee your position on the front page because your competitors could be doing more. The only way to get onto the front page is to do more than your competitors (which may or may not include getting lots of low authority backlinks).

Use your keyword a lot and it will improve you rank

Keyword stuffing is where you put way too many instances of a keyword on your page. Check out what Google say about keyword stuffing as it’s potentially harmful to your rankings and won’t help them. Having your keyword on your site is important but this falls under ‘on-page’ SEO which is towards the bottom end of the pyramid in terms of SEO sophistication so it’s unlikely that just mentioning the keyword will be enough to get you ranking.

Swapping links will get you to the front page of Google

Google devalued reciprocal links a long time ago. One way links are an indicator of authority, reciprocal links aren’t and Google values them accordingly (i.e. not much). There is some debate on whether Google considers them at all but regardless it’s pretty well accepted that they aren’t worth spending time on.

SEO is about ‘optimising’ a site to get it onto the front page of Google

Not that long ago you would make some ‘on-page’ changes to a website and in a lot of cases that would be enough to get the site onto Google’s front page. These days however there are much more sophisticated strategies and as industries get more and more up to speed with how SEO works, the simple ‘on-page’ changes are less and less likely to be enough to get you onto the front page.
On page changes are still important but only in rare cases will they be enough to get you onto the front page for a good keyword.
What do you think?
If you have a comment on these myths or my responses to them or if you have heard some other good ones then please comment below.

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Alex Retzlaff is the owner of A Website Designer and Web Circle.

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5 Responses to “8 Myths about Google (and SEO)”

  1. Johnny Optimo October 2, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Having great content might not get your more search engine traffic, but if you have lame or spun content all of that traffic is basically wasted IMO because people are getting smarter when it comes to the internet, they don’t like spam.

    Additionally, in the far off future when semantic search is implemented, a lot of sites will be really hurt by lame content… so I figure that I’m investing in the future when I create great content. Just my opinion though – very good tips and though provoking.

  2. Dan October 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Hi Johnny thanks for the comment yes I’m certainly not suggesting that having great content is a bad idea or having crappy content is a good idea just simply saying that great content often won’t be enough on it’s own to improve your rank.

  3. omar October 24, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    well i’ve been doing the keywords stuffing myself lately and all I learnt is that one should try to be as natural as possible with the keyword selection and their usage in the content.
    nice article though, I wish I’d read it earlier.

  4. Jay Roles December 14, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    Some good info here. Google would like us to believe it’s all about good content but the truth is an algorithm can’t determine what is good and what is bad content.

  5. Dan December 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Jay, yes they are no doubt getting better at this and with authorship and social indicators they will get better and better. But it’s never as simple as content and as you say Google is 99% computer and 1% human so they can never really tell a great quality article from a cr*ppy one as well as a human could.

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