More SEO Myths

seo myths cuckoo clockTime for another SEO myths rant (that link is to the original one here). If you know me from oh anywhere you’ll know I hate to see small business owners get advice that means they end up wasting time when they just can’t afford it. I’ve been there and suffered it myself when I first got into online marketing many years ago and was trying to learn it for myself.

Having wasted too much time on nonsense like meta keywords and keyword density as a beginner, it irritates me to see some of the same old fluff bandied about. Thankfully it’s been a while since I last heard about thoseĀ  “hidden keywords” in a business forum but unfortunately there is still a lot of misguided info.

Just this last week or so I’ve again heard stuff like:

  • .gov and .edu domains are great to get links from (even their subdomains)
  • older domains are better for SEO
  • sharing stuff and linking to your site on social media will help your SEO
  • The free tools can be used for site audits
  • comments on blogs will help your seo
  • getting material discovered quickly is good for SEO
  • you need a to rank well in Australia
  • where you host is a strong ranking signal
  • my site ranks for ‘frog fanciers Fremantle’ so I know what I’m talking about

and more from various sources. To give them their fair nod of the cap these folk all meant well but there are some half-truths and inaccuracies in all of those points.

Let’s quickly run through them…

  • There is no inherent extra value in getting links from a government or educational website. The half truth came about because links from sites with strong authority can indeed be very good at passing link juice but it is not their TLD that is the cause, it is the strength they have by virtue of their own backlink profiles, the same as any other TLD.
  • Older domains are not automatically better for SEO, in fact many old domains will never rank for many reasons. A domain might rank more easily if it has authority built up from its backlink profile which some folk interpret as “older domains rank better” but the authority principle applies equally to old and new domains. Authoritative domains can be better for SEO, it just so happens that older domains have usually built up some authority over their years of existence.
  • By all means promote yourself on social media and maybe someone reading your posts might link to your site from theirs and that would then be an indirect benefit from social media but just being active in social for its own sake won’t help… not even if you get lots of Google Plus shares… Matt Cutts of Google said so… Some folk have seen that highly ranked content has many social shares and jumped to the conclusion it was the shares that caused the ranking but Google have confirmed it was not the shares that did it!
  • The free tools do not include any site audit tools, honestly go and see for yourself. There isn’t even a site audit tool in the paid version of though there is a useful onpage optimisation checker for members.
  • The vast, vast majority of blogs have no-follow attributes on links in their blog comments. This feature tells search engines to ignore them, they pass zero pagerank or anchor text so have no SEO value. You could spend months commenting on every blog you could find and get zero SEO benefit from it. Allowing comments on your own blogs is a mixed bag as they can sometimes dilute the meaning of your content.
  • Getting your new material discovered by Google quickly is easy peasy, anyone can do it, just link to it from Google Plus or any highly crawled website. Does that actually help your ranking? Nope… your page still has to be the best for the query to make the top 10. Indexation and ranking are two different animals.
  • You do not need a local TLD to rank in a country, you can just as easily rank with a neutral TLD (like .com) by using Google Webmaster Tools to indicate your geographical target, from that point on it plays on a level playing field with the specific country TLD’s. Where many folk get confused is in Google’s statement some years ago about using server location and TLD as signals to help them determine where the site is most appropriatly ranked, they still do that but you can also state the preference in GWT for neutral TLDs.
  • Where you host is not an issue provided your pages load quickly, there are lots of Australian domains ranking well here but hosted overseas. See the comment above on TLDs for where some folk first got confused about server location.
  • Getting ranked for a particular phrase may or may not be difficult so may or may not show some SEO skill. It depends on how competitive the search query is. Ranking for ‘frog fanciers Fremantle’ is no indication of your SEO skills as there is little competition for it. Some on-topic content is likely to be enough even without basic SEO or linkbuilding.

Getting ranked for a phrase is really a competition in which there are many ways to score points, the more desireable the ranking, the more competition for it so the more ‘points’ are required to rank. Try ranking for ‘hotels in London’ or ‘New York Lawyers’ and you will see what I mean. In the meantime getting some basics right might be enough to get you ranking for some appropriate search queries and that is where it all starts, knowing which search queries are appropriate to begin with. That’s a whole other story that deserves its own post/rant!