Refuting Debunked SEO Practices

Refuting Debunked SEO Practices

I came across an interesting blog post from that was titled: “16 SEO Tactics That Will NOT Bring Targeted Google Visitors” where Jill Whalen was discussing strategies that she felt were no longer valid seo tactics. I have reposted some of the points here and have added in my comments on each. Jill’s posts are in green italics.

Individually these tactics amount to very little; on this point I agree. However, add them up together and they become significant to your rankings. Being so absolutely “Google-centric” in your tactics is going to hurt you in the long run. Suppose there was no Google? (scary I know…) then you would have to redesign your sites for other search engines that may put more weight on these signals.

Meta Keywords:

“Lord help us! I thought I was done discussing the ole meta keywords tag in 1999, but today in 2011 I encounter people with websites who still think this is an important SEO tactic. My guess is it’s easier to fill out a keyword meta tag than to do the SEO procedures that do matter. Suffice it to say, the meta keyword tag is completely and utterly useless for SEO purposes when it comes to all the major search engines and it always will be.”

There is sufficient evidence to show that Yahoo and Bing do use the keywords tag to help categorize and index pages. Google has been clear that they do not use the meta keywords tag as a ranking factor. The fact of the matter though is that unless it is totally deprecated from the W3C it is still best practice to include the tag. Just don’t expect that it will put you up to number 1 based solely on your use of it. There are many other search engines that are used that may or may not use this tag to index your page. Again this is a case where being too “Google-centric” can harm you in the long run. Ignoring all other search engines, seems irresponsible and is poor business sense.

XML Site Maps or Submitting to Search Engines:

“If your site architecture stinks and important optimized pages are buried too deeply to be easily spidered, an XML site map submitted via Webmaster Tools isn’t going to make them show up in the search results for their targeted keywords. At best it will make Google aware that those pages exist. But if they have no internal or external link popularity to speak of, their existence in the universe is about as important as the existence of the tooth fairy (and she won’t help your pages to rank better in Google either!).”

I agree that proper site architecture is of vital importance to have your pages indexed properly. The fact that Google gives you the ability to upload xml sitemaps through their webmaster tools indicates that it has some import. It can be debated as too how much weight it carries but the clear fact is that anything that helps the bots crawl your page, is not a bad thing.

Link Title Attributes:

“Think that you can simply add descriptive text to your “click here” link’s title attribute? (For example: Click Here.) Think again. Back in the 1990s I too thought these were the bee’s knees. Turns out they are completely ignored by all major search engines. If you use them to make your site more accessible, then that’s great, but just know that they have nothing to do with Google.”

This is another case where I don’t necessarily disagree. If the W3C states that best practice is too include the title tag in images, then it should be there. Google has clearly stated time and again that W3C validation IS a ranking factor and as such it makes sense to follow W3C Validation practices. What I do not recommend is using the generic “click here” on your page as this ends up building densities for “click here” which you do not want either.

Header Tags Like H1 or H2:

“This is another area people spend lots of time in, as if these fields were created specifically for SEOs to put keywords into. They weren’t, and they aren’t. They’re simply one way to mark up your website code with headlines. While it’s always a good idea to have great headlines on a site that may or may not use a keyword phrase, whether it’s wrapped in H-whatever tags is of no consequence to your rankings.”

This one I absolutely disagree with. These are of significant value, especially when used in conjunction with keywords in the page title, meta description and in the Heading Tags. Google absolutely uses these factors as signals for indexing and determining relevance to search queries….which in turn affect your rankings.

Keyworded Alt Text on Non-clickable Images:

“Thought you were clever to stuff keywords into the alt tag of the image of your pet dog? Think again, Sparky! In most cases, non-clickable image alt tag text isn’t going to provide a boost to your rankings. And it’s especially not going to be helpful if that’s the only place you have those words. (Clickable images are a different story, and the alt text you use for them is in fact a very important way to describe the page that the image is pointing to.)”

While this does not have a direct affect on rankings, it is again part of creating a W3C validated page….which Google uses as a ranking factor. This is also an important consideration in keeping your site accessible to those with visual impairments or using a text based browser.

Keyword-stuffed Content:

“While it’s never been a smart SEO strategy, keyword-stuffed content is even stupider in today’s competitive marketplace. In the 21st century, less is often more when it comes to keywords in your content. In fact, if you’re having trouble ranking for certain phrases that you’ve used a ton of times on the page, rather than adding it just one more time, try removing some instances of it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.”

Certainly there is a balance to be had. I agree that over doing will cause problems. The best practice is to write valuable, concise content that is not spammy or of low value. Google wants you to write quality content and your readers want clear, valuable content. Doing so should organically place the appropriate amount of keywords within the textual content.

Linking to Google or Other Popular Websites:

“It’s the links pointing to your pages from other sites that help you with SEO, not the pages you’re linking out to. ‘Nuff said.”

Again this is another instance, where it may not help your rankings, but if you can serve your visitors better by sending them to an external link then you should do so. It is of paramount importance to provide a quality site experience for your viewers. If you have a great site that serves your visitors well, then rankings will follow.

IMHO, it makes sense as an SEO to employee best practices always. It covers all your bases and will never hurt any of your SEO efforts.

About the Author:

Kyle Krenbrink is a technical writer, blogger and SEO for Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization, Inc, a top SEO services company that offers performance-based services, consulting, training and link building. You can read Kyle's almost daily posts on Beanstalk's SEO blog and watch for more articles.


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