Jump to content

Cre8asiteforums Internet Marketing
and Conversion Web Design


Photo

SEO Myths


  • Please log in to reply
179 replies to this topic

#1 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 26 November 2005 - 11:59 PM

In another thread, a suggestion was made that we explore some SEO myths. I've come up with a list to start us off, and would be happy to discuss these in more detail. For now, I'm just going to list them. If you have more to add, please do so.

SEO Myths:

1. SEO copywriting means writing strong copy, then inserting keywords within the copy a number of times.

2. keyword density is important, and you don't want too much or too little.

3. You should place content above menus to have it "crawled first"

4. Meta tags are the key to high rankings

5. The revisit meta tag can tell search engines to come back on a regular basis

6. <META name="robots" Content="Index, Follow"> is important

7. The more links the better

8. Pagerank is dead

9. There is a duplicate content penalty

10. There is a certain percentage of duplication that you can get away with before your page will be filtered in the results

11. There is a sandbox

12. There are thousands of search engines to submit your site to

13. You need to submit your site to the major search engines.

14. Resubmitting sites to search engines helps your site get crawled more frequently

15. Appearing in DMOZ is essential to high rankings

16. High rankings are the aim of SEO

17. Optimizing for specific keyword phrases is the goal of SEO

18. You shouldn't optimize a site for terms that are too broad or too narrow.

19. Once you've achieved a top ranking with a page, you should adopt a hand's off approach to that page.

20. Hidden links or text in a page can get your page ranked higher.

21. Software, which compares your use of keyword phrases in titles, headlines, meta tags, etc., with pages that rank highly for those terms can help you rank highly for those phrases.

22. Participating in pay-per-click or paid impression programs on the search engines can help or harm your search rankings.

23. Search engines don't index dynamic sites

#2 bobmutch

bobmutch

    Whirl Wind Member

  • Members
  • 84 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:21 AM

3. You should place content above menus to have it "crawled first"

I think it is good SEO to have your content first sourced even above you menu. I never heard anyone ever call that a myth before.

7. The more links the better

Confirm. Long as they are not ROS, not added more than 10-20% of yoru total a month, in or from bad nebs, I am for the more links the better. I don't think thats a myth.

8. Pagerank is dead

Pagerank real, directory and toolbar is alive and well. The ranking weight of Pagerank is dead. That isn't a myth.

9. There is a duplicate content penalty

LOL. First I thought you might have forget to insert the "not" but after reading the "myths" I think you really don't believe in dup penalties. Now that one takes the cake.

10. There is a certain percentage of duplication that you can get away with before your page will be filtered in the results

Confirm.

11. There is a sandbox

Confirm.

16. High rankings are the aim of SEO

Confirm. High rankings for convertiable keywords.

17. Optimizing for specific keyword phrases is the goal of SEO

Confirm. Woa you have a lot of strange myths.

21. Software, which compares your use of keyword phrases in titles, headlines, meta tags, etc., with pages that rank highly for those terms can help you rank highly for those phrases.


Confirm. Long as it is comparing them to good examples. While I hold that Googles ranking weight is 90% plus off site it is not going to help much. But with MSN 70% plus and Yahoo 80% plus off page it makes some what of a difference.

#3 Nadir

Nadir

    Light Speed Member

  • Members
  • 976 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:24 AM

24. W3C Validation is necessary to rank high

25. SEO is easy and can be done after reading a 50$ junk Ebook

#4 bobmutch

bobmutch

    Whirl Wind Member

  • Members
  • 84 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:30 AM

25. SEO is easy and can be done after reading a 50$ junk Ebook

not the junk one but the aaron one yes. and his is $79. SEO is easy, it's like throwing mud at a wall. Find out what other people who have their mud sticking or using for a mix and us that. It really is simple.

bragadocchio: for an admin you are sporting alot of interesting myths.

#5 Nadir

Nadir

    Light Speed Member

  • Members
  • 976 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:45 AM

Yes seobook is a good one but there is a lot of junk ebooks down there that people should be wary of.

#6 Nadir

Nadir

    Light Speed Member

  • Members
  • 976 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:52 AM

3. You should place content above menus to have it "crawled first"

I think it is good SEO to have your content first sourced even above you menu. I never heard anyone ever call that a myth before.

I was wondering if that was true or not and mentionned to bragadocchio that I've seen sites ranking well and they do have content first. The example I had in mind was sites that rank well for "seo company" on Google. And sites like seoimage.com, your site, etc have content first... So do you think it helped you get the ranking you have?

#7 EGOL

EGOL

    Professor

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6353 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:53 AM

2. keyword density is important, and you don't want too much or too little.   (you need at least one occurrence of the word or a related word... then if you stuff you will not do well)

7. The more links the better.  (Right, as long as they are not junk links)

9. There is a duplicate content penalty  

10. There is a certain percentage of duplication that you can get away with before your page will be filtered in the results  (sure)

11. There is a sandbox (ha ha... the "expert" SEOs deny the sandbox  adamantly to gain business then they can't deliver)

17. Optimizing for specific keyword phrases is the goal of SEO (you betcha - and lots of non specific if you are clever)

21. Software, which compares your use of keyword phrases in titles, headlines, meta tags, etc., with pages that rank highly for those terms can help you rank highly for those phrases. (if you don't know Jack it can actually be useful - but I bet on myself!)


I'll bet a big buck that some of these are true.

#8 Wit

Wit

    Sonic Boom Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1599 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 12:59 AM

Hehe, there's gotta be some non-myths in there, or else there would be no need for discussion....

#9 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 01:40 AM

I'll definitely address those, Bob. :)

Before I dig too deeply into them, let's see if anyone else has more to add, or issues with any of the ones that I've listed.

I'll start with one of them that you've indicated "takes the cake."

9. There is a duplicate content penalty  

LOL. First I thought you might have forget to insert the "not" but after reading the "myths" I think you really don't believe in dup penalties. Now that one takes the cake.


We know from a number of patents from Altavista, that there are ways of identifying mirrored sites, and sites that are very similar to other sites on a number of levels, and that search engines can decide not to include those pages in their index. I'm not sure that is what we are talking about when we talk about a "duplicate penalty." If it's what you are considering a duplicate penalty, I'll concede that aspect of a duplicate penalty.

Method and apparatus for finding mirrored hosts by analyzing urls

Method and apparatus for finding mirrored hosts by analyzing connectivity and IP addresses

We also know that there are methods of indentifying pages that are very similar from Altavista and Google patents.

Method for determining the resemining the resemblance of documents

The abstract from this Alstavista patent:

A method for facilitating the comparison of two computerized documents. The method includes loading a first document into a random access memory (RAM), loading a second document into the RAM, reducing the first document into a first sequence of tokens, reducing the second document into a second sequence of tokens, converting the first set of tokens to a first (multi)set of shingles, converting the second set of tokens to a second (multi)set of shingles, determining a first sketch of the first (multi)set of shingles, determining a second sketch of the second (multi)set of shingles, and comparing the first sketch and the second sketch. The sketches have a fixed size, independent of the size of the documents. The resemblance of two documents is provided using a sketch of each document. The sketches may be computed fairly fast and given two sketches the resemblance of the corresponding documents can be computed in linear time in the size of the sketches.


Method for identifying near duplicate pages in a hyperlinked database

The abstract from this Altavista patent:

A method is described for identifying pages that are near duplicates in a linked database. In the linked database, pages can have incoming links and outgoing links. Two pages are selected, a first page and a second page. For each selected page, the number of outgoing links is determined. The two pages are marked as near duplicates based on the number of common outgoing links for the two pages


Method for indexing duplicate records of information of a database

The abstract for this Altavista patent:

A computer implemented method indexes duplicate information stored in records having different unique addresses in a database. A fingerprint is generated for each record, the fingerprint is a singular value derived from all of the information of the record. The fingerprint is stored in the index as a unique fingerprint if the fingerprint is different than a previously stored fingerprint of the index. A reference to the unique address of the record is stored with the fingerprint. If the fingerprint is identical to the previously stored fingerprint, then store the reference to the address of the record with the previously stored fingerprint.


This last one includes the clearest statement that a page would be deleted from the index if it was a duplicate of a "master page." The difficulty there may not be determining duplicates as much as it is identifying which document is the "master page" and which is the duplicate.

We don't know how closely any of the search engines are presently using the ideas in those patents from Altavista, but some of the folks who worked upon them have worked on similar documents for other search engines. For instance, Monika Henzinger has worked one of a couple of patents from Google that look mostly at duplicate content issues.


Detecting duplicate and near-duplicate files

The abstract from this Google Patent, filed January 24, 2001 and granted December 2, 2003:

Improved duplicate and near-duplicate detection techniques may assign a number of fingerprints to a given document by (i) extracting parts from the document, (ii) assigning the extracted parts to one or more of a predetermined number of lists, and (iii) generating a fingerprint from each of the populated lists. Two documents may be considered to be near-duplicates if any one of their fingerprints match.


This document does a nice job of raising issues that weren't considered in the Altavista patents, while building upon ideas mentioned in a number of them. While it is possible that some duplicates may be removed from the database, this statement leads me to believe that what is more likely to happen is a filtering of results:

The present invention may function to generate clusters of near-duplicate documents, in which a transitive property is assumed. Each document may have an identifier for identifying a cluster with which it is associated. In this alternative, in response to a search query, if two candidate result documents belong to the same cluster and if the two candidate result documents match the query equally well, only the one deemed more likely to be relevant (e.g., by virtue of a high Page rank, being more recent, etc.) is returned.


It does note that there are some benefits to not including duplicate page. But, we do see from a number of search queries where we search for a unique string of text upon a page that Google will show "very similar" pages in search results, by including a link to click upon to see those. So Google is filtering results for duplicates. Does that mean that they don't delete sites, or penalize them? How do they know which page is the original? Which page is the one that shows up when one page is filtered, and another isn't? That's probably a more important question to ask then if some pages are penalized for duplicate content. How does a search engine know which is the original, and which is the duplicate?

William Pugh, one of the co-inventors on that document has a pdf presentation that I've seen appear and disappear and reappear and disappear again from the web at: http://www.cs.umd.ed.../Duplicates.pdf . (If you do a search for it, you can see the "HTML version" which is cached in Google. Here are a couple of lines from that document:


False Positive Rate

•0.1% seems like a pretty low false positive rate

•unless you are indexing billions of web pages

•Need to be very careful about deciding to discard web pages from index

•Less careful about eliminating near duplicates from query results


He does note that he isn't sure if Google has adopted the method described in this patent.

A patent that was filed (October 6, 2000) and granted (September 2, 2003) earlier than the one above from Google is:

Detecting query-specific duplicate documents

The abstract from this Google patent:

An improved duplicate detection technique that uses query-relevant information to limit the portion(s) of documents to be compared for similarity is described. Before comparing two documents for similarity, the content of these documents may be condensed based on the query. In one embodiment, query-relevant information or text (also referred to as "snippets") is extracted from the documents and only the extracted snippets, rather than the entire documents, are compared for purposes of determining similarity.


Here we have an approach that is conducting a determination the duplicate nature of documents based upon snippets being returned for queries. Under this method, pages are filtered when results are served rather than possessing penalties while sitting in an index. Here's a quote from the document that describes some of the issues addressed by this patent:

Some duplicate avoidance techniques are effected during the automated indexing operation. Similar documents can be flagged by (i) defining a similarity measure between two documents, and (ii) defining the two documents as "duplicates" if the similarity measure exceeds a predetermined threshold.  

Unfortunately, however, often duplicate information may be found in documents that are not exactly the same or even very similar. For example: (i) identical content may be presented with different formatting. (e.g., plain text versus HTML); (ii) different headers and/or footers may be prepended and/or appended, respectively, to identical content; (iii) hit counters may be appended to identical content; (iv) last modified dates may be appended, to identical content; and (v) one web site may include a copy of content found elsewhere (e.g., as a part of a compilation or aggregation of content, or simply as an insertion). Cases (ii)-(iv) are illustrated by the Venn diagrams of FIGS. 1 and 2. FIG. 1 illustrates the case where a second document merely adds a small amount of information (e.g., a counter, a footer, etc.) to a first document, whereas FIG. 2 illustrates the case where a second document slightly changes some information (e.g., a last modified date) of a first document. The present invention may be used to detect such "duplicates" with slight changes.  

Furthermore, the present invention may be used to detect duplicate content within documents that have a lot of different information, such as documents with different formatting codes or documents that aggregate or incorporate other content. Many prior techniques are not well-suited for such cases. For example, assume that documents A and B each contain basic financial information about companies. Assume further that document A has information on 50 companies, while document B has information on 100 companies, at least some of which are the same as those in document A. (For example, document B could be a later, expanded version of document A.) The Venn diagrams of FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate such examples.



When I see people writing about a "duplicate content penalty," it is often in the context of "how much duplicate content can my page have before it is considered a duplicate of another page, and given a penalty by the search engines?" If we can rely upon some of the documentation above, the answer is that some content may not be indexed at all, especially if it is a site that is mirrored. Duplicate pages may or may not be indexed, but are possibly more likely to be filted out when search results are returned.

And that is why I say that a duplicate content penalty is a myth. Of course, if you can provide some information otherwise, I would be appreciative.

#10 Nadir

Nadir

    Light Speed Member

  • Members
  • 976 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 01:55 AM

I love when people bring proven data to confirm their statements...

I think brag did a good job here, and I'm sure he can help us understand each of the things that we have decided to call "myths" in a SEO point of view.

#11 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:22 AM

7. The more links the better  

Confirm. Long as they are not ROS, not added more than 10-20% of yoru total a month, in or from bad nebs, I am for the more links the better. I don't think thats a myth.


I often see this one spouted in ads for "SEO companies" (I'll use that term loosely) that will hook people up with thousands of links for $129/month or some similar price. Saw some advertising their SEO linking services on Amazon.com recently.

Quality over quantity is the way to go here. Focus upon getting links that will bring you traffic, links from sites that may be considered authorities, links from popular sites, and popular pages, links that may lead to conversions and fulfilling the objectives of a site.

Of course, I'd rather have a link from the front page of each of these sites than a few thousand from other pages:

Adobe.com
Apple.com
Energy.gov
FirstGov.gov
Google.com
Harvard.edu
Macromedia.com
NASA.gov
NSF.gov
NYTimes.com
Real.com
StatCounter.com
W3.org
WebStandards.org
Blogger.com

But, ignoring the high page ranks of those sites, I want links from pages that are relevant and that people will follow while looking forward to reading the material on the site the link points to.

I do think that you should work to try to increase the number of links to your site, whether you do it by building content that people what to link to, or by some other means. But a straightforward, "More links is better" is just a myth - from a link popularity stance, and from an approach that looks at the opportunity to make a conversion and meet the objectives of the site.

I'll echo the words of Eric Ward here:

Are more links better or not?  


No, more links are not better, unless all of them are high-quality links. Numbers aren't as important as context and relevancy. It is better to have a few links from sites that are similar in content and topic to yours, a few links from the portals, and a few links from site reviewers, than to have 1,000 links on Free For All (FFA) links pages.


Since I dragged a few patents into my last post, I'll bring one into this post, too.

Ranking search results by reranking the results based on local inter-connectivity

Does Google resort their returned results based upon links between the pages being returned? This patent from them describes how they would do that. So, it's possible that a handful of links from pages that may show up in the results of the same query your site is showing up within may provide some value to you. If all of the links pointing to your site are from pages that have nothing to do with the topic of your site, and aren't relevant, this patent, if in use, might mean that your page could be sorted so that it is behind sites within the results that link to each other.

There may be sites that share a topic with you that aren't your direct competitors and may be willing to point a link to you if you provide content that they find interesting, or may be of use to their visitors. That's an area where relevance may be more important than numbers.

#12 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:26 AM

bragadocchio: for an admin you are sporting alot of interesting myths.


I hear, and see, and get asked about a lot of these myths. :)

I think brag did a good job here, and I'm sure he can help us understand each of the things that we have decided to call "myths" in a SEO point of view.


Thanks. :)

Though I'm happy to let others describe their thoughts on many of these before I jump to defend their status as "myths." I will do that though.

#13 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:54 AM

2. keyword density is important, and you don't want too much or too little. (you need at least one occurrence of the word or a related word... then if you stuff you will not do well)


I'll give the short answer here, with an example:

This page ranks #1 out of 2,890,000,000 for the phrase "click here" (without quotation marks.)

http://www.adobe.com.../readstep2.html

Neither word appears upon the page. No occurrences at all. Of course, my answer is a shortcut, but it shows that a document can have a keyword density of 0.00% and still rank number one out of 2 billion results.

This article does a nice job of discussing keyword density:

The Keyword Density of Non-Sense.

Keyword density is the percentage of use of the keywords within the document itself. That's different from term frequency, which is the number of times the word appears within the document. I believe that's what EGOL is pointing towards, and having the word or words appear upon the page can make it easier for the phrase to rank in search engines, though we still have instances like the Adobe one I pointed towards above.

#14 AbleReach

AbleReach

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6471 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:17 AM

16. High rankings are the aim of SEO  
 
17. Optimizing for specific keyword phrases is the goal of SEO

Agreed.

Ranking is only a step. Targeting is only a step.

High rankings without something behind them would be like putting up a Very Big Advertisement without further mission.

If optimizing for specific keyword phrases was "the" goal, yoiy, the mind boggles. Is that myth where gibberish generators come from? That which begat Adsense pages with automatically generated nonsense text?

Background reading - thread on Role of an SEM

Elizabeth

#15 bwelford

bwelford

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 9053 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:27 AM

What a great thread. Just thought it might be helpful to chime in with a thought about the word myth. Nothing is ever black and white. Myth-ness is a scale. It's usefullness is only in deciding whether you're going to put a lot of effort into using the myth as a working rule.

I don't think anyone of us would argue that 'The keywords metatag is important in SEO' is absolutely a myth. However it doesn't take much effort to put in a keywords metatag so, in case things change, many of us do. I'm with Bill on most of his list of myths. I would use them as a guide in where I put my SEO efforts.

#16 Jonathan

Jonathan

    Mach 1 Member

  • Members
  • 289 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:39 AM

You should place content above menus to have it "crawled first"


Is it helpful in the slightest ~B?

I saw the word "should", which I can't disagree that giving some the advice of you "should" put the content above the menus, but I read here at Cre8 it is good to get the content as high up the crawl as possible. Is that just a myth please?

#17 AbleReach

AbleReach

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6471 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:44 AM

I don't think anyone of us would argue that 'The keywords metatag is important in SEO' is absolutely a myth. However it doesn't take much effort to put in a keywords metatag so, in case things change, many of us do.

Makes sense to me, in a sliding scale sort of a way.

I recently noticed meta descriptions coming up in the SE result blurbs for a few blogs. It caught me a bit by surprise, because you don't see a straight quote from metas very often any more. Not world peace, just a reminder to go ahead and do the basics like a good kid. :)

Elizabeth

#18 projectphp

projectphp

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3937 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:45 AM

9. There is a duplicate content penalty

Ah, a semantic myth. There is actually a Duplicate content filter :)

#19 AbleReach

AbleReach

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6471 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:48 AM

Quote:
9. There is a duplicate content penalty

Ah, a semantic myth. There is actually a Duplicate content filter ;-)

LOL...

#20 Wit

Wit

    Sonic Boom Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1599 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 07:00 AM

High rankings without something behind them would be like putting up a Very Big Advertisement without further mission.

If optimizing for specific keyword phrases was "the" goal, yoiy, the mind boggles. Is that myth where gibberish generators come from? That which begat Adsense pages with automatically generated nonsense text?


It's funny: I thought these weren't myths at all. I only started to do SEO as a hobby, because I wanted my first site to rank #1 for a particular phrase. I've been ranking #1 with that site for ages now, and it hasn't brought me a single "conversion" (could be because the site is crappy, I know, and because it is in fact a non-commercial site). But just for the sport of it, I wanted to do that.

IMV that's pure SEO, without the SEM and commercial stuff that often come with it.

#21 Mano70

Mano70

    Mach 1 Member

  • Members
  • 256 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 07:09 AM

23. Search engines don't index dynamic sites

I agree that they will index dynamic pages, however, it's better to not use querystrings. Are you aiming for silver querystrings are OK, if you are aiming for gold you should rewrite your url's IMHO.

#22 Wit

Wit

    Sonic Boom Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1599 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 07:24 AM

What's eerie is that Google now states on its webmaster guidelines page:

Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs, as we don't include these pages in our index.


It's sloblock (for now), but people are genuinely lost with that... I mean, if Google says it, then it must be true, right? :roll: At least that's what a lot of (new) webmasters believe.

#23 eKstreme

eKstreme

    Hall of Fame

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3411 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 08:40 AM

Wit,

The way I understand Google's webmaster guidelines statement about &id= is to remove session IDs and stuff like that.

Personally, when I'm forced to use query strings, I just make sure none of the parameters is called "id". If I'm calling a page, I call the parameter "page", if it's an IP address, it's called "ip". I know Google, MSN, and Yahoo index those pages well.

#24 Wit

Wit

    Sonic Boom Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1599 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 08:57 AM

I do the same, but I doubt that Google really neglects ALL pages with &id= in the url. My point was that some myths come from 'reputable' sources. And that quote is quite clear: hard to misinterpret.

Now if, within three months, all pages with that in the url get nuked from the serps, then I'll eat my words (and post a public apology to Google for not believing them) :mwink:

#25 JohnMu

JohnMu

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3519 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 09:15 AM

Actually, I assumed that the Google Webmasters guidelines wanted to say that it would remove parameters with "id" in the search index -- something they obviously don't do (if you search for "id", "sessionid", etc. with inurl:). Somehow I get the feeling that some of this is just ... obsolete :mrgreen:

#26 EGOL

EGOL

    Professor

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6353 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 09:21 AM

Neither word appears upon the page. No occurrences at all. Of course, my answer is a shortcut, but it shows that a document can have a keyword density of 0.00% and still rank number one out of 2 billion results.


Right! Good point. I forgot about anchor text. Also, I have lots of pages that include the word "photos" or "images"... but they also rank for "xxxxx pics" and "xxxxx photographs" (which do not appear anywhere on the page - or even on my site). Google knows what these pages are about and ranks them for these similar terms.

#27 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 01:27 PM

9. There is a duplicate content penalty


Ah, a semantic myth. There is actually a Duplicate content filter :wink:


Sort of. But, what is the difference between a filter and a penalty? Under a penalty, the importance of a site would be devalued. Under a filter, it wouldn't. Here's an example from the second Google patent that I quoted from:

Furthermore, the present invention may be used to detect duplicate content within documents that have a lot of different information, such as documents with different formatting codes or documents that aggregate or incorporate other content. Many prior techniques are not well-suited for such cases. For example, assume that documents A and B each contain basic financial information about companies. Assume further that document A has information on 50 companies, while document B has information on 100 companies, at least some of which are the same as those in document A. (For example, document B could be a later, expanded version of document A.) The Venn diagrams of FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate such examples.


If a query included information that might exist in both documents A and B, The results from Google might filter out one of the documents and only show the other. Neither is penalized, but one is filtered. Now consider a query for information that is just in Document B. It may contain the most relevant information for that query, and be returned highly in search results, and that would be a good result. If a penalty was imposed upon the page because it shared information with document A, it might not be returned in results.

#28 Black_Knight

Black_Knight

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 9417 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:09 PM

Its a good list Bill, though a few are possibly more cases of undue focus, and misunderstanding, rather than actual myths. Some are more like the SEO version of urban legends for certain.

3. You should place content above menus to have it "crawled first"
 
I think it is good SEO to have your content first sourced even above you menu. I never heard anyone ever call that a myth before.

Three words may alone be enough to shed light on why this is ancient practice is now found on a myth list. The three words are: Block Level Analysis.

Now block level analysis is actually one of the few things that have already come from Microsoft's search engineers. The other major search engines have their own terms and methods for acheiving the same thing.

Basically, it is not hard for a search engine to recognize that a list of URLs is some kind of menu or citation list, and weight it in the order the engine finds most useful, regardless of where in the code it was placed. Similarly, it is not hard to spot common footer elements, say for example a copyright and a link to a privacy policy, and weight the links around that area as the least important for indexing. No matter where the coder found it useful to place them in the code view of the document.

7. The more links the better  

Confirm.  Long as they are not ROS, not added more than 10-20% of yoru total a month, in or from bad nebs, I am for the more links the better.  I don't think thats a myth.

That's a long list of exceptions there, Bob, which is exactly why, as an absolute statement "The more links the better" is an absolute myth.

The word 'better' is a term of comparison. The statement therefore is shorthand for saying "More links are better than fewer links". When stated anywhere without a long list of provisos, it is false.

Every one of those provisos you mention (plus a few others) are the exact reasons that the statement is a myth. There are cases where a couple more links can actually be harmful.

8. Pagerank is dead  

Pagerank real, directory and toolbar is alive and well.  The ranking weight of Pagerank is dead.  That isn't a myth.

PageRank is still alive. Oh, it is no longer the hugely over-weighted ranking criteria people once thought it was. But It never really was anyway. Its still there, but scaled back in importance to rankings because of the detrimental effect PageRank has on timely information such as news. However, PageRank is itself still a foundation for many of Google's later modifications, some of which are quite important factors in ranking more credible and popular documents over less credible and unimportant ones.

9. There is a duplicate content penalty  

LOL. First I thought you might have forget to insert the "not" but after reading the "myths" I think you really don't believe in dup penalties. Now that one takes the cake.

I too have long said outright that there is no duplicate penalty and there never has been. If there were, you could use duplication as an offensive tactic to remove competitors.

Long after I was already bored rigid of telling people there was no such thing as a duplicate content penalty, I put my money where my mouth was, and advised a client to go with a plan to take 50,000 products and turn that into 5,000,000 pages, the majority of which are most definitely near duplicates of course. 4.5 million of those pages are indexed by Google, have been for a year, and pages rank very nicely thank you.

Test it for yourself. I have. There is no penalty, only a filter that leaves your most relevant of the duplicates in the SERPs, while your less relevant copies don't all appear.

10. There is a certain percentage of duplication that you can get away with before your page will be filtered in the results  

Confirm.

Found to be utter nonsense in the above example. In the real world, my client is doing very nicely thank you, when about 80% of all his documents are exceptionally near-duplicates of the other 20%.

11. There is a sandbox  

Confirm.

The interesting thing about the sandbox is that it does exist as a side-effect of something else. But it was not designed as a sandbox. I'd never had a client hit by the sandbox myself, although I did believe others who reported it. In 90% of these cases, I am absolutely certain that link building was the cause. You indicated a similar finding yourself earlier:

not added more than 10-20% of yoru total a month

So that there is something at play is not a myth. That it is a sandbox in any of the established senses of the word, such as the way that Java runs in a sandbox, is something I don't believe.

I think in all, I'll agree with you that it is not a myth that the 'sandbox' people try to describe exists. But I would add that it is not well described or named as a "sandbox" for me, as it does not behave like one.

16. High rankings are the aim of SEO  

Confirm. High rankings for convertiable keywords.

Again, this one is tricky.

For a great many SEOs, highest possible rankings are all they care about. Which is one of the reasons I have always believed that fully 95% of all persons claiming to be SEOs are unprofessional idiots. May sound harsh, but you try running a search that will return a lot of SEO companies and see how many you yourself, as someone who knows about SEO, would hire. I made it fewer than 5% that I could recommend anyone hire.

Okay, now the reasons for my total disagreement with the statement "High rankings are the aim of SEO"

Firstly, the O in SEO stands for optimization. Making optimal. The correct position to be in any SERP is the tested position at which you made the most total profit.

I have personally increased profits for several clients by helping them to drop down a position or two to a more optimal position for their offering.

Why does having a lower position sometimes work better? Lets discuss the two most obvious.

Firstly, people shop around. I want a new electric toaster, I don't walk in and buy the first one I see. I look for the best deal I can find in the time I have decided is worth spending. When several companies turn up in the SERPs, you can bet your life I will look at more than one, and compare them to find the best deal according to my values.

So, lets say I visit the highest ranked one and it offers a reasonable toaster at a reasonable price. Good. But I'm going to look at what some of those other stores offers were like, and see how they compare. So I go back to my search and pick the next highest store that looks promising. They have pretty much the same reasonable deal. Cool. Okay, that looks like about the normal deal then, and I can now feel more sure I wasn't about to be suckered by a bad first deal through not shopping around. But I'm still going to have one last check to see if I can get a better deal. I go back to the SERPs a final time and pick a third site from the results. This one too has pretty much the same deal. That tells me this is the going rate. Okay, I'm done shopping around, and have soothed my mind that I am getting a reasonable deal.

Finally the point to you as the guy doing the rankings: Do I fill in the order form now, right next to me on this third ranked site, or pointlessly go all the way back to the first store I saw to get exactly the same deal?

No I don't. Since all offered effectively the same deal, I just sit where I am and order there because there is no advantage to me, the shopper, in wasting a few more moments in clicking back to another site for the same deal just because it was higher ranked.

When shopping around is a factor, the point is not to be first, as first may get the absolute most traffic, but the absolute lowest sales, as everyone shops on to other stores to compare what they found. Only the people who tend to open lots of new windows, and so still have that first shop open when they decide that they can't find a better deal are likely to buy there at all.

The best place to be, when shopping around is a factor, is the last site that most people can be bothered to check. That's where they give up looking for a better deal, and take the fair one that they have.

The above alone is a tip you don't see mentioned often, and one that has made a lot of money for my clients. It is one of the major reasons that the answer to almost any SEO/SEM related question is Test, Test, Test.

However, I said I'd give 2 reasons, and no matter how many millions of dollars that first is worth, I'll provide a second.

The second one is far simpler. Sometimes the SEO stuff one has to do to get ranked up just that couple of positions higher has a negative effect on the conversion rate of the page. Sometimes, slipping that extra repetition of keywords, or adjusting the keyword density, frequency, prominence, can seriously diminish the human-appeal of the page.

Cloaking can let you have it both ways, but carries risks that not all clients can face, and very few should face for just that extra position or two. You are in position 4 in a SERP, and getting to #1 may often involve changes that actually mean you make less overall profit. That can be further compounded massively by my previous example of course.

17. Optimizing for specific keyword phrases is the goal of SEO  

Confirm. Woa you have a lot of strange myths.

The long tail.

I have way too often seen people focussing so much on the specific keywords they thought they wanted, that they killed off the page's ability to rank for a dozen other variant phrases, some of which had a far higher conversion rate.

Not all SEO is about specific phrases at all. Some SEO is about maximising sales from getting a message to a broader audience. Some is about the long tail. 50% of all searches used to make a purchase can be so unique to the individual searching that they won't appear in your logs more than once in a month at tops. One search engine released that 50% of all searches made on the engine were that unique. Out of hundreds of millions of searches, half of them were phrases not used twice in a single month.

Worth thinking about.

21. Software, which compares your use of keyword phrases in titles, headlines, meta tags, etc., with pages that rank highly for those terms can help you rank highly for those phrases.  


Confirm. Long as it is comparing them to good examples.  While I hold that Googles ranking weight is 90% plus off site it is not going to help much.  But with MSN 70% plus and Yahoo 80% plus off page it makes some what of a difference.

Again, where provisos are needed, the statement as a statement has to be a myth.

Imagine the builder of a community site about getting together, who unwisely called his social networking related site "We Click Here". :)

#29 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:27 PM

Its a good list Bill, though a few are possibly more cases of undue focus, and misunderstanding, rather than actual myths. Some are more like the SEO version of urban legends for certain.


Thanks, Ammon.

There were a number of "SEO Myths" that immediately came to mind as I started this thread, but there have also been a number of statements I've seen where misunderstandings had the potential to cause more harm than good, so I decided to include a number of those here, too. The hope is that we can clearly identify the Urban legends, and also discuss some of the misunderstandings.

8. Pagerank is dead  

Pagerank real, directory and toolbar is alive and well. The ranking weight of Pagerank is dead. That isn't a myth.


I see the phrase "pagerank is dead" in articles on search algorithms detailing how Google is capable of using other concepts to crawl, index, and rank and serve pages. In that context, the original role of pagerank probably has changed. But, like most useful ideas, the idea continues to be a way to provide value to the crawling and ranking of pages.

This document, for instance, describes the value of pagerank as an importance metric, when crawling pages to send to an index:

Efficient Crawling Through URL Ordering

Pagerank has always been only part of the equation determining which results are returned for pages. And, as the ideas and technology behind returning search results has evolved over time, the use of pagerank has also likely evolved. But the basic underlying idea that some pages are "more important" than other, based upon the quality and quantity of links to the page appears to be still in use.

When we think of pagerank, we often think of what is described in this document:

The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web.

There have been a number of papers written since then that describe the use of pagerank in somewhat modified forms, such as Topic Sensitive Pagerank.

But, what's important to note about page rank is that it isn't a relevance metric, and it has never been one. It's an importance metric. When we are returned results from a query, there is a need for a determination of not only which pages are the most relevant, but also the pages that are the most important of those relevant pages. Most of the papers and articles declaring pagerank dead do so while focusing upon measures of relevance.

If pagerank is dead, then there are a lot of researchers providing solutions to things such as link spam based upon a method that isn't being used.

We estimate the spam mass of all web pages by computing and combining two PageRank scores: the regular PageRank of each page and a biased one, in which a large group of known reputable pages receives more weight. Mass estimates can then be used to identify pages that are significant beneficiaries of link spamming with high probability.


There are a lot of papers that have been published over the last few years on pagerank. I think that some research on whether or not "pagerank is dead" can yield some insight into how search engines work, and how indexing the web differs from indexing documents in an enterprise setting. One of many worth looking at is Deeper inside pagerank (pdf)

If pagerank is dead, what has taken its place? Yes, that question could be seen as a cheap rhetorical device, attempting to shift the burden back upon those who disagree with my statement that it is a myth, but if someone can provide alternatives here, we all benefit. :)

#30 Nadir

Nadir

    Light Speed Member

  • Members
  • 976 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:52 PM

I've never read such an interesting thread! I'm serious! This thread clarifies many things that are useless, but that SEO companies do believing it's going to help rankings.

And we are also showing that ranking high is NOT the only goal of SEOs

16. High rankings are the aim of SEO

Confirm. High rankings for convertiable keywords.


If your site sucks, does not provide good content, is not easy to navigate, etc, you just waisted your time and the customers money!

But how many SEO companies really know that? SEO is a new "marketing" tool, it's not only about programming and search engines! A lot of SEO companies forget the marketing aspect. Trust me, a lot of them are missing the point....
I'm working for a SEO company and they have sometimes difficulties to listen to what I say when I talk about "Marketing" or "usability". That's maybe because I have a degree in Marketing and not in I.T. !

#31 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 02:59 PM

Excellent post, Ammon. :)

If pagerank is dead, what has taken its place? Yes, that question could be seen as a cheap rhetorical device, attempting to shift the burden back upon those who disagree with my statement that it is a myth, but if someone can provide alternatives here, we all benefit.


Ammon provided one, and it's a good one. The prominence that some timely news stories have in search results shows one area where pagerank has been dialed back to allow some very relevant and timely articles to rank well for search results.

An interesting question, to me at least, is how do those timely news stories get recognized as being important enough to rank highly in search results. These two recent patent applications from Microsoft describe one way of identifying those stories, using of all things, blogs:

System, method, and service for inducing a pattern of communication among various parties

System, method, and service for segmenting a topic into chatter and subtopics

So, how does Google determine which news stories are the most relevant for their news service, and is that the method by which some news stories are inserted into search results?

This patent application describes some possible metrics in use, at least when it comes to determining which articles show up in news results as most relevant:

Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles

#32 EGOL

EGOL

    Professor

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6353 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 03:09 PM

I've never read such an interesting thread! I'm serious!


Yep. This is a good one. I thought that we were going to beat up on bragadocchio for posting this but turns out there was a lot of good discussion and thought shifting.

#33 Nadir

Nadir

    Light Speed Member

  • Members
  • 976 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 03:18 PM

I'm sure we will have a lot more reactions (good or bad) on this post tomorrow! I think that after reading this post, it is going to change the way SEO guys work...

#34 send2paul

send2paul

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 2935 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 03:21 PM

Amazing thread!

It ought to be a "free" e-book or something!

(Are we copyrighted here? :) )

#35 Jonathan

Jonathan

    Mach 1 Member

  • Members
  • 289 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:11 PM

Is it helpful in the slightest ~B?  

I saw the word "should", which I can't disagree that giving some the advice of you "should" put the content above the menus, but I read here at Cre8 it is good to get the content as high up the crawl as possible. Is that just a myth please?

With Block Level Analysis in action, I apologise for the question. :)

#36 kensplace

kensplace

    Time Traveler Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1498 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:34 PM

Block level analysis may be used by the major players, but what about all the smaller sites that dont use it? Whilst the traffic from a smaller site may not be much, the combined power of all the links from all the smaller sites must be fairly big.... If those smaller sites cant analyse the page easily, they may not get the results you want in the links, so maybe there is some truth to it. Who knows.....

Personally its not something I worry about, I would be worried if I spent all my time worrying about how to trick search engines, rather than just on doing the site

#37 projectphp

projectphp

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3937 posts

Posted 27 November 2005 - 11:21 PM

But, what is the difference between a filter and a penalty

This bares a bit more discussion I feel.

A penalty is something that is enforced upon an individual when they do something bad. A filter, on the other hand, is something that is applied to a group when the group collectively do too much of something, rather than do bad.

We all know they saying "too much of a good thing will kill you", and in SEO, too much of any one thing will kill a group's rankings.

That last bit is important, as it is often a reason many people don't rank well IMHO. As an example, if there are 1,000 travel sites all offerring the same affiliate content, no one has done anything bad, i.e. no one has spammed, but the SERP as a whole is poorer for the groups lack of diversity. In such a case, a filter to extract just some of the 1,000 same sames is needed.

The Google snippet patent is one such easy to understand example. With this filter, Google take the snippets and compare them. If they are the same, only one page is returned, and the others (the lower scoring pages) are filtered out.

That is why "uniqueness" is vital for long term SEO success, especially as an area becomes crowded. The more one can do to make one's site original and truly useful, the better one will fair longer term.

#38 Black_Knight

Black_Knight

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 9417 posts

Posted 28 November 2005 - 01:19 AM

Penalty Vs Filter is actually even simpler than that.

A penalty is applied to the document/url. A filter is applied to the search results. Were a penalty applied to a page, it couldn't rank in any serp, not just the one in which it is nearly identical to 250 higher ranking results.

A penalty is applied at point of first detection, and will have a fixed duration. This may be best illustrated when a penalty is applied to a document when spidered and preventing indexing, and has a duration that is naturally until next spidered.

A filter is applied at the instant of generation of a SERP. Changing the query to limit the results to certain domain types, or localities can mean that the duplicate in question is no longer filtered, because it is not a near duplicate of content above it in the same SERP.

Now with that spelled out like that, can you see how easy it might be to check whether the page is penalized, or merely that its presence in a given SERP is filtered out? Cool. Go test. :D

#39 jrothra

jrothra

    Ready To Fly Member

  • Members
  • 41 posts

Posted 28 November 2005 - 02:10 AM

It seems that some of these 'myths' are debated as to their mythical status. This makes me wonder, regarding those myths which some disagree are not myths but are true, if the specific content and/or keyword/keyword phrase is a factor which has been overlooked. Maybe some kw's, based on competitiveness, or some types of content, will have some of these myths be true while other kw's/content will not.

In short... before a myth can be truly a myth, it must be untrue for all sites and all keyword/keyword phrases. Otherwise, the myth is not a myth, but rather, is only applied in some areas.

#40 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15666 posts

Posted 28 November 2005 - 07:10 AM

Are there any of them that people have listed that you might feel that is true of, jrothra?

For instance, "The revisit meta tag can tell search engines to come back on a regular basis" is a myth for all search results. For a few years, it was something that did actually work for sites from British Columbia listed in the SearchBC search engine, but even they have stopped using it.

So, which of these might not be myths in some instances?



RSS Feed

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users