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Five SEO Myths You Should Avoid

We’re all busy people and time is short, right? We need to be out there filling vacancies, so time to spend on the website and SEO is limited. Let’s see if we can help you by debunking a few myths that could be eating up valuable time and resources. 

Myth 1: Keywords in your Description Tag can affect your rankings 

They don’t. Search engines stopped placing any importance on the content of these tags years ago. It’s just too easy to manipulate them for the engines to really care what they say.

 That doesn’t mean they’re not important. These description tags are likely to be the first thing a potential renter is going to see when they find your link in a search engine result page (SERP). This is your chance to make a first impression. Don’t waste it with some unreadable, keyword-rich mumbo jumbo. Use it to entice the searcher. Also, keep in mind that keywords in the description that match the user’s search phrase will be bold-faced. This can be eye-catching as well. 

 Myth 2: Using the Keyword Meta Tags matters 

Due to constant abuse by websites in the past, search engines have all but given up on the keywords meta tag. There is some research out there that possibly suggests Yahoo minimally uses this tag for ranking. However, its impact is still — like I said — minimal at best. Considering Yahoo’s market-share and the fact that they are going to be using Bing’s algorithm very soon, the only use the keyword meta tag has is to show off to your competitors which keywords are important to you. 

Myth 3: Links on Twitter, Facebook, etc. count as inbound links 

They don’t and they never will. They ALL have the “nofollow” attribute on their links which prevent them from passing any Page Rank information. In other words, they don’t pass link “juice.”

 Once again, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Just don’t count on them to boost your rankings in Google or the like. This doesn’t take into account the increasing adoption of “real-time” search results, into which we’ll delve deeper in the next SEO blog post. 

NOTE: Before you say it… yes, the link on your Twitter profile is a “follow” link. Everything else is “nofollow.” 

Myth 4: It’s all about the number of links you have to your site 

Sort of… but not really. It’s really all about the where those links come from. A hundred links from irrelevant, untrustworthy sites won’t equal one good link from a trusted, related site. The search engines are constantly improving their ability to discern good links and less desirable ones. This game is increasingly all about quality over quantity. 

Myth 5: Getting links from .edu, .gov, or .org is “better” than other types of websites

 Speaking of where we’re getting our links, the .edu,.gov,.org myth has been around for a long time. The thinking is that these sites are somehow more trustworthy in the search engines’ eyes so their links are more valuable. Well, if you believe this video from Google’s Matt Cutts, then you have to believe to Google doesn’t really care where the links come from. If you want to skip right to it, it’s around the 0:55 mark. 

Anyone can purchase a .org URL. It being a .org does not automatically imbue a site with wonderfulness in the search engines’ eyes. If you want to know which sites to pursue for links, don’t look at whether it’s a .org or dot-whatever. Get a plug-in for Firefox that tells you the PageRank of a website. Long story short: The PageRank is sort of a trust score. The higher the score, the more you’d probably want a link from that site. 

Also, try to get links from sites that are somehow related to your site. Think of it this way: If there’s a site about blue widgets and they link to your site, which happens to sell blue widgets, the search engines are going to say “Are you looking for blue widgets? Well I just happen to have it on good authority that this site sells them” and it’s more likely to be your site. 

Hope this info helps you to spend more time focusing on the ranking factors that matter instead of spinning your wheels on tactics from the past!

(follow me on Twitter @knit_hat and view more articles at the Apartments.com blog)

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  • Jacob Jones

    While the content of this article is valuable I think some of the myths are in fact incorrect.

    Myth 1- In order to properly optimize for any keyword this keyword should be found consistently throughout your page. It should be found in the title tag, meta description tag, meta keyword tag and throughout your site content. Optimizing in all of these locations for a specific keyword helps search engines to better understand the content of your page. While the weight of the description tag to search engines has decreased it is still valuable to have keywords inside of your description tag.

    Myth 2- This is similar to myth 1. In order to properly optimize for a keyword you need all four items otherwise you may not rank as high as you could for that keyword.

    In summary:
    In our own personal implementation of property management websites we have found that adding keyword meta tags and keyword based description tags have had a significant impact on search engine results. For example Appleton Mills was listing around the third page for "Appleton Mills Apartments" when we started optimizing there website. We simply added title tags, keyword tags and description tags and now the site is consistently ranking in the top 5 rankings in Google for this keyword. Others have also experienced similar success.

    These myths are not all correct. Keyword Tags and Description Tags are valuable for search engine optimization.

  • Thanks for the feedback, Jason!

    I do have to respectfully disagree with a few of your statements:

    "Optimizing in all of these locations for a specific keyword helps search engines to better understand the content of your page."

    I'm afraid it's simply not true. Keyword and Description tags are 100% ignored as far as determining what your site/page is about and as a ranking factor. It's just the truth and there is tons of data out there to back that up.

    This leads me to the next quote and I'll tie this all together:

    "For example Appleton Mills was listing around the third page for "Appleton Mills Apartments" when we started optimizing there website. We simply added title tags, keyword tags and description tags and now the site is consistently ranking in the top 5 rankings in Google for this keyword."

    Let's take those two quotes together and pull out what is a likely scenario for this website.

    You added keywords to
    1) The Title Tag
    2) The Keyword Tag
    3) The Description Tag
    4) Throughout the content on the page/site

    In all likelihood, only 1 and 4 had any actual impact on your rankings. #3 could have impacted clicks/visits (but not rankings). #4 likely had no effect at all.

    It's very possible that all the updates were rolled at once or within a few weeks of each other. If that's the case, there's no scientific way of determining that your keyword tag or description tag had any impact whatsoever on ranking.

    Different SEOs will have different tactics and I understand that it's hard to give up the old ways (like assuming content in an H1 tag gets some kind of extra weight). If you feel like it's working for you, I'd say don't change what you're doing.

  • Jacob - another point to consider in your quick success with your SEO might be the keyword itself. If "Appleton Mills Apartments" was what you were focusing on you might see a fast change primarily due to teh fact that it is the name of the property. This means that the term is not very competitive and your ranking would rise quickly as a result.

    I think Ken's point is - what used to be relevant in SEO may not be relevant today.

    That's just my two cents.
    If you focus your site and SEO on more broad search terms that relate to the geographic location - say Lowell, Ma. - you are likely to have to work a bit harder to compete.

  • steve serps

    Not sure I agree with what you state there about meta tags to be honest, I have always used them and always will. If you do not use them you are reallying on all your keywords being found in the first 2-3 sentences of your website and while there might be 1 or possibly 2 that will be it.
    Plus Google webmaster tools outlines in detail how your meta tags should be structured so until Google comes out and says do not use these anyone I would encourage everyone to carry on with them.
    Bare this in mind a website will never be down graded or frowned upon for having properly structured and relevant meta tags.
    I think you have been suckered by the myth meta tags do not matter to be honest.

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