Please Note: This article was last updated in 2003.
Myth: META keyword tags are all you need to get good search engine positioning.
Reality: META tags hardly matter at all now. None of the major search engines gives any weight at all to keyword META tags. You definitely want to take the time to generate customer-focused keywords and key phrases that describe your web pages, but the best place to put them is in the TITLE tag and throughout the body of your HTML pages. (NOTE: While META tags carry almost no weight with search engines, it is still important to include them in your HTML documents for the few search engines that do still look at them.)
Myth: It will help your online presence to submit your web site to 80,000 search engines.
Reality: There are only about 15 search engines that will truly promote your site, and you can easily submit your web pages to them manually. And the most important search engine, Google, would much rather find your site via a link from another site than from you telling them about it. Many other search engines (including the important Inktomi database) now require you to pay an annual fee to make sure that your pages are regularly indexed.
I’m amazed that I still get spam touting bulk-submission services that propose to submit your site to thousands of search engines. These outfits typically submit your site mostly to “Free For All” (FFA) pages. Not only will these pages do you no good in your efforts to improve your online presence, they will also get you on some of the worst spam e-mail lists in existence.
Myth: You will get more visitors to your web site if you fool search engines with tricks like keyword-stuffing, tiny type, invisible type, doorway pages, cloaking, etc.
Reality: These techniques are known collectively in the search engine marketing business as “spam-dexing.” While some of these techniques may have worked in the past and a few may even work today, they are all tricks that attempt to violate the integrity of the results that search engines give their users. Consequently, most search engines, including the crucial Google search engine, will penalize sites that use these techniques.
Myth: Participating in “link farms” will boost your Google PageRank.
Reality: Like other spam-dexing techniques, this practice is penalized by Google. Typically sites that participate in such schemes are completely removed from the Google index. With Google steering as much as 75% of search traffic, this is a penalty no site can afford.
Myth: “Keyword ownership” is the next big thing.
Reality: This is actually old news about a not-very-successful marketing technique. The basic idea (introduced by RealNames.com back in 1998) is that you pay for exclusive rights for all search traffic from a specific search engine for keywords entered there. This never took off. Nowadays, there are better ways to buy keyword traffic, with Overture and with Google’s AdWords program. You’ll never get exclusive keyword ownership with them, and you will pay (often a lot) for each click that you get, but these programs actually work, unlike the defunct RealNames and similar recent knockoffs of their idea.
Myth: It is important to control the look of the words on your site by putting them in graphic images or Flash presentation.
Reality: On the web, it makes little sense to try to control the exact look of the text on your site. You are literally hiding from the search engines every word that you put in a graphic image (GIF, JPG, PNG, etc.) or Flash file. Unless you are intentionally trying to diminish your online presence, this is a bad idea. Search engines need words to properly index your site, and they can’t read words that are displayed only in a graphic image. Using the IMG ALT tag or META tags won’t help solve this problem, since all of the important search engines ignore them. If you want to control the look of your type, style sheets (CSS) do a great job.
Myth: I don’t need to worry about site download times because everyone has a broadband connection now.
Internet Myth Busting
This page created 4/5/03; last updated 11/21/03.