What are some examples of SEO misinformation?
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What are some examples of SEO misinformation?


Today’s question
comes from Tom S. in Seattle, Washington. Tom asks, Name five examples of
SEO misinformation from the past year given by reputable
persons that made you want to bang your head
against the wall. You don’t need to name names. OK. So I can think of at least a
couple and I’ll highlight those and then I’ll fill it out with
some other misconceptions. The biggest one that made me
want to bang my head against this wall was the idea that
somehow if you do negative things toward your customers
so they complain on customer complaint sites, that those
links automatically count. Because that’s a dangerous idea
that if you can abuse your customers, the more bad you
treat them the more links you’ll get and the higher your
rankings will be in Google. That’s very definitely
a misconception. So Thor, from
getsatisfaction.com, posted a blog post where he said, look,
we have nofollow on these links– and just as a quick
reminder, nofollow is a way, it’s a general mechanism, to
say I don’t necessarily endorse this link to a third party. So we can say to ourselves, you
know what, even though this is a reputable site, we don’t
necessarily trust or we don’t trust, this nofollow link. We drop it out of our
link graph so it doesn’t figure into page rank. No anchor text flows
through that link. So as a result, all of these
customer complaint sites weren’t contributing to that
particular site’s search rankings. Another misconception that
I’ve heard is that the Google web spam team is somehow
slacking off this year. Just because certain SEOs might
not see what various people on the web spam team are working
on, doesn’t mean that we’re not working very hard. So, for example, one of the
biggest things that we faced in the year 2010 was hacked sites. There’s a lot of people out
there who are trying to do, essentially, illegal things. They’re really trying to hack a
site and add links to their own stuff, or distribute malware
or viruses or trojans. So this was enough of a
malicious trend that we wanted to spend some time on it, put
some cycles in, and try to correct it. So that involved a lot of
people working for quite a number of months. So as a result, people
might not have seen other changes going on. So if you take your resources
and you’re trying to stop hacked spam sites, then you
might not see as much of the regular spam fighting. So the good news is that the
hacked site changes have mostly gone live, and those people are
sort of being pulled back to work on the regular web spam
that people might otherwise see. Another misconception is
that only links matter. People sometimes think oh, I
only need to get links, I don’t need anything at
all other than links. It does help to have good
content on your site. So don’t just pursue links. Also think about your site
architecture, how crawlable it is, how discoverable it is,
whether you have good internal links, whether you have the
words on your page that people are actually going
to search for. All of those things
are really useful. A specific misconception that
I’d like to pull out and highlight is that the keyword’s
meta tag counts in Google search ranking somehow
because it just doesn’t. We don’t use the
meta keywords tag. And then another little bit of
misinformation that I’ve seen from a few people, not
necessarily because they were deliberately trying to spread
any misinformation, is that the web spam team is either all
algorithmic or all manual. The fact is that we do reserve
the right to manually remove sites when we get a spam report
or when we somehow detect that something is going on. So we do have a manual team
that operates in many different languages around the world. We’re proud of that team. They do a great job. As far as I know, every other
major search engine also has a team that looks
at spam manually. And that’s great, because not
only can they remove spam, but very importantly, they provide
training data for the engineers who work on web spam. So it’s good to know that it’s
not just engineers and it’s not just manual people
checking out spam reports. It’s the combination of
both of those that really is the way that Google
approaches web spam. So those are just a few of the
things that I saw in this year, and I’m glad to have the
chance to clarify it for you.

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