Best of 2013: No 5 – Four ex-Googlers answer common SEO myths
During the holiday weeks we will be showing you the 15 best read posts of 2013. Except for on Christmas and New Years day, each day you can read the best articles again, going from number 15 back to number 1.
Now it’s time for number 5, originally posted on August 21 2013, a guest post post by Fili Wiese and Kaspar Szymanski.
20 years of Google Search Quality experience. That’s right! Collectively, we bring about 20 years of work experience at the Google Search Quality Team to the table.
That’s a lot of webspam analysis, link scheme investigating, clickspam analysis, tool developing, policy enforcement, foosball playing, and talking to website owners, webmasters and online marketeers. That is what we love to do; to brainstorm and exchange ideas with passionate people, develop web strategies, be bold – some call it crazy – and help each other to provide even better solutions to the users.
Over the last two weeks we (Fili Wiese, Kaspar Szymanski, Jonas Weber and Ariel Lambrecht) have been hosting a series of SEO workshops in Germany, both in English and German. We’ve covered a ton of topics, like search engine compliant link enhancing strategies, technical on-page optimization, penalty recovery, and building online services focused on addressing real problems of users, that users find irresistible.
We addressed a lot of questions and debunked a good few industry myths. The following myths are just a few of the ones we heard during our workshops, along with our point of view as former Search Quality Googlers:
Myth: Google, as an organisation, dislikes SEO people?
Answer: Not at all. In fact good SEO work can help Google improve crawling, indexing and serving your content, which is great for the search engine’s users.
Myth: High authority sites are free to try more shady optimization techniques; right or wrong?
Answer: Wrong. Based on our experience in Google Search Quality every site gets the same treatment.
Myth: Are there any differences in approach to fighting webspam across languages?
Answer: Google Search Quality Guidelines apply in the same way across all language markets. Having said that, there are different nuances in the spamming techniques applied across different geographic regions and the Webspam Fighting Team is capable of addressing these.
Myth: Google likes sites that constantly add fresh content?
Answer: Potentially, yet only if it’s high quality content. Quantity of fresh content is not as important as serving quality content.
Myth: Creating quality content takes too much time and is too expensive. Why should I invest in this?
Answer: Creating quality content may take some effort indeed. However, you need to think of your long term strategy rather than short term revenue. High quality content is an investment in the future. Great quality sources address the issues your users have. Often you may find that sharing expertise on specific problems can be enough to create quality content. Often the primary cost is to sit down and create a solution for a problem that users have been looking for.
Myth: Internal links anchor text; important or not?
Answer: Yes, internal linking is important. Particularly, it enhances the ability to navigate around a site for your users. This is what you should optimise for.
Myth: Can AdSense ads ever hurt your rankings?
Answer: Overloading a site with commercial content like ads can have an impact on a site’s visibility in natural search engine results. This is not limited to any particular advertising system.
Myth: I see other websites using weird characters like ♥ ♫ ♣ in their meta descriptions, which in turn show in the search results snippets. Should I do the same to increase CTR?
Answer: This is a known technique to try to attract attention in the SERP’s. That said, ask yourself, would these characters help users to understand what your site is about? We tend to believe they would not.
Myth: Big sites get preferential treatment when it comes to reconsideration requests.
Answer: No. The reality is that big websites often have well documented what they did and have often much more manpower to tackle the problem. Therefore, a bigger organisation can be quicker in resolving an issue and can apply for reconsideration sooner than a smaller one. If you need help with a reconsideration issue, you can go to the Google Webmaster Forums for free advice or hire a professional SEO expert.
Myth: Not linking to other websites (passing PageRank or not); is that a good practice or not?
Answer: Ask yourself, would you trust a scientific report without any citations to other scientific sources? Most likely not. We recommend to link out to sources you trust and are relevant to the content of your site. When you are unsure of the trustworthiness of the source, or someone paid for the link or it’s user generated content including outgoing links, go ahead and apply the nofollow attribute, just to be on the safe side.
Myth: Being a customer of Google AdWords helps you with rankings in organic search.
Answer: The only answer to this is: No, No, No! This is one of the oldest myths. Google Search and other Google products, like for example Google AdWords, are completely separated from each other. It is crucial for all of them to remain completely independent. Changing your AdWords budget will not have any effect on getting your site out of a penalty or change the algorithmic evaluation of your website.
Myth: There is cap of incoming natural search traffic per site, per day, right?
Answer: No. Google will display your site in the search results as often as it is relevant to search queries their users type in.
Doing these workshops have been a great experience for us and we thank all our guests for attending. If you missed out on the events this time, we’re working on organizing more in London and Köln and other places across Europe. If you have another industry myths you would like to discuss, be sure to come to one of our sessions or better yet describe it below in the comments.
In the meantime, always put your users needs first. Always!