Top 5 SEO MythsSearch Engines regularly update their algorithms in order to present the most relevant results to their visitors and with each change, SEO professionals grow a few more gray hairs. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the updates, especially since search engines, such as Google keep their ranking methods secret.

In a recent video, Matt Cutts, a senior engineer from Google said that every time someone does a search, Google asks over 200 questions of each page before it presents the results. Of course, the searcher is not aware of this, as it only takes a second or two to get the results.

Since the exact algorithms are not known, there has been much speculation as to what the search engines want.

Myth # 1: Keyword Density Plays a Major Role in Search Engine Ranking

One of the things many SEO experts focus on is keyword density, i.e., how many times a keyword appears on a page. It is a misconception that there is a magic number which will secure a top position for a particular keyword. Cutts dispels this myth by explaining how Google looks at keywords.

When a search engine sees a keyword mentioned for the first time, it gives it some weight. If it appears again, the SE takes notice and says, ‘ok this page is about that particular subject’. But if you keep mentioning the keyword over and over, the benefits are really incremental. In fact, repeat it too much and you are in danger of keyword stuffing or spamming and this could hurt your ranking.

The trick here is to include the keywords, but make sure the copy flows naturally and doesn’t sound awkward or artificial. There is no hard or fast rule for keyword density … it varies by area/subject and by what other sites rank for it.

Myth # 2: Using Article Marketing for Link Building

A very popular way of building backlinks has been publishing articles with the website URL link at the bottom of the article. Some believe that if an article gets published on many websites, the links from the resource box count each time. Cutts, however, warns against this belief. He says that lots of people produce low quality articles, which are stuffed with keywords and get them published on article directories and low quality websites. Since those sites generally have a low PR rank and have duplicate content, this is not a good way to build links. Instead, Cutts suggests publishing great original content and letting people link to it naturally.

Myth #3: Meta Keywords are Used by Google

Many people still believe that Google uses Meta keywords in their ranking. Cutts has confirmed that Google no longer uses meta keywords. It does, however, use Meta description and title.

Myth # 4: AdWords Customers Get Special Treatment in Google Organic Search Results

Another common misconception among webmasters has been that if you run AdWord campaigns, this will improve your organic search results. The truth is they are two separate things and one does not affect the other. If you do experience better organic ranking after running Google AdWords, it may be that there is more traffic flowing to your website as a result of the advertising campaign and more people are linking to your content or talking about it on Social Media. However, Google does not rank your website better simply because you are using their paid AdWords service.

Myth # 5: Google is Only Interested in Quantity of Backlinks

When it became common knowledge that Google ranked websites higher if they had more incoming links, many webmasters focused on getting as many backlinks as they could. Many link farms were created and the quantity of backlinks became the main aim of many people. However, Google has put a stop to that and announced that yes backlinks are important in rankings, however, they need to be from high quality websites and they must be relevant. If you have a website about shoes, getting a link from a website that sells cars is virtually useless. So it is far more important to focus on quality than quantity.

Whether you are a SEO professional or a site owner wanting to rank higher in search engines, it’s important to remember two things have remained constant over the years. Search engines favor websites that have:

1. Relevant and original content that is regularly updated
2. Quality backlinks pointing to the website

So if you focus on these key points, you should be fine going forward. Don’t sweat the small stuff such as keyword density. Instead, provide useful information for your readers and the rest will fall into place.

By Ivana Katz © 2012