Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

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Top Five Myths Perpetuated By So-Called SEO Experts

You’ve probably received an email from an SEO expert listing the mistakes preventing your website from ranking higher in search engines.  Problem is, the “expert” is mostly spewing half truths and distortions. Here are five top myths those snake oil SEO salesmen peddle:

5. W3C Validation errors will negatively affect your search engine ranking.
W3C validation compares the code of a website to strict rules about how the code is formatted.  Many of the rules have little or no affect on how a website is ranked by search engines or appears to visitors.  Matt Cutts, a prominent engineer from Google, confirms this. If you still don’t buy it, try the W3C validator on your favorite websites.  I tried it on amazon.com and got 505 errors.

4. Incompatibility with Opera will make you rank lower.
Of course, you want your site to work on all browsers, even the 0.56% using the Opera browser in the U.S. , according to StatCounter.  However, if your site doesn’t look quite right in Opera, it has no bearing on your search engine rankings. Search engines read through the source code, which has no connection with idiosyncrasies of the rarely-used Opera browser.

3. Search engines will penalize you if you’re not XHTML compliant.
The reasoning here is much the same as W3C validation. Again, however, it’s hogwash. There is simply no data supporting the assertion that search engines penalize your website for not being XHTML compliant.

2. Using tables on you website will destroy your standing with Google.
Simply put, search engines ignore tables.  While it is true, css-based layout is preferable, as long as a page loads quickly, there’s no difference as far as search engines are concerned.

1. “Guaranteed top rankings” in Google.
Guarantees of top rankings just don’t make sense when you break them down.  What search terms are they guaranteeing? For how long? Even if you get these specifics, it’s still impossible to make such a guarantee.  Google changes its methods for ranking sites all the time.  One of the specific aims is to prevent gaming the system.

A reputable SEO consultant will talk to you about page titles, internal links, incorporating keywords in your site’s content and external link building.  Don’t be fooled by emails from SEO experts that claim they’ve actually analyzed your website but who are just clever spammers.

SEO is a lot of work, especially when competing with big companies that have staff working on it daily.  Search engines are designed to help people find information they are looking for.  The best way to rank well is to provide just that.

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