This post was originally written by Ken Shafer, past SEO Manager for Apartments.com.
We’re all busy people and time is short, right? We need to be out there filling vacancies, so time to spend on the website and SEO is limited. Let’s see if we can help you by debunking a few myths that could be eating up valuable time and resources.
Myth 1: Keywords in your Description Tag can affect your rankings
They don’t. Search engines stopped placing any importance on the content of these tags years ago. It’s just too easy to manipulate them for the engines to really care what they say.
That doesn’t mean they’re not important. These description tags are likely to be the first thing a potential renter is going to see when they find your link in a search engine result page (SERP). This is your chance to make a first impression. Don’t waste it with some unreadable, keyword-rich mumbo jumbo. Use it to entice the searcher. Also, keep in mind that keywords in the description that match the user’s search phrase will be bold-faced. This can be eye-catching as well.
Myth 2: Using the Keyword Meta Tags matters
Due to constant abuse by websites in the past, search engines have all but given up on the keywords meta tag. There is some research out there that possibly suggests Yahoo minimally uses this tag for ranking. However, its impact is still — like I said — minimal at best. Considering Yahoo’s market-share and the fact that they are going to be using Bing’s algorithm very soon, the only use the keyword meta tag has is to show off to your competitors which keywords are important to you.
Myth 3: Links on Twitter, Facebook, etc. count as inbound links
They don’t and they never will. They ALL have the “nofollow” attribute on their links which prevent them from passing any Page Rank information. In other words, they don’t pass link “juice.”
Once again, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Just don’t count on them to boost your rankings in Google or the like. This doesn’t take into account the increasing adoption of “real-time” search results, into which we’ll delve deeper in the next SEO blog post.
NOTE: Before you say it… yes, the link on your Twitter profile is a “follow” link. Everything else is “nofollow.”
Myth 4: It’s all about the number of links you have to your site
Sort of… but not really. It’s really all about the where those links come from. A hundred links from irrelevant, untrustworthy sites won’t equal one good link from a trusted, related site. The search engines are constantly improving their ability to discern good links and less desirable ones. This game is increasingly all about quality over quantity.
Myth 5: Getting links from .edu, .gov, or .org is “better” than other types of websites
Speaking of where we’re getting our links, the .edu,.gov,.org myth has been around for a long time. The thinking is that these sites are somehow more trustworthy in the search engines’ eyes so their links are more valuable. Well, if you believe this video from Google’s Matt Cutts, then you have to believe to Google doesn’t really care where the links come from. If you want to skip right to it, it’s around the 0:55 mark.
Anyone can purchase a .org URL. It being a .org does not automatically imbue a site with wonderfulness in the search engines’ eyes. If you want to know which sites to pursue for links, don’t look at whether it’s a .org or dot-whatever. Get a plug-in for Firefox that tells you the PageRank of a website. Long story short: The PageRank is sort of a trust score. The higher the score, the more you’d probably want a link from that site.
Also, try to get links from sites that are somehow related to your site. Think of it this way: If there’s a site about blue widgets and they link to your site, which happens to sell blue widgets, the search engines are going to say “Are you looking for blue widgets? Well I just happen to have it on good authority that this site sells them” and it’s more likely to be your site.
Hope this info helps you to spend more time focusing on the ranking factors that matter instead of spinning your wheels on tactics from the past!