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Over the past several years, a number of misconceptions have emerged about how the search engines operate. For the beginner SEO, this causes confusion about what's required to perform effectively. In this section, we'll explain the real story behind the myths.

 

In classical SEO times (the late 1990's), search engines had "submission" forms that were part of the optimization process. Webmasters & site owners would tag their sites & pages with keyword information, and "submit" them to the engines. Soon after submission, a bot would crawl and include those resources in their index. Simple SEO!

Unfortunately, this process didn't scale very well, the submissions were often spam, and the practice eventually gave way to purely crawl-based engines. Since 2001, not only has search engine submission not been required, but it is actually virtually useless. The engines all publicly note that they rarely use "submission" URLs , and that the best practice is to earn links from other sites. This will expose your content to the engines naturally.

You can still sometimes find submission pages (here's one for Bing), but these are remnants of time long past, and are essentially useless to the practice of modern SEO. If you hear a pitch from an SEO offering "search engine submission" services, run, don't walk, to a real SEO. Even if the engines used the submission service to crawl your site, you'd be unlikely to earn enough "link juice" to be included in their indices or rank competitively for search queries.

Search Engine Assistance

 

Once upon a time, much like search engine submission, meta tags (in particular, the meta keywords tag) were an important part of the SEO process. You would include the keywords you wanted your site to rank for and when users typed in those terms, your page could come up in a query. This process was quickly spammed to death, and eventually dropped by all the major engines as an important ranking signal.

It is true that other tags, namely the title tag (not stictly a meta tag, but often grouped with them) and meta description tag (coveredpreviously in this guide), are of critical importance to SEO best practices. Additionally, the meta robots tag is an important tool for controlling spider access. However, SEO is not "all about meta tags", at least, not anymore.

 

Ever see a page that just looks spammy? Perhaps something like:

"Bob's cheap Seattle plumber is the best cheap Seattle plumber for all your plumbing needs. Contact a cheap Seattle plumber before it's too late"

Not surprisingly, a persistent myth in SEO revolves around the concept that keyword density - a mathematical formula that divides the number of words on a page by the number of instances of a given keyword - is used by the search engines for relevancy & ranking calculations.

Despite being proven untrue time and again, this myth has legs. Many SEO tools still feed on the concept that keyword density is an important metric. It's not. Ignore it and use keywords intelligently and with usability in mind. The value from an extra 10 instances of your keyword on the page is far less than earning one good editorial link from a source that doesn't think you're a search spammer.

 

Put on your tin foil hats, it's time for the most common SEO conspiracy theory: spending on search engine advertising (PPC) improves your organic SEO rankings.

In all of the experiences we've ever witnessed or heard about, this has never been proven nor has it ever been a probable explanation for effects in the organic results. Google, Yahoo! & Bing all have very effective walls in their organizations to prevent precisely this type of crossover.

At Google in particular, advertisers spending tens of millions of dollars each month have noted that even they cannot get special access or consideration from the search quality or web spam teams. So long as the existing barriers are in place and the search engines cultures maintain their separation, we believe that this will remain a myth. That said, we have seen anecdotal evidence that bidding on keywords you already organically rank for can help increase your organic click through rate.

 

As long as there is search, there will always be spam. The practice of spamming the search engines - creating pages and schemes designed to artificially inflate rankings or abuse the ranking algorithms employed to sort content - has been rising since the mid-1990's.

With payouts so high (at one point, a fellow SEO noted to us that a single day ranking atop Google's search results for the query "buy viagra" could bring upwards of $20,000 in affiliate revenue), it's little wonder that manipulating the engines is such a popular activity on the web. However, it's become increasingly difficult and, in our opinion, less and less worthwhile for two reasons.



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