7 SEO Myths Dispelled
Ian Lurie Aug 24 2009
Time to explode a few more SEO myths. I’ve done it before, in case you want to see this blog’s entire colorful history. Here are a few more things I hear about SEO that are utter bunk:
1: Black Hat SEOs are Unethical
BZZZZZZZZ. You’re out. Black hat SEOs find loopholes in search algorithms and exploit them to move up in the rankings. They do things the search engines definitely don’t like.
But saying that all black hats are evil implies that the search engines are on the side of good. And that’s not really true. Even if you think they’re cuddly now, Google will still eat you when it grows up.
Black hat SEO tactics are not, in themselves, unethical. And a black hat SEO is only unethical if they fail to tell their clients the implications of their tactics: When the loophole closes, the client could find themselves gone from the rankings.
Fantomaster writes about some of the misconceptions around black hat SEO here.
Some of my best friends are ‘black hats’…
2: White Hat SEOs are On The Side Of Good
Untrue. In the last few years I’ve seen more clients screwed by ‘white hat’ SEOs who either
- Don’t know what they’re doing; or
- Make absurd promises to land their client; or
- Sacrifice their client’s brand and conversion rate for SEO.
So-called white-hat SEO is a delicate balancing act between sales, rankings and messaging. If you’re not already a marketer, this kind of SEO is risky at best.
3: Rankings are absolute
Nope. Google (likely Bing and Yahoo! as well) now employs personalized search: Based on your previous searches, they customize the rankings pages, moving the sites they think you’ll most want to the top of the page.
That can happen, by the way, even if you’re not logged in to your Google account. Search engines also adjust rankings based on your geographic location.
So rankings are definitely not absolute. Better spend more time watching your incoming search traffic and less freaking out about rankings.
4: Search engines can now crawl Flash
Strictly speaking, yes, they can crawl Flash content. The same way that, strictly speaking, George Bush is a trained public speaker, and Bill Clinton was the picture of restraint.
Search engines crawl Flash content about as well as I dance Swan Lake.
See #4, above.
6: Buying PPC ads will influence your organic rankings
Come on. Buying ads doesn’t influence your rankings…
7: SEO is a level playing field
…Buying a huge audience, becoming a major brand and then pounding your opposition into goo, on the other hand, works great. Aaron Wall has an excellent look at this.
Life, I’m afraid, isn’t fair. Google misses some links, awards too much authority to others, utterly screws some companies and then undoes 90% of the damage and leaves the rest to rot.
I’m not saying SEO is pointless. Far from it. But I do recommend a diverse internet marketing strategy, and that you take what the search engines (and everyone else, including me) with a grain of salt.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More