When it comes to search engine optimization, there are a
lot of myths and rumors floating around about what does
and does not work. A lot of this "knowledge" appears
valid, because it sounds like it should be true, but beware!
Much of the information floating around about the right
way to optimize for the search engines (especially Google)
is very, very wrong. A lot of it is based on assumptions:
"Google must be smart enough to consider [erroneous
conclusion here]â€¦" or "I BELIEVE Google [additional erroneous
information here] â€¦"
Some of it is based on old truths. For example, search
engines used to have a harder time indexing script-based
sites (i.e. PHP instead of plain HTML), and so those sites
didn't do as well in the index. But that was a long, long
time ago (in web years anyway).
The engines have long since been ranking script-based
sites in among plain HTML with no problems â€” but the rumor
is still heard even today.
Be careful what you believe about SEO. If you're reading
an article or forum post about a particular method or
technique, make sure it's backed up with actual data,
evidence, and examples before running out and starting
to apply it to your site.
What you'll find in most cases is that the supposed "facts"
aren't actually being demonstrated or backed up with proof
Let me give you two BIG myths as examples, and show you
actual proof that they are, in fact, bogus (at least
1. The Themed-Link Myth
This is one of my favorite myths. Everyone assumes that
Google simply MUST be smart enough to know whether your
links are coming from sites that have the same (or related)
theme, and therefore links from sites with the same theme
are the only way to rank for your keywords.
Google may, in fact, know whether or not the links are
coming from websites of a similar theme. It may, in fact,
add more weight to these links. But to claim that you MUST
get links from similarly-themed sites in order to rank is
Here are some examples that disprove the claim:
Keywords: search engine optimization
Rank: #3 in Google
The phrase "search engine optimization" is probably one of
the most difficult phrases to rank for. After all, all of
the best search engine marketers want to hold the top
positions for those keywords in order to sell their
Submitexpress.com is doing very well in this regard, ranking
#3 for the phrase (as of this writing). Number one is held
by Wikipedia, and number two by Google itself.
If you go to Google and take a look at the backlinks
pointing to submitexpress.com (using the link: command),
you'll notice that very, very few of those links have
anything to do with search engine optimization or marketing
at all. The exception are internal links from the domain
itself, and that's about it.
So if it's such a fact that you have to have links from
similarly-themed sites in order to rank for your keywords,
how does this site manage to pull off such a huge feat?
Simple: you don't have to have links from sites of the same
theme â€” you just need a lot of links with your keywords
Keywords: free cell phone
Rank: #1 in Google
Yes, this site ranks #1 in Google for the very competitive
phrase "free cell phone". But almost none of its backlinks
come from sites or pages having anything to do with cell
phones, or phones, or communications in general (go to
Google and see for yourselfâ€“but be warned, some of the
links are from adult sites).
So again, another site ranking for a competitive set of
keywords that somehow manages to do it without "themed links".
How is this possible if you can only rank well with themed
And again, it's simple: you don't have to have links from
sites of the same theme â€” you just need a lot of links with
your keywords in them!
Here are a couple more examples that rank very well for
difficult keywords despite almost all of their links coming
from off-theme sites, in case you want to explore further
(but I won't go into detail about these):
Rank: #3 in Google
Keywords: affiliate programs
Rank: #1 in Google
Does this mean that Google won't put more emphasis on
theme-related links in the future? No, it doesn't. They
might, they might not. But whether they aren't quite as
"smart" as people think they are, or they've just chosen
not to do it (for whatever reason), it is still quite
possible to rank for very difficult keywords with all of
your links coming from off-theme sites.
One point that has proven to make a real difference: Google
is discounting reciprocal links more than it used to. They
still matter, just not nearly as much. One-way links appear
to be the way to go.
2. The Themed-Content Myth
Another "common sense" notion about Google is that all of
the content on your site should revolve around the same
theme, otherwise it won't rank well for the keywords you
want to because your theme will get "too diluted".
The number one biggest proof against this notion is
Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia.org covers almost 2 million very
diverse topics (as of this writing), and yet ranks
incredibly well for a huge array of keywords.
In fact, there are few informational searches you can
do on Google these days that Wikipedia DOESN'T rank
As one example, take "internet marketing", for which
Wikipedia ranks #1 in Google. There are a few related pages
around the subject (about 426 as of now), but Google has
3,220,000 pages indexed for Wikipedia â€” of which the vast
majority have nothing to do with internet marketing.
How is this possible if everything on the site has to be
theme-related in order to rank well for the keywords?
Simple: the notion that all content on a site must be of
the same theme is a myth.
But Wikipedia is seen as a kind of deity among websites.
Are there any "lesser" examples? Yes. Here are a few
Keywords: energy drinks
Rank: #2 in Google
The "energy" subfolder of bandddesigns.com has a few
hundred pages devoted to energy drinks, for sure, but if
you do a site:bandddesigns.com command at Google, you'll
see that the site has 4,320 pages indexed on a very diverse
set of subject matter that has nothing to do with energy
drinks (or health in general).
Despite this, it ranks #2 in Google (just under Wikipedia,
which again, is not all about energy drinks or health).
So do you have to have 100% related content on a site?
The facts say no.
Well, then, how is this site ranking for "energy drinks"?
Check its backlinks (especially at Yahoo) and you'll see
that the site has a lot of backlinks. That's what's
getting it the ranking â€” not how "on theme" it is.
Even now, with all of Google's "smarts", it's all about
Keywords: baby names
Rank: #3 in Google
Do you find it hard to believe that a government site
ranks #3 in Google for such a competitive term like
"baby names"? It sure does, though, despite the fact that
Google says that only 33 pages of the 24,900 page site
are related to the topic "baby names".
Can sites rank well even with diverse themes existing on
the same domain? The facts say yes. How do you do it?
You need links.
Keywords: business cards
Rank: #8 in Google
According to Google, creativebits.org has 3,460 pages
related to "business cards". That's about 20% of its
16,300 indexed pages. So, is this site about business?
Or maybe finance or investment or small businesses or
something that's related to "business cards" in some way?
What is the main site about? The site's title tag says
"creativebits | Apple oriented design community"
It's a blog about Mac-based graphics design software. So
how does a site about Mac-oriented graphics software rank
for the phrase "business cards"?
Links, of course! Take a look at the backlinks in Yahoo
and you'll see it has thousands of them. And, incidentally,
if you do take a look at those backlinks â€” they come from
pages having nothing to do with business cards (or business
So if a page of content devoted to a highly competitive
phrase on a site whose theme is completely unrelated to
the phrase itself ranks for that very competitive phrase,
can it really be said that Google requires a site to be
all about one theme?
One thing that does seem to hold true, though, is that if
you're going to have diverse themes on your site, you need
to separate them into their own subdomains or subfolders.
That seems to help Google know that the "theme" of that
folder or subdomain is different, and to treat it
Myths are Dangerous
All of these myths are dangerous, because they get people
focusing on techniques and methods that simply aren't
That said, is it a bad thing to make sure that all of your
links come from sites with similar themes? Or is it a bad
thing to make sure the content on your site stays on theme?
No, it's not bad. Going forward, Google may in fact take
those things into account more.
But don't be surprised when you are out-ranked by sites
whose content is not devoted to the theme, and whose links
come from all over the map!
I've found that most of these kinds of SEO myths are
propagated by people who are failing in their optimization
attempts. They make blanket statements, backed up by vapor,
out of frustration for their own failed attempts.
"Google must require themed-backlinks because my sites isn't
ranking well and I have a lot of links!" That kind of logic
It makes much more sense to listen to the facts, facts like
the ones I've presented here. Which sites are actually
ranking well now, and what are they doing to achieve those
rankings? Focus on what's working, not on the myths spread
by people who can't seem to make it work.
So what's working? Getting a lot of one-way links pointed
at your site containing your keywords. That's the short of
it. There are some other things to keep in mind, like making
sure the links grow slowly over time and don't all just
suddenly appear on hundreds of sites, and making sure that
you vary your link text so that it looks "natural".
But the bottom line is, at least for the present, you need
a lot of links.
This article is from: http://jonathanleger.com/common-sense-seo/