Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water

As a blogger, I’ve found a lot of inspiration for things I have written by reading the comments in the blogs that I read.  I have learned a lot of new information from the commenters who keep up with the latest developments, and I have quickly learned who to listen to, and who typically gives bad advice.  I’ve also noticed that there is a lot of repetition of opinion, which a spread of misinformation and leaps in logic that can lead readers that are less informed to make poor decisions when setting up their blog..

The world of blogging, internet marketing, and search engine optimization is constantly changing.  The things that gave your pages a huge boost in the search engine results yesterday aren’t nearly as important today.  Likewise, the things that weren’t considered important in the past are now being preached about by SEO gurus.

The unfortunate thing is that some of these techniques that are deemed to be less important are being abandoned.  One cause of this is the Google effect.  Because Google is such a powerful force in search engines, a great deal of the SEO advice that is given is designed to get your pages to rank on Google.  Because some SEO techniques aren’t as important to Google, they are cast aside.  It’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

META Tags

One of the techniques that is being ignored by a lot of sites lately is the use of meta tags in the design of their site. 

Meta tags are lines of HTML that are in the <head> section of your web page.  In WordPress you can edit it by editing it in the Header section of your theme.  There were a multitude of lines that could be used but the tags that were considered most important were Meta Description, which contains a brief description of the page, and Meta Keywords, which is a list of keywords and phrases that you feel are relevant to your page.  Because search engines list individual pages, not sites, each page in your site could have very different meta tags to describe that individual page.

These tags were once considered a critical part of getting listed well in search engines, but have really fallen out of vogue.  The reason; many search engines ignore meta tags.

One reason that some of the search engines abandoned meta tag information was that it is too easy to manipulate.  It’s possible to write keyword and description tags that weren’t really relevant to the content of your site.  It was a great way to draw people to your site that weren’t really searching for your information.  As search engines struggled for ways too deliver more relevant results, meta tags were abandoned.

Reason to use this:  Some search engines still use meta tags in determining search engine positions.  While some of the search engines ignore meta tags when they spider your pages, not all of them do. There are a few that look at that information and include it in their algorithm.  To my knowledge, there are no search engines that will penalize your page for having meta tags.

Another reason to include meta tags is that some search engines and directories draw from the meta description tag for the summary that is included in your listing.  When someone searches for your keyword, they will see what you have written in your meta tag under your page name on the results page.  This gives you a lot of control in what message searchers will see.

Direct Link-Backs

When I wrote about Page Rank last week, I said that links to your site were a huge part of what Google looks at in determining your Page Rank.  It is known that one-way links are more powerful than two-way links.  What I mean by that is, if you link to my page without me giving you a link back, it is given more relevance by Google than a link to my page when I give a link back to your page. 

Because of this, I have seen comments advising site owners to abandon direct link backs, and you are seeing more and more three-way linking, where Page A links to Page B which links to Page A. 

Reason to use this: While one-way way links may carry more clout, reciprocal links still work, and ignoring them will make it much more difficult to attract traffic to your pages.

 Direct link backs still count toward your Page Rank.  It may not carry the same weight as one-way links, but they still contribute. 

Also, as more people develop schemes to try and get around Google, they run the risk of doing something that Google will decide isn’t right.  I’m not the only one who reads SEO and internet marketing forums.  Google has their people reading as well, and if I know that these schemes exist, you can bet Google does, too, and they have someone working on a tweak to the algorithm to penalize them.

Best Practices 

Best practices are called “best practices” for a reason.  They work in the long run, and they work for multiple search engines.

It is an ever-changing sea of what Search Engines do or do not pay attention to.  Things that do not seem to affect your search engine position today may return to vogue tomorrow. 

My advice is to base your decisions on good intent.  If you are using a technique with the intent of fooling or getting over on the search engines, stop.  If your intent is to provide relevant information, products, and services to your readers, then do it.

And remember: it is possible to rank well on several search engines.  Google may be the biggest dog, but it isn’t the only dog.

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