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The two biggest myths about search engine optimization

April 21st, 2009 by mdmcginnis

Do search engines pay much attention to meta-keywords? Nope. Do websites need to be resubmitted to search engines over and over? Nope. Those are search engine optimization techniques from the last century.

In the 1990s, when search engines were less sophisticated than they are now, they needed meta-keywords to help determine what a web page was about. Even today, scholars are debating the best way to index content semantically, and whether content producers aren’t really the best people to provide relevant keywords.

But while the scholars were debating, unscrupulous webmasters discovered that they could get higher search engine rankings by inserting irrelevant keywords into their pages, as meta-keywords that weren’t even visible in a browser. And the major search engines began developing a huge arsenal of techniques to index web pages more effectively than by depending on meta-keywords. Today Google ignores meta-keywords completely, while Yahoo treats them as no more important than any other text on a page. You should still include them, since they’re required by TRAIL‘s state guidelines.

Even after the Web became popular, there were no search engines, Yahoo was created because in 1994 there was no way to automatically index every page of the Web. If you wanted your website listed in the Yahoo Directory, you would have to submit it manually, and a Yahoo employee would add it manually.

Google came along after 1998 and proved that it was possible to provide relevant search results programmatically – using computer algorithms instead of human workers. It uses crawler technology that constantly traveled the Web, visiting and indexing pages, by following links automatically. That’s how all the major search engines work now. You don’t have to submit your site at all, not to the major search engines. Larger, more influential websites (such as major universities – cough cough) are recrawled more often. You do need to make sure that other pages link to your page. As long as they do, your page will be included in the search engine indexes somewhere.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 Search
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6 Comments to The two biggest myths about search engine optimization

  1. […] · View tamuwww: New blog post: The two biggest myths about search engine optimization http://webmaster.tamu.edu/?p=1109 2009-04-21 17:38:42 · Reply · View apogee_search: Learn about our Search Engine […]

  2. Twitter Tweets about SEO as of April 21, 2009 on April 21st, 2009
  3. I disagree with you; search engines still looking at META tags for relevancy and categorization purposes. I recently did an SEO experiment that included basic optimization to an old site without link building, just followed the Google Webmaster Guidelines http://www.rdezine.com/blog/seo/the-rdezine-seo-experiment/

  4. Baltimore SEO on April 26th, 2009
  5. While the article focuses on Google and the public search engines, we should also keep in mind supplying meta tags to spiders that might be running locally. htDig, for example, uses meta tags extensively, as it should because it is meant to be a local search on a local set of documents that you can control and tweak for performance.

  6. Erick on April 27th, 2009
  7. Erick: Good point, especially at a university.

    Rudy in Baltimore: Yahoo is known for paying more attention to meta tags and changing rankings more quickly in response to simple SEO techniques. Try this test: change only the meta tags, and see if that affects your rankings. Flash is hard to optimize, and you have so little text on your pages that small changes could make a difference, but as you’ve seen, not enough to get you on the first page of Google or MSN. I recently wrote a series on Google’s SEO guidelines, which warn against hidden text and some other techniques that you use.

  8. mdmcginnis on April 27th, 2009
  9. Concentrate on building quality content that leads to links from credible sources. The keyword meta tag has little use anymore.

  10. WPB SEO on August 6th, 2009
  11. […] any difference in rankings, and others swearing that it does. (A better question might be whether meta-keywords make any difference at all, which is Nope. Still, I would put the most important, most unique […]

  12. First things first on your web page | Aggie Webmasters on September 25th, 2009

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