Debunking SEO Myths, Part Two

In this article I cover two more SEO myths I most often hear from people. This is a continuation in my series of posts on SEO myths; you can read the first post here.

Myth 3: PageRank is a Good Indicator of Your Rankings

I hear clients say all the time in the beginning of a campaign that they want a higher PageRank and they place a lot of emphasis on this metric. Pagerank, according to the official Google site, is defined as such: “When Google was founded, one key innovation was PageRank, a technology that determined the “importance” of a webpage by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other data. Today we use more than 200 signals, including PageRank, to order websites, and we update these algorithms on a weekly basis.”

Some clients have educated themselves on SEO, and in the process, latched onto an idea that Google’s Pagerank score is something that they should focus on. However, PageRank simply is not a reliable predictor of rankings and even Google tells us that its not an important metric. Below are quotes straight from Google and a chart from SEOMoz debunking the myth that PageRank is an important metric.

SEOMoz.org writes the following about Pagerank:

“The next time your boss or client asks you about increasing their PageRank; show them this chart. It’s the best evidence we at SEOmoz have to back up the statement “PageRank doesn’t matter much.” The metrics website owners and marketers should care about is traffic, conversions and the lifetime value of the visits sent by search engines. PageRank (and similar metrics) don’t help with these at all. SEOs, however, appreciate any proxies or metrics they can get their hands on that will help to better explain the rankings.”

Google went as far to remove PageRank from Google Webmaster Tools. From this Google Support Forum, Susan Moskwa writes the following:

“We’ve been telling people for a long time that they shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much; many site owners seem to think it’s the most important metric for them to track, which is simply not true. We removed it because we felt it was silly to tell people not to think about it, but then to show them the data, implying that they should look at it.  :-)

And finally, another Google employee, JOhnMU,writes the following about PageRank Toolbar:

Hi xjackx,

We do Toolbar PageRank updates 3-4x/year but to be honest, it’s not something that you need to wait for. The PageRank shown in the Toolbar is an older snapshot of the PageRank that we use internally (which is continuously updated). Changes in Toolbar PageRank will not change anything with your site’s crawling, indexing, or ranking, so as a webmaster, I’d strongly recommend focusing on something else.

If you are using PageRank as a means to sell PageRank-passing links, keep in mind that this is against our Webmaster Guidelines, and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.

Cheers
John

Hopefully that clears up the issue and fixation with PageRank. Now let’s move onto another SEO myth.

Myth 4: Keyword Density is Important for Ranking.
Even educated clients and vendors believe that keyword density, or having your target keyword repeated multiple times in your website copy is important for rankings. I feel this is one of the biggest myths surrounding SEO.

In short, Google does not pay attention to keyword density, but instead the spiders use complex algorithms, such as LSI, and look for related words and expert verbiage related to your target keyword. Of course, don’t take my word for it. Here are a few sources from Google that help debunk this myth.

Matt Cutts of Google, the Head of Search Spam, often holds discussions on SEO, and here he writes on his blog:

Keyword Density is not really a factor. Yes keyword should be present but density is not important. Include the keyword but make writing sound natural.

In another interview, Matt Cutts states:

Antony Johnson – 5:23 pm

Q: Hi Matt, Are there any guidelines available on keyword density we have pages that are about 1 single subject and the keyword density is quite high

Matt Cutts – 5:27 pm

A: Antony, you may not believe this, but we tend not to think much about KW density here at Google, b/c our algorithms handle it pretty well. My advice is to pull in an innocent/non-search friend and have them read the text. If they raise their eyebrow, …

In summation, Rand Fishkin, from SEOMoz.org states: Keyword Density is Not Used – How Many Times Do We Have to Say It?

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