SEO Tip #126: What Are Some Examples Of SEO Misinformation?

Matt Cutts:I can think of at least a couple so I will start with those and then I will fill it out with some other misconceptions. The biggest one that makes me want to bang my head against the wall was the idea that somehow if you do negative things towards your customers so they complain on customer complaint sites that those links automatically count. That’s a dangerous idea because if you can abuse your customers, the more bad you treat them the more links you get and higher you’ll be in Google. That is defintely a big misconception.

Thor from posted a blog post where he said, “Look we have no-follow on these links.” As a quick reminder no-follow is a way for a webmaster to say I don’t necessarily endorse this link to a third party. So we can say to ourselves that even though this is a reputable site we don’t trust this no-follow link. We don’t map it out on our link graphs so we don’t figure it into PageRank. No anchor text flows through that link and so as a result all of these customer complaint sites weren’t contributing to that particular site.

Another misconception that I’ve heard is that the Google Web Spam screener is somewhat slacking off this year. Just because certain SEO’s might not see what various people on the web spam team are working on doesn’t mean that we are not working very hard.

For example on of the biggest things that we faced in the year 2010 was hacked sites. There are a lot of people out there who are trying to do essentially illegal things. They are literally tyring to hack a site and add links to their own stuff or distribute malware or viruses or trojans. This was enough of a milicious trend that we wanted to spend some time on it, put some cycles in and try to correct it.

That involved a lot of people working for quite a number of months and so as a result people may not have seen other changes going on. So if you take your resources and are trying to stop hack/spam sites then you might not see as much as the regular spam fighting. The good news is the hack site changes have mostly gone live and those people are sort of being pulled back to work on regular web spam that people might otherwise not want to see.
Another misconception is that only links matter. People sometimes think, “Oh I only need to get links. I don’t need anything at all other than links.”

It does help to have good content on your site so don’t just persue links. Also think about your site architecture, how crawlable it is, how discoverable it is, whether you have good internal links, whether you have words on your page that people are actually going to search for, all of those things are very useful.

A specific misconception that I would like to pull out and highlight is that the keywords meta tag counts in Google search rankings somehow because it just doesn’t. We don’t use a meta keywords tag.

Another little bit of misinformation that I have seen from a few people, not necessarily because they were deliberatly trying to spread some misinformation is that the web spam team is either all algorithmic or all manually. The fact is that we do reserve the rigth to manually remove sites when we get a spam report or when we somehow detect that something is going on.

So we do have a manual team that operates in many different languages around the world. We’re proud of that team. They do a great job. As far as I know every other major search engine also has a team that looks at spam manually. That’s great because not only can they remove spam but very importantly they provide training data for the engineers to work on.
So it’s good to know that it’s not just engineers and it’s not just manual people checking out spam complaints. It’s the combination of both of those that is the way Google approaches web spam.

Those are just a few of the things that I saw and I’m glad to have a chance to clarify it for you.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.