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10 Ranking Factors for Google: Myths and Misconceptions

There are many things that you must do to rank higher in the search and I’ve written many times on these factors. However, there are many factors that aren’t as important as people may believe or have no impact on a site’s rankings. My clients frequently call me in a panic because they hear a rumor that some new ranking factor must be quickly integrated into their site or they will lose their rankings. So the address their concerns, here are my top 10 myths and misconceptions about Google ranking factors.

Google+ Plus
When Google Plus launched there were many who called it the age a social ranking. It was believed that +-ed sites would rank better then ones which didn’t get as many pluses. The truth is Google doesn’t use this as an overall ranking factor. It does improve a site’s ranking only when the individual who gave it the plus does another search for it. This makes it very similar to Google’s personalized search, which brings me to the next myth.

Clicks on Google listing
Many people feel that, if the site is popular and if it receives many Google clickthrus, it will rank better. This is true for Google personalized search, where the individual searcher will see the site’s they repeatedly visit rank better. However, this doesn’t effect everyone’s version of Google (only the individual). In fact, I often have to teach clients to disable their personalized search because it makes them falsely believe they have excellent rankings because it generally show their site at the top for most searches, especially if they are checking their rankings frequently. With Google Adwords ranking the click rate does impact rankings. The clicks add to the quality score so the more clicks you have the better your rankings, but remember this is only true for the paid rankings.

Google Adwords
There is a conspiracy theory that if you get Google Adwords that your site will get better rankings in Google. However, Google itself denies this and I have not seen this to be true. Many marketers will try to encourage this myth because they can make money selling Adwords to their clients. I’ve actually seen companies paid for Adwords where they were already ranked #1 organically or where they were advertising for their own name. In both cases, it is not necessary to advertise.

Domain age
Domain age, as a ranking factor, is a misconception. If the domain is under a year old, it can play a role because Google can sandbox newer sites. Sandboxing is when a site doesn’t receive good rankings until it is of a certain age. Google does this to prevent spammers from building black hat sites which can do well at first until they get banned, at which time the spammer could build a new site and repeat the process. To prevent this Google puts new sites into a sandbox in order to make sure this doesn’t happen. However, the older the site is, beyond this sandbox age, doesn’t guarantee top rankings. The benefit older sites have doesn’t come from Google giving them a boost due to their age, but comes from the fact that older site will generally have more established links. Links into site are a definite ranking factor.

Keyword Meta tag
Recently, I spoke to another “SEO” who had been in the industry since 1996 and they still believed the keyword meta tag helped with Google rankings. This hasn’t been true since 1999. The keyword meta tag is a piece of code hidden from the user that the search engine can read. It was used by coders to identify the content of a page. In the early years of search, it played a major ranking role. However, too many people took advantage of it, especially because it was hidden, and it was removed as a ranking factor. Usually when I optimize a site, I don’t even bother touching the keyword meta tag. I’ll maybe write a few keywords inside just to make the client happy. It isn’t something to waste much time on.

To be continued…you will be surprised by the next misconceptions and myths of Google ranking factors.

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