Common misunderstandings about search engine optimization

Search KeywordsIt’s still surprising how many new website owners still believe that all that is needed is to register a domain name, host space, setup a site either themselves or use an outside agency, add their preferred keywords to the meta keywords tag, submit it to Google and then sit back and wait on visitors to turn up and leads to pour in.

There might have been a time when that just may have worked but not today with the volume of new sites launched and literally millions of new pages, if not more, published everyday.

The competition for first page ranking in Google is fierce and unrelenting. But not impossible!

Keywords first and foremost

There are a number of factors which contribute to the success of a website ie, profitable & converting visitors, but it’s an accepted fact, that finding, choosing and using the keywords that potential customers are enter as searches is crucial and should be the very first step in the process.

However, once found the trick, if there is one, is using your keywords in the right place and context. conducted a survey during 2009 and asked 72 well-known and respected SEO industry practitioners to consider a range of factors which contribute to successful search engine optimization.

The original survey results may now be a couple of years old but still relevant.

Their top 5 ranking factors were:-

  1. Keyword Focused Anchor Text from External Links
    73% very high importance
  2. External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links)
    71% very high importance
  3. Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)
    67% very high importance
  4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
    66% very high importance
  5. Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains (e.g. TrustRank, Domain mozTrust, etc.)
    66% very high importance

Of these five, four are difficult to influence for a new site, leaving only Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag under the direct control of you as a site owner.

In the same survey the various areas were further expanded with other on-page, keyword related ranking factors that are able to be controlled which will help a page to rank:-

On-Page (Keyword-Specific) Ranking Factors (first 10)

  1. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag (as above)
    66% very high importance
  2. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag
    63% high importance
  3. Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name (e.g.
    60% high importance
  4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag
    49% moderate importance
  5. Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text on the Page
    47% moderate importance
  6. Keyword Use in External Link Anchor Text on the Page
    46% moderate importance
  7. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) in the H1 Tag
    45% moderate importance
  8. Keyword Use in the First 50-100 Words in HTML on the Page
    45% moderate importance
  9. Keyword Use in the Subdomain Name (e.g.
    42% low importance
  10. Keyword Use in the Page Name URL (e.g.
    38% low importance

Focusing on the higher % factors will, at least, ensure that every opportunity has been addressed to help boost search page ranking.

SEO is not a single one-off action but a longer-term process which can then address the other four factors listed above.

Meta keywords & description tags

Interestingly, and noticeable by their absence, are the meta keyword tag and meta description tag. The only meta tag affecting rank position is Title and is the single most important element that has to be considered.

Google confirms tags not used for search

It’s long been recognised that search engines give little or no weight to the keywords tag because the keywords meta tag was so often abused and stuffed with irrelevant keywords in the past rendering it almost useless as an indicator of page content and relevance. The keywords meta tag, as Google’s Matt Cutts explained in a video Q&A in October 2009, was dropped a good many years ago.

He, also, confirmed that Google no longer use, if in fact they ever did, the meta description tag in their search results algorithm.

But, why the meta description tag is still important for SEO (search engine optimization) or more correctly SEM (search engine marketing) in this later post.

And, how to use description tag more creatively in your search marketing!

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