Least Effective SEO Techniques

Posted on December 1, 2011 • Written by Ben Smith

least effective seo tips

By Todd Atkins
There are hundreds of things you can do on your site that will help boost your search engine rankings. If you are looking for them, you’ve come to the wrong place. Today, we are going to look at the least effective seo techniques. These are items that use them or not; it won’t make the slightest difference in the world. I intentionally left out techniques that can actually hurt your rankings. We’ll cover those in another post.

Meta keywords

Really? Do people still think this makes any difference? Ok, some people have suggested your competitors might use the meta keywords you list against you. I suppose it is possible. If that is your competitor’s marketing strategy, I don’t think you have too much to worry about. First of all, if they are actually competing against you for rankings, they are by definition already going after the same keywords, hence the “competing against you”. If your competitor has any sense for SEO they will be able to figure out what keywords you are targeting anyways by looking at title tags, urls, H1 tags, and other onsite factors that actually do make a difference.

Trailing slashes

This refers to your page URL when you are link building. Let’s say your page is www.sharks-are-cool.com/awesome-page-of-content. People who think having trailing slash consistency in your link building would say you will sabotage your efforts if you use a slash (/) at the end in some places and leave it off in other places. The Googlebot is smart, really smart. It will figure it out. Trust me. The one exception to this is if you use a file extension in your URLs. For example /awesome-page-of-content.html/ will result in a broken link.

Using “WWW” or not

This is pretty similar to the trailing slash. Google can calculate the best route from Denver to the Panama Canal in about 2 seconds. I think they know that www.unicorn-tears-4-sale.com is the same as unicorn-tears-4-sale.com.

Using Google Analytics

Great tool for analyzing your traffic? Yes. Free? Yes. Will it help you rank higher for certain keywords? No. Why would it? Think about it. How would it increase the quality of your site? How would it increase the relevancy of a search query to your site? It doesn’t. Therefore, it is safe to say it doesn’t make a lick of difference if you use Analytics, another traffic tool, or none at all.

On the flip side, some say Google will use your traffic data against you. First, they have flat out said, no they don’t even look at it. Second, traffic data would be too easy to manipulate. Third, they have a ton of other ways to track user behavior outside of Analytics and it’s likely more accurate and useful.

Using Google AdWords

Paying customers get preferential treatment right? Nope, not even close. Think about this from an business model stand-point. Google would lose all credibility as an unbiased search engine if they did this. If paying for AdWords increased your organic rankings, everyone would do it and whoever spent the most would be on top. They would no longer even be a search engine.

Submitting your site to search engines

You can do it yourself or pay someone a chunk of money to do it for you. Either way you are wasting your efforts. Google will find your site through links to your site. Submitting your site may get you on their radar more quickly, but without backlinks you don’t have a presence anyways.

There is one strange exception to this. It is worth submitting your site to Bing if you care about ranking better on Bing. I don’t have any solid data to back this up, but I have a number of anecdotal stories where this has made a difference.

Size of H1 and H2 tags

Google can read through your style sheet and see how big your text appears on your site, but they really don’t care. Style decisions like that should be made with the user in mind, not search engines. Of course, if you make your text incredibly small, they could ding you for trying to hide text.

Linking to Google

I really have no idea how this rumor started, but there’s no data to support it. There’s a similar rumor about linking to Microsoft. Linking to relevant sites of authority can help support your content and enhance the value of it. However, linking to Google isn’t going to have any effect.

Fixing minor HTML validation errors

This one is a bit controversial. Find a site that consistently ranks very well for target keywords and run it through a validator. There are bound to be a few errors. Spending hours tracking down and fixing minor errors is not time well spent and isn’t going to improve your rankings. This isn’t to say validating your HTML isn’t a smart idea. Keep the user experience in mind and check browser compatibility and page speed. A slow site or a site that doesn’t display correctly can turn people away which can effect your rankings.

Tagging blog posts

Blog post tags have replaced meta keywords. Stop tagging your blog posts with every variation of every keyword mentioned in the post. Use tags so users can quickly find related blog posts of topics that interest them.

Using Apache over IIS

Apache is a far superior web server, but your site can rank just as well if you are running on a Windows IIS. That said, your website host, IP C-block, neighboring sites, and server speed can make a difference in rankings.

Any I missed? Leave a comment.

Ben Smith

Written by Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.

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