Table of Contents
- Myths & Facts
- Submission and Spidering
- The spider keeps on comin'
- Removing barriers to spidering
- Avoid single-word terms
- Avoid terms that are too broad
- Avoid terms that are too specific
- Avoid terms that are unpopular
- Avoid highly-competitive terms
- Mine your server reports
- Target word variants and word order
- Ranking Factors
- Content is King
- One-page factors
- Page Weight
- Dead Links
- META tags
- Unknown Factors
- NON-Ranking Factors
- META Keywords
- ALT text
- Title attribute
- Web Standards
- Dedicated IP address
- Changing hosts or IP's
- Resubmitting a site
- Over-Optimization penalties
- Non-WWW penalties
- Black Hat SEO penalties
- Paid Links penalty
- Duplicate Content penalty
- Why did my site disappear?!
- Black Hat SEO
- Invisible text
- Keyword stuffing
- Doorway Pages
- Orphaned Pages
- Anchor Text
- Links in the body copy
- Internal Links
- Reciprocal Links
- Link Farms and Directories
- Buying and Selling Links
- Pages not passing PR
- Link Age
- Relevance and Authority
- Suspicious Activity
- Splitting PR (removing or forcing theWWW)
- Summary of link factors
- Changing domains, and renaming pages
- Move a whole site
- Move a directory to a new domain
- Move specific pages
- Advanced Redirecting
- Hiring professional help
- Summarized recommendations
- Further Resources
What is a "non-ranking factor"?
If a ranking
factor is something that helps your search
engine rankings, then a non-ranking factor is
something that doesn't affect your search
rankings. Why have a page of non-ranking factors?
Because lots of people mistakenly think the following
things will help their rankings.
Please note that I don't list every possible myth
below. You definitely should not assume that some
factor is important just because it's not in this list.
Every week people come up with some new, wrong idea for
something that supposedly helps their search rankings. I
don't cover all the myths, just the most prevalent.
The idea that the following things don't help rankings
are based on common sense, experience, and the collective
wisdom of experts in the SEO community (though there may
be some dissenters).
As usual, I think worrying about whether certain
things affect your rankings is a waste of time.
Instead of spending your time wondering about these
things, spend that time adding content to your site or
making it better in some other way. Make a great site,
and success will follow.
Search engines used to use the Meta
Keywords tag to rank sites, but that was way back in the
90's. They learned pretty quick that it's a bad idea
to take a webmaster's word for what their site is about,
because webmasters would stick anything and everything
into Meta Keywords. Plus, the search engines got a lot
better at figuring at what pages were about on their own
-- as well as which pages were the best matches for a
I have #1 and front-page rankings all over the search
engines for a variety of money terms (like "buy house"),
all without using Meta Keywords.
Yes, I know that people all over the net say that Meta
Keywords help your rankings. They're wrong. They're
simply repeating what they've heard everyone else
repeating. And my sites outrank all of them.
The ALT parameter for <IMG> tags is for
displaying a description of the image for users who have
their image-loading turned off in their browsers, or
for those who have slow connections while waiting for
images to load, or for vision-impaired users whose
browsers read the description of the image to them. Some
engines used to boost rankings for keywords listed in ALT
(and webmasters dutifully stuffed their ALT parameters
with tons of keywords) -- but no major search engine
currently cares about ALT text, according to Search
Engine Guide. (The exception might be for the
image database of a search engine, but not the
As with most design issues, design for your
readers, not the search engines. Use the ALT
parameter to describe your images, using your keywords
when it makes sense to do so. Keep your ALT description
short. Also, don't use words that don't accurately
describe the graphic in question.
The format for ALT text is <img alt="alt text
goes here">. Incidentally, the correct term for
this is the ALT parameter, or ALT
attribute. ALT is not a tag. There is no
such thing as an "ALT tag". A tag is a <> command,
like <a>, <img>, or <p>. But you never
write <alt>. ALT is an option for the
<img> tag. Since it's not its own tag, we call it a
parameter or attribute of the <img> tag.
Don't confuse this with the TITLE
tag. The title attribute is attached to
links or images, such as <A
href="link.html" title="link description">. The
purpose of the Title attribute is so the description pops
up as a "tooltip" when the user hovers over the link.
Contrary to popular belief, this is all but irrelevant
for SEO. (WebmasterWorld
Following standards means that your
site is syntatically correct and follows a set of best
practices (like having an alt value for your
images). Standards are not a bad thing. But there's no
evidence that following them will help your search
The SE's want to provide the best match to a user's
query. How would it serve the user to not show them a
highly relevant site, just because the code isn't
perfect? It wouldn't. That's why I strongly believe that
SE's don't punish sites for not following standards.
Elevating sites that are standards-compliant wouldn't
improve the quality of the search results. So there's no
reason for SE's to improve the rank of sites that follow
video of Matt Cutts of Google explaining that
validated code isn't important for search ranking
Dedicated IP address
Here's another one we can evaluate the same way:
Would it improve the search results to elevate sites
that are on a separate IP address? That is, Would
that benefit the person conducting the search? Of
course not. And that's why there's no reason to believe
that putting a site on a dedicated IP will help its
Changing hosting companies or IP addresses
Would it matter to a surfer that you changed
hosting companies or IP addresses? Of course not. And
that's why it doesn't matter to Google.
as much on its site, but you really, really should
have known the answer without their having to tell you.
If you're still wondering whether irrelevant things
affect your rank, you're still barking up the wrong tree.
What helps your rank is making your site better.
Does changing hosting companies or IP addresses do that?
No, it doesn't. And that's why the search engines
couldn't care less.
A popular conspiracy theory is that sites that
carry Google's Adsense advertising get a rankings boost,
because that means more money for Google when people
click the ads. But so far I haven't seen any credible
evidence that that's the case. Google makes plenty of
money without playing games like this, and they would be
opening themselves up for a mountain of bad will if it
were discovered that they were screwing with the search
results for their own profit. That's why I think it's
unlikely they're going down that road.
Re-submitting a site
Once a SE knows about your site, they know about
it. They're not going to suddenly forget about it, even
if you never fill out the Submission form on their site
ever again. And they're certainly not going to rank your
site higher if you keep filling out a useless form. How
would it serve an SE's users to elevate a site which
submits frequently? It wouldn't. And that's why they
Now continue this series below...