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Since we covered underrated SEO tactics last time, the "Discussion of the Week" this week flips that question around: What's the most overrated SEO tactic in your opinion? The floor is open!
Comments20 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 5

For me, it's XML Sitemaps. I've never been a huge believer in them and only ever recommended a client use one when we were dealing with a 15-million page site that didn't have enough inbound link equity to get a good crawl/indexation rate. On the SEO Myths panel last week at SMX, I was super happy to hear the panelists say that XML sitemaps are no excuse for poor navigation or site architecture. And, if your content is so bad that search engines don't want to crawl or index your full site, all an XML sitemap does is give them a list of more crap. Highly overrated to me.



Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 1

If I can count one that most people have the sense to avoid spending time on, it would be meta keywords. I'd also include buying up tons of irrelevant sites to 301 to your own site.



Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Spending too much time on making your code "standards compliant".



Avatar Moderator
from hugoguzman 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I'll take your comment one step further, Matt.

XML sitemaps will not supercede/override the normal crawling and indexing process. In other words, if you have orphaned pages (pages that are not linked to either internally or from external links) adding them to an XML sitemap won't do a darn thing for them.



Avatar Moderator
from nickfb76 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As Todd had mentioned, coding "standard's"... but not to be misconceived as increasing your sites load speed.

I would have to say spending too much time working on meta data or even tweeking on page elements.  While on page changes can help, odds are that using that time to gain a couple links will give you even more value.



Avatar Moderator
from Realicity 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I'm going to agree with Matt in regards to XML Sitemaps, but for Google Only.  (which is the engine that most SEO's talk about anyway).  Google is incredibly efficient and had little troubles with indexing any of the websites I've worked on.  But as Matt said, extremely massive sites might have issues getting all of their content indexed.

Bing, on the other hand, almost needs them...

Since I stared my self imposed Bing exile (if interested see: http://www.webranking.com/blog/the-bing-challenge), I've been tracking Bing's spidering, indexing and search traffic with a microscope.  It might have something to do with the fact that I haven't Googled anything in over 2 weeks, but back on track.  Last 2 weeks of Bing traffic, since editing and submitting an optimized sitemap, Bing traffic has been higher than the the entire rest of the last 12 months except for 1 week.  This week we are on pace to break that with a new high.

But other than this current test I'm running, sitemaps have been historically overrated, especially for Google.



Avatar
from BrianHarnish 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Oh I love keyword density. The often spoken of percentage of keyword density (like 20% keyword density or 15% keyword density or whatever number you want to believe). Totally overrated and is something I see quite a few people spend unnecessary time focusing on.



Avatar
from pageoneresults 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Spending too much time on making your code "standards compliant".

It shouldn't be broken to begin with. It takes more time to break code. :)

Using that time to gain a couple links will give you even more value.

Definitely overrated.



Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@pageoneresults HA! I like nice code too.

I'd like to add my usual tired old bit about Toolbar PR being used as the most important metric for a page or site, also, mainly as it's used to justify getting irrelevant links and so many people watch it, waiting for it to move from a 2 to a 3, thinking it will be the thing that finally makes them rank well.



Avatar
from jacobstoops 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I agree with @JulieJoyce's earlier comment about buying (i.e. hoarding) domains and redirecting me. That's one of the top questions I get from people asking me what SEO value is there? Totally agree on the XML sitemap thing too except I think it may play a part in getting indexed a bit quicker if you've submitted it to Google Webmaster Tools, etc.


Also agree with @BrianHarnish that keyword density is overrated. Also meta keywords. Did I mention Google Pagerank?



Avatar Moderator
from ajkohn2001 1347 Days ago #
Votes: -2

Well, in my mind there are a bunch of older strategies that are ineffective or wildly over-rated.

  • Meta Keywords
  • Microsites
  • Directory Submissions

I'm glad to see so many people badmouth XML sitemaps because I get an incredible amount of value out of them. It has nothing to do with whether XML sitemaps get your site indexed faster or better (they don't), and everything to do about knowing more about how Google views specific parts of your site.



Avatar
from monicawright 1347 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I agree that XML sitemaps are not a solution for poor navigation and architecture, but I do find them useful when segmenting out a very large site, or if a site uses subdomains - it makes it easier to troubleshoot problems in Webmaster Tools (rather than using sitemaps as an SEO tactic). In any event, you all have listed some of my pet peeves here - especially microsites. Oh and irrelevant "webmaster" or developer links on client sites as a link building tactic.



Avatar
from JoelTruelike 1346 Days ago #
Votes: 1

The one that always got me was placing a link on a page to itself, often the H1 is used for this.  I've heard people swear by it, but I just don't get it.



Avatar
from andymurd 1346 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I'm going to speak up for XML sitemaps - they're incredibly useful. I agree that they don't do much for the big search engines but having an exhaustive list of all the pages on your site and their modification dates in a machine readable format is a huge boon. If I need to process every page (like running a spellcheck, checking for valid HTML or counting internal links) I just write a quick script that works through the sitemap.



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1346 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I don't think anyone said XML sitemaps have no use. The point I tried to make, and the topic of discussion, is about SEO tactics (as opposed to spellchecking and such - sorry @andymurd). And I'd run screaming in the other direction if anyone tells me that XML Sitemaps are an SEO cure-all. They're not. They have a time and place, but they shouldn't be approached with an "Oh, we'll just do an XML sitemap and that'll solve our crawlability/indexation problems" attitude.



Avatar
from Grumpus 1346 Days ago #
Votes: 0

For me the most Overrated SEO tactic is to identify the most and/or least important SEO tactics. lol Shepherd's Pie, for example, has several ingredients - but if you are missing any of them, it is no longer shepherd's pie.

Weighing in on the site map thing - I'm in the "no site map" camp. The reason for it is that as more and more time goes by, the relationship between any two linked pages plays a more important role in ranking the page. With a site map, the page can get into the index without the any information on how that page relates to the other pages of the site. It's not as important on small sites, but as your site grows to the hundreds or thousands of pages, the relationships are key.

And, for the love of all that is good, if you have a site map, you MUST register it as a sitemap on Google. If not, that page can end up falsely representing a link between all the pages and it dillutes and hurts the time you spent creating a logical structure.




Avatar Moderator
from ajkohn2001 1346 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Matt's right about XML sitemaps when they're used as a panacea for crawling or indexation problems. They aren't going to solve those problems. In fact, it's just that attitude - that you generate an XML sitemap and then feel good that you've done something great - that prevents folks from using it intelligently.

If you take time to craft a sitemap index optimization strategy, you can use XML sitemaps as a valuable part of tracking the impact of your SEO efforts over time. Should I pitch this as a topic for an SMX conference?



Avatar
from Seoworkers 1346 Days ago #
Votes: 0

- My understanding from the "Farmer" or "Panda" algorithm is, that one of the signals of "low quality content" is high keyword density.

- Valid code should not have any benefit, if the pages render in the major browsers properly. But semantic markup and structure always will be beneficial.

- Meta keywords tags have no benefit. But the machine readable "CTags" should have.

- 301 redirecting bought domains should not have any benefit if they have no web site and history.

- Google PageRank Toolbar: As long it is not up-to-date it is fully useless. I would dare to say, that MozRank is far more up-to-date and valuable.

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of SEOMoz Tools. But a few of them can be useful. Others may be a bit inaccurate or misleading.

- Directory Submissions: I still believe that well established or authority directories are beneficial.

- Sitemaps: They may be beneficial for sites with a screwed up architecture (linking structure). If it is true that Google supports the "Priority" element, could also be beneficial.



Avatar
from Myron 1342 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It's clear that the size of a site has some impact on whether or not a tactic is going to be effective or a total dud. An XML Sitemap for a small site is a dud but I don't see how large sites can ignore them. The reverse of that, from my observations, has been link building. For small sites, you can't ignore it since they typically have precious few.

But when I have a large well established client that already has tens of thousands of 100% organically grown links (no hormones or pesticides used, evah), spending additional time trying to grow external links is often what I would consider to be an over-rated tactic (I can just hear the buzz in the audience now ... did he say link building is over-rated??? Sacrilege!!) ok ok, before anyone wants to burn me at the stake ... I'm talking about big sites that already have lots and lots links. Getting a few more won't be a needle mover. Fixing structural issues, site architecture and writing more content are activities that usually have a measurable and immediate ROI.



Avatar
from simmonet 1342 Days ago #
Votes: 0

- Footer links - a morass of links as the only crawl path alternative for search engines

- DMOZ / Yahoo directory links

- .EDU links *because* they're edu links - every edu link is not *gold* there's other factors domain trust, age, traffic etc.

- Keyword-stuffed image alt tags




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