Mixing up cause and effect is one of the most common things new SEOs do. If it were affecting only their own work, it wouldn’t be so bad, but unfortunately, the clueless often spread their misinformation to other unsuspecting newbies on forums and blogs, which in turn creates new myths. It’s always interesting to see how people are so willing to believe anything they have read or heard without ever checking it out for themselves.
Myth 2: You need a Google Sitemap. If your site was built correctly, i.e., it’s crawler-friendly, you certainly don’t need a Google Sitemap. It won’t hurt you to have one, and you may be interested in Google’s other Webmaster Central Tools, but having a Google Sitemap isn’t going to get you ranked better.
Myth 3: You need to update your site frequently. Frequent updates to your pages may increase the search engine crawl rate, but it won’t increase your rankings. If your site doesn’t need to change, don’t change it just because you think the search engines will like it better. They won’t. In fact, some of the highest ranking sites in Google haven’t been touched in years.
Myth 4: PPC ads will help/hurt rankings. This one is funny to me because about half the people who think that running Google AdWords will affect their organic rankings believe that they will bring them down; the other half believe they will bring them up. That alone should tell you that neither is true!
Myth 5: Your site will be banned if you ignore Google’s guidelines. There’s nothing in Google’s webmaster guidelines that isn’t common sense. You can read them if you like, but it’s not mandatory in order to be an SEO. Just don’t do anything strictly for search engines that you wouldn’t do anyway, and you’ll be fine. That said, the Google guidelines are much better than they used to be, and may even provide you with a few good tidbits of advice.
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Myth 6: Your site will be banned if you buy links. This one does have some roots in reality, as Google likes to scare people about this. They rightly don’t want to count paid links as votes for a page if they can figure out that they are paid, but they often can’t. Even if they do figure it out, they simply won’t count them. It would be foolish of them to ban entire sites because they buy advertising on other sites.
Myth 7: H1 (or any header tags) must be used for high rankings. There’s very little (if any) evidence to suggest that keywords in H tags actually affect rankings, yet this myth continues to proliferate. My own tests don’t seem to show them making a difference, although it’s difficult to know for sure. Use H tags if it works with your design or content management system, and don’t if it doesn’t. It’s doubtful you’ll find it makes a difference one way or the other.
Myth 8: Words in your meta keyword tag have to be used on the page. I used to spread this silly myth myself many years ago. The truth is that the Meta keyword tag was actually designed to be used for keywords that were NOT already on the page, not the opposite! Since this tag is ignored by Google and used only for uncommon words in Yahoo, it makes little difference at this point anyway.
Myth 9: SEO copy must be 250 words in length. This one is interesting to me because I am actually the one who made up the 250 number back in the late ’90s. However, I never said that 250 was the exact number of words you should use, nor did I say it was an optimal number. It’s simply a good number to be able to write a nice page of marketing copy that can be optimized for 3-5 keyword phrases. Shorter copy ranks just as well, as does longer copy. Use as many or as few words as you need to use to say what you need to say.
Myth 10: You need to optimize for the long tail. No, you don’t. By their very nature, long-tail keyword phrases are uncompetitive; meaning that not many pages are using those words, and not that many people are searching for them in the engines. Because of this, ranking for long-tail keywords is easy – simply include them somewhere in a blog post or an article, and you’ll rank for them. But that’s not optimization.
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10 Useful APIs for your Web Site & App
Web APIs change the way content and services are consumed and manipulated. Web developers can take advantage of 1000s of APIs to add more content or functionality to their site. We’ve compiled a list of 10 most useful APIs you can consider using for your web site or application.
When it comes to adding graphs and charts to a web application, most developers resort to PHP libraries, Flash Components or jQuery based solutions. A lot of these components and libraries require some knowledge of configuration. Google Graph API is a simple, free, URL based API that allows you to generate, download and save 9 types of charts. There is nothing to download and install – all you need to do is parse your charting values via a single HTTP request.
Yahoo! PlaceFinder is a geocoding Web service that helps developers make their applications location-aware by converting street addresses or place names into geographic coordinates (and vice versa). This allows web site owners to deliver online content to desktop and mobile users based on their physical location, e.g based on the user’s street address, you can show nearby places like stores. PlaceFinder supports building-level address recognition in over 75 countries, and as well as points of interest, airports, cities, and other place names.
JanRain (formely RPX) is an Open-ID sign on service provider. Janrain helps connect your site to the social web through a robust set of APIs and social widget interfaces. It allows your visitors to sign-in to your site with their existing accounts on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, LinkedIn or other networks and then publish their comments, purchases, reviews or other activities from your site to multiple social networks.
Tropo is a powerful yet simple API that adds Voice, SMS, Twitter, and IM support to the programming languages you already know. This will allow you to bring real-time communications to your apps. There are many ways you can use voice or sms in your web application, for example – verify phone number, allow visitors to record a voice message and save it online, etc.
Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, secure, fast, inexpensive infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. With its API, you can write, read and delete files from your storage. Amazon S3 is a great storage solution for CND networks, backups and archiving.
DISQUS provides an API to enable better commenting on your site. It allows your visitors to choose their identity (Facebook Connect, OpenID, Twitter) when they leave a comment. New comments or reactions from social media network are update in real-time. DISQUS is available as plugins for popular blog platforms like WordPress, Drupal or Blogger.
Google WebFont API uses CSS3’s @font-face to add web fonts to your site. Currently limited only 18 different font-families. Google WebFont API provides by far the easiest implementation for custom typography. All you need to do is simply hotlink to their stylesheet link and then call the font in a CSS style. The major advantage is that by using StyleSheet served from Google’s CDN, you can save a lot of bandwidth and improve your page load speed.
WebShotsPro is a service for webmasters to include advanced website screenshot technology to their websites. This is pretty useful for links pages like directory or portfolio pages by giving a visual cue for your visitors.
BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) is Yahoo!’s open search web services platform. The goal of BOSS is simple: to foster innovation in the search industry. Developers, start-ups, and large Internet companies can use BOSS to build and launch web-scale search products that utilize the entire Yahoo! Search index. BOSS gives you access to Yahoo!’s investments in crawling and indexing, ranking and relevancy algorithms, and powerful infrastructure.