5 SEO Faux Pas That are Like burping at the Dinner Table

SEO Terminology Part 1

When you’re running with the big dogs, a simple slip of the tongue, or fingers, can be humiliating. In fact I am guilty of at least one of them myself. Curse you Microsoft auto correct! But you live and you learn and you try to help others avoid your past mistakes. So here is a short list of a few terms and phrases which are often misused, misrepresented or misunderstood in SEO. Get them right and you can share the sandbox, get them wrong and the big kids may send you back to the teeter-totter all alone.


Round 1; warming up to geekdom

PageRank – It’s one word. It refers to the actual PageRank allocated to any given page. Named after Larry Page, it is a part of the Google algorithm and is used to measure the relative importance and value of a website. It matters a great deal in how a site will show up in search engine rankings. Unlike of course, what most people are really referring to is…

Tool Bar PageRank – This is the green bar which is visible in a web browser that indicates a number between 0 and 10. This is not necessarily an accurate representation of a site’s real PageRank and has little to do with actual SERP Rankings. (know the difference)

DoFollow – This term is used in regards to links which do not have the “nofollow” attribute. However there is no such thing as a “dofollow” attribute therefore a better way to refer to these links is as “direct” links.

LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) Based Services – There’s a big hoopla over LDA right now all over the SEO industry. On the plus side, the LDA discussion encourages us to think in terms of natural content and semantic relevance. If LDA is a part of the formula, then we should be inspired to create content in a way that provides a full context for our main focus. It’s important to use language that includes primary keywords as well as related terminology, concepts and themes.

So what’s the problem? Because everyone is looking for the latest trick, thisthe kind of advice will definitely be bastardized. People will put undue emphasis on this on-page factor for rankings. When the reality is this “latest discoveryis nothing particularly new, nor is spending a lot of money on it likely to significantly boost rankings.

PageRank Sculpting – When you say this, people immediately envision a page glowing pink (thanks to plug-ins that reveal Nofollows) with pink links to a bunch of “un-important” internal pages. Nofollows were introduced as a method of giving webmasters a way of saying “I don’t vouch for this link”. But pretty quickly, people came up with ideas of how to use it for alternative purposes. The notion of PageRank sculpting was that by no-following internal pages it can help harness and control the flow of your PageRank giving more power to the pages you want to rank, by blocking it from the pages you don’t care about. The thing is, it just doesn’t work that way. At least, it doesn’t anymore. Adding nofollows to internal pages like, say a privacy policy, doesn’t put a cork in the hole and redirect the water.

Matt Cutts breaks it down with an example of ten out-going links five of which are no-fillowed He says,

“Originally, the five links without nofollow would have flowed two points of PageRank each (in essence, the nofollowed links didn’t count toward the denominator when dividing PageRank by the outdegree of the page). More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.”

And when he said "more than a year ago” he said that in 2009…so yeah. It’s that old.

Matt Cutts

Again, this is just a short list. In fact let’s open this up, what are some of your favorite or least-favorite mis-conceptions of faux pas?

< Dave Adds; This seemed a fun direction so over the next while Jennifer and I will be sitting down to start un-geek-ifying some of the things I can’t seem to explain without putting folks to sleep. Tune in for more of these in the near future, it should be fun. >


  1. Yes! More! We need more of these debunking and clarifying posts out there to combat the FUD being spread by the clueless and uninformed masses.

  2. PageRank Sculpting is a dangerous gamble anyway. Saying “I don’t vouch for” one of your own pages looks at best like you don’t have a clue what you’re doing; at worst like a blatant attempt to manipulate the SERPs. Neither is a good signal to send the search engines.

  3. I agree that understanding and staying current on how search engines are revamping is very important when trying to market your blog. Researching what things mean and how to properly use them is key to marketing and increasing traffic. Thanks for the info and continue to add more.

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