Top 10 Google Myths Revealed Myths 5 - 10.
Published on : Thursday Sep 21, 2006 10:00 AM
Author: Chris Beasley
Chris is the founder of Website Publisher
Chris Beasley has written 8 articles for SitePoint with an average reader rating of 8.1.
Myth #5: Being Listed in the Open Directory Project Gives you a Special PageRank Bonus
Google uses Open Directory Project (DMOZ.org), to power its directory. Coupling that fact with the observation that sites listed in DMOZ often get decent and inexplicable PageRank boosts, has lead many to conclude that Google gives a special bonus to sites listed in DMOZ. This is simply not true.
The only bonus gained from being in DMOZ is the same bonus a site would achieve from being linked to by any other site. However, DMOZ data is used by hundreds of sites. The biggest user of DMOZ data is Google, but it is also used by thousands of other sites. The links from these sites are often too weak to be listed in a link search, but Google does crawl them, and the links do count. So if you're listed in DMOZ, you're actually gaining the benefits of hundreds of lightly-weighted incoming links, and when you add all those up, the total can amount to a decent PageRank boost.
There are two other benefits you can gain by being listed in DMOZ. For one, your directory description will appear with Google search result listings, which may increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your link. The other benefit is that, as Google does crawl DMOZ, being listed there will ensure that you're also listed in Google. However, as it's so easy to be listed in Google, this benefit is slight at best.
Myth #6: Being Listed in Yahoo! Gives you a Special PageRank Bonus
This myth evolved much in the same was as Myth #5. Google has been partnered with Yahoo! for a number of years by providing secondary search results, and just recently (Fall, 2002), Yahoo! started using Google to provide primary search results.
Because Yahoo! uses Google, many have assumed that Google also uses Yahoo!, which is not the case. The only PageRank you will gain from being listed in Yahoo! is the same as the PR you'd gain from any other site of equivalent weight. However, some people achieve a larger-than-normal boost from their listing in Yahoo!, which again leads to this incorrect conclusion.
The fact is that being listed in Yahoo!'s main directory will often get you into regional directories, so, much like DMOZ, one Yahoo! listing can result in multiple links. These links are often weak in nature so they may not show up in a link search, but they are there and Google knows about them.
Additionally, once you're listed in any search engine or directory you have an increased chance of someone finding your site, liking it, and adding a link to it from their own site. As such, being listed in Yahoo! could result in you receiving links from elsewhere -- links whose weight is too low to list, but which do contribute to your PageRank.
Myth #7: Google Uses Meta Tags to Rank Your Site
This myth is left over from the days when most search engines used meta tags. However, Google has never used them. This fact may be contested by some people, so I wouldn't post it without proof.
To prove to yourself that Google doesn't use meta tags, put words into your meta tags that do not appear elsewhere on your page. Then, using an advanced search, search for those words while limiting the results to your domain only. You can try this on any search engine -- and if results appear, you'll know that engine uses meta tags. If no results are displayed, then you know meta tags are not used. It is important, though, that the words only appear in your meta tags and no where else on your page.
Google can sometimes use the meta description tag to create an abstract for your site, so it may be useful to you if your home page is primarily composed of graphics. However, do not expect it to increase your rank.
Myth #8: Google Will Not Index Dynamic Pages
Some search engines have, in the past, had problems with dynamic pages, that is, pages that use a query string. This was not due to any technical limitation, but rather, because search engines knew that it was possible to create a set of an infinite amount of dynamic pages, or they could create an endless loop. In either case, the search engines did not want their crawlers to be caught spidering endless numbers of dynamically generated pages.
Google is a newer search engine, and has never had a problem with query strings. However, some dynamic pages can still throw Google for a loop.
Some shopping carts or forums store session information in the URL when cookies are unable to be written. This effectively kills search engines like Google because search engines key their indexes with URLs, and when you put session information in the URL, that URL will change constantly. This is especially true as Google uses multiple IP addresses to crawl the Web, so each crawler will see a different URL on your site, which basically results in those pages not being listed. It is important that if you use such software, you amend it so that if cookies are unable to be written, the software simply does not track session information.
So, you don't need to use search engine-friendly URLs to be listed in Google. However, these URLs do have other benefits, such as hiding what server side technology you use (so that you may change it seamlessly later), and they are more people-friendly. Additionally, while Google can spider dynamic pages, it may limit the amount of dynamic pages it spiders from one particular site. Your best bet for a good ranking is to use search-engine friendly URLs.
Myth # 9: Google Will Not List Your Site, or Penalize it, if you use Popups
This is a relatively minor myth but it still pops up (pun intended) every once in a while. Google has an advertising program called Adwords, and one of their policies is that they do not allow sites that use popup windows to participate in this program.
Myth # 10: Google will Penalize you if You're Linked to by a Link Farm
Google has policies against the use of artificial means to increase your PageRank, which specifically include things like joining a link farm. There are sites or services out there that set up automatic link exchanges to increase your PageRank. The links are usually hidden from people through the use of CSS, and either making the text the same color as the background, or by putting the links in an invisible layer. As search engines don't render CSS, they will see the hidden links and thus count them when calculating your link popularity.
However, despite all this, Google will not penalize you for being linked to by a link farm. After all, you have no control over which sites links to you, so it wouldn't be fair to penalize site owners on this basis. Additionally, link farms often have low PageRanks and a high number of outgoing links, so each link will contribute only a very small amount to your total PageRank -- and thus this method of abuse is not very effective.
Even so, Google can punish you if you link to a linkfarm from your site, or otherwise put hidden links in your pages. So the simple truth is that you can be punished for what you do to your own site, but not for getting linked by another site.