Removing these unimportant factors from your SEO checklist can save you a lot of time in your analysis, bring your SEO improvement actions up to date and reduce the risk of associated search engine penalties for some practices which are against Google search quality guidelines (especially for link-related factors).
This article will divide those unimportant factors into three major areas: keyword research and analysis; onsite SEO; and link analysis.
Keyword Research and Analysis
One of the increasingly unimportant factor in keyword analysis is the KEI (Keyword Effective Index). Why is this unimportant in 2011?
First you need to know the definition of the keyword effectiveness index. It is defined by the following equation: KEI = (S^2/C), where S is the popularity of the keyword in terms of searches, and C is the competition of the keyword, which is typically measured as the number of competing pages in Google for that keyword. A keyword is desirable if it has a high search volume and low number of competing web pages.
In the early of days of SEO, marketers were too concerned with ranking highly for popular terms. It might have been possible because of less competition on the Internet. Now that there are over 100 million websites on the Internet, and it’s still growing, things can become very competitive. As the number of websites grow, the competition for highly-searched keywords increases. A keyword with a low competition and high search volume before may no longer fit in that category today.
Thus, KEI is not an effective measurement of keyword difficulty, since the probability of finding a high search volume keyword with a low number of competing web pages is becoming smaller each year.
What is effective in measuring keyword difficulty is to simply multiply the search volume of the keyword with the competing web pages:
Keyword difficulty= Keyword Search Volume (Exact match) x Google Competing web pages
This measurable factor has been well documented here: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Choosing-Keywords-Help/Keyword-Difficulty-vs-Size-of-Domain/. It shows that big websites (authority and trusted websites) are the ones that rank for difficult keywords. The keyword difficulty measurement in that article does not use the KEI method. Thus, it is advisable not to choose difficult keywords if your website is small or has just started on the Internet.
KEI also does not include information about the conversion rate, which is an important deciding factor in keyword research.
Onsite SEO Unimportant Factors
Keyword Density – Beware of SEO companies wanting to measure your content relevancy and quality in terms of keyword density and occurrences of keywords. This simply does not work anymore. It used to before, when old search engine algorithms counted the occurrences of keywords on an optimized page as a way of measuring the relevance of the document. Well, that factor got abused by spammers who simply stuffed keywords on the page and hid them.
Recent improvements in the search engine ranking algorithm can deeply understand the meaning and relevance of the document beyond the occurrences of keywords.
Thus you need to focus on writing a clear and user friendly text. Avoid putting any substantial text beneath your home page layout that cannot be read by your visitors. It is not user-friendly. As you write, forget keyword density or counting of your keywords. The important thing is to have your keyword occur at least once in the document. Of course, if you are writing naturally, those keywords will be there without your even thinking about keyword density and occurrences. In short, write for your readers, not for search engines.
Meta Keyword – There is an official announcement by Google that they are no longer using the keywords meta tag in search engine ranking: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html
So forget about dealing with meta keywords in your onsite SEO.
Meta description – Included in that announcement is that Google admits they are no longer using the meta description tag as a search engine ranking factor. Even big content-based websites like Wikipedia.org do not use the meta description tag.
Code to Text ratio – This is a measurement of the amount of code versus the indexable text content. Well, the ratio itself does not provide meaningful information when it comes to Google search engine rankings.
What is important is focusing on speeding up the website, which Google admits is included as a search engine ranking factor: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
Do not focus on the code to text ratio, because lots of code does not imply that your website is slow. The key is code optimization (or using techniques such as Gzip compression, etc.). You can read more details here: http://www.devshed.com/c/a/PHP/Speed-up-Web-Page-Loading-Using-Google-Page-Speed/
The following are the link related factors which do not seem to be as important as they were before.
Reciprocal linking – Excessive reciprocal linking has been highly discouraged by Google for a long time already. Yet there are still many websites that rely on this link acquisition technique.
Of course, any popular website has reciprocal links from other websites, but what makes them special to Google is their natural link profile. Not all of those links are reciprocal in nature. This means there are one-way editorial links from other authority websites or sources. Think of other ways you can get quality links; they are not always reciprocal in nature.
Three-way link exchange – A three-way link exchange does not fall into a natural link pattern because the link is not editorially given. For a better understanding of how a three-way link exchange works, look at the screen shot below.
If you hire an SEO company to do link building for you, they usually have a huge amount of resource websites which they own, but of course they are very clever to put them in different class C IP addresses, using fake registrant names, hosting in different locations or companies, and offering fictitious services to make people believe the SEO company does not own those websites. Now they link from their resource website to a 3-way link partner website (not owned by the SEO company). In return for this exchange, the 3-way link partner will link to your website. Of course, not all SEO companies practice this, as there are reputable ones. You need to be careful when dealing with SEO companies like that for several reasons, explained below.
First, if the resource website is banned in Google, the 3-way link partners will think that the link from those resource websites does not give value anymore; in return, they will also remove your link.
Second, participating in this type of link scheme primarily to boost page rank or search engine ranking is prohibited under Google’s quality guidelines and can affect the integrity of your website: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769
Third, beware of links from so-called “article” directories, “article-based” or “review” based websites; this is an upgraded effort from link spammers to make their links looks editorial. Yet they are not editorial. They do not work because, while posing as authority websites, they clearly aren’t. Authority websites are expert websites that cover a certain topic. They usually have lots of well-written content centering on a single niche or topic.
If you need quality links, get it from genuine expert websites. Unluckily, some SEO companies attempt to create review or article directory websites with varying niches (e.g. shopping, sports, health, etc.). This cannot help establish your website as an expert resource in your selected niche. In the end, the link may provide little to no value. According to the latest Google SEO site review session, the best sites to get links from are highly targeted, often to a specific niche: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Google-SEO-Keyword-Research-Link-Building-Marketing/1/
So, do not let SEO companies add pages to your website for creating review-based or article-based content in the hope of getting links from other websites. This can dilute the authority of your website by mixing it with a lot of irrelevant content. In addition, this content is usually outside of your niche and will not be very helpful to your targeted readers. At worst, if you are caught in this link scheme, your site will be banned in Google.
Forum-based signature links – Are you still paying for a search engine marketer to submit forum posts with your site as their signature link? If yes, you are wasting this money for your search engine ranking efforts. Forum links have long been devalued because they can easily be manipulated.
Of course, links in forum signatures are not that bad if you are a serious contributor to the forums and not there just for the sake of dropping links with posts containing things like “Thank you,” “I agree,” “Nice answer” and “Great tips.”
Blog comment links – Links in comments are not helpful in establishing your website as an authority if the sole purpose is to get links. You should be annoyed if you can see your website in comment links such as:
It does not mean that blog comments are not helpful at all. The key is to provide value to the blog by adding meaningful, exact and related comments.
Focusing on Google Page Rank – Some SEOs still use Page Rank in their link building efforts. This is not particularly useful, since Page Rank does not provide information as to the relevance of the document. Do not engage in link schemes that promote Page Rank, because it is against Google’s quality guidelines.