Three SEO Things People Worry About Too Much

Santa RelaxingIts a Friday close to Christmas now and I hope most of you are winding down a little as the weekend and holidays come closer. I thought today might be a great day to talk about three things that you really don’t need to worry about as much as you thought:

  1. Design: CSS Hidden Text Validation. Frequently, if you run a Joomla site through a CSS Validation test it will tell you that you have a problem: "Hardly visible text using very similar text and background colors." Nearly all of these "errors" are caused by harmless uses of the "display:none" CSS property.

    If you’re hiding "Cheap Viagra Texas-Hold ’em Poker Pills" behind an image you have a problem, but if you haven’t done that, you should be fine.

    One easy way to check whether you have harmless CSS or disguised advertising is to use the Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox. Click CSS >>  Disable Styles >> All Styles and you’ll see if you have hidden problems on your page.

  2. SEO: Sitemaps. Sure, submit sitemaps to Google and Yahoo but don’t spend too much time doing it and don’t expect much of a rankings boost. My overall experience with sitemaps is that they have a minimal effect compared to other factors. For example, we changed the frontpage HTML title on a clients site yesterday to help them target a particular keyphrase. They jumped from 31st to 8th overnight. In contrast, I’ve not seen the addition or deletion of a sitemap affect rankings at all.

    Its possible that sitemaps will grow in importance as they become standardized, but for now they’re overrated.

  3. Analytics: Overall Time on Site. An analytics statistic that tells you how long visitors remained on your site. People think that the long visits are a good sign, but a high "time on site" might actually be a bad sign – it may be that people are confused and find it difficult to do what they want to on the site.

    As search engines get more sophisticated they may consider this kind of data a bit more, but its use will be limited because its so easy to fake. Imagine a freelancer ad in 2009:

    "I need five website users to hang around my site for 2 days straight and increase my time on site"

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