The 10 crappiest mythical SEO questions we shouldn’t ask

This post is the English translation of Le 10 cagate SEO di cui non si dovrebbe parlare più by


Years are passing and new people start their SEO adventure into Marketing World, and punctually we can see some old questions coming out like never dyeing zombies.

The problem is that also some SEOs who supposedly should know that those are no no questions, start having doubts.

IMO it is the time to finally shot a silver bullet to those mythical questions, remember why they are crappy questions and proceed discussing about more important and relevant things.

This one is my personal list of the ten crappiest mythical SEO questions. Feel free to refer to this post if in the future if someone (a newbie or a client or your Marketing VP) will ask you one of them.

Is PageRank important or not - Reaction1. Is PageRank important or not?

Every time I hear or read this question, I noticed that none specify important for what?

We SEOs often have a monothematic state of mind, and for many of us this function is usually referred to rankings; therefore what implies to rank higher.

In a Search Engine reality things are more complex and PageRank is used by Google in more than just one context.

And even though its direct influence in how Google rank a page in the SERP is not as strong as in the beginning, Google still use it as a factor that helps it in taking important decisions.

For instance, it has been noted that sites or sections of a site with more PageRank are those ones that are crawled more deeply by Googlebot. In the case of big sites, this cause that a bigger number of pages are cached by Google, therefore there is a higher probability for them to be visible and ranking in the SERP.

But we are talking about PageRank and not the Google bar PageRank. That green bar has never been a real measure of the PageRank of a page, but simply a sort of “simulation”. Google gave it like a gadget to the users, but many SEOs and webmasters transformed it in a sort of phallic totem to use to show to the world that they have it bigger than others.

It is not strange that in the last version of the Google bar the green bar has been removed from the default tools.

And I think it is time to start saying: who still talks about PageRank has a small dick.

2. Is it better the hyphen or the underscore?

Is it better the hyphen or the underscore? A reaction

Apart you and maybe my mom, no serious SEO asks this question since year 2K.Use the one that make it easier the linking with the URL and that is more comfortable for the users to type.

3. Why has my PageRank decreased?

This question comes out often because a webmaster (or the owner of the site) has observed a decrease in the Google bar Page Rank, i.e. from 4 to 3, and he believes that the Real Page Rank has decreased too.

But maybe it is not so; maybe the Real Page Rank has increased.

Ok, this may sound illogical: if the Real Page Rank rises, why the green bar metric should decrease instead?

Maybe because the green bar never measured the Real Page Rank. Doh!!

And in those cases that the Real Page Rank has diminished, that happens because your inbound links are garbage and have been discounted, or because you have lost backlinks for any reasons and never thought to continue growing your link profile with quality links (sorry if I used “links” too many times in a phrase).

4. Are dropdown menus to be considered hidden text?

This question arises because people thinks that Search Engines want to punish who uses hidden text, which is false. Search Engines punish the fraudulent use of the hidden text.

Therefore the right question should be not about the use, but about the purpose of the hidden text: Are you using hidden text to present to the Search Engines content that you don’t want to show to your visitors?

If the answer is No, then don’t panic and archive this question.

The dropdown menus are used to solve design needs, hence they are not a trick punished by Google.

Are dropdown to be considered hidden text? A reaction

5. What is the right keyword density?

If someone asks this question, call the exorcist.

Keyword density has never been used by the Search Engines to establish how a page is related to a query.

The reason why keyword density has become so popular along the years is because also a lichen can understand it. In fact it is a simple percentage calculation.

To use keyword density is like desiring to be an aerospace engineer studying the steam engines.

If you hear an SEO talking about keyword density, you know you have found a scammer, or simply someone who has some problems in understanding the real nature of the Search Engines.

6. Why Google has penalized my site?

Usually the correct answer is: because it deserved it. But sometimes happens that what you think it is a penalization, really it isn’t.

A penalty is a special and deliberately punitive measure, determined by the engine to a person who has voluntarily and knowingly been naughty.

In all other cases, where there is no will to cheat the Search Engine by the webmaster / SEO, it is highly probable that the loss of positions is not caused by a penalty but by a simple application of the ranking algorithms.

The distinction may seem academic but is very practical.

What is the right keyword density? ReactionPsychologically we can explain this penalty obsession if we understand how many SEOs look at Google as the castrating father and themselves as the wayward son who always feels guilty. This causes that SEOs believes that every ranking drop is the consequence of an incomprehensible punishment unjustly inflicted.

Hence the practical problem: when it is assumed that any phenomenon is a punishment, an SEO tends to wonder what he did wrong, when in fact the reason for a decrease of visibility could be that were not made enough good

things. In this case, the solution to the problem may consist in improving what has been done so far, instead of wandering in search of the specific underlying cause of a penalty that does not exist.

Of course there are the actual penalties due to spamming. But if you’re a spammer you should know how to distinguish a penalty from a normal ranking drops and knowing how to manage both.

So, stop asking why Google beat us with a knotty club, because those who did not do spam deliberately lose positions simply because the algorithms change and he was not good enough as an SEO. End.

7. Why my Alexa Rank has dropped?

Are you kidding me?

Maybe you were living in the dark side of the Moon in the last decade, and don’t know that we have evolved and that no person also with a minimum grade of intelligence takes into account that metric (and especially if the monitored site is not an American one).

8. Do Adsense and Adwords influence the organic rankings?

Let me tell you a secret… there are two Google:

  1. a technological Google;
  2. a commercial Google.

They speak but do not annoy each other.

Although you’ll find people who are willing to bet his own mom and maybe her pretty cousin on the opposite of what I’m about to say, the truth is that corporate investments in AdWords (or the lack of investment in AdWords) have no direct effect on organic results.

Why Google has punished my site? ReactionThose who are convinced of the contrary fails miserably in understanding that Google makes more money by avoiding influences between the two systems: organic and advertising. It ‘s logic that escapes to entrepreneurs who seek maximum immediate gain but should be understandable to anyone with a business vision based on the acquisition of more long-term trust.

This dichotomy is really the key that allowed Google to wipe out all competition in a world that, when Google was born, was full of Search Engines mixing organic results and advertising as if they were Rum and Coca Cola for a Cuba Libre.

Same story with AdSense.

However … the engineers at Google who are pursuing the highest quality of organic results are certainly interested in acquiring as many signals as possible about websites. If these signals can be extracted through the AdSense script published on the websites, I do not exclude that this “data mining” can happen, now or in the future.

The simplest example that comes to mind is the identification of sites’ networks that refer to the same subject: an AdSense’s code common between sites corresponds to an explicit statement about the nature of the network itself. This statement is not by itself a good thing or bad, but we must be aware that when Google prefers providing a variety of subjects in the SERP, so a network belonging to the same person might have less chance to dominate them.

9. Is the meta tag keywords important?

Simple and fast answer: no.

If you answered yes, you are living in Jurassic Park.

What is your preferred crap SEO question?

10. The 10th crap mythical question is yours…

So, if you have heard one crappy question, please share it in the comments.

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  • Gael

    September 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm Reply

    Question 11 : How do you get backlinks ? Grrrr :o.

  • Natzir

    September 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm Reply

    12:Is better the pipe or the hyphen in the titles?

  • chris

    September 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm Reply

    i still want my pecker to be bigger!

  • Jim Seward

    September 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm Reply

    I’m doing a series of posts on SEO legends on my site at the moment and have covered a number of these.

    Few more, some I’ve covered, some I haven’t yet:

    Microsites are great for ranking
    .edu links are more valuable than .com links
    Incoming links from spammy websites can harm your rankings
    A service that submits your website to thousands of search engines will increase your traffic
    Having a sitemap and submitting it to Google improves your rankings
    To rank well, you have to consider keyword density
    When hiring an external SEO company, make sure you get one that is registered with Google
    The amount of incoming links you have directly affects your rankings
    Poor SEO can put you in the Google sandbox


  • Jan-Willem Bobbink

    September 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm Reply

    Will hidden content position you in the top 10 SERPs?

  • Rick Winfield

    September 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm Reply

    Great list, thanks for sharing. The tough thing for most people is they want quantifiable, measurable metrics. They want to be able to say “I added 1000 new links and my PageRank went from 2 to 3.” But since we don’t really know what Google, Bing, etc are doing behind the scenes, it’s impossible to develop these sort of metrics. The only thing we have is SERP, and that’s the thing to concentrate on.

    I must admit, I still use the Toolbar PageRank a lot, but as a starting point for further investigation. It’s one of the few bones Google throws us, so I use it.

    • Gianluca Fiorelli

      September 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm Reply

      I hope you confess yourself after using the toolbar PR 😉

  • Doc Sheldon

    September 27, 2011 at 8:10 pm Reply

    Good ones, Gianluca, and sadly, some that will probably continue to pop up now and then.

    Unfortunately, there is more erroneous information than good available on the ‘net these days. And as you’ve obviously noticed, there’s no shortage of people willing to perpetuate such myths, in the interest of sounding knowledgeable.

    I was going to add a couple to your list, but Jim beat me to it. 😉 I did have a prospect tell me the other day that he thought keyword density was a foolish thing to worry about, because the more keywords you can “stuff” (his actual word) into your pages, the higher you’ll rank. 😉

  • Sha Menz

    September 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm Reply

    Hi Gianluca,

    Awesome post and the zombie references still have me smiling!

    Some more stunningly brilliant SEO questions for you:

    1. How much does it cost to buy Position 1 on Google?
    Google’s search results are not for sale. If they were, you could not
    imagine a bank account big enough to buy them off from their “do no
    evil” position.

    2. What is the most important thing to optimize my PageRank?
    ummm…I don’t even have words 🙁

    3. Why don’t we just use the text from the site in Position 1?
    Oh no…I hear the zombies scratching at the window!Or is that the
    sound of copyright lawyers turning on their calculators? Perhaps it’s
    time to explain that the only thing duplicating content will earn
    is bad rankings and a bad reputation.

    4. Why can’t customers read my xml sitemap? I need them to be able to
    find my office!
    oh dear … i’m thinking of just opening the door and letting the
    the zombies inside! Why don’t you tell them to try

    and especially for my wonderful Boss, whose love-hate relationship with SEO sometimes gets the better of him –

    5. Why does Google HATE me?
    LOL…you’re so funny!
    Google doesn’t hate you…Google doesn’t even KNOW you! and that is
    it in a nutshell 🙂 Wear a white hat,focus on the work, don’t waste
    time and energy on the competition and stay one step ahead of the

  • SEO

    September 28, 2011 at 8:47 am Reply

    How much a website loading time affects on the ranking?
    Obviously, loading time of the website affects ranking as page speed is one of the factor of SERPS!

    • Gianluca Fiorelli

      September 28, 2011 at 9:30 am Reply

      Approved, even though I personally don’t consider it a “crap question”. In fact that “How much” is still do be surely defined. Google told it is not one of the main ranking factors, but tests say it could be. Moreover if we consider that Page Speed is one of the usability issues Panda looks at.

      • SEO

        September 28, 2011 at 11:11 am Reply

        Yea! Panda looks at many factors moreover the CTR Rate, Bounce Rate, duplicate content etc.

  • MercyLivi

    October 18, 2011 at 7:25 am Reply

    Having XML sitemaps help boost your SERP
    SEO is an one time Investment

  • marianne

    November 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm Reply

    Hello from a recent devotee and my thanks for an excellent post that I will refer “fired” clients to from now on. Although, I must justify my student loans by lodging a slight protest on #5. The biggest problem with search engines is that they are locked-in to term frequency/document frequency model of information retrieval. So, keyword density is a criteria in making the cut and slightly less so in placement once in the results set. I take your meaning about what % of the document content is optimal for placement on searches containing that phrase.

    There…now I can write that student loan check with a clear conscience. 🙂

  • Greg Deckers

    December 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm Reply

    I recently came along: “May I use multiple H1 tags so I can put all my keywords in my H1 tag and still make it readable” -_-‘

  • Rohit Singh

    August 20, 2016 at 6:53 am Reply

    Great post I think that you have pointed the biggest myths with get asked thousands of time on internet and glad to land on this post.

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