Over the past several years, a number of misconceptions have emerged about how the search engines operate. For the beginner SEO, this causes confusion about what's required to perform effectively. In this section, we'll explain the real story behind the myths.
Search Engine Submission
In classical SEO times (the late 1990s), search engines had submission forms that were part of the optimization process. Webmasters and site owners would tag their sites and pages with keyword information, and submit them to the engines. Soon after submission, a bot would crawl and include those resources in their index. Simple SEO!
Unfortunately, this process didn't scale very well, the submissions were often spam, so the practice eventually gave way to purely crawl-based engines. Since 2001, not only has search engine submission not been required, but has become virtually useless. The engines all publicly note that they rarely use submitted URLs, and that the best practice is to earn links from other sites. This will expose your content to the engines naturally.
You can still sometimes find submission pages (here's one for Bing), but these are remnants of the past, and are unnecessary in the practice of modern SEO. If you hear a pitch from an SEO offering search engine submission services, run, don't walk, to a real SEO. Even if the engines used the submission service to crawl your site, you'd be unlikely to earn enough link juice to be included in their indices or rank competitively for search queries.
Once upon a time, meta tags (in particular, the meta keywords tag) were an important part of the SEO process. You would include the keywords you wanted your site to rank for, and when users typed in those terms, your page could come up in a query. This process was quickly spammed to death, and was eventually dropped by all the major engines as an important ranking signal.
Other tags, in particular the title tag and meta description tag (covered previously in this guide), are crucial for quality SEO. Additionally, the meta robots tag is an important tool for controlling crawler access. So, while understanding the functions of meta tags is important, they're no longer the central focus of SEO.
Ever see a page that just looks spammy? Perhaps something like: "Bob's cheap Seattle plumber is the best cheap Seattle plumber for all your plumbing needs. Contact a cheap Seattle plumber before it's too late."
Not surprisingly, a persistent myth in SEO revolves around the concept that keyword density—the number of words on a page divided by the number of instances of a given keyword—is used by the search engines for relevancy and ranking calculations.
Despite being disproved time and again, this myth has legs. Many SEO tools still feed on the concept that keyword density is an important metric. It's not. Ignore it and use keywords intelligently and with usability in mind. The value from an extra 10 instances of your keyword on the page is far less than earning one good editorial link from a source that doesn't think you're a search spammer.