2016's Biggest seo myths
Every year, the SEO landscape changes dramatically. The ever-changing algorithms Google create in order to make the world of search fair and even mean that agencies and marketing professionals have halted working on link-building and being keyword obsessed, and shifted their focus towards creating quality content.
This guide will debunk some common SEO myths and assumptions - so you’re not wasting time on things that simply don’t matter in order to get your website seen.
Myth #1 - “I must submit my site to Google”
When you’re doing a Google search, you aren’t actually searching the internet. You’re searching Google’s index of the internet, or at least as much of it as it can find.
Google uses software programs called spiders. They fetch a few web pages, then follow the links on those pages, and the follow the links on those pages, and so on, until they’ve indexed a huge chunk of the web; billions of pages stored on thousands of machines.
The idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to be found in search results is nonsense. Whilst it is possible to submit a URL to Google directly, the search giant will find it in time. This submission doesn’t guarantee better ranking at all. The Google spiders will find the site and index it in due time, so don’t worry about submitting it yourself.
Myth #2 - “More links are better than more content”
In the past, a fairly solid and well-documented SEO method was to build as many links as possible without actually analysing the linking domain. By doing this, your website was almost guaranteed to rank higher. It’s still fairly important, according to Searchmetrics, this is still one of the top 5 most important ranking factors - but this now needs to be done in a different way. Since Google’s Penguin 2.0 update of May ’13, it’s become more important to focus on the quality of the links you’re getting, rather than the quantity. Less is more.
You’re better off investing your time and resources into content, which can be used for your web pages, blog posts, social media, lead generation offers and even guest posts on other sites. All these content types will bring more links with them over time.
Good content is a key part of the inbound marketing methodology, which is something that we're experts in, partnering with the marketing platform HubSpot.
Myth #3 - “Having a secure site isn’t important for SEO”
Have you ever noticed that some URLs on the web start with 'http://' whilst others start with 'https://'? Perhaps you noticed that extra ’s’ when you were browsing through websites that required secure information, such as your online banking?
Basically, the ’s’ means that your connection to that website is encrypted - so no nasty hackers getting their hands on your data - and the technology that powers that little ’s’ is called SSL, meaning Secure Sockets Layer.
In August ’14, Google announced that it has started to use HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithm, which means if your website still relies on the older HTTP protocol, your rankings may suffer as a result.
It’s worth noting that if you use the Website Platform and you’re a HubSpot customer, you can get a standard SSL certificate, for free!
Myth #4 - “SEO is all about ranking”
We’ve all seen those agencies that can “guarantee to get you #1 on Google” right?
Whilst there is a strong correlation between your place in the search results and your clickthrough rates, ranking isn’t the be-all-and-end-all that it used to be. Numerous studies of clickthrough rates and user behaviour have shown that searches prefer the top search results (the top 3 particularly). With search results now being appended with rich text/snippets, results that appear below the top 3 are getting much higher clickthrough rates than ever before.
That being said, rankings don’t guarantee success. In theory, you could rank fantastically for a search term, get thousands of clicks to your site, but not gain a single customer. Is that what you want? Unlikely.
This is a big misconception - that higher rankings on search results means more traffic. It’s true people will see you, but you might not get more click-throughs. There’s a couple of reasons for this:
To solve these problems, try doing some Search Engine Marketing such as Google AdWords. At Attitude, we can create a great keyword strategy relating to your business, and use enticing meta descriptions to get people to your site. Find out more about our digital marketing options.
Myth #5 - “Keyword optimisation is the key to SEO”
Until search engines like Google or Bing are able to enter our brains and read our thoughts (only a few years away, surely?) - we’ll always need to use written language in order to make a search query. We use keywords to communicate.
It used to be important that you write all of your content with the keyword incorporated as an exact match. But for the last few years Google have been using something called Latent Semantic Indexing (or LSI) which has become more and more prominent with every algorithm update.
With this type of indexing, the contents of a web page are crawled by the search engine spider and the most common words or phrases are combined and identified as the keywords for that page. LSI also can look for synonyms that are related to your target keywords.
Remember this: it’s important to optimise your page for the user experience. Don’t place your keywords word-for-word until it sounds like gibberish. Make the content quality. Write the content for the user. By using synonyms and related terms, the search engines will still understand what your goal is.
It’s very important to realise that Google is no longer trying to match the keywords that you type into its search engine to the keywords of a web page. Instead, it is trying to understand the intent behind the keywords sot hat it can match that intent to relevant, high-quality content.
Myth #6 - “Your homepage needs lots of content”
Have you ever come across a website’s homepage that’s simply littered with copy? Text all over the place, huge paragraphs that you don’t want to read? Your homepage is your gateway to the rest of your site, the first thing people see. It’s all about user experience. Maybe your value proposition is simplicity. Just a single Log In form might do, like Dropbox.
Your homepage should be long enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you are and your value proposition, along with what the visitors should do next.
You want your visitors to leave satisfied, not overwhelmed or - worse - underwhelmed.
Certainly not confused.
Myth #7 - “The more pages I have, the better”
Some people seem to have the notion that the more pages you have, the more traffic to your site you’ll get. Not necessarily true. Just like link building, creating content just for the sake of having more pages will not help you. Make sure you’re focusing on quality, not quantity. If your content is poor, your ranking will not increase and all those pages that you’ve created will have been a waste of time.
Not every page you publish gets indexed (and rightfully so.) Sometimes pages get indexed, but don’t remain in the index. Just because you have pages indexed, doesn’t meant hat they will drive quality traffic and leads.
Introduced in February ’11 - the Google Panda algorithm update has been getting better and better at detecting bad content. If you have poor content it’s even possible that you’ll face a Google penalty. Make sure you’re creating content that people want to read.
Myth #8 - “Local SEO doesn’t matter these days”
Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re a local business, optimising for local search will not only help you get found, but you’ll be found by people who are nearby and therefore more likely to buy from you.
Going forward Google will continue to help local content get higher in search results.
In July ’14 with the release of the Pigeon algorithm update, this creates local search rankings more like traditional search rankings, taking hundreds of factors into account.
Pigeon also improved the way that Google evaluates distance when determining rankings for local results. Ultimately, local SEO matters, more than ever before.
Now that you now what some of the most common SEO myths are, focus on what you’re doing. Is it helping? Is it relevant? Or even… what are you doing that is potentially making your SEO worse.
Understanding these various SEO truths will make you both more effective and more efficient with your organic search strategy.
More than anything else, SEO is about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query. The better their experience with you - from your results page listing (SERP), to the quality and the relevancy of the content on your site, the better your SEO will be.