SEO has been evolving and upgrading for a number of years but in recent times, the rate of change has gone through the roof. This means that the aspects that many people believed and thought were true are no longer the case.
Before you panic or think that everything you know is wrong, stop, because there are many great aspects of SEO which are as true today as they ever were.
However, there are also a number of SEO myths alive and kicking in 2016, and it is best to be aware of these so you can avoid them. This guide aims to debunk many of the strongest SEO myths, helping you to create the most effective SEO strategy for 2016 and beyond.
1. Having Google Authorship increases your visibility on searches and improves your click through
While Google Authorship may have been a way to boost your visibility and be recognised as an expert in your field, those days are long gone. In June of 2014, Google took the step of removing the Google Authorship photos from search engines results. Your name was still present but your face would no longer be available.
In August of 2014, Google took the step of dismantling the Google Authorship program. This meant that your by-line information was removed and a number of marketers were left dismayed. There was a spell for a couple of years where it was important to have a Google Authorship profile set up but in 2015, this is no longer the case.
2. You need to submit your site to Google
This is categorically not true and there is no requirement for you to manually submit your site to Google to ensure that it appears in search results or is ranked. It is possible for a new site to connect with Google and submit their URL but Google can be relied upon to find your site even if you haven’t submitted it.
You should bear in mind that taking the time and effort to submit your site to Google promises nothing and there are no guarantees that Google will pay attention. You should use your time wisely to develop your site and rely on the crawlers to find and index your site, which they will in due course.
3. Links are more important than content
This is a topic that is often brought up with many people wondering if it better to invest time and money in link building or generating content. Having links pointing to your site is important and can develop your site’s authority but of the two, having great quality content is the best option for your needs.
After all, if you have a lot of links pointing to your site and you don’t have any content of value or which will please your new found guests, what good are the links? Linking should not be considered a numbers game, and you would be better off developing a wide range of links from relevant sources, something which you can achieve if your content is strong enough.
Investing in content provides you with material that can be used in a wide range of locations and placing your content on a variety of different locations will help to develop more links to your site.
Here’s what Matt Cutts has to say;
4. You don’t need a secure site for SEO
You should have noticed that some sites have URLs that begin with “HTTP” and some have URLs that begin with “HTTPS”. The first type stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol and the latter is HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, which offers the same ability to communicate over computer networks as the first option but provides an additional element of security, with SSL/TLS.
As of August 2014, Google made it clear that they would be using HTTPS as a signal in their algorithms which means that if you have a site that utilises HTTP, you could experience a dip in rankings. It should be noted that HTTPS is a lightweight signal with respect to algorithms, and there are other factors that Google takes more seriously when it comes to determining rankings. However, it is an issue and it may become a lot more important for Google in the future.
5. SEO is solely to do with ranking
Yes, if you are ranked highly on search engines you should find that your click through rates rise but it is important to be aware that ranking isn’t everything that it is cracked up to be. Research indicates that while users still favour the top search returns, when they move through the pages, the results at the top of each page continue to have a better click through rate than the findings below. This means that being ranked higher on a lesser page could provide a better click through rate than being ranked lower on a higher page.
There is also the fact that with search results providing users with rich text and snippets, there is a chance to sway users to your site with what additional content. Solely focusing on ranking is a bad approach to take because ranking alone doesn’t necessarily transform into cash or action being taken.
6. Meta Descriptions Impact Greatly On Search Rankings
Meta Descriptions are useful because they can explain what a webpage contains. However, if you thought that the Google algorithms paid much attention to what is contained in Meta Descriptions, you may be in for a surprise.
All the way back in 2009, Google announced that Meta Descriptions and Meta Keywords had no bearing on search engine rankings.
However, Meta Descriptions can still be very useful for SEO purposes, because they provide with you with an excellent chance to inform potential users of what you have to offer. A relevant and enticing Meta Description may be the factor that makes the difference between someone clicking on your site or not.
7. SEO work can be passed over to your IT team
Over time, some people and businesses have become confused about how to utilise SEO. For many, SEO is an area that needs technical experience and as it is an area that requires technical skill, some people think that it is a perfect fit for their IT professionals. There are technical components to creating good quality SEO but there is a lot more to it than that, and it may be beyond the skills and confidence levels of your standard IT professional.
By all means have an IT professional involved with an SEO project, their skills will be vital at certain points but there are many aspects of SEO that need to be left to professionals from other areas of your business. Your IT department covers a broad range of work and many of their skills are not suitable to undertaking SEO work, so think long and hard before you develop a SEO team or decide who will undertake your SEO work for you.
8. Keyword Optimisation is the most important aspect of SEO
When we use search engines, we need to communicate what we are looking for and keywords are important in getting our thoughts across with the hope of getting a positive return. However, Google is moving away from just focusing on the keywords to actually try and understand the context of what you are looking for.
Google is placing a greater emphasis on the intent behind your search as it wants to provide you with the best quality answers straight away. If you overuse keywords and provide very little context, you will find that Google will move away from ranking your site highly, because they can no longer be confident about whether your content is matching the intentions of the user. With this in mind, keyword optimisation is important, but it isn’t everything.
9. Keywords have to be an exact match
Due to so many people believing that keyword content is so vital to be ranked, there has been a slavish structure to use this keyword phrase exactly time and time again. There should be a consideration of context and thought given to the user with respect to keyword usage. Your main focus should be on creating a strong headline that sets up what the page is about, as opposed to shoehorning the keyword phrase awkwardly.
Awkward use of keyword phrases stand out, and they can leave users feeling awkward and unhappy with the content of your site. Similar to overusing a keyword phrase, if the keyword seems unnatural, it will appear to be forced into your content, which can have a negative impact on how users, and even search engines, consider your site. This is as true for the headline as it is for the content, the aim of your site should be focused on the end user, not the search engines, and the awkward use of keyword content will not help you to impress.
10. The most important on-page element is the H1tag
With the structure on your page acting as an outline, users eyes will automatically be drawn to the headline. It is important to know that whatever title-tag you use to wrap around your headline, it’s most important aspect is for style purposes, not for informing search engines of the content or what you offer.
This is another indicator of the evolution of search engines and the improved intelligence of search engine algorithms. The H1 title tag takes care of the font size and style of the headline, improving the look of your content, but it no longer provides information for search engines. Rather than focusing on using H1, H2 or H3 tags, focus more on creating a clear and concise structure for your page which leads the user through the process.
11. A Homepage Needs To Be Filled With Content
It is easy to see why many people think that a homepage needs to be packed with content, providing as much information about your site and business as possible. The homepage is often the gateway to your site and if you are looking to welcome as many people in to your site, you may think it is best to showcase everything that you do.
This isn’t always the case though and sometimes context is more important than content for your home page. As long as you can indicate who you are, what you provide, where you can be found and what you value, you will make a good impression. You should also provide users with guidelines or instructions on what to do next, which is likely to lead you to other pages, where you can provide further content and information. A homepage should ensure a user is satisfied and often, too much information is as confusing as too little information.
Watch what Matt Cutts has to say;
12. It is better to have as many pages as possible
There is a school of thought that having more pages helps you to create a larger footprint which in turn helps you to rank higher, but this isn’t the case. Not everything that is published on a site is indexed and there is also the fact that some pages get indexed but do not remained indexed.
There is also the fact that indexed pages don’t always provide high quality traffic and leads to your site. In life, there is often a trade-off between quality and quantity and when you have more pages, it is harder to maintain a high sense of quality. It is better to post high quality and relevant pages as opposed to filling your site with irrelevant or poor quality content.
Watch what Matt Cutts has to say;
13. There is no need to carry out local SEO
The benefits of the internet have led to a global marketplace and businesses are able to sell their wares around the world. This has led many people to believe that local SEO isn’t important but this is not the case. In fact, carrying out local SEO work is vital if you are looking to make a positive impact. If you are a local firm, carrying out local SEO is the best way to ensure that you can be found by local customers who are looking to buy.
In July of 2014, Google took a big step in promoting the importance of local SEO through the introduction of the Google Pigeon algorithm. This algorithm has the ability to consider local search rankings in a way that is akin to traditional rankings, utilising a wide range of ranking signals. There was also an increased focus on how distance is utilised when determining relevant rankings. Local SEO is hugely important and this is even truer today than it was in the past.
Watch what Matt Cutts has to say;
14. Using other domains I own and microsites to link to my site boosts SEO
This is not the case and if you are looking to boost your SEO by having a number of domains and microsites aimed at your own main site, you will be disappointed. Search engines have the ability to know who is the registered owner for a domain and if there is believed to be a link; you will not receive any additional benefit.
If you are going to the time and effort of having different sites with different content, you would be better off using this content to boost your main site. Placing your focus on this site and improving it will have a better SEO benefit in the long-term than setting up a network of sites and attempting to boost your SEO in that manner.
Watch what Matt Cutts has to say;
15. It doesn’t matter if I have bad sites linking to me
If you have a number of links heading to your site from bad sites you may feel that there is no problem with this. This isn’t the case because modern day Google knows exactly whether a site is good or bad and they know where these sites are linking to.
The more recent Google algorithms that significantly strengthened their understanding of this area and if you are looking to fool or hoodwink Google, you will end up being penalised sooner or later.
Watch what Matt Cutts has to say;
16. SEO is for the search engines, not the users
While SEO used to be about being ranked and found by potential customers, it is so much more than this now. SEO is a great way to engage with your audience and to improve the experience they have with you. You should be looking to optimise your site for users ensuring that they click on to your site and once they click on to your site, they actually stay on site.
This means that you need to provide them with content that is relevant, of value and which can connect with your audience. You should be looking to ensure that your website is easy to use, navigate around and browse through. This can be achieved for crawlers and human visitors, and you should always be looking to create a site that is suitable for humans and the search engine robots.
You should look to provide your users with what they want and need and this includes having calls to action that are clear and can be actionable. While the term SEO is well-known, there is a growing feeling that the new wave of SEO is about “Search Experience Optimisation”.
Michael Wyszomierski has his say on this…
17. SEO is not linked with inbound marketing
You may find it easier to consider your departments or tasks as separate issues but there are many aspects of creating a reliable and effective website that link and overlap. SEO and inbound marketing are strongly linked and you should consider them together.
Inbound marketing is all about taking strangers and turning them into customers by informing them of what you can do for them and why they should use your business. Inbound marketing can be greatly boosted by creating good quality content, utilising social media channels and working towards converting users.
SEO is a tactic that aims to boost your businesses’ visibility, and traffic, from the main search engines. From this, it should be clear that SEO can strongly boost your inbound marketing work. There are four main stages of methodology in inbound marketing – Attract, Convert, Close and Delight and it should be seen that SEO is crucial in the first stage and can lay the foundation for other stages.
Have you come across any SEO myths that you believed in? Knowing these myths will give you a better understanding of how you should be working with respect to SEO and how to create a more effective and efficient SEO strategy.
There is a growing realisation that SEO is about creating a better experience for the user and improving this experience and engagement will lead to better SEO results for the firm.