Today, let’s take a closer look at a few of the common SEO myths that are still out there.
Years ago, SEO was like ancient medicine.
If you did just the right combination of dance moves and through the write herbs on someone and they managed to get better, it must have worked! In other words, people would try a lot of things and if it happened to have an effect, they were suddenly experts.
Today, SEO is much more of a blend between art and science.
Tactics of the past don’t work the same way they once did. Quality of content and user experience is taking center stage and there are fewer “tricks” you can do to suddenly vault your website to the top of the search rankings.
Myth #1: You should optimize meta titles and description for search engines over people
Google and other search engines continue to emphasize creating content that guides the user’s experience to the best content. If you are optimizing around keywords in a way that speaks more to Google than to a human, you are likely to see negative impacts and be punished in search rankings.
While using keywords is important, it should not be the emphasis, your customer should be.
Several years ago Google decided that meta descriptions and keywords would have no impact on search results. While this may be true, Google will still highlight them in search results, so use them, but it’s still more important for the reader as it is one of the first things they see before clicking into your site.
Myth #2: More links are better than more content
With Google’s algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird), Google has indicated that simply getting links back to your site is not good enough. They are still important but when people are hired to do link building, they should care more about the quantity of links, not the quality of those links.
Investing more time in content generation will ensure that when you do get those high quality backlinks, you’ll be making the most of it.
Myth #3: Link building is dead
Related to #2, many believe that with Google’s updates and announcements that link building is dead. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, spammy link building is dead.
You still want to go after those high quality links from reputable sites. You don’t want links from directories that serve no purpose to your potential visitor. You want to be mentioned in other blog posts and be shared on social media. Aim for the blogs and sites that are high quality and relevant to your niche. That’s the way to build links.
Myth #4: SEO is something my IT person can do
Someone who knows computers and has plenty of technical expertise may seem like the perfect person to perform SEO functions for you but the reality is there is more to it than simply the having technical knowledge.
SEO is part art and part science and technical knowledge alone isn’t enough to have a superior SEO strategy.
Myth #5: All I need is on-page SEO
Your website has great, engaging copy with your target keyword phrases in both the title and in the body. All images have proper alt text and you have a perfectly worded meta title/description. You’re done right? Not even close!
On-page SEO is essential if you want to rank well but it alone is not a silver bullet for getting to the top of search engine rankings. You want to focus on optimizations in several areas:
- User experience. Do they find what they expect to find and is it easy? Does the site load quickly? Is there an enjoyable experience for both mobile and desktop visitors?
- Off-page optimizations: Do you have any backlinks from reputable sources? Are you engaging on other websites, blogs, and social media? If you’re a local business, are you creating profiles on local listing sites (Yelp, Google, Yahoo Local, etc.)?
- Conversion: Is your website converting anyone that comes to it? At which stage of the funnel is your content and does that relate to the customers you’ve attracted?
Myth #6: Seek a perfect keyword density
If only there were a perfect number of times a keyword could appear on a page and you would suddenly spring from page 7 of Google all the way to page 1. There is no magic number or ratio of keywords-to-content that will spring you to the top.
There are ways of optimizing your content and you should integrate keywords/phrases you want to target, but the reality is there is no magic formula. In fact, if you try to put the keyword in there too many times, it will look like keyword stuffing, which will definitely not help you.
Myth #7: Creating microsites will help my primary page’s SEO
In order for this strategy to be successful, you’d have to spend a lot of time developing the microsite for it to have a strong enough impact on your primary site. Wouldn’t that effort and work be better served creating content and working to develop the backlinks of your primary site? The short answer is, yes!
Myth #8: Security? I don’t need an SSL!
In 2014, Google announced that they wanted “HTTPS everywhere.” At the time, it was only meant to be a lightweight signal and it affected only a very small amount of sites. However, an article by Search Engine Land indicates that sites with an SSL certificate (HTTPS) were given a boost in rankings while those without it fell.
While it may be too early to definitively say that this will affect your search ranking. The fact that Google announced it gives them the freedom to increase the importance of this signal which is something that you need to prepare for.
Bonus Myth: “Why aren’t I at the top of Google yet? My site has been up for two months already!”
This is a common question business owners have. They launched a website a couple months ago and are still not ranking for all of the keywords/phrases they want (all this without creating any new content for the site). Whatever your developer or SEO person has promised, a site will not be competitive for a whole range of keywords/phrases unless you are actively creating content for those keywords. Web development alone can only take your site so far. If it’s been awhile and you’re still not ranking for those desired phrases, chances are you need to develop a content strategy to increase your rank for those phrases.
One word of caution: you are still competing against other people who want to rank for those same keywords. One blog post isn’t going to cut it. You need quality content and plenty of it.
There are plenty of pitfalls and traps to a successful SEO strategy and implementation. With Google’s ever-changing algorithm updates, staying on top of your site’s SEO is essential. While we can’t predict the individual changes Google makes from update to update, we can takeaway two things from all updates and announcements: 1) focus on the user and creating high quality content, and 2) don’t try to game or exploit the system because eventually Google’s going to close that loophole.
What have you been told about SEO that you think may be a myth? Post your myths in the comments below.