Over the last decade, I think it’s fair to say search engine optimisation (SEO) has continuously evolved and changed. We’ll often read about multiple updates per year from Google, such as the ‘Florida’ or the ‘Medic’ updates but what do they mean? What impact do they have on my business website?
As a result, we are continuously faced with the challenge of educating ourselves about
each update and adapting our SEO strategy accordingly.
Over time, many different techniques can become outdated or we can simply read or hear about myths which lead to simply wasted efforts.
In this guide, we will look at some of the more common SEO myths from a number of different sectors including domains, security, search and content.
Domain Myths – “The age of my domain will help me rank”
Does it matter if your website was registered in 1998, 2009 or 2019? Is the age of your domain a ranking factor? The simple answer is no it isn’t.
Search Engines are more interested in high-quality content, containing quality links with authority which will deliver the best information to a user based on their search enquiry.
Okay, so you could argue if you’re website was created in 1998 and still going strong, within those years there is a good chance you have built up lots of content, backlines and authority which all contribute to good rankings signals. However, you could also create a website in 2017, and within a couple of successful years, build up those same ranking signals. Google will very likely reward the newer site because you have built up the same credibility and influence within a smaller time-frame.
So, what about new domains with little content and takes time to build up? According to Google expert Matt Cutts, Former head of Webspam, “the difference between a domain that’s six months old vs one year old is really not that big at all”. Sadly, domain age is an SEO myth.
Security Myths – “Having a secure site isn’t important for SEO”
Have you ever noticed the little padlock icon when browsing a website? What about when one URL starts with ‘http://’ or ‘https://’?? To put it simply, the additional ‘s’ stands for secure which means your connection to that website is encrypted so your personal data cannot be compromised. The security is implemented through an SSL certificate.
Does security have any relevance to SEO? Is this an SEO myth? Well according to Google, they have publicly stated that if two websites are equal in search results, if one has SSL enabled, it will likely receive a slightly ranking boost to outweigh the other. Furthermore, according to research by hubspot, up to 85% of users will abandon browsing your website if it’s not secure.
So having a secure website isn’t an SEO myth, infact it’s important for SEO and bounce-rate.
Search Myths – “Meta Descriptions have a big impact on search ranking signals”
I’m sure you will already know about meta descriptions and how they are used as preview snippets that rank on search engine result pages (SERPS). Surely it would make sense for search engine algorithms to take meta descriptions into account when calculating search rankings? Well, not exactly!
Going as far back as 2009, Google announced that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s rankings algorithms for web search.
Okay, so although meta descriptions may not affect rankings, they certainly influence clickthrough rates which are equally important. Creating a relevant, compelling meta description can make all the difference between a user clicking through to your page or a competitor. Furthermore, other search engines such as Bing do evaluate clickthrough rate as an important ranking factor, so meta descriptions are still certainly worth completing.
Content Myths – “Keywords need to be an exact match”
Nothing is more awkward than reading a headline or a piece of content that is awkwardly focused around a keyword phrase, then repeated throughout.
Instead of focusing on keywords, the goal should be to write an engaging headline that clearly explains what your content is about. Your content should follow a flow that makes most sense to your audience, not search engines. The algorithms Google uses to rank websites is increasing it’s intelligence on understanding real-world- entities and what content is the most informative and relevant to a user’s search.
Forcing as many keywords onto your page is called keyword stuffing, a term coined by Matt Cutts in 2007, where websites found implementing this black-hat technical highly risk being penalised in search engine results. Today, Google’s algorithm is getting more advanced and thanks to yearly updates such Hummingbird, it’s even more focused on matching search query context to results.
Over the last decade, search engines have heavily evolved and many SEO techniques that previously worked or were recommended are not considered the best practice anymore.
Understanding these SEO myths will not only help you be more effective and more efficient with your organic search strategy, it also highlights that techniques such as meta descriptions serve an equally important purpose.
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