You have likely heard lots of tips and advice regarding the mysterious world of search engine optimisation (SEO), many of which might have you practicing some ill-advised methods and harming your site’s rankings. It is true that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, but that isn’t the case here. Below we will be debunking some of the top SEO myths to help you better understand this yeti of a marketing tool – strap in.
1. SEO Is Magic
It may be an ever-changing, complex beast, but you can’t study it at Hogwarts (unfortunately). It can be hard to understand and test success of SEO because Google doesn’t publish their algorithms which means when you hire an SEO professional you are doing it based on trust. Trust that they have a strong knowledge in their field and are committed to keeping up-to-date with any changes sneaky Google decide to make.
Informed SEO professionals will use their knowledge to ensure your site complies with Google’s algorithms so that it can rank highly in search results. You’re never paying for their time like you would with an accountant to work out the numbers, you’re paying for their knowledge, expertise and understanding. If they really know what they are doing you will see positive results over time. Don’t forget to ask them for case studies – that’s how you’ll be able to choose an excellent SEO agency!
2. Page Speed? Na, Don’t Worry About That Mate
Google once said that speed is used to split pages when other factors are the same, such as backlinks. Understanding how Google is assessing a page in terms of speed is important to know so you can optimise your page accordingly.
Speed may not be the most important factor that Google looks at to rank websites, but it can have a big impact on the traffic it receives. Many users will bounce off sites that do not load within three seconds, which in turn, can damage your rank. A site’s direct object model or DOM (which refers to all the items viable on the page except for advertisements) is seen as the most critical factor by Google Bots. If your DOM speed is quick it means that Google can crawl and index your site quicker and in more depth.
You can increase your page speed with the Google Lighthouse Report.
3. Links Are Retired, Don’t Bother With Them
Links are not dead, retired or useless – they are very much alive and more important than ever. All good content needs some excellent links and, if possible, loads of average links too. The more quality links you can have linking back to your site the higher it will rank in search results – don’t be afraid to get creative with your link building.
Buying a load of links will do you no good. At first you might see your rankings increase, but as soon as Google gets wind of what you’ve done they will penalise you and you will be back to square one. Good links need to be relevant to your content as well as legitimate. There is no point getting links from a banking website if you sell shoes. Links from well respected sites like government and educational websites are the best as these carry the most trust in Google’s eyes and links from them will pass some of that trust onto your site.
4. Content. The Fall of the King
Everyone loves to shout that content is king. However, this title is a myth, a charade created by content writers everywhere to inflate their importance. Well not really, but it isn’t the be all and end all.
Ideally, content and links should be an equal partnership perfectly playing off each other like a legendary comedy double. Great content needs quality links to improve a site’s rank in search results which makes building links just as important as the content they link to.
5. Get As Many Keywords On Your Site As Possible
Once upon a time you could slap hundreds and thousands of keywords (not sweets) onto the background of a page in the same colour and fool Google into ranking your site well for them. Not anymore. Google as wised up to sly tactics like these and has cracked down by penalising sites attempting to manipulate their keyword filter.
It is now much more important about the relevancy of the content opposed to the number of times a search term is used. In some cases the keyword may be on an image tag or in a link. Your title tag and meta descriptions are still very important so it is crucial to include your keywords into these.
6. You Haven’t Submitted Your Site? Pay Me To Do It For You
If someone asks you to pay them to submit your site to search engines, tell them where to go (how you phrase it is up to you). That’s because you really don’t need to and you certainly don’t need to pay someone to do it for you.
There are times when you might need a search engine to crawl and index your site such as if you upload new content like a blog or a page. In this case you want them to return to your site to re-evaluate that page and include it into your ranking, but you never need to do this. This is because Google and other engines are constantly crawling the web for new pages so eventually they will reach your new pages eventually. If you want to submit a page quickly without waiting for them you can do this easily through Google’s Search Console Fetch for free.
7. Just Because The Big Boys Do It. Should You?
You probably almost hear your mother’s voice mentioning that famous cliff in your head reading that title, but (as always) she would be right in the world of SEO too.
Don’t believe what other sites tell you is the best thing to do when it comes to SEO until you’ve seen their metrics. Even then, that tactic might not work for your site as different methods work better for certain types of site. For instance, large, popular website are less affected by what users and Google do to them because they get such high traffic compared to smaller sites. Which means if they are practicing poor or black-hat methods they will be less affected than a smaller site would be.
The best advice we can give is to find out what SEO practices work best for your site and stick to them while avoiding being drawn in by the apparent success of the top dogs.
8. It Has To Be Fresh
QDF (query deserves freshness) applies to certain search types where the content being requested by the user needs to be fresh and recent. These types of searches include breaking news stories and lottery number results – if you want to find out what the results were you don’t want hear last years numbers.
That doesn’t mean that you need to update all the content on your site all the time in order to continue to rank highly and appear “fresh”. Which is good news for all you smaller businesses who realistically do not have the resources to be constantly updating every page on your site. All we would recommend is putting in place a strong content strategy and keeping an active blog with relevant articles that ideally include several internal links to other posts and pages on your site.
9. An Algorithm Devaluation Is The Same As A Penalty
The Google algorithm zoo (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird etc.) can devalue sites as they evolve and update which may lead to some websites dropping in the rankings, while others see positive results. This is called an “algorithmic change” not a penalty. These changes can come out of the blue with no warning or explanation leaving it up to the SEO team to figure out what has changed and make corrections to the site to try and get their ranking back.
Penalties on the other hand can be found in Search Console as manual actions that Google will flag directly to you. These are where they have spotted something on your site that they have deemed is a violation of the webmaster guidelines and consequently have devalued to site accordingly. Google will always let you know when they do this – because they’re nice like that.
10. Duplicate Content Is A Penalty
There is no such penalty for duplicate content and there never was. Google can spot duplicate content, but it simply ranks one version of it and ignores the other – it does not penalise your site for it.
However, too much duplicate content can affect your site through the Panda algorithm in terms of the overall site quality rather than the manual action. Duplicate content filters also apply to meta titles and descriptions too so be sure to avoid replicating the same titles – especially H1 titles.
If your site needs any help with SEO don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.