Are you lost in a world of conflicting information regarding SEO? It is not an exact science, and search engines guard their algorithms with the utmost secrecy. This means that most information you find is guesswork, which can be tough when you need your business to rank.
If you need to get results from your SEO, then we have cut through the gossip to help you out. Read on to find our 11 SEO myths that need to be debunked immediately.
1. Domain Age Matters
The first myth surrounding search engine optimization is that the age of a domain counts as a ranking factor. Many believe that the longer your domain has been around, regardless of other factors, the higher it will rank. Unfortunately, it is not true.
What many people confused it with is the age of a website, which does count towards ranking factors. This is because older sites usually accrue more backlinks over time. The more backlinks you have, the more likely you are to rank and so older domains benefit more from this.
This is why it is hard for new sites to rank. They don’t have the backlinks to juice up their SEO score.
The age of your business is also a myth when it comes to ranking factors. While you may find that good brand awareness and an existing customer base means you are searched for more regularly, there is no evidence to suggest that Google’s algorithm prefers established brands. It just means you are likely to gain more natural traffic and backlinks through your reputation.
2. You Don’t Need Longform Content
Quality, long-form content can help your rank on Google. However, you should not just opt for long-form but create a blend of content lengths that visitors want to read and engage with.
Note that the keyword in this is quality. Articles filled with fluff and stuffed with pointless keywords will simply put visitors off, increasing your bounce rate. In addition, you may even get penalized by search engines themself for this practice.
The aim is to show that you are an authority on a subject and build trust with your visitors. Make sure that your long-form articles have a good on-page SEO, with a mix of quality internal links, external links, primary keywords, and secondary keywords.
If you mix up your article lengths, you will find that they can each serve a different purpose. Articles with word counts of 500 to 700 are good for increasing engagement, allowing people to chat and discuss in the comment sections. However, articles from 1000 to 1500 words are more likely to be shared on social media and keep people on your page for longer.
For organic rankings, the long-form article is the best. Use your primary keywords in it, then create a few smaller articles to increase engagement. This blend will signal to search engines that your blog is active and providing value, making you more likely to rank.
3. SEO Myths on Keywords
The problem with keywords is that very often they are grammatically incorrect. People type into Google quickly, skimping on grammar to find a quick solution or answer. In addition, many people who use the search engine are using English as a second language and may not be familiar with correct grammar.
This means that after all your proof checking and perfect English, you may end up trying to jam in a keyword that is not correct. It will sound clunky and ruin the flow of your whole article. The question is what do you do about it?
Many people believed the answer was to put them into the piece as written. However, search engines are now much more sophisticated, partly due to the rise of voice searches done on mobile applications. This means that keywords have more leeway in terms of how precise they need to be.
This is known as user and searcher intent. Google has improved its processing of natural language patterns, allowing it to look for content that is relevant but sounds natural. It is no longer enough to stuff your page with keywords, regardless of it making sense.
Instead, write something that sounds natural, adapting the keyword into sentences and making it flow. Try to use latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. These are words in the body of your article that relate to the overall topic, showing search engines that the article has depth and meaning.
4. Your Ad Spending Correlates to Higher SEO Scores
It has been denied that both Google and Microsoft give extra SEO credit to people that pay for advertising using their platforms. In fact, there is very little evidence to suggest it does. What it does do however is increase other factors that all contribute to your SEO score indirectly.
The first factor is that people who see have seen a website or brand before, are more likely to click on organic search results by the same site later. As they have built trust and recognition, having your paid results pop up in front of people could increase your legitimacy, even if they don’t click on the paid results the first time.
The second factor to consider is that paid searches, from platforms like Google Adwords, do themself add to your organic click-through rate. If you search a term on mobile, for example, you will see image ads at the top, followed by sponsored text ads, then organic results.
In addition, these paid ads do lead to increased coverage, sharing, and mentions which all increase your SEO score. The more people visit your site, the more people are likely to backlink to it. Even if they share it on social media, it is likely to increase engagement and clicks to the site.
5. Anchor Text Does Not Matter
When talking about backlinks, one important feature is the anchor text. The anchor text is the word or phrase that will be highlighted and underlined on the website, that when clicked sends the reader to a particular site. Imagine it as the signpost that leads people to your web page.
If that signpost is misleading, it can send people the wrong way, to articles and content they do not need. This, in turn, results in them leaving quickly, increasing your bounce rate. A high bounce rate has an adverse effect on your SEO score.
In addition to this, search engines use anchor text to gain references as to what content a site provides. This is another reason why internal links are important. They tell engines what your site is about.
While the anchor text of organic backlinks will be beyond your control, some may not. Try to get links that use anchor text with keyword relevance, or use internal links for this purpose.
6. Backlinks Mean Higher Rankings
A backlink is vital in building up your SEO profile. However, they are not the only determining factor and are just one piece of a larger puzzle. Backlinks alone will not guarantee your rankings.
Aim for quality over quantity when building links. You want to aim to get links from authoritative, established sites. A lot of links from low traffic, spam type sites will simply give search engines the impression that your website is the same.
Imagine walking into a bar and asking for a recommendation on where to eat. A well-established food reviewer, a member of the public and a slightly grubby, disheveled chef all give recommendations. Of course, you are more likely to take the recommendation from the food reviewer, and links work in exactly the same way.
7. Image Alt Tags Do Not Matter
When search engines crawl for information, they see images using text and code. As such, they can not actually see what images on your page are in terms of the visual objects portrayed. Alt tags are your way of telling them what the image is if anyone decides to search for that term or query.
Many people use search engines to look for images, and a webpage should be a visual feast. Your image alt tags should include a keyword and be a good, concise description of what the image is. Should anyone search for that term, your image will appear, leading them to your site.
Alt tags also make your site accessible for people with visual impairment. These descriptions are often read aloud, describing the image instead of showing it.
8. Third-Party Data Matters
Third-party data and tools are a great way to predict the strength of your website in terms of its search engine rankings. But they are a prediction. Moz, Alexa, Ahrefs, and others are all simply using data to say where they think you are in terms of search rankings.
It is also worth keeping in mind that each of them calculates this in a slightly different way, which will always bring differences in results. Alexa relies on the browsing behavior of others to predict your traffic and engagement. SEO tools use public data and analytics to estimate your traffic by keyword.
Try not to become a slave to third party predictions. They are useful to gain an idea of where you are and how you can improve, but concentrating on good content and SEO practices will be much more beneficial than pouring over statistics every day.
9. Social Media Channels Boost Rankings
Having a large social media channel, with thousands of followers, does not improve your search engine ranking. This does not mean they should be ignored, as they can seriously increase the flow of traffic to your website, which will, in turn, boost your profile.
This is done by having a dedicated, engaged fan base that is provided with quality content. Many people go the route of buying social media followers, but this is a false economy. While on paper it may say you have X amount of followers, they are not real, and will not read articles from your site or make purchases.
Taking the time and making the effort to build up this aspect of your online business can help double your website traffic. Imagine it as advertising or building brand awareness, despite the fact that it will not directly impact your SEO score.
10. Keywords in Meta Descriptions Matter
When you search for a term and a website appears, just below it will be a block of text. This is a meta description and is comprised of 160 words that you can use to provide information and use to entice searchers to click on your content.
Think of it as the elevator pitch of search terms. It needs to be compelling and attention-grabbing enough to steal the click from others on the page. This will in turn bring more organic search traffic.
In the past, using keywords in meta descriptions was commonplace and was a ranking factor. However, when Bing stopped using them in 2009 they fell out of favor and are now obsolete. Only the Chinese search engine Baidu continues to use them.
11. Success in One Ranking Impacts Another
The final myth is that just because you rank well for one term, it has a positive impact on your rankings for other terms. It does not. A website could rank number one for a particular keyword, and it would have no influence or other keywords searched for.
Let’s say Mcdonalds ranks number one for ‘best fast food burger’. Just because it has a high ranking, and is related to food, does not mean it will get preference if someone types in ‘best fast food fries’ or ‘best fast food ice cream’.
It will of course get some credence, as it is an established global company. It has built backlinks, has lots of social media and paid advertising traffic, has news articles written about it, and all the other SEO factors it needs. But ranking top for one term will not have any effect on others.
Work on an All Round Approach
In summary, the only way to rank is to have a long-term strategy using the keystones of good SEO practice and avoiding troublesome SEO myths. Create high quality, keyword-rich content, build good links, and drive traffic using social media and advertising.
With such a daunting task, it can help to get some professional assistance. Riserr can help with all your digital marketing needs, from website design to SEO. Contact us for a quote today, so we can begin building your long term strategy to get the highest search engine rankings!