The Biggest SEO Myths Busted – The Ultimate 2018 Edition Guide
Experts worldwide say that SEO keeps evolving year-a-year. While that’s completely true, it’s in itself unfortunately quite an understatement. If you’re an industry insider, then you’ll already know that there are multiple algorithm updates, both minor and major, launched by Google every year, including the major Penguin update towards the end of the last year. Google is constantly trying to make its search results user-friendly by introducing newer gimmicks such as the featured snippets in SERPs, the AMP (accelerated mobile pages) project, the elimination of the search ads from the right hand side of the search results page, etc. As a result, the focus has shifted from just keywords and links to high-quality content.
However, does it mean that in 2018, to be successful in your SEO campaign, all you need to do is to produce extremely high-quality keyword optimized content? Not really! While it’s technically true, the actual picture is far from it.
To help you understand what’s outdated and what the most relevant way to success in SEO is in 2018, we have compiled this ultimate SEO myth buster guide. We will help you debunk all such assumptions that may hinder the progress of your SEO campaign in 2018.
So, let’s get started right away:
1. “You cannot start your SEO campaign without submitting your website to Google.”
To the naked eye, this reads as the obvious, right? It’s a kind of given that if you want to rank on Google, you need to first submit your site to the search engine, isn’t it? Well, it’s far from the fact. Here’s how…
Yes, if you have a new website with a fresh domain, Google gives you the option of submitting the URL directly. And if you haven’t done so already, you can do it by going to the Google Search Console. But, when submitting the URL to Google, even the most seasoned SEO pros miss out on reading the instructions provided by Google. See for yourself below:
Google is the # 1 search engine in the world. So, obviously it doesn’t have to necessarily depend just upon the users telling it about their websites. Even if you don’t submit your website to Google, it still can find, access and index your site. On the contrary, just because you submitted your website in the search console, it doesn’t mean that it will be automatically indexed.
When you look up something on Google, you’re actually searching only a single bit of the big World Wide Web. You’re just looking up Google’s indexed web pages. Google sends out its search bots (aka spiders) across the web. They crawl and fetch web pages related information. Not just that, the spiders also fetch the internal links across the path until they have indexed a considerable volume of information.
Matt Cutts also indicated this in one of his ‘How Search Works’ videos:
Therefore, the myth that you must submit your site to Google is BUSTED!!!
2. “The world of SEO revolves around ranking.”
Yes, SEO did start that way. It was a race: to the top of the search results. Whoever got at the top of the list, had the privilege and an advantage over the rest. But, it “used to be” an end goal for an SEO campaign “in the past”. Things obviously have changed as SEO itself has evolved multifold.
The SEO experts that claim that once your website is among the top 3 positions on the first search results page of Google, you enjoy the subsequent majority of clicks and conversions. However, an ample amount of other studies have shown a similar pattern for even those websites that rank at the top of the second or the third pages of Google’s search results. Read this article on Search Engine Watch and you’ll know what we’re talking about. With the introduction of the recent search snippet features, the websites that rank below the first three positions also have a fair chance of getting a considerable volume of the search traffic.
Ranking is important, but one must not obsesses him/herself with it. The aim should be to provide more meaningful and useful content and there are higher chances that readers would actually convert into paying customers.
There are many instances where even despite ranking at the top, you may not necessarily be able to attract higher traffic and conversions. Here are a few such scenarios:
- When you rank for keywords that do not carry purchase intent with them, then you’re just wasting your efforts. What good are the keywords when your users are not using them when forming certain purchase related decisions?
- While you may somehow rank among the top three positions, if you do not have equally good titles and meta descriptions that are user-friendly, then your users may not be tempted to click through to your site.
- At the top search ranks, you are not only competing with the other organically listed websites, but also with the search ads. Hence, just SEO effort may not be sufficient for gaining higher conversions.
- The top ranking result may deploy the featured search snippet. Thus, it can attain a higher amount of clicks than even the top 3 organic listings.
3. “SEO is all about keyword optimization.”
While voice search has started picking up in terms of the usage by searchers on Google, written search queries still dominate the space. And this written language of search comprises of keywords and key phrases.
Keywords are still an important part of an SEO campaign. There is no denying that fact. However, they aren’t the whole and sole of the campaign. In the past, if you included the exact match keywords in your web content, you would be considered important. A quick refresher for those who do not know what keyword optimization is. A simple Google search of the term would render the below definition:
Google now uses RankBrain. According to the Bloomberg article, it is one of the top three search ranking signals on Google. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) system used by the search giant in order to identify all the important user-intent driven keywords. This software convers the user written language into a mathematical equation. These equations are called vectors. Looking at the keywords and key phrases, RankBrain makes calculated assumptions about their relevance and meaning and accordingly filters and shows them in the search results.
Therefore, just by targeting a certain set of keywords would not mean that you would be able to rank higher. Instead of keyword optimization, one should focus on user experience optimization. This is done by writing web content that is user-friendly and not necessarily stuffed with keywords. Using synonyms and related terms, you can tell Google that your website content is much broader in terms of context than other results pages out there who are blindly following the keyword optimization alone strategy.
4. “SEO on-page optimization means optimizing the H1 tags.”
In other words, many experts claim that H1 tags are the most essential elements of the on-page optimization strategy. The H1 tags are very important, there is no doubt about it. But, that doesn’t mean that they are the most important part of the optimization strategy. To bring those of you who do not know about what H1 tags are up to speed, they are at the top of the tier of your web page content’s overall structure. Your web page has different header tags, namely: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6.
It is important to understand this structure when incorporating your content’s title onto the page. But, you should look at them as mere content styleguide and not a rule of thumb. There are many other important elements of your on-page SEO strategy. Take a look at Moz’s article that talks about the search ranking factors:
If you possess any knowledge about website development and coding, you would know that H1 tag is nothing more than just a part of the CSS. And every developer or designer has an individual set of preferred CSS. Back in the day, Google used to consider the main header tag of the page content to be important while reviewing the page’s relevance, but not anymore. Google has evolved into a smarter search engine.
Therefore, what you say or use in the H1 tag isn’t so important anymore. It’s once again about being user-friendly. If you are putting your most important content in the H1 tag so that the users can easily identify what the page is about, then Google appreciates that. While you should have your keywords in your H1 tags ideally, but so should you at the rest of the levels of the header tags across your web page content.
5. “The website won’t rank if the home page doesn’t have a lot of content.”
Let us put this question out in the open: “Which website would you prefer more: the one with more content on the home page or the one with plain-empty-clean home page?” If you asked the experts this question, they would probably go with the prior option. Why? Because that way, according to them, you have the opportunity to add more content to your site, which in other means more opportunities to add your keywords and key phrases on your site.
Your website’s home page is the entry gate to your virtual identity space. It is the first impression of your business to your visitors. So, the real question is: Do you want to bore your audience with a text-heavy home page or ease their way onto the internal pages of your website? Let’s take a look at the home page of Dropbox:
How does it look? Simple and clean you would say, right? So, does it mean that this website will never rank on Google’s top search results page? Of course, it will. Their value proposition, as you know, is simplicity. And that’s why their home page is so simple and yet so effective.
But, not all businesses are as popular as Dropbox. So, obviously, you will need a bit more content that what they have on their home page. However, the focus here should be on context rather than content. Your home page content should be long enough to tell your visitors who you are and what you do. But, it should not bore them. The idea is to please them so that they want to delve deeper into your website and not to see them leave unsatisfied and annoyed. You should never have so much content on your home page that you end up overwhelming or confusing your visitors. This can adversely affect your conversion rate.
6. “SEO is more a link game than a content game.”
It is true that if you have sticky content on your website, you will attract more backlinks. However, SEO is not just the game of links. Back in the day, if you built more number of links, you would have the higher chances of ranking on Google. But, of late, link building has attracted the red eye of the search giant.
Yes, we’re talking about Penguin 2.0. With this update, the quality of backlinks has taken over the concept of the quantity of backlinks. So, if you have the right content, which is linked to the right type of other websites as well as people, then less could attract much more.
The sort of links that direct back to your website are still an important part of your website’s overall authority in the niche. However, the focus has shifted from link building to content generation.
There are SEO agencies out there that claim to help you build the right type of link architecture claiming that they can get you more number links. However, be wary of such agencies. You should really focus on generating relevant and diverse sources of links that direct to the most relevant content pages on your website.
You should try different types of content and distribute and promote it across the web in such a way that it helps you get different profile of users for your website.
Thus, the myth that SEO is about link building is BUSTED!!!
7. “An HTTPs site will have difficulties in gaining higher ranking.”
If you are not a minute observer, the chances are that you may not even notice the difference in the URL of the website you click on through Google’s search results. If you notice carefully, you will see that some URLs start with http while others start with https. Mostly, when you are trying to carry out important transactions online, such as using your online bank account or buying movie tickets online or shopping from Amazon, you will come across such URLs with an extra ‘s’.
Such URLs signify that the web page you are about to access is secure from any hacking. So, the data you may input on such sites, will be safe. This SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology ensures that all data accessed or entered on the pages that follow will be kept and treated as private.
In September 2016, Google announced that on its Chrome browser the websites with HTTP domain URLs will be flagged with a potential safety message. This was rolled out in January of this year.
In plain words, you should plan already on moving your website to an HTTPS layer.
8. “Pop-ups can adversely impact your website’s search rankings.”
What’s your ultimate goal of having a website for your business? To provide useful information to your customers? May be yes, but that’s of course not just it! You have a website so that you can get more sales, right?
So, other than offering good content on your web pages, you should have different ways of attracting more leads for your sales team. Pop-up forms are an effective way of generating leads on your website. Many websites have been seen to use pop-up forms to collect users’ contact related information. However, websites are seen to exploit this lead generation feature by adding unnecessary and unwanted amount of pop-up forms all throughout the pages.
Google wants you to make your website content easily accessible to your users. However, if there are elements such as pop-ups that can potentially hinder the users’ experiences on and around your website, then Google may take a note of it. Google called such elements as intrusive interstitials in it’s 2016 announcement:
But, what you need to understand is that Google doesn’t want to penalize every website that uses pop-up forms. The important term to focus on here is “intrusive”. Only those websites where popups are seen by Google to obstruct the users’ experience and the ability to access content are treated negatively. If pop-ups are strategically placed and add to the users’ overall page experience, then they are an asset to the website. It’s all about providing a meaningful and useful user experience through such pop-up forms on your website.
9. “Not having a responsive website isn’t a HUGE issue for my site’s ranking.”
If you think along these lines, then the chances are that you have never heard of “Mobilegeddon”. If you don’t already, then you MUST know that having a mobile-friendly website is one of the most important ranking factors on Google. Through this update, the search giant started rewarding the websites that cared for their users who accessed them through mobile devices by providing them mobile-friendly content. Thus, optimizing for the mobile audience’s user experience is a MUST-HAVE element for any website that wants to rank higher on Google.
Here is a recent stats that you should consider: Websites that are not optimized for the mobile audience’s experiences have witnessed an average of five percent of drop in their organic search traffic
It’s about modernizing your website and bring it up to speed to the tastes and preferences of the mobile users. It is because most of the sites these days are increasingly accessed from mobile devices, let alone the smartphones. By having a responsive website, you are telling Google that your priority is to optimize your user’s experience across devices and platforms along with different browsers. Google even provides you with mobile-friendly test that helps you identify the elements on your web page that need to be optimized for user-experience on the mobile devices.
10. “My IT team can handle the SEO of my website.”
It’s quite common that businesses assume that because SEO requires technical knowledge, their IT or technical support team can look after it. Just because it has an acronym like the rest of the IT- related business tasks, doesn’t make it less of a marketer’s job.
If you have been closely following Google’s search algorithms, you would realize that Google is getting lesser and lesser technical with every new update. It means that more than the technical structuring of the website, Google emphasizes on the user experience.
So, while it’s true that SEO is technical in nature, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be handled by your IT team. Coding and backend optimization of your web page is just a very minor part of your SEO campaign.
Remember that content is the most important part of your SEO campaign. And that’s obviously not necessarily a strong point of your technical team. Content needs a nature flair that most technical- oriented team members of your business easily lack. You need creative team’s assistance that has the appropriate skills to come up with content that is not only user friendly, but also is able to attract a higher volume of interest.
Thus, the goal of your SEO campaign should be to create remarkable content first, and only then you should turn to your IT team, if and when needed, to ensure that your content reads well across devices and is well-equipped in terms of on-page as well as backend architecture.
There are many more myths in the ocean of SEO that need to be busted. What are some such myths that may be potentially hindering your business’ growth on the search engine? The key takeaway for any business or marketer, from this guide is that SEO is about user-experience. The better the experience, the more respect you earn, both from Google and users at large.
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