Search engine optimization (SEO) can be challenging to understand. People tend to hyperfocus on Google’s frequent algorithm changes and which keywords to pack into their text rather than focusing on strategies that could significantly improve their search engine rankings. As a result, there are plenty of myths out there that need to be dispelled. Here are ten of the most popular SEO myths.
1) Links Are Better Than Content
It’s easy to fall into the belief that the more links that you have on your website – both external and internal – the better your search engine ranking will be. However, this isn’t the case at all, especially if some of those links are going to or coming from questionable sites. What really matters is content. If your content proves to the search engines that your website is an expert on a specific topic, then you’ll receive the results that you want.
2) Awkward Keyword Phrases Are Acceptable
If you’ve ever reviewed a website and found that the same awkward keyword phrases are used in its titles, headings, and content, then you’ll know why this is a major SEO myth. Many web developers and content creators still think that the awkward keyword phrases provided by Google’s keyword tool are gospel and that the more times you can fit them in the better. Companies go on to use contrived phrases throughout their copy which really turn readers off. Instead, use those keywords in an organic way that makes it sound natural. If it doesn’t fit the context, don’t force it.
3) All Content Needs to be Available on the Homepage
There’s no need to fill your landing page (also known as your main homepage) with loads of information. The homepage should include a brief overview of what you do, contact information, and a call to action. Other information can be included on your subpages. Don’t go overboard here, and be sure to consider user experience above all else.
4) All Links Are Good Links
It’s important to have other sites linking back to yours. This makes it clear to search bots that your website is a reliable source of information. The problem lies in thinking that every one of these back-links is a good back-link. Google – and other search engines – can see which sites are linking to yours, and if some of them are questionable, your rankings will suffer for it. Thankfully, you can disavow these links, severing the connection between those sites and yours. This allows you to only keep the ones from reputable sources.
5) Search Engines Don’t Look at Mobile Responsiveness
Is your website responsive? Does it change when it’s viewed on different sized screens, such as the ones wielded by smartphone users? If it’s not, then you need to update your site. Not only do search engines consider responsiveness as a part of their overall criteria, but your usability will go up. The people heading to your site will appreciate it, and your rankings will improve.
6) My Website Doesn’t Need to be Secure
Believe it or not, website security is something that Google’s algorithm considers. They have been rewarding secure websites (ones that use secure socket layers, or the “https” designation) for quite some time. This shows that you’re taking your users’ safety and security into account and that your website is more difficult for hackers to access. Even if you aren’t running an online store you need to have a secure site. Otherwise, you’ll be punished by the search engines.
7) Images Don’t Matter
Images matter. Sites with high-quality, original (non-stock) imagery are rewarded by search engines. Not only do these images need to look nice, but they also have to use things like alt tags, metadata, and captions that contain the keywords that you’re targeting. Additionally, image file sizes need to be small – without sacrificing quality – in order to ensure that your load times are quick.
8) Rankings Are More Important Than Click Through Rates
When you’re examining your website’s data, you need to look at more than just the rankings for your keywords. Sure, you might be on the first page of results for those main keywords, but are people clicking through to your site? What are your bounce rates? Are people seeing your site and passing over it for some reason? Stop focusing solely on those rankings and take things like click-through rates, bounce rates, and the number of pages per session into consideration. They matter more than the rankings because those are the people who are actually looking at your site.
9) We Need to Live and Breathe Meta Descriptions
When you use a tool like Yoast, you’ll be reminded to fill out your meta descriptions and include plenty of keywords within them. While you should get into the routine of doing this, you also need to keep in mind that those meta descriptions aren’t the most important part of your site. As long as you have the content that people want to read and your user experience is good, visitors and search engines alike will overlook a missed meta description here or there. Just remember to prioritize your SEO efforts.
10) User Experience is Overrated
As you might have noticed, user experience has been a prevalent theme thus far. Site content and responsiveness matter strongly. So do things like load times, since people don’t want to have to wait more than a few for a website to load. The more user-friendly your site is, the more traffic you’ll receive. That’s what it’s all about. Consider shrinking down your file sizes and using an external tool that helps you determine what your general load speed is. Do whatever you need to do in order to enhance the user experience of your website and you will be rewarded.