Due to the ever-changing environment, many SEO specialists often pick up on anachronistic, archaic or simply wrong ideas about how SEO works today. Particularly for that reason, here are some SEO myths that need to be busted for the overall health of the internet.

Why SEO Myths should be busted

Marketers and SEO agencies worldwide have halted their obsession with link-building and keywords and re-prioritized a little bit. Now, successful inbound marketers have turned their attention to a long overdue focus on high-quality content.

But does that mean an SEO specialist’s job is just to pump out high-quality, keyword-optimized content?

Far from it. In fact, SEO has changed so much in the past several years that many marketers aren’t sure what’s outdated, what’s important, what will actually move the needle, and what’s simply wasted effort.

This guide is going to point out all of the most common myths and assumptions about how SEO works and debunk them for you, so you’re not wasting a single moment on things that simply don’t matter for SEO in 2017. Let’s get started.

Keyword optimization is THE key to great rankings

Keyword density, adding the “right” keyword, these approaches are all to be forgotten, and as soon as possible. In the days of yore, it was possible to trick the search engine algorithm by cramming keywords into not so great content.

After Google’s Panda update, which particularly takes a shot at this kind of low-quality, keyword crammed content, this practice has simply become hampering. Whoever is still using this approach must be having a pretty difficult time trying to catch a break in their crumbling SEO strategy.

Mind you, this does not mean that keywords are out. In fact, keywords still play a role in optimization, but now the focal point is relevance and content quality.

Today, it’s important to optimize your page for the user experience. This means that you do not have to place your keywords word-for-word in the content. Instead, write the content for the user. If you use synonyms and related terms, search engines like Google will still understand what your goal is.

That being said, it’s important to realize that Google is no longer trying to match the keywords you type into its search engine to the keywords of a web page. Instead, it’s trying to understand the intent behind the keywords you type so it can match that intent to relevant, high-quality content.

Keywords need to be an exact match.

Keywords do not need to be repeated verbatim throughout a piece of content. In a headline, in particular, you want to use a keyword (or keywords) in a way that makes the most sense to your audience. The goal should be to write a stellar headline (somewhere between 4-9 words) that clearly explains what the piece of content is about.

Nothing is more of a buzzkill than having a headline that’s awkwardly framed around one keyword phrase; or worse, one that forcibly repeats a keyword phrase. This rule applies not only to headlines, but also the content on the page. The goal should be to inform the reader, not to inform the search engines.

Keyword-stuffing is the act of shoving as many keywords onto the page as possible. Google’s own Matt Cutts warned us in 2007 against stuffing your page with keywords to rank higher in the search results. Some webmasters did not take this to heart; that is, until Google continuously came out with new algorithm updates like Panda every year that were meant to target bad content.

Keyword-stuffing is 100% against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and is a dangerous game. Because of Google’s algorithm getting more advanced each year, you are likely to get your website penalized.

 SEO is all about being #1 in SERPS

When you give your hard earned cash to an SEO agency, you want to see your website be first in the SERP rankings for as many keywords as possible, as soon as possible or you will cancel the contract. That’s wrong. SEO plays a role in rankings, but that should not be your only goal. SEO is often not about taking the easy route but creating a foundation on which you will build slowly but steadily.

The general idea of any good SEO strategy should be to increase organic traffic, create engagement with the audience and make those much-needed conversions, which does not happen if you just focus on getting that spot in the rankings.

Rankings did not guarantee success. Theoretically, you could rank quite well for a term, get tons of traffic, and not make a dime from it. Is that what you really want? I don’t think so.

This is a big misconception: that higher rankings mean more search traffic. It is true that people will see your listing, but it does not mean you will get more click-throughs. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. You’re trying to rank for keywords that are unrelated to your field. To address this, make sure you pick and choose your keywords carefully by conducting keyword research for SEO.
  2. Your meta descriptions are not appealing and inviting for the user. To solve this, be sure to think about what language will compel people to click through to your page.
  3. The top result isn’t always an organic listing. This is especially true when product listing ads steal away clicks from organic search results). To combat this, consider paid search on queries that are mobile-oriented with four ads on top.
  4. The top result could be a Featured Snippet, which can garner more clicks than a #1 listing. To address this problem, make sure your content is ranking on Page 1 and is well structured.

Play it smart and:

  • Set your goals. Do you want more engagement or more conversions? Maybe just getting customers to see your product? Establish benchmarks for success.
  • Research your audience. Create the ideal customer persona through Google Analytics, crunch those numbers, come up with as much as possible about your audience.
  • Track those keywords. Analyze keywords that your audience uses in every stage of their purchasing process and adapt. Through that, you will find new ways to optimize your landing page and target content even better.

 Social media is a world of its’ own

Most brands understand the need for social engagement but relatively few have plans in place to actively encourage users to share links to their primary commercial pages.

Again, wrong. Even though you do not see your social media traffic as a factor in SERP ranking, it has an important role in defining your online presence. The reason for this is simple. With the ever-increasing use of social media, this resource, especially likes, shares, the image of authority that you are able to build across platforms can and does increase your visibility.

This is not guaranteed, but social media marketing, for example using Facebook advertising, in particular, can help you in this, because it can act in a complementary fashion with search engine optimization.

 SEO is dead, focus on creating great content

There is a common misconception in this regard that needs to be clarified. Having top quality content is, of course, super important with these latest Google updates, but promoting it, as well as optimizing it is incredibly important as well. How would you reach your audience in any other way?

Furthermore, even if you optimize your content, but your website cannot communicate well with search engine crawlers, your fantastic content will remain unknown to a wider audience.

Content might be king, but promoting it gives it royal powers.

My homepage needs a lot of content

Have you ever come across a homepage littered with copy? Or, on the opposite spectrum, a homepage with barely any content at all? Think of your homepage as the gateway to your business. Visualize it! This is your chance to make a first impression and convey what you’re all about. Maybe your value proposition is simplicity – in that case, just a single login makes sense (especially if your name is Dropbox).

For most marketers, however, there is a need for a bit more content and context than that. Your homepage content should be long enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located (if you’re local), your value proposition, and what visitors should do next. These visitors should leave satisfied, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed – and certainly not confused.

The more pages I have, the better

Some people have the notion that if you have more pages, you will get more traffic to your website. Just like link-building, creating content just to have more pages isn’t enough. Make sure you are focusing not just on quantity, but on quality, too.

If you don’t have good content, you will not rank well and all those pages you created won’t help your cause. Logically, you would think that the larger the footprint of your website, the better you would rank – but that’s simply not true.

First, not everything you publish gets indexed (and rightfully so). Second, sometimes, pages get indexed, but they don’t remain in the index. For example, search engines may omit your page to users because it is too similar to content already indexed. And third, just because you have pages indexed doesn’t mean they will drive qualified traffic and leads.

Unfortunately, those who strive to have lots of pages on their website also tend to overlook the quality of that content – and realistically, it’s difficult to strive for both. The aim should be to publish what is most relevant. Have your content be at its best.

First introduced in February 2011, Google’s Panda algorithm has been getting better and better at detecting content that does not help users. Nowadays, if you have poor content, it is possible you may face a Google penalty. So make sure you are creating great content that’s useful for readers.

If you build links, Google will penalize your website

If you look at Google’s webmaster quality guidelines, it is explicitly stated that any link which attempts to manipulate PageRank, or a site’s ranking may be considered a violation of those same guidelines. Furthermore, even people like Google’s John Mueller hinted more times than one at the same thing. But, everyone is doing it, right?

The fact of the matter is, link building is alive and well, and will continue to be one of the main ways of driving traffic and increasing a site’s presence.

The best way of building links in 20176was for sure linking content through guest posting or promotion. When you decide on this, just make sure you aim for great links from reputable sources, as good links always remain key for success in this regard.

Check our guide: Why earning links is more important than building links

Good user experience is an added bonus, not a requirement.

As Google began to provide better results to its users, they were able to invest more in their search algorithm. Through this investment, they were able to qualitatively assess the effectiveness of their algorithm, and then make quantitative adjustments to the weights of ranking signals for particular query intents. As a result, a good user experience is more important than ever. It makes sense. If Google sends you to a webpage, they want to make sure you have a good experience on that page. They are after all a business too, and thus they want to delight their users. Think about it from the search engine’s point of view: they didn’t create the

It makes sense. If Google sends you to a webpage, they want to make sure you have a good experience on that page. They are after all a business too, and thus they want to delight their users. Think about it from the search engine’s point of view: they didn’t create the web page themselves, but they are endorsing it. They need to ensure that users have a good experience on that page to keep people coming back to Google.

To improve your website’s user experience, you’ll want to focus on things like page load time, bounce rate, time on page, page views per visit, and how far a person scrolls down the page. As long as you satisfy the number one goal of creating quality content that people can easily digest and enjoy, your content will naturally satisfy a search engine’s ranking algorithms, helping your content to organically rise to the top.

Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site isn’t important for SEO.

Have you ever noticed that some URLs start with “http://” while others start with “https://”? Perhaps you noticed that extra “s” when you were browsing websites that require giving over sensitive information, like when you were paying bills online.

To put it simply, the extra “s” means your connection to that website is encrypted so hackers can’t intercept any of your data. The technology that powers that little “s” is called SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer.

In August of 2014, Google announced that it had started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms. This means that if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result. This time last year, HTTPS remained a “lightweight” signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries (according to Google).

It wasn’t time to freak out just yet. But in September 2016, Google announced that Chrome will flag HTTP pages as potentially unsafe starting in January 2017. This is part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure. So if you haven’t thought about encrypting your site, now’s the time to get moving.

Conclusion

Now that you know what the common SEO myths are, what are you doing that isn’t moving the needle? Or worse, what are you doing that’s making your SEO efforts worse? Understanding these SEO truths will make you both more effective and more efficient with your organic search strategy.

If you can take one thing away from this guide, it’s this: More than anything else, SEO is about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query. The better their experience with you – from your SERP listing to the quality and relevancy of the content on your site, to the ease with which they can move through your site – the better your SEO will be, too.

Dennis

Dennis Pestro is working full time on Scrapebrokers.com - Main provider of SEO Resources and Traning for SEO Companies and Individuals looking to win the SEO game.
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