Have you ever looked for information on how to effectively optimise your website for search engines and been baffled by the results?
There are a lot of myths floating around in the world of SEO.
Here are the top seven revealed.
1. More links are better than more content
Link building is a well-established process in search engine optimisation.
External linking is thought to be king – where you get pages belonging to other websites to link back to yours.
Internal linking is ensuring that the pages on your own website are effectively connected together for best user experience.
It’s long been thought that the more links you have directing to your website, the stronger your site will be in the search rankings. But since Google has changed its algorithms with the Panda and Hummingbird updates this is no longer true.
High-quality content that is accurate, original, and consumer-focused will drive more visits to your website than link building
The majority of searches on Google are asking questions ‘where can I find x? How do I write about y’, for example. That’s why valuable content that:
- answers a question
- solves a problem
- helps someone learn something
is far more effective than a link on a different website.
Links work by increasing your website’s authority – so you need lots of links to get a strong score.
By answering a question directly with accurate and credible content, you can appear high in those search rankings without relying on other websites.
2. SEO is all about ranking
How many times have you seen ‘we’ll get you to the top spot on Google’?
A lot of people still believe that it’s important to be at the top of the search results, but this isn’t always the case.
High ranking is important – few people are going to click on your site if you’re on the 5th page of results, but it’s only part of an overall strategy you need to consider.
You’re unlikely to have just one keyword relating to your business.
Trying to reach that top spot for one keyword is hard work, and can be expensive.
What if you’ve chosen the wrong keyword?
If you’re ranking highly for copywriter but people are searching for content writer – you’re not going to get any more hits to your website by ranking number one for the wrong thing
A better strategy is to naturally include long-tail keywords and phrases throughout your website with valuable content.
This goes back to how people actually use search engines, and the way in which you see your business.
If you’re asked to write a list of keywords to attempt high ranking for, you might be able to come up with 10.
If you go back through your content and watch for repeated words and phrases – you’ll discover that you’re using a lot more.
Chances are, it’s these uncommon and topic based keywords that people will discover your website through.
3. Meta descriptions have a big impact on rankings
There is a lot of confusion around Meta descriptions and how they work.
Did you know that back in 2009, Google announced that neither Meta descriptions or meta keywords factor in their ranking algorithms for web search
Crazy that the myth has persisted so long, right?
Well, actually, Meta descriptions are still important because they are used by the reader to decide which search result to click on.
With a compelling and concise description that speaks to the reader and says ‘hey, this is what you’re looking for!’ a Meta description can work very well.
So, focus less on cramming in the keywords and more on appealing to your target audience.
4. Pop-ups will hurt rankings
Pop-ups are probably the marmite of lead generation.
Website visitors tend to hate them (pop up blockers are big business), but internet marketers love them because they are proven to generate leads.
A myth has persisted for quite a while that having pop-ups on your website will lead to lower search rankings.
Eventually, Google announced in August 2016 that they penalise what they call ‘intrusive interstitials’.
So surely this means it’s not a myth?
Actually no, it’s only pop-ups that prevent a user from accessing content that is considered ‘intrusive’.
So if your pop-ups are valuable and relevant to your visitors, and they don’t take up too much space – they’re just fine.
5. Keyword optimisation is king
Keywords are important.
They not only inform search engines of what your website pages are about but also help to keep things focused and easy to read.
However, there are some ‘techniques’ that are now so out of date they are blacklisted (known as ‘black hat’).
Primarily, when optimisation turns into keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is bad news for your website but naturally included keywords and phrases are important.
If you’ve ever read a sentence like this
“Welcome to our essential fitness website, home to the latest fitness news, fitness trends and everything else you need to know about fitness and why you should be incorporating fitness into your life today”
then that’s a prime example of keyword stuffing (and if you hadn’t guessed already, that keyword would be ‘fitness’).
Ideally, that keyword should be in a block of text absolutely no more than 5 times – 5 times in one sentence? Bad news for your rankings, you’re probably going to get penalised.
The best way to optimise your pages for keywords is to imagine that you’re talking to your reader in person. If you wouldn’t include it naturally as part of your conversation, it shouldn’t go in the copy.
Alternatives to the keyword can be just as effective, if not more so.
6. Keywords need to be an exact match
If you’ve ever looked at Google’s AdWord planner and been confused about how to include some of the keywords it comes up with, then you’re probably thinking that you need to use them exactly.
One example of this would be ‘counselling Derby’. You’d never use those words together like that in a sentence – unless you want to break a whole load of grammar rules and make it difficult to read.
You don’t need to use the keywords and phrases exactly as you find them.
‘Counselling in Derby’ is more than adequate, as would be ‘counselling services in Derby’.
As long as the words are there and can be linked easily together, it’ll work.
7. The H1 tag is the most important page element
The H1 tag – also known as the title tag, used to be considered the most important element on any web page.
It would inform search engines of the one keyword that page was about.
As you’ve already read, keywords aren’t always all they’re supposed to be.
Since Google Panda it’s believed that the H tags aren’t as important as they used to be – in terms of ranking algorithms, anyway.
They are useful for breaking up sections of text, and making it easier to read.
As user experience is important for SEO that’s a good reason to keep using them.
Use them to identify points you want your target audience to remember – they’re particularly good at attracting attention.
SEO can seem like a tricky business, and with regular Google updates things can change quickly.
It’s always a good idea to keep on top of things, but debunking those myths that actually could be penalising your website is a priority.
If you’ve found this article helpful, make sure you check out what you need to know about SEO changes and trends in 2017.