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.
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:
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Zoe is an experienced content writer specialising in the health and wellness sector. Zoe now combines her writing skills with marketing and search engine optimisation to provide a complete content marketing solution to her clients.