With so much written about it, it’s easy for myths and misunderstandings around SEO to take hold.
Whether you’re an expert or a beginner at SEO, it’s always useful to confront such myths, so here’s our list.
1. SEO is dead
This is perhaps the most popular SEO-related myth and it ended up an urban legend, widely spread among sites and communities. If you believe that SEO is indeed dead, or if you’re just a pessimist, I assume the rest of the myths won’t be much useful to you.
SEO changes and evolves, but as long as there are ways to help your site rank higher in the SERPs, SEO will still be here.
2. SEO is all about adding the right keywords
There used to be a time when keyword density was (mistakenly) synonymous with a good SEO practice, but as search engines keep changing, so does our SEO strategy. Keywords are still important for optimisation, but the focus is more on the content and its relevance, rather than the exact keyword.
The arrival of RankBrain made even clearer the focus on relevance, with the page being crawled for its content and emphasising the user experience, rather than the use of the exact keyword.
No more awkward headlines to favour a specific keyword, let’s concentrate on the content’s meaning.
3. SEO is about a number one ranking
Many “SEO ninjas” promise to land your business at the top spot for just $100, but even if they manage to deliver their promises, it isn’t just about the ranking.
Your SEO strategy should aim to increase traffic, engagement and eventually conversions and this cannot be achieved by merely focusing on the site’s position in SERPs.
It’s true that being on the first page of SERPs can lead to an increase of traffic to your page, but the goal is not to simply gain the top spot.
For example, featured snippets, the summary of an answer to a user’s query that is displayed on top of Google search results, can lead to an increase of traffic of up to 20-30%, but 70% of them do not come from the first organic result. Thus, it’s the optimisation of the content, the usefulness and the relevance that may lead to additional traffic and make your SERP position more effective.
4. The more webpages you have, the better the ranking
Quantity should not be preferred over quality. You can create as many webpages as you want if you feel that they add value to your site, but there’s no need to create additional pages hoping to increase your crawling from search engines.
Not every page is indexed and quality is a crucial factor for your attempt to increase your site’s visibility, so keep that in mind next time you feel inclined to create new (pointless) pages.
5. Image optimisation is not necessary
Image optimisation is important and although it’s a relatively easy process, we sometimes need to remind ourselves to do it when creating new content.
As search engines cannot actually see your images, you need to provide the right description to make them ‘visible’. Google suggests you use descriptive titles and captions, while the use of a keyword can also be useful.
Make sure you fill in the fields of title, alt text and description, as they all contribute to the increased chances of having your image visible in search engines. Also, keep in mind that a unique image has more chances to be seen, compared to a boring stock photo.
6. Mobile optimisation is overrated
Do you still underestimate mobile optimisation in 2016? Google’s push for mobile optimisation, most notably with the ‘mobile-friendly’ updates should tell you otherwise.
In Google’s own words:
On average, people check their phones more than 150 times a day, and more searches occur on mobile phones than computers. But if a potential customer is on a phone, and a site isn’t easy to use, they’re five times more likely to leave.
To avoid losing out in these crucial moments, you need a site that loads quickly and is easy to use on mobile screens. The first step is seeing how your site is performing. We can help by scoring your site for mobile-friendliness, mobile speed, and desktop speed.
Mobile optimisation is all about the user experience, whether it’s the design of the page, the responsiveness, the number of clicks, the page speed, or even the screen size.
What’s more, we cannot underestimate Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Google’s latest attempt to improve the performance of mobile web articles in a light, fast version of a page. As it now arrives in organic search results, it’s becoming quite imperative to give it a try and enhance the user experience and hence, the traffic to your post.
We have extensively covered mobile optimisation, but here are three posts I’m encouraging you to read if you want to learn more about the topic:
- Why and how to comprehensively test the mobile usability of your site
- When will responsive websites respond to user context?
- Google’s next mobile-friendly update will include page speed
7. SEO is not working for me
If you feel that SEO is not working for perhaps you need to know more about SEO, or maybe you haven’t hired the right person for this task.
SEO isn’t a quick fix to bring your site to the top of the SERPs, it’s a continuous process which needs to be re-evaluated and monitored to ensure its efficacy.
As websites and search engines change, so do their optimisation for improved visibility, so if you feel that SEO hasn’t worked for you in the past, then maybe it’s time to start all over again with one step at a time, until you understand enough the process to examine your progress on your site and its “crawlability”.
8. Link building is dead
Link building has been proclaimed dead many times, but it’s still around, keeping up with the changes of our times. Link building is about creating links with the ultimate goal to increase a site’s presence (and traffic).
It may not be efficient anymore to be part of a private blog network or use spammy anchor text, but the fundamental goal of link building is still present, provided that we know how to use it.
A link building strategy may be time consuming, but it may also be rewarding and let’s not forget the fact that links are still important ranking factors.
According to “The State of Link Building Survey”, the most effective method of link building in 2016 is based in content, whether it’s promotion, or guest posting. What’s promising is the fact that the state of link building is still strong in 2016, as good links will always matter.
9. Social media does not affect SEO
It’s easy to assume that social media has nothing to do with SEO, as your social traffic is not a ranking factor for SERPs, but this doesn’t mean that it still cannot influence your online presence.
As social media usage keeps increasing, your authority is gradually building among many different platforms and this may help search engines with discovery and indexation. Moreover, content distribution has moved towards social media quite aggressively, which means that social sharing may contribute to effective link building and of course, increased traffic to your site.
Social media marketing can help you increase your site’s visibility which is also appreciated by search engines. Think of how Google+ can be “spotted” by Google, or how the indexed tweets can increase the brand awareness, and eventually your credibility.
Although there is no guarantee that a successful social presence can boost your SEO, but there is an indication that it can help it. And here are more examples on how social media can actually benefit your SEO efforts.
10. Local SEO is not for everyone
Local SEO is becoming more important year-by-year, but not everyone understands yet how it can be useful even in the least expected case.
You don’t have to own a local business (or even have a physical presence) to benefit from local SEO and here are some of our suggestions on how to take advantage of content gaps and structured data.
What’s more, if you feel that your business is still struggling to benefit from local SEO, then maybe it’s time to start with a few basic steps, in order to help its local visibility.
- First of all, is your business listed on Google Business?
- Do you pay enough attention on your reviews? (Yes, reviews affect your local search ranking)
- How is your customer service?
- Do you provide the right information on your online presence?
- Are you focusing on mobile customers? (94% of mobile searches are have a local intent)
According to our own editor, Christopher Ratcliff:
“Accurate and complete Google My Business information + accurate location data + positive customer reviews + traditional SEO tactics = good local ranking (possibly).”
11. Don’t worry about SEO just create good content
I came across a tweet mentioning that quality content can beat any SEO optimisation, and that’s how this myth came up.
It’s true that the quality of your content is important, but if you don’t optimise it (or promote it), how will you reach a wider audience?
People have tried to dismiss technical SEO, but it’s what underpins an effective search strategy.
As we’re crafting our SEO efforts for 2017 (yes, it’s closer than you think), it’s time to leave all these SEO myths behind. Haven’t we already heard enough of “SEO is dead”?