2018 was a significant year on search engine optimization (SEO). We saw many changes in Google Algorithm, the introduction AI (Artificial Intelligence), mobile-first ranking approach etc.
This post is an extract from hubspot’s 22 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2019.
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 2019. Let’s get started.
- I must submit my site to Google.
The idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results (or rank) is nonsense.
Even if you do submit your site to Google, a submission does not guarantee anything. Crawlers will find your site and index it in due time, so don’t worry about this idea of needing to “tell” Google about your site.
- More links are better than more content.
In the past, building as many links as possible without analyzing the linking domain was how SEO typically worked. By doing this, your website was sure to rank higher. Building links is still a very important part of ranking factors. It is among the top five most important ranking factors, according to a correlational study on ranking factors by Searchmetrics, which is a company that provides SEO analytics and reporting tools for large enterprises. But you must build links in a much different manner than you used to.
- 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.
- SEO is all about ranking.
While there’s a strong correlation between search results placement and
clickthrough rates, ranking is not the supreme end goal that it used to be.
Studies of clickthrough rates and user behavior have shown that searchers favor the top search results – particularly the top-three listings. However, it’s also been shown that on subsequent pages, being listed toward the top of the page shows similar click behavior.
- Meta descriptions have a huge impact on search rankings.
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that concisely explain the contents of webpages. You’ve seen them before on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), where they’re commonly used as preview snippets. So, it’d make sense that Google’s algorithm would take these meta descriptions into account when determining search rankings … right? Well, not so much.
Unfortunately, Google has been avoiding giving a straight answer to the question of whether their algorithm rewards sites with higher clickthrough rates.
- Pop-ups will always hurt my ranking in search.
As inbound marketers, we care about creating lovable experiences for our website visitors – and, at the same time, we also want to generate leads for our sales teams. To help generate these leads, many marketers have put pop-up forms on their website pages. (After all, pop-ups work.) But the misuse of popups has led to a lot of controversy over whether marketers really should use them.
For marketers, the key word here is “intrusive.” Google doesn’t penalize all pop-ups — just the ones that get in the way of a user’s ability
- Keyword optimization is THE key to SEO.
It used to be important that you write your content with exact matches of your keyword. But now, Google uses RankBrain, which is its machine- learning algorithm. RankBrain most likely uses a variation of Word2vec to find keyword topics that are related to one another.
RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities, called vectors, that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.
- 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.
- The H1 is the most important on-page element.
Your H1 is still important, but it’s not the most important element on your pages. Think of the content structure on your webpage as an outline. It’s a tiered approach to presenting information to users and search engines.
Which header tag your headline is wrapped in has little to no influence on your overall SEO. That header tag (whether it ís an H1, H2, H3, and so on) is only used for styling purposes.
- My homepage needs a lot of content.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore.
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re a local business, optimizing for local search won’t only help you get found, but it will help you get found by people who are nearby and more likely to buy from you.
And if you’re a national or global business trying to rank for a local term, you might as well give up. Local SEO is that important now.
- Google will never know if I have bad sites linking to me.
Yes, they will!
Just like Santa Claus knows if you’ve been good or bad. Just like the Tooth
Fairy knows when you’ve lost a tooth. Just like your parents can sense when you’ve missed your curfew.
The point is Google knows (everything). Don’t try to fool them – especially following Google’s Penguin algorithm update – or you will be sent to your room (well, in this case, penalized).
If you know you have bad sites linking to you, that’s okay. It’s not too late.
Just make sure you disavow them!
- Images don’t require any optimization
For a long time, it was okay to neglect the images on your site and still rank without using alt text and image file names to boost your page relevance. On-page SEO is more important than ever, so excluding images will prevent your website’s SEO from being the best it can be.
Search engines cannot see images on websites, so it is important to give the image an alt text and relevant file name to ensure Google knows what the image is about. By not creating this text, you lose a huge opportunity to be as visible as possible online.
- Featured Snippets only matter if you’re Wikipedia.
In the past few years, Google has been refining the way that it displays results to users. In particular, Google has been increasing the number of Featured
Snippets that it displays for queries: today, 11.34% of all search results now include a Featured Snippet, according to SEMrush.
A featured snippet is shown in some search engine results pages (SERPs), usually when a question-based query is being searched for. The snippet displays content from within one of the pages ranking on page one that directly answers the question searched for without the user having to visit the actual page.
- I don’t need a mobile optimization strategy.
In the spring of 2015, Google had an algorithm update called “Mobilegeddon,” which expanded Google’s use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. The update rewards mobile-friendly websites and penalizes those that aren’t fully optimized for mobile in mobile search results.
Fast forward to 2019, and mobile will continue to be a priority for both Google and the end user. With nearly 60% of all searches coming from a mobile device, Google is now placing a greater emphasis on mobile indexing:
- SEO is something I can hand off to IT.
There seems to be a perception that SEO requires some technical expertise, and since it is technical, IT can just do the work. While there is a technical component to SEO, it requires way more than just technical chops, so I’d think long and hard before handing an entire project to IT or a web designer.
Though you may need some of those individuals to assist you during the course of optimizing your website, it’s far from ideal to just give SEO duties to IT and expect best practices to be adhered to.
- The age of my domain will help me rank.
Many people believe that older domains perform better in search results or are given praise by Google simply because of their age. However, according to Matt Cutts, domain age is a pretty insignificant factor, especially after a site has been around for two or three months.
For new sites, domain age matters a little bit more, as most new sites contain little content and it takes time for them to build up a valuable resource base to be indexed.
- Google holds grudges.
So you got slapped with a Google penalty — or a “manual action,” as Googlers refer to it. As long as you fix the problem as soon as possible, Google isn’t going to disown you. In fact, resolving a manual action is actually quite simple. If you notice a manual action has been placed on your website in Search Console, you have the ability to resolve the action, and then submit a reconsideration request. If Google can confirm that you’ve fixed the issue, the action will be lifted.
Does that mean you’ll return right back to your previous position?
- Video doesn’t have any SEO benefits.
Considering YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, we think it’s safe to say that this one is most certainly a myth.
So what’s there to know about video as it pertains to SEO?
Well, YouTube’s robust search and discovery system has two main goals: 1) make it easy for viewers to find relevant video content based on their queries and promote long-term engagement with the platform. And with over 400 hours of video being uploaded to the platform a minute, YouTube’s engines are working around the clock to analyze, sort, and rank these videos based on a number of factors — that are constantly subject to change.
- Voice search will never stick.
Think voice search is just a trend? Think again.
Over the past year, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have all announced the release of either new or new versions of their own video smart speakers: voice-assistant-enabled devices that are also equipped with video capabilities.
And before video smart speakers came about, there were the original voice assistants — the Siris, Alexas, and Google Assistants — on call to answer our questions, schedule our reminders, and queue up our phone calls.
As a result of this convenience, at least 20% of all mobile search queries on Google are done by voice: a number that many predict will continue to rise.
Of course, it’s clear that this technology is still a work in progress — we’ve all had a frustrating Siri experience before — but that doesn’t make it any less important for marketers to begin exploring the space.
Thank you for reading through, please appreciate your comment(s)
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