Search engine optimization has been important to the health of websites for a very long time. It is difficult to make a successful website if it is not showing up in search engines.
Some people have tried to game the system so that their sites would shoot to the top of search engine rankings. While this occasionally brought site-owners short-term success, it eventually leads to SEO penalties.
Anyone that owns a website should be aware of the history of SEO penalties. When you look closely at these penalties and why they were handed out, you will see that there is a lot you can learn about proper search engine optimization.
Search engines look at some factors when they are trying to determine how to rank a website. One of the things they consider is “backlinks.” They look at how many sites link back to a specific site. If numerous sites are linking out to a website, the search engines will assume that the website meets a high level of quality.
Many site owners have tried to exploit this. They have bought thousands of cheap backlinks for next to nothing and then waited for the traffic to roll in. Great SEO Agencies, like Bradford Crabtree, can help you avoid and even remove SEO penalties. However, get stuck with the wrong company and your site could be headed for the de-indexed list.
However, search engines can see the sites that are linking out to other websites. If a site has a high number of bad links, that site will not see its search rankings rise. Instead, the site’s rankings will plummet.
Search engines have adapted and learned how to spot these hidden links. If site owners try to hide links to trick search engines, they will usually be hit with some SEO penalty.
It is normal for sites to experience downtime every once in a while. Even the biggest sites on the internet, like Facebook, have experienced periods of downtime.
No site will be penalized if the site goes down every once in a while. However, if a site is down all the time, that site’s search rankings will fall.
It is vitally important for site owners to make sure they have enough bandwidth the support the level of traffic that they receive. If their site is always failing to load in, their site will eventually fail to show up in searches.
SEO (search engine optimization) when broken down into its most basic form, consists of only two things: on and off-site SEO. While they are both an integral part of your overall strategy and success, the misinformation and constant shifts within on-site SEO have resulted in the propagation of some pretty damaging myths.
And since on-site optimization serves as the foundation upon which all of your other SEO efforts stand, I felt that it was important to address some of the mistakes that you might be making so that you can start the new year off with a fully optimized website that is kicking and rearing to take 2017 by storm.
1. On-site SEO Requires You to Hire an Expert
While this particular myth has provided some incredibly lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities over the years and is grounded in truth, it has also prevented many entrepreneurs from achieving their true potential.
Yes, there are aspects of on-site SEO that are extremely technical and require an in depth knowledge of coding and website development. And yes, if you can afford the investment, it is generally more expedient to hire a professional SEO firm or consultant so that you can focus your time elsewhere.
However, optimizing the essential 80% of your on-site SEO is a task that nearly anyone can do regardless of their current technical abilities.
Just about any skill that is required to get your website up to the modern standards of SEO can be learned by anyone, and learned rather quickly.
2. Every Title and Description Needs to Have a Keyword
One of the most common things that you will hear from SEO gurus and consultants is that you need to include one or more keywords for each title and description on your website. These title tags and meta descriptions are what your audience will see whenever they pull up the search engine results page, and they are meant to provide both Google and your viewers with meaningful information about the page’s content.
And while there is no detriment to including at least one keyword within your title tags and meta descriptions, it also isn’t necessary. Google has started indexing and providing content ratings using semantic searches, which means that it is now better to focus your efforts on accurately describing the content of your pages.
This will lure readers in and result in a higher number of click-throughs on your page. And, some studies have suggested that the higher your CTR within the SERPs is, the higher your rankings will be.
3. More (content) is Better
We live a society that constantly propagates the myth that more is always better. Whether this is more money, more fame, more muscles, or, in our case, more content. The problem is, more is not always better, especially with regards to SEO.
Yes, you want to have several hundred words of high quality content on each page. Yes, you need to have an effective content marketing strategy that includes the regular addition of new pages and posts that provide tremendous value to your audience. But simply loading up your website with superfluous content to try and land yourself in Google’s good graces is never a good idea.
With SEO, quality is more important than quantity. You will need to build up enough content to get picked by search engines in the first place, but once that has been accomplished, shift your focus to the quality of your content and not just having high amounts of content.
This is one of those myths that really grinds my gears. I am not sure who started it or why, but the belief that SEO is static, that it is so simple you can merely set it and forget it is not only blatantly false, but downright dangerous.
5. You Need to Create a Separate Page for Each of Your Target Keywords
Like I have said, most of the myths within this article are grounded in reality, and this one is no exception. Back when keyword optimization was the driving force behind SEO, this tactic worked wonders. However, in 2016 and beyond, this method will be mildly effective at best and a massive waste of time at worst.
Instead, you need to tailor your pages to follow certain themes that are important to your audience. Focus on the quality of the content you are producing instead of matching it to certain keywords. Because, at the end of the day, the only way to truly become a master of SEO is to create content that people want to read, share, and promote into virality.
SEO can be one of the most confusing and challenging aspect of running any online business. But it doesn’t need to be. By eliminating the biggest myths that are perpetuated throughout the SEO industry, you will be able to severely reduce the amount of time required to become an SEO powerhouse.
What are some SEO myths that you have believed before? How did they affect your business?
The relationship between Google and digital marketers has always been a complicated one. Since the company first launched in 1998, Google’s imperfect algorithms have allowed digital marketers to find ways to manipulate search in a manner that improves site rankings at the expense of site quality.
Luckily, Google has developed efficient algorithms over the years. The newer, fresher code has changed the rules of ranking—quality is now paramount. As a result, both user experience and site content have improved.
What does all this mean for your business?
It means that, with a basic understanding of Google’s algorithms and a holistic approach to SEO, you can establish a rock solid presence on the web. It also means that your internet presence will be one that’s legitimized—reflecting your identity and mission while providing users with the information they need.
Here’s the information that can help you:
Google’s search mission is (and always will be) to provide the most relevant information for users in the fastest time possible. Everything it does (and doesn’t do) revolves around this mission. It’s taken over a decade, but Google has finally built what appears to be the perfect algorithm.
The three Google quality checks are Google Panda, Google Penguin, and Google Hummingbird. Each was created for a specific purpose, but with a common goal of delivering quality content that answers—in the best way possible—the questions users ask.
In the eyes of Google, content is king. Google Panda is how Google legitimizes content by rewarding quality over quantity. One of the ways digital marketers have manipulated Google is by stuffing content with keywords. This approach no longer works, thanks in large part to Panda.
How does Panda work? The three important aspects of Panda are:
User generated content
Search query matching
Panda doesn’t reward word count. It discourages it. Again, quality over quantity.
A 75-word quality message that gives users the information they’re searching for is better than a 300+ word message that’s stuffed with excess keywords and fluff. In order to capitalize on this, your content strategy should be simple: create content that answers users’ questions in the least amount of words possible.
Benji Hyam said this well: “People who are unfamiliar with this space [will] think that writing a 750 word post will make them more successful than a 300 word post (or vice versa). I don’t think word count matters at all. Word count isn’t going to make one company blog more successful than another.”
Panda regulates user generated content by devaluing sites with spam—mainly in the form of guest posts and forums. This might come as quite a surprise, but don’t let it discourage you. You should neither get rid of nor not add quality user generated content.
Panda values content that matches search queries. Your site should provide specific answers to the specific questions users are asking. The best way to achieve this by reading and examining search queries.
Once you figure out exactly what users are asking, you can inspect (and possibly alter) your content. Note: if you change your content, it should be done in a manner that reflects the mission of your company—search manipulation tactics are neither necessary nor effective.
Penguin was created because of the high value Google places on links. A legitimate, quality site is one that other sites promote via a backlink. The idea makes sense—no good business would link a site that can’t help their users/customers.
Penguin analyzes links to determine legitimacy. If a business uses low quality links or links purchased from directories or spam, Penguin will find them and discredit the site. This can be difficult for digital marketing strategies because previous algorithms rewarded site linking regardless of quality.
In order to work with and meet the standards of Penguin, you should conduct a link audit. The above mentioned low quality links should be sought out and removed if found. While performing your audit, keep the following in mind:
Domains determine quality
Only high quality sites should be linked
Promotional links don’t need to be removed (Penguin does not discourage them)
Optimizing your site for Penguin is easily done if you put the above mentioned information and recommendations to use. Remember to always choose quality over quantity, and eliminate spam.
Search evolves in a manner that users are constantly increasing the length of their search queries. Currently, search is at point where it’s being deemed “conversational”. The level at which users and search engines interact is unprecedented.
Hummingbirdwas created to improve this new type of search. Unlike Panda and Penguin, it doesn’t target spam. For this reason, site optimization is difficult. It’s recommended that content be examined to ensure it answers both short and long search queries. Sometimes there can be more traffic, and business, to be won in “the long tail of SEO” than by focusing on short, more popular search queries.
As has been mentioned and alluded to throughout this article, quality is what matters most to Google. Your approach to SEO should be a holistic one—centered around your new found knowledge of Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.
Know that content is king, links play a strong role in Google’s classification of your site, and conversational search optimization is important. Examine and alter your site’s content while keeping the information in this article in mind.
To speed up the process of building your web presence, seek help. Hire a digital marketing agency who knows their stuff. Trained SEO professionals see things that most business owners do not, and can quickly make changes that have an immediate ROI.
In addition, they can talk to you about how adding site features like mobile design and pay per click, both of which can acquire new customers.
Sound tough? It really isn’t. Use the tips I’ve laid out here and the strong internet presence you want (and deserve) can become a reality.
Think you’ve got a pretty solid grasp of the fundamentals of SEO? You might want to think again…
Even if you’re an SEO OG and have been optimizing websites for years, there’s a good chance that most (if not all) of your SEO “knowledge” is nothing more than misinformation and meaningless tropes.
That’s right… You’ve most likely been misled about certain SEO “truths”, that are anything but. Part of the problem is that controversy sells, so, many sites carelessly publish articles that deliberately provide incorrect information just to generate buzz.
The other problem is that SEO is complex and ever-changing. What held true a few months ago could very well be completely untrue today. No wonder there are so many myths about SEO floating around out there.
I’ll begin by quickly debunking the biggest myth of all: that you need to hire a professional agency to engage in effective SEO.
The fact is, virtually anyone can get the hang of SEO. The problem, however, is that best practices change so often that it’s difficult stay fresh. With that in mind, it makes sense to hire someone as your SEO watchdog. Your proverbial “man in the trenches” who stays on top of SEO trends and ensures that your sites stay in Google’s good graces.
Hiring an SEO manager is simple enough, but what others really eat into your budget? Here are 15 more SEO myths that you should look out for.
Having a top ranking on the search engine results pages, or SERPs, is advantageous, but it’s not the be-all, end-all when it comes to SEO.
This wasn’t always the case…
In the early days of SEO, achieving a top slot was a top priority. Today, however, that ranking must be backed up by top-notch content, or it won’t last long.
Don’t have tunnel vision about achieving a top ranking on Google–and don’t despair if you’re not there. Focus on developing relevant, useful, unique content, and everything else will fall into place.
What’s clear is that despite protestations to the contrary, major search engines like Google and Bing take cues from social signals to determine how useful and relevant a site is. Develop and maintain a strong social media presence to make the most of this.
It’s easy to see why this rumor just won’t die. In 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts famously tweeted that people should stop using guest blogging to get links because it doesn’t work.
What many folks don’t realize is that Cutts did a complete about face shortly thereafter and officially gave guest blogging his blessing. It’s not like it matters much, anyway. There’s no reliable way for a search engine to discern a “normal” blog post from a guest blog post.
How is this one still an issue? Although some of the dust has settled since the mobile revolution really got underway, assuming that mobile optimization doesn’t matter is a big, fat mistake.
Think about it: Google has officially come out to say that mobile friendliness is taken into account when rankings are assessed. Further, when a site is mobile friendly, it delivers a better user experience.
Don’t create a separate mobile site. Have your site developed using responsive web design, or RWD, so that it renders properly across all devices.
Snapping up as many top-level domains may seem like a great way to quickly boost SEO, but that’s not always the case. It generally holds true for .com and .net domains, but others won’t get you far.
Before investing in newer top-level domains like .guru and .company, make sure that your existing .com domain is relevant to the content of your site. Use keywords in your domain when it makes sense, but understand that relevance is far more important than keywords.
Yes, Google loves long-form content. Articles and other content that average around 2,500 words or so tend to perform well.
This isn’t universally true, though, and it should not be the basis of your SEO strategy. When the situation warrants it, long-form content is terrific. You see, the topic at hand must be complex enough to justify going into such detail.
Just because content is 2,000 words or longer doesn’t mean it will give you a big rankings boost. For that to happen, it must deliver value to readers, and it must be relevant to the main gist of your site.
Even though this hasn’t been the case for several years now, a disconcerting number of people still believe that SEO is mostly about using the “right” keywords.
About 10 years ago, anchor text optimization was all the rage. Google got wise to some of the underhanded tactics that were being used though, so things are a little different these days.
That’s not to say that anchor text is somehow irrelevant all of a sudden. It is still a great way to enhance an SEO strategy. However, some old techniques should be shelved.
Most notably, avoid excessively using the same anchor text again and again. Diversification is crucial. Don’t just focus on keywords in anchor text, but mix things up with generic terms like “click here” from time to time.
This myth flies completely in the face of reality. If anything, optimizing images is more important than ever, as visual content has been growing in importance by leaps and bounds.
Since there’s no way for search engines to “read” images, you must optimize them yourself using titles, tags and captions. By describing each image in this way, you bolster your SEO and have the opportunity to appear in image searches as well.
When engaging in social media marketing, optimizing messages and content is, indeed, beneficial. By doing so, you make it easier for people to find the pieces that you’re trying to promote.
No, optimized content on social media doesn’t affect your search engine rankings. Instead, it provides another way to ensure that the right people find your content. Social sharing also enhances link building, so this is a win-win situation.
Given how much new content flies onto the internet every minute of the day, it’s safe to say that Google can’t possibly keep up with it all. Despite this, many people are under the impression that once they post something, indexing will quickly and magically occur.
This is patently false, but there are things that you can do to prompt Google to index new content. Most notably, use the Google XML Sitemap Generator plugin for WordPress to ensure that search engines are alerted to fresh content as soon as it is published.
For some reason, this misconception has gained new life recently. I can debunk this myth by stating the following: Google’s algorithms prioritize relevance and usefulness. Rambling on and on across dozens of pages won’t get you anywhere if the content on them is irrelevant or not useful.
If you legitimately need to add a new page, do so. Don’t add more pages to your site in the hopes of achieving a better ranking, or you will be sorely disappointed.
Given how quick and easy it is to add meta tags–in particular, for titles, keywords and descriptions–there’s no reason not to do so. Matt Cutts officially announced that Google doesn’t care about them, but they are still worthwhile additions to any page.
Using meta tags may not boost your site’s ranking per se, but they tell people what to expect from a given page and may therefore make it more useful and relevant to them.
Links will always matter, and they will always affect how webpages are ranked. Therefore, link building isn’t in danger of dying any time soon.
Still, link building has evolved considerably. The best link-building strategies focus on producing top-notch content that people naturally want to link to. Asking websites to randomly share links to yours is totally out.
This myth, in particular, costs many businesses dearly. They are told that SEO is a thing of the past and not to bother with it, and then they wonder why their sites flounder on the major search engines.
SEO is not dead. It has just changed, and it continues to change. The very fact that it constantly evolves certainly suggests that it will continue to be relevant for a long time to come. Also, you can check out these SEO services to learn more.
If you’ve fallen for any of these myths, you have my sincere apologies. Now that you know the truth, you can move forward into a brighter, better online marketing future.
The bottom line here is to always be careful about anything that you read online. That’s as true about SEO as it is about anything else.