SEO myths – revealing the false claims
Over the years, it’s safe to say that we’ve heard and rebuffed hundreds of SEO myths. Often these come from new clients that have unfortunately been provided out-of-date, or plainly inaccurate information in the past. But why is there so much false information being shared?
The truth is that the digital landscape is constantly evolving, therefore something that worked in the past, may not work today. It’s essential to remain up-to-date, relevant and ahead of Google’s updates to truly succeed in SEO, but by listening to false SEO myths, you could be harming your organic performance.
Some of the common myths we’ve heard (in no particular order) are discussed below;
1) Create amazing content and outrank your competition
Since Panda was introduced in 2011, there has been a frenzy about creating high quality content. We’ve even heard people stating that your website will be penalised if your content is deemed low quality by Google. This is definitely FALSE.
Whilst creating high quality content is important, it isn’t enough by itself. A recent study from Brian Dean explains how creating amazing content is just the beginning of your journey.
Once you have created your content it is time to promote. Here are a few ideas:
- Social media – whether you already have a loyal social following, or you promote your content through targeted ads, social media shouldn’t be overlooked. If you can get your content shared by influencers, you could earn valuable links.
- Influencer marketing – the Kardashians are living proof that influencer marketing is a huge industry and one that shouldn’t be ignored. Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll get somebody that big to engage with your content, there are influencers in every niche that you can get to promote your content. By interacting with influencers you are increasing your reach, gaining loyal customers and increasing the authority of your website.
- Build backlinks – Google may advise against intentionally building backlinks, however, your content won’t reach its full potential if it can’t attract inbound links from authoritative and relevant sites. On the other hand, link building is a time-consuming and highly skilled task, therefore if you get it wrong you could be in trouble. For that reason, we recommend using a reputable SEO agency (such as ourselves) to build high quality links.
The final step is crucial…
Once you’ve created an amazing piece of content and increased the page’s authority, you will need to monitor progress through a rank tracker (our favourite is STAT), Analytics tool (Google Analytics) and backlink monitor (Ahrefs).
These tools will help you to improve your content and monitor the progress of all your hard work!
2) Meta tags aren’t important for SEO
Meta tags are snippets that appear in the <head> section of a page’s code and are generally used to communicate information about the topic of a page with the search engines.
The most common meta tags are:
- Title tag – the title of your page; this appears at the top of your browser and in the SERPs.
- Meta description – a brief description (up to 160 characters) that describes the page.
- Meta keywords – a list of keywords that you deem relevant to the page.
- Meta robots – a rule for the search engine crawlers of what to do when they land on your page.
When we hear this statement, we assume that individuals are referring to meta descriptions and meta keywords, as it is common knowledge that the title tag is one of the most important on-page elements, whilst meta robots are required on every page.
We will start with the meta description…
Whilst meta descriptions don’t directly contribute to your organic rankings, they are an essential element for driving click-throughs from the search engine results page (SERPs). Many recent studies also suggest that pages with a high click-through-rate (CTR) receive a ranking boost by Google, thus increasing your organic visibility over time.
Your meta descriptions should include a brief description of the page, USPs (unique selling points), CTAs (call to actions) and a semantically linked keyword (this will be emphasised in the SERPs).
Now onto meta keywords…
For SEO newbies, you won’t remember the days when Google used meta keywords in their core algorithm – this was eliminated as webmasters spammed the feature by inputting hundreds of variations of the same keyword!
In 2017, Google ignores meta keywords, but this doesn’t mean they’re dead. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo still use meta keywords in their algorithms, therefore by adding in a few relevant phrases on each page, you are increasing your organic footprint.
Third party directories can also use them to determine and categorise a page on your site.
3) The more pages on a site, the better your rankings will be
Quality over quantity is definitely true when it comes to the number of pages on your website. A common misconception is that you require hundreds, or even thousands of pages to be deemed a high quality site, however, this is just another common SEO myth!
Less is more 99% of the time.
We recently worked with a client on restructuring their informational content, which resulted in removing hundreds of pages! Although it wasn’t an idea that was initially welcomed, it has resulted in fewer, but higher quality pages, less cannibalisation (two pages competing against each other) and increased engagement.
The moral of the story; concentrate on generating high-quality pages that will deliver value to the user, rather than a number of low-quality pages for SEO purposes.
4) Your website will get penalised for duplicate content
Whilst duplicate content can hinder your organic performance, it certainly won’t result in a penalty from Google, despite what you may have been told. This was confirmed back in 2013 by Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, who announced that it’s nothing to stress about unless you have spammy duplicate content.
A much more likely outcome of having duplicate content on your website is cannibalising pages, which could result in high ranking fluctuations, or a page not ranking due to being deemed low quality.
If you’re facing a duplicate content issue, feel free to get in touch and speak to an expert!
5) Nofollow links have no value
Any digital marketer worth their salt would know that nofollow links are an essential component of an SEO campaign. Whilst they do not pass authority from one website to another, there are huge benefits of acquiring nofollow links including;
- Having a healthy link profile: if you are building links, you need to have a healthy mixture of both follow and nofollow inbound links in order to avoid possible penalties from Google. If your link profile looks unnatural to an SEO, it is also going to appear unnatural to Google which could land you in serious trouble.
- Referrals: many major publications only use nofollow links, however, these links are still likely to pass huge value to your website through referrals. As if an influx in referral traffic isn’t enough, by being featured on well-regarded websites you are further increasing your brand image.
- Linkbait: you can use nofollow links as bait to attract dofollow links to your site, which will pass through that all-important link juice. This is a completely natural way to acquire links!
6) Running a PPC campaign will improve your organic results
It’s surprising how many times this has been discussed, despite nobody that is a reputable source implying that it’s true.
AdWords and organic are completely separate entities that don’t affect each other’s performance, and for most industries, we would recommend running an SEO and PPC campaign alongside one another for the best results.
So if you were thinking of spending thousands on AdWords in an attempt to increase your organic rankings, please resist and instead speak to an expert about the benefits of both mediums!
7) Your website platform makes a difference to your organic performance
As a digital agency, we have experience with a range of Content Management Systems (CMS), the most popular being WordPress and Magento. A common SEO myth is that you need to have a website built on a certain platform to ensure that you can perform well in the search engines, however, this is just another myth.
Providing that you have access to the code and a skilled web developer, you can ensure that your website is built for maximum organic performance. Our only advice would be to choose your developer wisely and avoid website builders such as Wix and Divi, as these will almost certainly hold back your SEO efforts regardless of budget.
8) You need X% keyword density to rank for a particular search term
This myth is a blast from the past, but fortunately, the times of aiming for 3-5% keyword density are long gone!
As Google’s algorithms have developed and become more sophisticated, they’re able to better understand natural language and deliver a better experience for the user. This has ultimately resulted in the death of keyword stuffing and if you or your SEO agency are still discussing this concept, it’s definitely time for a rethink!
Instead of aiming for a particular keyword density, you should instead be creating content that is relevant, high quality and uses semantic keyword targeting.
Wrapping things up…
These are just a selection of SEO myths that we’ve been questioned about recently, however, there are hundreds more we could’ve touched on.
If you want to discuss any information you’ve received, feel free to get in touch with our SEO team, join us for a coffee or have a chat with myself.
If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.
And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.