One of the most difficult things about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is keeping on top of the constant changes and figuring out what is and isn’t effective at any given time. Because things change so quickly, you often find that what may once have been common practice, could have the complete opposite effect today.
And this is also how myths and common misconceptions form – so-called SEO techniques which are actually based on information that is hugely out of date. As it’s such a complex area, it’s also easily misinterpreted, and this too can lead to false facts gaining momentum.
With that being said, here are the top 10 most common current myths and misconceptions that we come across that just won’t be helpful to you if you’re trying to improve your SEO. We must of course caveat this with a warning not to expect all of this to be true a few years from now, if we said it was, we’d be lying! But as it stands today, this is some useful information worth knowing.
#1 All you need is good content
Okay we know you definitely do need to focus on content and if you read our blogs, you’ll know we are huge advocates of decent, well-written content as a massive tick in the SEO box. However, while it is a huge piece of the SEO puzzle, you can’t focus on that alone. Your amazing words need to be supported by an SEO and digital marketing strategy to help ensure that as many people as possible get to read them.
#2 Your homepage has to be huge
More weight has definitely been given to content in recent years and you’ll now find that longer, more in-depth and well-researched pages tend to fare better in the search results. However, this applies more to blogs, case studies and news articles within your website – you shouldn’t apply the same principles to your homepage. When people land on your homepage, they’re generally looking for something specific, which they want to be able to find quickly – such as contact information, what your services are, your products and so on. If this is buried within thousands of words, they are likely to leave pretty quickly, and a high bounce rate can be damaging. If people leave your website straight away, Google will assume it’s not providing what they are looking for. The homepage should be all about user experience.
#3 It’s impossible to rank for keywords
This isn’t true. While old hat techniques such as keyword stuffing – basically filling an article full of words like ‘digital marketing expert in Tamworth’ with not much else of interest between the gaps – are now frowned upon, keyword research is as important a part of SEO as it has ever been. What has changed is how to do it for the best. You no longer need to build a whole article around one search term, you can write more naturally, while determining which keywords you want to rank for – i.e. what will your customers type into a search engine. Google is now better at reading the context of what an article is about without having to have an awkward term forced into it. There are also techniques you can use to hone in on your audience and stand out from the crowd. Read our previous article on keyword research for beginners to find out how.
#4 Link building is bad
Getting other sites to link to your website is still important for SEO. A few years ago, people had found ways to exploit this with fake, paid for links and while this isn’t best practice today, there is still a place for authoritative, credible back-links. Getting journalists, bloggers, news sites and ideally some high authority websites, such as local government and educational sectors etc, to link back to your website can be very helpful for your SEO strategy.
#5 Internal linking isn’t relevant
As well as getting external links to your website, internal links are also important. Linking to relevant articles and pages by using an internal link with a relevant keyword tells Google what your page is about. For example, if you’re reading this blog, you might also want to read more about how to improve your SEO (see what we did there?)
#6 You need lots of web pages to rank better
Quality is now much more important than quantity. You don’t need to create dozens of landing pages around the keywords and audiences you want to target, such as ‘IT expert in Tamworth’, ‘IT expert in Sutton’, ‘Computer problems in Lichfield’ and so on. Only create pages if they offer genuine value. A more useful practice would be to ensure you are regularly posting new fresh content to your existing pages – such as a blog.
#7 It’s impossible to rank for services in my area
You should approach local SEO differently to national SEO. If you’re looking to attract customers in a particular geographical area, because that’s where you operate, there are specific SEO strategies you can adopt. These include things like verifying your Google+ My Business Page and working on defining your location.
#8 Technical stuff doesn’t matter to SEO
Not true. User experience is now a key ranking factor for Google. Things like whether your website is secure, how quickly it loads and whether it is optimised for mobile all have a bearing on your SEO. Google is looking for websites that are user friendly and seem to be providing a valuable service to people. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, or takes too long to load, or doesn’t have the information someone is looking for, they will click straight back to the search listings, and this is bad for SEO. Luckily for you, our super high-speed servers mean the websites we host are the quickest, safest and best around.
#9 You don’t need to bother with header tags
Header tags are a way of structuring your articles into H1, H2 and H3 sections and they are still worth bothering with – sorry! Header tags tell search engines what your website is about. As they crawl your site, search engines will pick up on your headers and recognise the keywords within them. We’ve written about header tags in a previous article if you want to find out more.
#10 SEO doesn’t work for me, so it’s not worth doing
Good SEO isn’t about doing one thing or another, it’s about doing lots of different things and doing them well. On their own, the measures we have discussed in this article will only have a small impact on your page rankings. Do them all though -and even throw in a dash of Pay Per Click advertising if you want to super-boost your efforts – and over time you should start to see the results. In that way, SEO is more a way of life than a quick fix.
Of course, another way to get a good handle on your SEO, is to let us do the hard work for you. Contact us now if you’d like help with your SEO.