Search engine optimization as a discipline has undergone a huge revolution in less than a decade with multiple updates from Google, the master search engine coming fast and furious. Marketers and SEO experts have seen their roles shaped by Google’s updates including Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird.
What were considered best SEO practices back in the time, have been turned upside down and now a totally new landscape has been rolled out.
It’s this new SEO dispensation that has gotten some confused and others at a loss trying to explain what’s working and what’s outdated. With statements such as SEO is dead doing rounds over the web, it is important to point out the common misconceptions and myths with the aim of putting the records straight.
You Must Submit Your Site URL to Google
You have a brand new site and you want it indexed by Google so that it can appear in search results. What should you do?
Depending on who you consult, you may be instructed to do a number of things including submitting your site URL to Google through their search console. While this is a temporal stop gap measure, when extended for mature sites, it can be a huge misunderstanding. Google doesn’t require you to submit your URL for indexation because its spiders will crawl the web and somehow come across your site either way.
Leave Content alone, the More the links you have the better your ranking
Depending on whether you belong to the old school or the post-Panda and Penguin era, you may have views on links that do not hold water anymore. Back in the days, the more links you have pointed back to your site even if originating from link farms, you were guaranteed a priority spot on Google. To succeed:
- You should focus on link quality and quantity
- Carry out a regular link audit to weed out toxic links
- Consider hiring a content writer who will help you build links naturally
A HTTPS site Doesn’t give you any mileage
Google is continuously changing its ranking signals to guarantee its users access to quality and secure content. Long ago, a HTTPS site never had any preference over a HTTP page. However, the tables have turned and in August, 2014, Google announced that HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal in their algorithms. Wake up and smell the coffee because your site could be in danger.
Sorting out your Meta descriptions can guarantee you an edge in rankings
Apart from being HTML attributes that Google uses as preview snippets on its search results, meta descriptions do not warrant such a huge mention. This is because Google announced in 2009 that meta descriptions have no bearing as far as search ranking are concerned. However, this is not to say that they are completely useless, they are useful to the extent of differentiating you from your competitors and convince web surfers that your site has what they are looking for.
The entire SEO practice revolves around Keyword Optimization
Keyword optimization has been the holy grail of SEO for quite some time, with exact match keywords carrying the day. If you have been observant, the landscape has tilted and Google uses latent semantic indexing to sift the wheat from the chaff. Instead of fixing your keywords word for word:
- Write the content for the reader and not search engines
- Use variations or synonyms of the keyword
- Avoid keyword stuffing because it can set you up for a penalty
Among the On-Page Elements, H1 is King
Have you been thinking all along that H1 matters more than other on page elements? If so, do not worry because it’s not too late to debunk this myth. When you carefully look at your page structure, it is more or less a tiered presentation of information to both users and search engines. The fact that you use H1, H2, H3 and so forth doesn’t have a significant ranking effect because it does not make much sense to your readers for whom the content is written.
Search engines are smarter and you can be assured they will not fall to the allure of a bait as insignificant as H1 tag.
Your Homepage Should be Loaded with Enough Content
A homepage is the gateway to your website and by extension your business hence the first impression counts. Contrary to a belief that has been sustained by rogue SEOs for a long time, chocking your readers with content right from the homepage doesn’t do you any good. Only give the essential information (who you are, your value proposition, what you do and where you are located) in the most simple and clean way possible.
The More Pages you have the higher the site’s credibility
When SEO was all about manipulating keyword and data for supremacy in ranking, this myth probably worked. However, following Google’s Quality Rating Guide leak back in August 2014, the future is quality not quantity. The user is the point of focus not how many pages you have. Instead of loading many pages:
- Develop quality and engaging content for the user
- Source for natural high-quality links back to your site and leverage on internal linking
- Tweak your own page elements to be in line with Google’s webmaster guidelines
Local SEO is dead
While everything seems global nowadays, local SEO is slowly being pushed into the dustbin. While this may be the case, those doing it hardly know that local SEO is still the butter and cream of local businesses. Instead of backpedaling into SEO oblivion by disregarding local SEO:
- Optimize your Google+ business page
- Putting search maps complete with updated with name, address, and phone number information
- Getting reviews for your business on sites such as Yelp
- Leveraging on social media for local visibility
Now that you know the above “SEO facts” were simply misguided perspectives, you need to drop them as fast as possible if you want to move the needle and put together a winning SEO strategy.