"Search Engine Optimization". It's is still phrase word on every marketer's lips, and more and more frequently found in general parlance around the web.
We already know about the importance of SEO. Optimizing your website for the best possible search engine results is vital. This isn't up for debate. But what is open for discussion, is the question of the best way to go about optimizing the content on your website.
With millions of talking heads from across the globe chiming in with their personal insight into the best ways to carry out SEO and for what reason, there is bound to be confusion and there is bound to be misunderstanding. Often, rumors abound. Occasionally, ideas that are just plain wrong become "accepted truths".
In reality, they are myths. Offering no real value to the SEO novice and causing confusion for those looking for some solid advice.
In this blog, we'll take a look at the SEO myths that bound around the web, and why they should be happily ignored.
SEO now is like SEO then
In the merry days of the mid-noughties, SEO was a simpler thing. Filling your website with words vaguely related to what your website offered could almost do the trick. But that was then, and this is now.
With the great changes that SEO has undergone, driven in the main by the world's largest search engine, that simple and rather unsophisticated way of website optimization is gone.
Yet still the myth lives on.
Google's algorithms – the set of rules that decides on what is found in Google's internet index – change frequently. While major changes are uncommon, small fixes do constantly occur and Google can change them without notification.
Google no longer allows websites packed with keywords at the cost of quality and instead actively rewards quality content.
The truth is that SEO is now a more nuanced game. Though those building a website can certainly improve their chances of ranking well through some basic keyword research, the reality is that quality optimization now takes time and skill.
Social media doesn't have an impact
Well, it is true to say that Google does not use Tweets and Facebook posts to rank pages, but that's not to say social media postings don't have an impact. If you tweet a list of keywords 20 times a day, your website's page ranking still won't improve!
Social media does, however, have an impact on indexation of information. Everything that is posted on Facebook is scraped, as is every other website Google knows of. And this information is sorted and stored to be used in future searches, among other things.
If you post on social media then your post will be stored. On top of this, your quality content will be shared outside of social media.
Replication has its place, but more valuable is the sharing and engagement of your content, upping visits to your website. Link building and increased visits can certainly have a direct impact on your website's page ranking, and social media posts are a major catalyst for this.
The longer the better
Despite Google's desperate pleas for people to ignore this myth, still it persists. At this point, those who believe that making sure every post is a minimum of 5,000 words long really are beating a dead horse. Stop! Stop! It's already dead!
As we've already touched on, Google strives to reward quality over quantity when it comes to ranking websites. That's not to say that if you write 5,000 words of quality, in-depth content for every post your website makes, it won't rank. It surely will, well enough. But why would a user want to read such a long post when it's entirely unnecessary?
SEMrush and Moz, two SEO internet giants, have found that while there is a minimum word count to shoot for (300 per page they say), substantially larger word counts do not destine your website for that #1 search ranking spot. Instead, the average length of pages ranked in the top 3 was a sound 750 words while pages of the top 20 results contained about 500 words.
Rather than think about the length of your website, think about the density with which the keywords pop up. You need to remember that keyword stuffing is punished by Google, too.
Backlinks are the answer!
Backlinks – the links between websites – do play a part in search engine optimization. But, despite screams to the contrary, they do not solve every page ranking problem.
The common notion is that building a large network of backlinks will improve a website's ranking. The idea is that hundreds of backlinks will anchor a website to a high position, like a tree having many roots. But the reality is that these roots are shallow, surface level. They don't often a great degree of security.
Google does recognize backlinks, but more and more it appears they consider links to and from authority websites to have a greater weight. These roots, contends Google, are deep and steadily set. Because an authority website, by nature, is respected by experts in a community, it is given a greater value.
In an age of competitive, no-holds-barred SEO ranking wars, this is one of Google's major weapons to get rid of the spammers. They want the internet to be a place where real information can be found and that's hard to disagree with.
Search engine optimization is constantly in flux, evolving as more websites are built and competition grows.
The general trend for Google has been to look for quality of the website. Many of their metrics, as we've seen in this blog post, have a clear focus on the quality of the website.
If you're able to offer your viewers quality content that serves their needs then you're well placed to place well in Google's rankings.
Of course, optimization is an important part of that process. But just throwing in some well-researched keywords in a blog that offers value to no one will be costly to your website's health.