Search engine optimization (or SEO) is getting more and more important as everything is turning into some digital format, especially businesses. Optimizing your website for search engines and your mobile application for app stores is considered one of the most important digital marketing practices nowadays. But how exactly can you do that?
More importantly, Google’s team has created a series of Youtube videos to help you bust the SEO myths. You can check the first video below:
We have summarized the 10 most important of them for you. Let’s see what SEO tactics don’t work anymore:
1. Having more links leading to your website than content
This is probably one of the biggest SEO myths. While in the past, link building without analyzing the source might have worked, it is not the case anymore. Surely, a few years ago having many links leading to your website was helping to get higher ranks. You should note that this strategy still helps you with your SEO, but what Google finds important is not the quantity of your links but the quality.
The whole link building strategy changed when Google launched their Penguin 2.0 algorithm. The algorithm is tasked to find and punish websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Furthermore, the technique of creating bad quality links leading to your website is also known as black-hat SEO and it was used by websites to increase their rankings.
Furthermore, link building and content creation are highly correlated. This meaning that the more relevant and good quality content you have, the more quality backlinks you will get. That’s why Google suggests you to focus on the quality rather than quantity of your content. What’s most important here is that you can then use the content for blog posts, lead generation offers, web pages, and guest posts on other sites. As content and link building have a high correlation, the content you create now will also bring more links to your website over time.
2. Not having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site
Second on the SEO myths list is people believing that website encryption doesn’t help you rank higher. In August of 2014, Google announced that they will rank HTTPS encrypted website higher. Furthermore, in 2017, Google released a new version of Chrome. It also came with a public statement that visitors of not SSL-enabled websites will receive a notification that the website is not secured. This also led to a higher bounce rate of most of the websites.
“SSL” stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the technology that protects your website as well as your users from hackers. You can see an example of how it works and what the difference is between an HTTP and HTTPS web page on the picture above.
You might be wondering how you can recognize SSL-enabled websites. Well, it is super easy, and we actually wrote about it back in 2017 in the article HTTP vs HTTPS and why SSL is the future. You might have noticed that some websites’ URLs begin with “http://” while others, with “https://”. The added “s” is what gives away that the page you are visiting has enabled SSL encryption. It is most common for websites that require you to enter sensitive data like Facebook. Just visit Facebook’s web page and check the URL yourself.
3. Not putting the right focus on meta descriptions
A third SEO myth is not putting enough effort in your meta description. To clarify, a meta description is an HTML attribute that gives you the opportunity to write a catchy description of your web page. The meta description is what you see in your search engine result page under the title of each website. You can see an example of the HTML code on the picture below:
Moreover, in the past Google was using DMOZ directory, also known as The Open Directory Project for the creation of snippets, when meta descriptions were missing or were of bad quality. However, for more than 10 years now, the directory has been closed. This means that now more than ever it is important for website owners to write meaningful and catchy meta descriptions. Most importantly, in 2017, Google even increased the length of the meta description snippets.
While many might not consider the meta description as an important variable for their ranking algorithm, a good description will increase your website’s click-through rate. In other words, it is part of a good SEO practice, which will also help you distinct yourself from your competitors. You should also note that other search engines like Bing take under consideration the click-through rate as a ranking variable.
4. Using only exact match keywords
Back in the days, SEO was mostly about keywords and especially exact match keywords otherwise known as seed keywords. However, things have changed. Now Google uses machine learning algorithms like RankBrain to find and analyze keywords.
What RankBrain does is that it translates words into mathematical entities, so that a computer can read them. Based on them, the computer can find similar meaning words and phrases. In this way, algorithms help pushing SEO to the next level—from exact match keywords to broader search queries like whole phrases.
With all our home assistant devices, it is expected that voice search queries will continue to increase, and by 2050 their part of all searches will amount to an astonishing 50%. This leads to the assumption that soon we will need to start optimizing for voice search also, if it isn’t too late already.
5. Having too many pages
If you think that having a lot of web pages will bring more traffic to your website, you are wrong. That’s just another SEO myth. Here the same rule as for link building applies – “Always choose quality over quantity!”. Even though you might think that it is logical to have a lot of pages in that way having a larger footprint and therefore higher ranking, that’s just not the case with SEO in 2019.
First of all, search engines don’t index everything that you publish. One reason for that could be that the content you created is too similar to something that other people have already published. Furthermore, even if the page gets indexed it doesn’t mean that it will bring more traffic.
Google uses another algorithm named Google Panda. Its core purpose is to reward quality content websites and penalize low-quality ones. Luckily for you, in a recent article we already answered the question “How Long Should a Website Be?“. It also provides you with good examples on how your pages should look like.
6. Not optimizing your images
Another SEO myth is that you shouldn’t optimize the images on your website for search engines. Algorithms have changed, so now you should also put some effort into adding alt text to the image. The alt text is actually an alternative text that you give to the image to make it easier for search engines to recognize. That is so, as they cannot distinguish the image formats on websites. Furthermore, if for some reason the image cannot load, search engines can still see that there should be an image and what it should represent. You can see a similar case on the image underneath:
To be even more precise with your SEO, Google also suggests that you write an image description and captions that are, of course, relevant for it. You should note that the image formats that Google so far indexes are BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG. That’s why you should make sure that the image files that you upload on your website are among the listed above formats. Similarly, it is crucial to give your file a name that uses relevant keywords, as well!
7. Ignoring featured snippets
First, let’s answer the question “What is a featured snippet?”. A featured snippet shows sometimes in the search engine’s result page on the very top, usually as an answer to a search query that contains a question. In Google’s case a featured snippet can be text, list, video or tables. Additionally, the snippet presents information from a web page that Google thinks answers the searcher’s question to the fullest. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict if a piece of your text will be featured by Google. What you can do, however, is to write high quality content in order to increase you chances.
Now you may ask how is that relevant for SEO. Well, first of all, a website that Google has rewarded with a featured snippet shows on the very top of the search results. Additionally, even if there is a featured snippet, that will not prevent your website of showing on the first page. The featured snippet gets most of the searchers clicks, which is how this can harm your website. This means that it may also steal some of your clicks, as well.
8. Being too scared from pop-ups
Another one from the SEO myth-list is that you shouldn’t use pop-ups at all. Pop-ups can be like walking on thin ice. But if you use them properly they can help you get faster to the finish line.
We completely understand why you might be scared of using pop-ups, as there have been a lot of people that have been abusing them. That’s why, in 2016 Google also started punishing those websites. On the bright side though, pop-ups are actually a great way to engage people and generate leads. You just need to know how exactly to use them and where to place them, so that they do not interfere with the UX, as shown on the picture.
Apart from keeping the user-friendly interface, you should remember that your pop-ups should also provide the website’s visitor with relevant and valuable information.
9. Not having a mobile optimization strategy
That is probably the biggest myth from the epic SEO myth-list. In 2015, Google released an algorithm named “Mobilegeddon”. Its purpose is to look after mobile-friendly websites and reward them for that by increasing their ranking. This strategy makes a lot of sense as people continue using their mobile devices for search more and more.
“With mobile-first indexing, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent. We will continue to show the URL that is the most appropriate to users (whether it’s a desktop or mobile URL) in Search results.”
10. Always submitting your site to Google
In 2019, technology is moving faster than ever. This also means that submitting your website to Google, is not mandatory anymore. With Google making a standard for Robots.txt, all you need is to follow the new rules and include the right robot.txt file in order for the search engines’ bots to find you.
Despite submitting your website to Google doesn’t guarantee its indexation. As long as your website is search engine optimized, search engine crawlers will find your site and index it in no time. No need to worry, as long as you follow good SEO practices.
What you should remember from this article is that search engines are constantly changing their algorithms for website optimization. On top of that, the fast pace that technologies are developing at, is also one of the reasons why the SEO rules are constantly being changed. That’s why you should always stay on the lookout for updates and new improved SEO practices. To do that, we recommend you to sign up for our newsletter, so that you don’t fall behind.