Debunking Top 15 SEO Myths for 2014
SEO practices are always in a state of flux. Every year it seems, a few SEO myths are busted and ticked off. Although all matters SEO-related won’t ever be set in stone, if your business and work is dependent on it, you need to be updated. Here’s what the SEO community has to say about the current state of common practices like content marketing, link building, and social media.
All three major Google algorithm updates—Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird have and continue to change the way we do SEO. They’re also the culprit for turning many widely used SEO practices into myths. For one, guest blogging used to be a trend and was utilised as a sure-fire way to get loads of quality links. That was a widespread practice until Google recently declared guest blog posting as “spammy”. Off with its head, then.
If you’re wondering what the other debunked SEO myths and misconceptions are for this year, we’ve asked SEO and online marketing communities for their top choices.
1. Link building is obsolete. Google made its penalty propaganda clear to scare off spammy link building and its propagators. It is this paranoia of being penalised by Google that has resulted in people decrying “the fine art of link building”. This fear perpetuates the thinking that gaining links to improve your rankings will instantly land you in serious trouble with Google.
However, the ironic truth is, you cannot compete in this very competitive industry if you don’t have some element of link building. Sure, there are risks involved particularly if you don’t know what you’re doing. But the solution is to be smart and tactical when building links from reputable websites. To date, many SEO professionals say that link building is still the most effective way of improving your rankings and bringing in more traffic and revenue from organic search.
Successful SEO experts know that the safest and most foolproof link-building strategy is going out and building relationships with influential industry figures. The links you get from these relationships you nurture are the some of the best and most important links you’ll ever get. These are also the links your competitors would find harder to replicate.
If your intention is to manipulate search rankings, that’s where you’ll find link building to be more problematic. This is true especially if the links you get are of low quality and/or violate webmaster guidelines of Google. Remember that brands and SEOs benefit more from a content marketing strategy that’s based on providing the best content possible that will earn links naturally. In addition, SEO professionals continue to stress the importance of high quality both on your site’s content and the content linking to your site. In this regard, they suggest having relevant and diverse sources that link to relevant pages. The big picture here is that when you invest in quality content, that content can be used for a variety of sources—web pages, blog posts, lead generation, guest posts, and other content types that could bring you more links over time.
2. Content marketing is SEO’s replacement. There’s a common misconception that content marketing is the new kid on the block when in fact, it has been in use for decades. The problem is some people create content only with the goal of ranking well in Google searches regardless of quality. And that once numerous people took advantage of this, it led to bad user experiences for some online users. This is just a part of what’s given SEO a bad reputation to some. Google reacted accordingly with its aggressive algorithmic updates—Panda and Penguin. This ultimately forced marketers, PR, SEO, and social experts to rethink their strategies and collaborate more to create content that can reap the benefits for all channels.
Unfortunately, some market content marketing as “the new SEO”. This belief drives many SEO professionals absolutely crazy. The idea that content and inbound marketing strategies have entirely replaced SEO tactics posits the two as if they’re somehow mutually exclusive, when reality is, this myth sprung from a pessimistic view of what SEO is.
To clarify once and for all, content marketing cannot replace SEO because these two work together. SEO is a vital part of having quality content strategy.
3. Google ranking is all about link building. According to many SEO professionals, this is a commonly misunderstood myth. The fact is, Google takes a look at various factors to determine which position a page should rank in a search engine. There was widespread belief that back links have a direct positive influence and are instrumental in gaining favourable rankings. However, not all back links are beneficial. SEO experts advise that the best way to think of a link is as someone giving feedback about your website. Feedback that’s valuable and helpful to the user is one that’s both truthful and informative.
4. Social media signals have a direct impact on search rankings. This issue is currently being hotly contested within the SEO community. Many SEO professionals confirm that while having an active and engaged social following may earn you links and validate your marketing efforts, it has no direct impact on search rankings. They advise others to invest social profiles on the most suitable networks for them, with the understanding that doing so doesn’t directly improve their search visibility.
SEO experts who utilise Google+ highly recommend posting social content on it as their content would have better chances of being indexed immediately.
5. Google is to blame for killing the SEO value of press releases. If you write your press releases solely for the purpose of milking links, you are getting way behind your competitors. These days, press releases have come back to their original purpose: a direct, no-frills way of telling the media about your company, products, services, and latest events and achievements. Basically, it’s one way users and prospective customers can gather news and learn more about your business. To make it effective, it’s not just cramming keywords into the entire text. It’s about writing content that users find relevant that will earn you a place in the higher search ranks.
6. Optimizing anchor text with keywords boosts your rankings. Optimising anchor text with keywords was a widespread practice in the past since it helped improve search rankings. (Anchor text is the text contained within a hyperlinked phrase.) Google algorithm updates changed this by devaluing the influence of optimising anchor texts. Inserting targeted keywords in the internal and external linking structure of a site to boost its search rankings is now a useless strategy. SEO professionals have discovered that over-optimizing anchor text have adverse results—it can result in a loss of rankings and/or a manual penalty from search engines.
7. Google Authorship benefits SEO. This is another debatable issue within the SEO community. (Google Authorship is an identity-verification process linking a Google+ profile to the online content of a Google+ user.) SEO professionals confirm that there is no definitive evidence showing search results featuring a well-known author and trusted author rank better than those that don’t. While this is so, it’s still helpful to include author mark-up when applicable.
8. Guest blogging is a huge no-no for SEO. In January of this year, the head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, publicly denounced guest blogging for SEO purposes in his blog post. Without a doubt, this led many to conclude that guest blogging of any kind makes you liable to be punished by Google. The fact is, Google is against guest blog posting because of the existence of spam blogs—websites created solely to manipulate search rankings. These websites had very low quality content and SEOs blogged on them with the purpose of gaining links. Google penalises you if they find that you’ve acquired hundreds of links via guest blogging. Ditch this practice and focus on creating worthwhile content. Instead of aiming to gain links to manipulate search rankings, SEO professionals advise marketers and business owners to blog with the sole intent of building authority in the eyes of their target market. This can be achieved by getting exposure on high-profile websites.
9. No follow links are worthless. You might think that backlinks (marked as “rel-nofollow”) don’t provide the same value as regular follow links do. This misconception is about to change. According to studies, nofollow links do have some value in search algorithm rankings, acting as an important part a natural backlink profile that Google can see. According to SEO professionals, if your backlink profile doesn’t have any nofollow links, it translates as a potential red flag to Google because to Google, it looks like you’re just building links more than getting them naturally. The bottom line is, nofollow links still generate traffic and leads for business despite what you initially think, so it’s not worthless.
10. Mobile search and desktop search are the same thing. This is a huge misconception. The SEO community is in agreement that apps are growing more dominant in the mobile market even though Google still dominates browser-based searches. According to Nielsen, apps account for 89% of mobile media time usage, while the remaining 11% goes to mobile Web accounts. MDG Advertising adds that 50% of mobile searches are done with local intent explains that when people search on their mobile devices, they usually look for what’s nearer to them in the physical world.
The point is simple: to gain an edge over competitors and be more visible to consumers, marketers, specifically ecommerce brand managers should develop mobile-geared strategies.
11. Lots of internal links are always good. According to recent research from search marketing company, Moz, the number of internal links on a page is not as influential as it once was in terms of search engine ranking factors. (Internal links are links that lead the user to other pages on the site.) Successful SEO experts have discovered the ultimate secret: when it comes to internal links, less is more. Users would not benefit at all from the many links on your site linking to the same page. It’s unnecessarily redundant. Instead, it’s more valuable to diversify anchor text for internal links.
The key is to keep a minimum of internal links per page, those defined by user needs. And, use different anchor texts per added link.
13. You must rank nationally to make it to the top. The SEO community confirms that almost all worthwhile searches are local. This is true especially with Google presently pushing Google+ and Google Map results in searches. It’s a fact that local search results beat national ones in almost all areas. The explanation is simple: Google+ and Google Maps show up first especially in mobile device search.
14. The more index pages you have, the higher your search engine ranking. It was a common belief that the more number of total indexed pages you have, the higher your website ranks in search. This was true until earlier this year, but it was Google’s last Panda update that ended this practice. Now, it’s possible for sites with as little as forty indexed pages to show up before sites that have more than a thousand indexed pages.
15. SEO alone is what keeps businesses going. This is a myth that can cost you your business if you continue to believe in it. SEO professionals who have had years of experience in the industry, stress that SEO is a driver of web traffic, and not a driver of business. They know all too well that most SEO service purchasers are right in expecting that SEO can help drive their business, but that they’re usually misinformed on how SEO can actually contribute to drive the business forward. Thus, they make big mistakes.
SEO is the key difference between marketing and sales. You can’t just sit back and leave everything to chance or just hope for the best. Your sales staff and/or website still need to close the deal with consumers via an effective on-page experience. Also, you need to maintain a strong online reputation to avoid losing business.