Chasing the elusive SEO algorithms to keep your site relevant in online searches can be daunting, confusing, and a full-time job. What worked yesterday, may not work the same today.
“To say SEO has ‘changed a lot’ would be the understatement of the decade,” HubSpot reports in a recent article, “Twenty SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2018.”
The article continues, “… Maintaining an effective SEO strategy does require a close eye and a commitment to quality. And because SEO has changed so much in the past several years, many marketers aren’t sure what’s outdated, what’s important, what will actually move the needle, and what’s simply wasted effort.”
While SEO algorithms continuously change and there is no one definitive resource that will tell you all you need to know about SEO, we found the HubSpot article a good starting point. It aggregated information from a variety of experts, shared information about specific Google algorithms, and provided helpful tools, such as a link to test the mobile-friendliness of your site. We summarized the article below.
Myth No. 1: I must submit my site to Google.
“The idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results (or rank) is nonsense. While a brand new site can submit its URL to Google directly, a search engine like Google can still find your site without you submitting it.”
Myth No. 2: More links are better than more content.
The article recommends you focus on having relevant and diverse sources that link to appropriate pages, rather than the quantity of the links.
Myth No. 3: Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site isn’t important for SEO.
Google has stated that two websites which are otherwise equal in search results, if one has SSL enabled, it may rank slightly higher. The article also notes that a recent HubSpot survey found that, “up to 85% of people stated that they will not continue browsing if a site is not secure.”
Myth No. 4: SEO is all about ranking.
According to HubSpot, ranking isn’t everything and does not guarantee clickthroughs.
Myth No. 5: Meta descriptions have a huge impact on search rankings.
Meta descriptions, the article explains, are HTML snippets that explain the content of web pages. “Although meta descriptions may not affect rankings, they do affect clickthrough rates, which are important. Having a relevant, compelling meta description can be the difference between a searcher who clicks through to your page and one who clicks elsewhere.”
Myth No. 6: Pop-ups will always hurt my ranking in search.
Marketers debate whether pop-ups help or hurt a site. “When they’re used in a way that’s helpful instead of disruptive, pop-ups can be a healthy part of your inbound strategy. Be sure yours offer something valuable and relevant to the people visiting that particular site page,” the article recommends.
Myth No. 7: Keyword optimization is THE key to SEO.
New algorithms and methods of refining searches mean a few key words no longer guarantee successful results, the site notes.
Myth No. 8: Keywords need to be an exact match.
Google’s webmaster guidelines discourage the use of verbatim keywords.
Myth No. 9: The H1 is the most important on-page element.
The header tag is only used for styling purposes, the site notes.
Myth No. 10: My homepage needs a lot of content.
Brevity can prevent a homepage from overwhelming visitors. “Think of your homepage as the gateway to your business. Visualize it! This is your chance to make a first impression and convey what you’re all about.”
Myth No. 11: The more pages I have, the better.
HubSpot notes that, “Just like link-building, creating content just to have more pages isn’t enough.”
Myth No. 12: Good user experience is an added bonus, not a requirement.
User experience is important and your can improve it by focusing on page load time, bounce rate, time on page, page views per visit, and how far a person scrolls down the page.
Myth No. 13: Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore.
“If you’re a local business, optimizing for local search won’t only help you get found, but it will help you get found by people who are nearby and more likely to buy from you,” notes HubSpot.
Myth No. 14: Google will never know if I have bad sites linking to me.
Google is close to omniscient.
Myth No. 15: Images don’t require any optimization.
Since search engines cannot see images on websites, the article recommends giving each image an alt text and relevant file name.
Myth No. 16: Featured Snippets only matter if you’re Wikipedia.
Featured Snippets can hinder a page’s visibility, HubSpot warns. The snippet displays content from within one of the pages that directly answers the question searched for without the user having to actually visit the webpage.
Myth No. 17: I don’t need a mobile optimization strategy.
Consumers expect a mobile-friendly site.
Myth No. 18: SEO is something I can hand off to IT.
SEO takes training and expertise and not all information technology professionals are trained at search engine optimization.
Myth No. 19: The age of my domain will help me rank.
Age of a domain turns out to be a minor factor, according to the list.
Myth No. 20: Google holds grudges.
If you get a Google penalty, called a “manual action,” the article suggests that Google does not “hold a grudge” as long as you fix the problem as soon as possible.