5 SEO myths debunked

Talk Business is given 5 SEO myths and how you can optimize your website to get the best ranking possible. 

1. Pack the keywords in

What we have here is a remnant of the SEO stone age, when you could trick search engines into thinking you had a highly relevant page by publishing content that was basically nothing but a bunch of keywords. This ended with Panda.

However, that doesn’t mean keywords, and how you use them, don’t matter. In fact, just the opposite. Keyword consistency, the way you use your keywords on your page, is a better way to measure your on-page SEO:

  • Title tags: Google looks at title tags to help determine a page’s relevance to a search query. In your title tag, use your keywords at the beginning of the content. This is something that’s really easy to over optimize by using multiple keywords. So stick to one or two very, very closely related ones.
  • HTML headers: H1 tags are extra important as they function as the content’s title (although note that they are not the same as the title tag). Using keywords here will tell readers what to expect from each section of content.
  • Page content: Don’t worry too much about how often you use a keyword in your actual articles. If you write with a natural, human voice, you’ll wind up using it several times throughout anyways.

A good SEO audit tool will evaluate keyword consistency so you can see how well you’re using your keywords.

2. Forget your images and videos

Google can’t look at images or watch videos and understand their content. So they don’t matter for SEO, right?

Wrong.

Optimized media will open up your page to a new channel of traffic: image and video search results. You can double dip your SEO here: optimizng media can help you rank in normal search results as well as image/video results. There are two vital places to optimize:

  • Filename: Filenames worklike URLs for media: Use keywords at the beginning and separate words with hyphens.
  • Alternative text: Also known as the alt tag or alt attribute, alt text gives details about the media that didn’t fit in the filename. Write alt attribute like you’re describing the image to a person who can’t see – because that’s exactly what the alt text is for.

Again, a good SEO checker will show your image’s alt text so you can make sure all of your images have relevant and optimized alt text. It will also check to image file size, which will impact website’s load time.

3. Rich snippets are bad

Some marketers have expressed frustration with the various cards, panels and carousels that make up Google’s rich results because they meet user needs in the SERP, not the actual website. Plus, Knowledge Graph panels gather information from all over, possibly without linking to your website at all.

However, even though every concern about rich snippets are very valid, their negative impact on performance is an SEO myth.

For one, to get an Answer Box snippet, you only have to be in the top 10 results, so you can leapfrog up to nine of your competitors without actually improving your ranking. Secondly, the Knowledge Graph panel puts a big billboard for your brand right in the SERP. This is especially helpful if you’ve got a more competitive branded keyword that can trigger a lot of ads.

In fact, research has shown that rich snippets help increase click rate and overall traffic to a page.

Optimizing for rich snippets depends on which snippet you’re targeting:

  • Answer box: The key to getting your content into featured snippets, aside from answering the question really clearly and helpfully, is to structure your content in such a way that helps Google see that you’re answering the question. HTML headers and Schema markup are your friends.
  • Knowledge Graph: Since it’s the Knowledge Graph is by Google, your first optimization is your Google+ page; the more you optimize your Google+ presence, the more Google uses that content for its panel. The second most important optimization is Wikipedia and Wikidata. Optimize your Wikidata entry and request a Wikipedia page to improve the content in your Knowledge Graph. Finally, use Schema to add links to your social media platforms so Google can better associate them with your brand and website.

4. Links are earned now, not built

You may have heard that link earning has replaced link building. That is, all you need to do is create good content and the links and shares will build themselves. This myth comes mostly Penguin punishing bad links, and the rise of content (content is king after all).

The idea that you need to create quality articles, videos and graphics to succeed isn’t a myth. But the idea that you don’t need to actively and manually build links yourself is an SEO myth.

No, links are still obviously important, or Google wouldn’t have added Penguin 4.0 to it’s core algorithm. Your link building outreach strategy needs to include three prongs:

  • Content: Content is king, even if there are some limitations to its power. Do some research when planning your content to see what’s getting shares and links from your audience. Take that content and build on it.
  • Targeted outreach: Don’t rely on social media shares to move the needle for SEO. You need to identify influencers in your niche, who attract the right audience, and tailor your outreach to appeal to the individuals. Don’t send mass email campaigns asking for links. You could wind up as spam, and will almost certainly end up in the trash folder.
  • The pitch: Write your outreach emails manually for best results. People don’t like receiving automated form letters, so going that route could damage any potential relationship. Use a rough guideline or template to help streamline the process, but this isn’t a plug-and-play situation.

5. Number 1 is all that matters

Achieving that top rank in Google may cause you a great feeling of personal satisfaction (and it should! Way to go!), but it’s not a marketing magic bullet. The truth is SEO has to be done as part of a wider marketing campaign that has an overall goal in mind. Remember our pizza place. Ranking number one for “pizza” does them no good.

Take the time to develop a comprehensive SEO strategy:

  • Establish goals: You can’t declare a campaign a success or failure without knowing how to measure both.
  • Determine the ideal audience member: Use Google Analytics to learn the demographic and interest information for your audience.
  • Find the right keywords: What stage a person is at the purchasing process will determine what keywords they use in a search engine. In each case, the keyword you’ll target would be slightly different and will change the landing page accordingly.
  • Track and modify: Measuring increased traffic doesn’t matter much if it doesn’t achieve your goal, so track conversions and funnel abandonment. If you aren’t seeing the conversion rate you like, it could be a sign that your keywords are used by an nonoptimal audience, or maybe your landing pages aren’t set up to convert visitors.