SEO can be a minefield. One minute you should do something to rank well, the next, you absolutely mustn’t do it or Google will de-index your site!
Keeping up with it all is a fulltime job in itself. (And yeah of course, as VA’s we’ve got plenty of free time on our hands, haven’t we!)
So today I thought I’d debunk the top seven SEO myths you may have heard, so you don’t waste what precious time you do have.
Myth 1: Links are more important than content
A few years ago, SEO was all about link building. It didn’t matter where the links came from, the more you had, the higher your website ranked.
Google Panda changes in 2011 changed all that.
And whilst link building is still important, most online marketing experts would advise spending money on valuable content generation than links.
Unless you know what you’re doing, investing in link building can result in poor quality links which can have a negative impact on your website ranking, rather than a positive one.
On the other hand, creating valuable content regularly can help generate traffic to your site. Which proves to Google its relevance, that people are liking it, and therefore sees you as an authority in your field – boosting your ranking accordingly.
Over time this content generation will create its own natural links when shared.
Myth 2: Meta descriptions are crucial to rank well in search results
Actually, meta descriptions have absolutely no correlation with search engine ranking.
But, before you go ignoring them completely, they are still important from a persuasion perspective.
Since meta descriptions are used as the website snippet in a Google result page, use them smartly, and they could play a factor on whether people decide to click through to your site or not.
So still complete meta descriptions, just don’t think they’re the be-all and end-all of ranking well.
Myth 3: Keywords must be included throughout your website extensively
Gone are the days when web developers could drop a load of keywords into a site and hey presto, it would get ranked.
These days, that type of behaviour can see your site being penalised, possibly even de-indexed.
Lazy keyword stuffing techniques just don’t cut it anymore – algorithm changes mean that Google’s bots are cleverer than that.
A webpage should be optimised for the user, not for Google.
If done well by using synonyms and related terms, search engines will understand your aim and match relevant search terms to your site (with or without those exact keywords).
Meaning that now you don’t have to be a keywords analysis expert. Still do the keyword research for your own benefit – you may find some long tail keywords that could help with inner page and blog content – but write naturally about your services to your target market, and you’ll find words and phrases used in searches flowing organically.
Myth 4: The more content, the better
Having tens and tens of website pages doesn’t mean your site will appear higher than a competitor who has just five pages.
The Google Panda update we talked about earlier, made sure of that.
And rightly so.
Because now, it’s all about quality. Not quantity.
And in fact, you may face a penalty from Google if your website is deemed to be sharing poor quality content.
So, forget about creating page after page of content – unless it’s of value to your readers. Instead, concentrate on creating quality, informative, engaging webpages that work hard for your business, for your target market and therefore, for Google.
Myth 5: All links are good links
Another one of Google’s updates in 2012 – Google Penguin – kicked the link building craze to the curb. Which worked out great for small businesses – unless you were happy to spend money on buying links to appear higher in search results to compete.
Backlinks, as with content, must be relevant to your site and from a reputable source.
If they’re not, prepare to be penalised.
Myth 6: It’s not a necessity to be mobile friendly
In this day and age, if you don’t have a responsive website you’re not only missing out on potential enquiries, but as of April 2015, you’re missing out on the reward Google gives mobile-friendly websites.
The idea behind it – to give users a better online experience.
Responsive design ensures your page automatically adjusts to the size of screen its being viewed on, making it easier to read on all devices. And Google wants users to enjoy their time on the web.
Responsive websites will appear higher in relevant search results than websites that are not.
Myth 7: There’s no point doing SEO, it’s too difficult and time consuming
Ah, the age-old excuse!
First of all, with all the changes outlined here, as well as many others, SEO is actually easier for non- ‘experts’.
Simply create a website that reflects your business and is targeted towards your market. Think about the content and ensure it works hard for you – forgetting any initial keyword research if that seems like a step too far outside your comfort zone.
As I’ve explained – Google is clever. Bots will trawl your site to find out what it’s about even without all the SEO sections in place.
But as for time, I’m afraid you do need some of that.
Since the focus is on quality content, for most of us that will probably take a little time to get right.
But it’ll be worth it – not only for SEO, but for presenting a professional service to prospective clients.