I’ve been working in the web since 2000. You’d think any modern technology industry would be exempt from myths, due to the absoluteness of technology, but I guess people aren’t. Here are some common myths we’re dispelling, right here!
There is a myth that buying ten years in advance is good for SEO. The reality is, It’s not a ranking factor in Google. Just buy what you need, if you can only afford one year’s domain registration, then do so. The best ranking factor is content!
Over the years, when taking on people’s websites and domain names, I’ve often discovered that lots of companies have registered many domain names as variations on their business names or industry all pointing to their website, with the idea it helped their Google rankings. This myth may stem from the fact that a few years ago, keywords in domain names was a ranking factor, this hasn’t been the case for some time. The truth is it doesn’t matter how many domain names you’ve bought, it has no effect on where you’ll appear in Google, and why would it? Always remember Google is trying to emulate humans, and what they find helpful. If you had ten domain names around cat grooming products, would the searcher care or benefit in any way? Of course not. It has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on your website's performance.
Backlinks are external links to your site, they are seen as a vote of confidence in your website and are usually good SEO, see Backlinks Explained for more information.
Many years ago, people realised these were helping sites rank higher, so people started having links pages or areas on their sites for lists of links to sites that would link to them in return. These were completely useless to people searching the web but at the time boosted their site's appearance. However, in one algorithmic update called Penguin in 2012, sites using this (as well as other spurious ways to boost rankings) as their main form of SEO suddenly ranked lower or not at all in Google.
The lesson to learn here is DO have backlinks but they must be relevant and useful to the website visitor.
SEO is a once-only job
A one-off SEO audit on an old site that’s not been looked at for ages is a great way to suss out issues and clean away any cobwebs holding your site back. But as updates to your site’s industry or subject matter are bound to occur, reviewing the content on a regular basis and updating it prevents putting people off inaccurate content and maintaining your authority in your field. That’s a small part of on-page SEO. For technical and off-page SEO things are constantly changing rapidly, for example:
Involves; security, making sure the site is free of malware, and making sure software is up-to-date as well as any issues highlighted in Google Search Console. Technology develops all the time and this can affect your site’s visibility in Google. Keeping on top of this is an important part of ongoing SEO work.
Making sure the Google Search Console is still registering new pages from the sitemap.xml and that there are no new issues occurring.
What’s happening out there on the web in terms of links to your site from social media posts, forums and from websites has a big influence on your site’s success in Google. This is an ever-changing landscape and keeping track of this means you can take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
Keep an eye on what competitors are up to, this is bound to change frequently and new competitors may establish themselves as leaders in their field. Observing their strategies and adapting and innovating around the competition may give you the edge.
A change to the algorithm screws up your site's rankings
Only if you’ve (or hired someone to do so) used underhanded tactics to get your site ranking higher!
If you’ve invested in high-quality content that’s well-written and useful, and you’ve optimised your web pages in a legitimate way, you have nothing to worry about!
Sites that have bought hundreds of links to their site, or used any dubious ways to creep up Google will find themselves way down the line. So don’t worry, build and website your website for humans!
Meta tags improve your Google listing
Meta tags are important for grabbing the attention of a prospective website visitor in the SERPs, but they are not a ranking factor anymore. This was due to people keyword stuffing and abusing the tag. The title and description though should contain keywords as these are what people are searching for. So if you have a page on how to look after African land snails, that should be in the title or description so that the eyes of the person scanning the page for that they’re after pick up on what they’re looking for
You need to write at least 500 words per page
This is the guide we give to our customers, but as long as the content is useful, it doesn’t matter. It’s a way to make sure people write enough. A badly written 500 word article won’t do as well as a brilliantly written 250 word article!
Misunderstanding the point of Google
A great quote:
“Search engines are just trying to emulate human processes”
- David Booth, Consultant, Instructor, Founding Partner of Cardinal Path.
A common mistake people make is aiming their site at Google and forgetting who the site is really for.
You are not selling wellington boots to Google, (hence the cover illustration). Your website is for humans, that is until we make contact with aliens or robots become sentient and need wellington boots, as they might rust. But you’re almost certainly not selling wellington boots, it’s just an example.
Your website, whether it be a reference like a wiki, online shop, or explaining and showing off your services like our website does, needs to be designed, built and written for humans, specifically the humans you want to reach.
Here’s a content writing tip:
A great way to help you write your website content is if you can imagine your ideal customer sitting in front of you, maybe over coffee, they’re asking you ‘what do you do? and ‘what does that widget do’ and ‘why do I need it?’ if you can imagine that scenario it can be a great source of content.