If human evolution had occurred at the same rapid rate that search engine optimisation rules change, we would have gone from barely identifiable swamp creatures to upright-walking, iPod-listening humans within a month.
What were deemed to be acceptable SEO practices should now be avoided at all cost. Just take a look at how Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates changed the way search engine optimisation was performed forever. Virtually overnight, websites that had worked their way up Google’s search results as a result of mass link building and overuse of keywords were harshly penalised.
Google was making a clear statement that it was now placing much more emphasis on quality content. But does that mean that all you need to do is to pump out high quality, optimised content? If only it was that simple.
In fact, SEO has changed so much in recent years that many website owners aren’t sure what’s outdated, what’s important, and what’s a complete waste of time and money. This is the first article of three in which I aim to write about some common SEO myths, so you don’t waste your efforts on things that simply don’t matter in 2013.
So here are the first six myths, in no particular order.
1. The more pages I have on my website the better it will feature in Google
You may assume that the greater the number of pages you have on your website the better you will do. But not everything you publish gets indexed by Google, and sometimes pages get indexed only to be removed later. Also, just because you have pages indexed does not mean that they will add value to your website. Some pages may not be of interest to visitors or fail to produce qualified leads.
It’s not uncommon to see site administrators focus on the quantity of content rather than the quality of the content and how helpful it will be to visitors. At all times you should be considering the relevancy and quality of the content, rather than churning out a new blog post every two days.
2. I need to submit my website to search engines
There is some misunderstanding about the need to submit your website to Google and other search engines. While a brand new
site can submit their URL to Google directly, a search engine like Google will still find your site without you submitting it. What is important is that you submit a site map to provide proper indexing of your site.
Google Webmaster Central allows you to submit sitemaps and monitor you site, highlighting any potential problem areas. A submission does not guarantee high rankings (or anything else for that matter). It’s simply another checkbox that needs ticking when you develop a new website.
3. The home page should contain a lot of content
The homepage is the gateway to your business, and is often the first page new visitors will see. Some websites have very busy pages with screeds of text. Others are minimalistic with large images that do the talking. The appropriate style depends on the industry you are in and the image you wish to portray. This where you make your first impression and convey what you’re all about.
For most businesses there is a need for a bit more content than that. Your content should clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located, your value proposition, and gently guide your visitors into purchasing something or making contact with you. When users have finished on your site they should leave satisfied that they found the products or information they wanted.
4. We must rank number one
Studies of clickthrough rates and user behaviour have shown that search engine users favour the top search results – especially the top three. However, it’s also been shown that on subsequent pages, being listed toward the top of the page shows similar click behaviour. Clickthrough rates are also proving to be higher on those listings that include author photos using Google Authorship.
It’s important to understand that relevant information and user-friendly listings can be more valuable than just rank, and that you do not need to rank in first place anymore to see success. Which leads nicely onto myth number 5.
5. A great SEO ranking means guaranteed success
[blockquote_left] With search results being appended with rich text/snippets and author tags, results that appear below the highly sought after top three positions are getting a bigger piece of the action. [/blockquote_left]
There is a strong correlation between your position in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and clickthrough rates.
However with search results being appended with rich text/snippets and author tags, results that appear below the highly sought after top three positions are getting a bigger piece of the action. When you add results from Google Plus Local and Adwords into the mix there are a lot of businesses competing for the consumer’s attention all over the page.
Getting people to your site is only the beginning. You could rank highly for a keyword and get loads of traffic, and not make a cent out of it. Look at the big picture and ensure that every part of your site is working as hard as it can for you. Re-read point #1 if you have to.
6. I’ll pay for a few hundred backlinks and boost my position in the SERPs
So you believe that Google will never know if you have dodgy links coming to your website? Then I guess you’ll also be heartbroken to hear that Santa Claus isn’t real after all.
Buying backlinks will inevitably result in dodgy links from dodgy websites. Google will see you as being guilty by association. There is very little (some would say nothing) that happens on the world wide web that Google doesn’t know about. Try to trick them, mislead them or not play by their rules and when (not if) you are caught you will be punished.
The next six search engine optimisation myths will be published within a week. Check back soon.
By Aaron Enright