11 SEO Myths for 2019
1: Domain Age
Does age matter? Is it an advantage to have a domain name that is a few years old or not? According to Google’s Matt Cutts:
“The difference between a domain name that’s 6 months old versus one year old is really not that big at all.”
So whilst domain age forms part of the 200 Google ranking factors, its pretty low down the list and nothing to worry about if you are just starting out.
2: Exact Match Domain (EMD)
This used to be the golden SEO loophole that could propel a site’s rankings based on their domain name matching their business.
Let me give you a real life example of how easy this used to be. Around 12 years ago I launched a domain – englishdictaions.com – whereby people learning English as a second language could listen to a short audio recording. Each sentence was repeated 3 times and the user would write down what they could hear (in English of course!) then check their spelling against the original PdF doc. We had dictations for beginners through to intermediate and advanced with optimized keywords in 12 different languages including Japanese. After 6 months the site ranked on the first page of Google for at least 10 of those languages. There wasn’t any alchemy involved to achieve this. It was simply looking at the SEO criteria, which was much simpler then, and following the guidelines. Alas, we discovered that whilst the site was attracting a lot of unique users it wasn’t sticky. Most students just didn’t like doing dictations.
Now Google have shut this down in favour of their 200 question criteria approach. In my opinion this levels the playing field somewhat, opens up the scope for more creative domains and curbs the silly premium prices we used to see for exact matched domains.
3: One Time SEO Effort is Enough
The results are in for your SEO campaign and they are good, or perhaps you’ve run an SEO campaign for 4 weeks and there are no results. Or you’re satisfied, and you just don’t want to make any more effort as it wont change anything.
The fact is SEO takes time to bed-in, much like when you put a new plant into soil, it takes a while for its roots to dig in. And staying with this analogy, if you want your plant to grow then it needs to be watered regularly, the soil topped up, pests obliterated and so on. If you started an SEO campaign and the result was nothing, then find out the reason for the failure and make adjustments, instead of stopping the campaign and starting over.
Even if you have run a successful campaign and the results exceed your expectations that isn’t it! Search engines are progressive with frequently updated search result algorithms to produce a better user experience.
SEO requires the mind set of continuous improvement, why wait until you have broken links that can adversely affect your rankings, content that is out of date, or your competitors roaring ahead as they take advantage of some new ideas to look better in SERPS?
Constantly measure results for engagement factors like bounce rate, CTR, landing pages, session duration etc. if you see lower than average values then your site is losing user traction, or maybe they just have a hard time finding it.
Monitor your rankings all the time to check your sites position in your target search engines.
The bottom line is that without continuous improvement, your SEO strategy can easily start to degrade.
4: Keyword Research is Obsolete
After Google released its Hummingbird in 2013 followed by Knowledge Graph and RankBrain people were led to believe that keyword research was obsolete, and there was no sense in spending time on key word targeting. After all, these new programs were created to help Google understand search queries like humans do. It was less about finding the keywords in a query but more about the nuances in its meaning.
But Google never said that key words were no longer important. They are and you just need to express them differently in your content. The search process now is focused on contextual content and relevant concepts, and changes the approach to keyword research in a wholesale way!
Long-tail keywords are the way to go, as they better encapsulate the users intentions and that’s what search algorithms are plugged into right now. So no bunching keywords together. Pace long-tail keywords throughout your narrative and ensure the content is user-driven, i.e that the information on your page sounds natural, and is something your audience want to read.
5: Pop-ups Can Damage My Ranking in a Search
Pop-up forms are a great marketing tool as they can generate leads and even gather information from your target audience. But overuse of pop-ups has led to controversy and whether content marketers should even use them at all.
In 2016 Google announced it would start to penalize websites that used what they called “intrusive interstitials.”
And this is where the devil is in the detail. The keyword is “intrusive.” So providing your pop-up doesn’t impede the users ability to easily access your content when searching on a mobile, then Google won’t penalize.
Examples of intrusive pop-ups are those that the user has to dismiss before they can access the content page, this will get you into Google’s bad books and start to degrade your ranking. But pop-ups, including slide-ins and banners – that don’t interfere with the mobile user experience and are a natural fit within the context of your content, are good.
6: The most important on-page element is H1.
Yes, H1 is important, but it’s not the most important element on your web site pages. Whether it’s an H1, H2, H3, and so on, it is only used for styling purposes. Ultimately the header tag that your headline is wrapped in has little overall effect on your SEO.
Basically, the H1 is part of your CSS (Custom Style Sheet) to reference what font styling and size will be applied to a particular piece of page content. Whilst this used to be quite important, search engines have changed (as they do continuously) and now realise that web designers often use header tags to define style.
To summarise, it really doesn’t matter what header tag you use, just present your most important concepts upfront and closer to the top of the page. Key to remember is that user experience is top-of-mind: you’re optimizing your page so the user can quickly know what your page is about through a clear headline. For SEO, its not so important to have your target keyword as the first word in an H1 tag.
7: There must be lots of content on my home page.
Some homepages are just stuffed with copy whilst others offer a homepage with barely any content at all. Your homepage is the door to your business and should be a true representation of who are you and what you do. So if your value proposition is simplicity, which is what we strive for at jodigi.com, then you don’t need too much.
Your homepage content should contain enough narrative, imagery, video or whatever you feel works, so the user can easily see what it is you do and not leave confused. Ideally, summarise what you do in a single sentence somewhere near the top of your home page.
8: Featured snippets are not important.
Google is constantly refining the way it displays results to search queries, and has been increasing the number of Featured Snippets that it displays for queries: Ashefs study of 2 million Featured Snippets found that 12.29% of search queries had featured snippets in their data pool.
This translates as Featured Snippets being shown more regularly in some search engine results pages (SERPs), especially when a question-based query is being searched for. The snippet enhances the user experience by displaying content from within one of the pages ranking on page one, that directly answers the question searched for, without the user having to visit the actual page.
Your content could lose a lot of clicks in the SERP - even if you’re ranking #1 in the natural search results – if you fail to optimise your content for the snippet.
9: Paid search results are a quick fix for organic results.
Organic search results come from the index database, whilst paid search, such as PPC’s, sponsored links are down to your bid and budget.
To be crystal clear, organic search results are not related to paid search. Paid advertising options, such as PPC, does not influence your organic rankings. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, rigidly maintain a division among the organic results and paid for advertisements.
However, the click-through rates on paid ads can help you to identify the best keywords for your business, which you can then use for your organic positioning.
In summary, paid ads won’t influence your search rankings but can help you illuminate the best keywords to improve your conversion rate of organic results.
10: I don’t need to optimise images
In the past it may not have mattered much that your images were not optimised but SEO is a fluid process that is always changing.
Search engines are not able to read the images on a website, so its vital to add image alt text and a proper file name to help Google to know about the image.
This is more so if you operate an online store, image optimization is a must if you want sales growth. From attracting users perusing Google images to reducing your site’s load time, image optimization is a critical part of building a successful ecommerce website, and your product photography is a cornerstone of your online store.
Best practice for image optimisation is to reduce the file sizes of your image as much as possible without detracting from the quality too much so that your load times don’t slow down. This is image SEO and its all about getting your product images to rank well on all the major search engines.
11: Secured web sites don’t matter
How many times have you accessed a web site and seen a notification saying it wasn’t secure, and decided to leave the page faster than a buttered bullet?
Because that is what most people do. It increases the bounce rate of your page and degrades trust to zero. And who wants that? Best practice is to have a secured website that has been encrypted with the Secure Sockets Layer(SSL) certificate.