At a glance, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) might look like a fairly simple thing to do: write a bit of content, add a few keywords and make sure that Google has indexed your site 🤷♂️
As you dive deeper into Search Engine Optimisation, you will come across SEO myths regarding the best way to increase your websites SEO. Some of them stem from outdated tactics while others are simply rumours discussed on forums.
It is easy to get overwhelmed trying to separate the truth from misinformation, especially as a beginner in SEO.
It imperative that you do thorough research before following any advice as certain tactics could end up hurting your rankings rather than helping them.
In this guide, we will look at what Search Engine Optimisation is, why it is important, and discuss the most common myths that surround SEO.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
First thing’s first. We need to understand what SEO is and why it’s important for a website.
According to Ahrefs, it is the process of optimising your website and webpages to get free and organic traffic from search engines such as Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo.
Furthermore, you should follow SEO best practices to rank a website naturally in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
SEO best practices include using numerous tactics such as placing targeted keywords within a piece of content, maintaining good site speed and overall providing a good user experience.
In organic search optimisation, you do not have to pay to rank in search engines such as Google.
For paid advertising (PPC), businesses pay search engines to advertise their pages at the top of the search results for certain keywords.
8 Common SEO Myths Debunked
Discerning between myths and facts is difficult when it comes to SEO, as the process is constantly evolving and changing to provide search engine users with the best results and experiences.
To ensure a smooth start and transition into SEO, we have come up with eight of the most common myths to watch out for!
MYTH #1 – Optimising Meta Descriptions Does Not Matter❌
Meta descriptions are the short line of text that appears in the search results just below the website URL link.
In the past, this used to be a section on the web page where you could optimise for keywords.
Meta descriptions provide a glimpse into your website and are used to display a snippet of words limited to 160 characters. Think of it as pitching your website to users with limited characters.
Therefore, it’s necessary to write compelling and attention-grabbing meta-descriptions. A good, eye-catching meta description attracts users and increases traffic to your website.
MYTH #2 –You Can Skip Writing Image Alt Tags🖼
When search engines like Google “crawls” your website to index it so it appears in internet search results, the image alt tags describe to search engines what the image displays as the search engine “crawler bots” aren’t able to actually see images.
Your users may be able to see and understand what an image is showing, but search engines “see” using text and code. Therefore, in order to allow search engines to understand what an image shows, it is important to add a descriptive alt text.
An image alt tag is also a good place to add keywords other than your text. A good image alt tag will include keywords as well as clearly define what the picture is showing.
For example, suppose you have a picture of the Eiffel Tower and your keywords are “tours in Paris”, your image alt tag should be something like “Eiffel tower – a top destination for tours in Paris”
Another use of image alt tags is that it will make your website accessible to persons with disabilities.
For example, if someone who is visually impaired accesses your website, the image is converted into text and read aloud by programs.
MYTH #3 –You Don’t Need To Write Long-form Content ✍
Many experts have mentioned that longer content helps blogs to rank better on search engines such as Google. While this may be true, it does not mean that you start stuffing your blogs with unnecessary content.
Most websites prefer to keep their word count to at least 700 words to as much as 2,600 words on a single page. An article by The Write Practice explains how different article lengths can be used to focus on different optimisation tactics.
A blog with a word count of 700 or less is good for increasing engagement on the blog through comments, while an article with a word count of 1,000 to 1,500 words is more likely to be shared on social media platforms.
However, if your goal is to rank organically, articles with a word count of 2,000 or more work best.
While writing long content, the aim is to show your readers that you are an expert on a certain subject. However, the quickest way to kill your authority on a subject is by increasing the length of your content by repeating facts and pointers.
While learning to code does provide an advantage, beginners do not have to learn to code for SEO. There are many skills that define a search engine marketer which does not have anything to do with coding.
For one, to maintain an effective strategy, you mainly need to have an analytical mind to process data reports from tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs.
Furthermore, it requires an understanding of what works and doesn’t work for a particular website, as each website has a different purpose whether it’s eCommerce, blogging or a news site.
Other skills that define an SEO expert are; good communication, good writing skills, link building and a good business strategy overall.
Some advanced aspects of SEO do require a knowledge of coding, however, for this, you can always collaborate with your development team to address any technical concerns.
The ultimate goal of an SEO strategist is to increase rankings and revenue of a website and therefore, is definitely not limited to coding.
MYTH #5 –Keywords Should Appear Exactly As They Are When Writing Content👎
Nowadays, it is best to use your target keywords in a way that feels as natural as when people are speaking.
Google has been focusing on understanding queries like this better through natural language processing. This means that the traditional way of incorporating keywords as a compilation of words and not phrases in content has changed.
In the past, sites were able to rank easily by stuffing their pages with keywords. It did not matter whether the sentences made sense or not, the only goal was to add as many keywords as possible.
However, today if you continue to solely incorporate keywords just as they are, your content ends up sounding robotic, and it will not appeal to your readers or Google. You can end up getting penalised, and your bounce rate will skyrocket. Always remember that the reader should come first and search engines second.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to include semantic keywords relating to the main keyword. It is not just the keywords that help a page to rank but also terms and phrases that relate to the keyword. This helps search engines to understand the context of the page and its content. This is known as Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords.
A good example of LSI keywords is, if you are writing about “fire” include semantic keywords such as “ash”, “smoke” and “burn”.
MYTH #6 –More Links Equal Higher Rankings💹
Link building is important for SEO whether it is internal linking or inbound linking. Internal linking is linking to other pages on the same website you are adding content, whereas inbound linking is getting links to your website from other websites.
Be mindful of the type of links you are building for your website though.
Traditionally, it used to be easy to build inbound links from any website, whether the sites were related to your website’s niche or not.
However, today, there are certain rules when it comes to the type of links that you can build.
Think of links as recommendations for your website from another source. If a trusted website such as news sites and industry-relevant sites link to your page, it means that your page is a trustworthy source.
But, if you are getting links from sites that are spammy or not related to your niche, it won’t help in increasing your page rankings, and you will most likely be penalised for them.
A few links from highly reputed sites carry more value than dozens of links from low ranking and non-industry related sites.
MYTH #7 –Anchor Text Doesn’t Matter⚓
Yes, anchor text does matter!
Anchor text is the clickable text with a hyperlink that appears in your page which leads to another page, whether it is an internal page or external.
You will notice that clickable texts are usually in blue to signify that they have a link added to them (like the blue Anchor text above).
SEO friendly anchor text provides clear information about the page it is linking to and how this page relates to your content.
As mentioned in point six above, links should be relevant to your page or content. This helps the linked page to rank for the keywords that are used in the anchor text.
Proper use of anchor text will help search engines to recognise that a page is getting references for that keyword. This will help identify that page as a reliable source.
That is why the internal linking of the pages is considered to be good practice for SEO. The more internal links a page receives with relevant keywords, the more important that page is considered to be thus, boosting the page’s rankings.
Finally, anchor text should not include generic text such as “click here”, “this site” or “this article”.
MYTH #8 –SEO Is Constantly Changing So The Basics Don’t Really Matter🙈
The strategies used to do SEO is constantly changing with new rules introduced every year by Google- sometimes even up to three times a year!
However, no matter how much the rules seem to change, the basic practices for SEO are always the same: create great content, optimise it with keywords, structure your site effectively, get high-quality backlinks and to maintain your site’s speed.
A website with good optimisation appeals to everyone and not just to Google.
That being said, one way to stay updated is to follow SEO related blogs and experts like Ahrefs, Moz, Backlinko and HubSpot who provide useful resources regarding new trends. You can also follow experts like Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller.
As beginners diving into SEO, it is easy to get lost in the technicalities of advanced strategies and turning up other numerous SEO myths does not help make things any less confusing.
Always make sure to check several reliable sources to see what the trusted experts are saying about it before hurriedly executing on a particular strategy.
However, even with technical strategies, remember that in the end, it is humans that use your site to make purchases, learn more about your products and services or find new information.
Above all, it’s important to follow a strategy that works best for you and your audience. Moreover, you shouldn’t blindly follow Google’s rules because they said so at the expense of making your audience’s online experience humanised.
Therefore, at the end of the day if your audience loves and engages with your content then Google will love it as well.
Need help with SEO to boost your rankings and optimize your website? Here, at WEBO Digital our SEO team can help with a strategy to optimise your website in all aspects. If you have any questions or queries, feel free to contact us.
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