In the last 20 years, Google employees have been working hard on a vast range of Algorithm updates which dramatically changed the way SEO Specialists optimise websites.
With every major update rolled out by Google, a number of questions and speculations created by SEO and Marketing Specialists grows. Some of the myths still have a strong presence on the internet and it is time to stop believing in them!
Below we present 10 popular SEO myths you should no longer follow whilst optimising your website.
1. XML Sitemap Will Boost Your Ranking
If you have ever heard from your SEO Specialist that the implementation of an XML Sitemap will increase your ranking positions, or your sitemap will allow crawlers to index all your new pages straight away – forget about it.
During the Q&A session prepared by Google in 2008, Trevor Foucher from the Webmaster Tools Team confirmed that a sitemap does not affect the ranking positions of website pages. It might feel like a long time ago, but Google’s position on Sitemap & Rankings hasn’t changed since then.
As much as a Sitemap does not help or hinder your website to get good ranking results, it helps search engine crawlers to read your website structure and content which might lead to further increases in your visibility and/or rankings.
2. Keyword Research is Not Important
In the era of voice search and user-friendly content, you could think keyword research is no longer that important. However, nothing could be further from the truth and high-quality keyword research is still needed and important.
During your keyword research, you should still strongly consider your business services & products, size of the website and how many competitors your business might have.
What really matters is that the keywords of your choice should be used in a responsible way. Over optimisation which includes keyword stuffing is one of the issues we see on a daily basis. While writing new content for your website you should strongly consider if the text can be read naturally. Aggressive implementation of keywords might result in users leaving your website quicker.
If you wonder where to find keywords and their search volumes, our team can recommend a free tool called Google Keyword Planner.
3. Loading Speed is Not Important
Let’s be honest, in 2020 speed is a very big ranking factor not only for organic search but also for Google Ads.
But the ranking factor is not the only reason why you should think about improving your website speed. Good loading speed is also a key to lower traffic bounce rates and higher conversion rates. Loading delays and lack of responsiveness whilst pages load in most cases will make people leave.
You should also remember that it’s not just your desktop version that must be now up to speed. Since Google announced Mobile-First Indexing in 2018 your website should also have a good quality mobile version which loads fast.
4. Paid Search Can Boost Your Organic Results
Paid results & Organic results have completely different specifications. Paid search results usually appear above or below the organic listings and are shown independently to organic results.
Your organic results are based on a very complex algorithm calculation which includes factors such as quality of content, onsite optimisation, quality backlinks, website speed and many more.
At the same time, your Paid Search results will depend on how much you have spent on the Ads, their quality score and competition.
The paid search might help your business to gather important information about quality keywords which can be used in the future in the organic optimisation, but it won’t help your organic results.
5. It is all about backlinks
Yes, the importance of backlinks in 2020 is still undeniable however, you should strongly consider what type of backlinks your website needs.
In 2012 Google carried a large algorithm update named ‘Google Penguin Algorithm Update’. This update was targeting & penalising websites with a high number of low quality and irrelevant backlinks. In early days of Penguin update, penalisation included even full exclusion from indexing.
It is another SEO myth, that every backlink has the same quality and passes the same link juice. You should avoid gathering backlinks which come from irrelevant pages or their domain authority is low, and organise backlinks from websites with a similar subject and high DA only.
6. Google My Business Will Help Your Ranking Position
Google My Business & Bing Places for Business are fantastic tools where you can expose your business to Google and Bing users, but it will not necessarily increase your ranking position.
Whilst claiming your business you can provide various information such as name, address, business phone number, special offers and services, business logo and photos which after verification will appear on top of the listing. It is important however to stay consistent while providing the business information. You should ensure that contact details are the same on your website, GMB, Bing Places for Business and Social media profiles.
To gain an additional audience, you might also want to inform your customers and clients that your business has been listed within Google My Business and provide them with the generated review link.
Google My Business, helps to make your business more visible in the search engine, but it does not affect your ranking position directly.
7. Social Media Isn’t That Important
In 2020, Social Media will continue to play a big role in the digital world.
Even though John Mueller confirmed there is no direct ranking signal in Google algorithm, it is still recommended to run your social media platforms. Social media platforms help you to better engage with your customers and strengthen your branding. It can also strengthen your appearance in SERP.
In June 2019, Google rolled out Diversity update, which was preventing the same domain to appear more than twice on the same search listing and was giving a chance for similar websites to appear in search results.
We have seen that if a business has already well-established social media accounts it could increase the appearance in the SERPS.
8. Google Penalises for Duplicated Content
This is one of the most popular SEO myths which is still alive in 2020. Let’s clarify Google will not penalise your website for having duplicate content on your website. It is important however what Google can do if the duplicated content will be detected.
If various pages contain the same content across a few pages and canonical tags haven’t been set correctly, it is up to Google to decide which page will be ranked for the query which might negatively impact your rankings.
The best practice is to avoid having duplicate content on your website, and where possible replacing any with original and high-quality content instead.
If you have two pages with almost identical content you should either permanently redirect (301) one of the pages to another or at least set up a canonical tag on one of those.
9. Having a Secure Website is Not Important
One of Google’s priorities is to ensure their services use and provide industry-leading security. We constantly see and hear the stories where websites have been attacked in a cyberattack and malicious code has been implemented across the web pages.
In 2020 it is extremely important to ensure your website is protected by SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certificate which protects sensitive information being stolen by hackers.
By equipping your website with an SSL certificate, you not only protect your website & data contained on it but also you protect your customer data such as names, addresses, card details and many more.
If you wonder if there are any SEO ranking benefits from having a secure website, then we can say yes. In 2014 Google confirmed that all HTTPS websites will receive a minor ranking boost.
10. SEO is all about rankings
Many people think SEO is all about rankings but is it really? At POD Digital we believe that SEO is a more complex subject than only ranking positions. Of course, ranking results are one of the measurable outcomes of our everyday work. SEO however, is not only about rankings but also about the user-friendliness of the website, high-quality content, ease of reading and accessibility.
Many of our clients would say that SEO is about the return of investment. They invest hard-earned money in the website and content improvements inline with the agreed strategy and expect to see either traffic increase or higher profits (depending on agreed goals).
For every SEO specialist, it is all about constant improvements and never slowing down. Google rolls out algorithm updates on a daily basis and we need to be ready to change the tactics whenever it is needed.
As you can see depending on the position from which you are looking at SEO, you will find different answers about what SEO is really about.