10 SEO Myths Busted

Jan 11, 2018 | Frequently Asked Questions, News

In this series, we’ll be answering questions which we get asked by clients on a regular basis, as well as dispelling some myths.

We believe that you should be in control of your digital presence, leading your business or organisation.

Look out for further topics in the coming weeks covering SEO, Legal considerations, security, social media, Pay per Click, growing readership.

Enjoy!

Keywords, H1, H2, meta….

 

So, being presented most weeks with more than one opportunity to quote for a website brings with it a range of client experiences, from the total novice to the seasoned web owner.

One thing that is clear is that there are some big myths hanging around from the last decade and a half about what makes a site perform well in search engines.

Myths:

Myth 1: My site needs to be stacked with keywords.

In the past, this was the way in which Google (we’ll focus on them, as they are the search engine others follow) used to index websites, and prioritise them for search results. Clever webmasters would place lists of keywords on a website hidden from the reader, but visible to Google. More keywords = better results. In the last few major updates, the focus has shifted to website ‘Engagement’. Hidden words cannot possible engage readers.

So Google now largely ignores them. I say largely, as where sites heavily stuff hidden keywords into a page, they will punish the site. In addition if keywords are not deemed to be related to the visible content, expect a drop in rankings. So – The lesson is – Dont use hidden keywords if possible, and if you are tempted to, dont go too overboard. Don’t for example list the names of your competitors without including them on the page. Easiest answer is to delete them. Also, dont stuff your chosen word or phrase too heavily into any text. You can over do it! Here’s an example of some stuffed text..

Our Website Design Service is second to none. For those wanting Website Design Services in the Oxfordshire area, we can help. With many valued clients of our Website Design Service already benefitting, you can be sure of success. For further information on our Website Design Services, please visit www.website-design-service.co.uk. 

 

I think you get the drift!

Myth 2: Page Content should contain keywords

Well, this is a partial myth.

The first priority for a page is that it does have some content. Somewhere between 150 and 400 words is good. Of course you can place keywords in here. The page wouldnt make sense to readers if it didnt include relevant words.

However, lists of words, such as locations, or services are not recommended.

So, readability is the key here for content. It needs to be easy to read, with sensible grammar, engaging content, a mix of images where possible. Clear headings separating chunks of text, sensible links to other parts of the site encouraging multiple page visits, and longer on the site. So, be the judge of your site. Does it make easy and informative reading? If so, then it may well do to your readers.

Myth 3: All links are good links

So, in the past, many used to pay for link-building services to list the site on multiple other websites, as sort of directory services. However, these sites had little authority to claim that they were knowledgeable about every industry, and so Google dropped them. Not only that, but links from these sites became punishable. Google dropped many a well known and high performing website in one foul swoop when it decided to change this rule. Many websites owners find it hard to know where the links are coming from, as some of the link builders spread them across many sites. Owners may still be living with the legacy of these ‘black hat’ links now.

BUT Some links are good. Links from what are called ‘authority sites’ are very good indeed.

An authority site is one considered by Google to be established, honest, and popular. Lets compare, say, the BBC website with an advert on the local hospital radio site. BBC gets millions of views every day. It is seen as honest, well built and maintained. A link from a news item on the BBC to your site would be like gold dust.

A link from a hospital radio site which may only get a handful of readers per day, and your advert linking to your site may well be completely out of context to the page on which it’s displayed. Google will give you little credit for it, although the advert may still be worthwhile, as it may receive clicks from visitors, resulting in sales for you.

Hidden Links

So, if internal links are good, then I can hide some around the site?

No – Google looks for the relvance of the link wording to the destination. Linking a full stop to another page has no relevance. You’ll be punished!!

Myth 4: Any content will do

Have you heard of ‘Bounce Rate’?

This is the measure of how many people click on a link to your site, or to a page on your site, and then either click the ‘back’ or ‘close’ button. High bounce rates, with a short viewing time mean that people didnt read much of the content, either because it was poorly written, not interesting, or they arrived there under false pretences. Low bounce rates, longer page times are good!

Linking articles of a similar topic to each other results in greater ‘engagement’ through internal links, increasing site viewing times, and reducing bounce rates.

Video content can help with visit times, but not just any content. A video for the sake of a video is not justification for placing one. It needs to be informative, engaging, and hopefully watched to the end. Google knows how long your videos are, and whether people watch the first few seconds, or the entirity.

Copied Content

Don’t. Just Don’t!

Google knows you’ve nicked the content from elsewhere, changed some names, and loaded it to your site. If you do, then attribute it to the original site.

Myth 5: My site works well. I can just leave it alone now.

You may be in the lucky position that you are already getting thousands of visits a month, and people find you through other means. Most of us are not however.

Would you buy or pick up the same magazine time after time? If it were a review of the economy, would it still be relevant in 3 month’s time? Probably not, and not many people would read it.

Same goes for your website. There may be elements which can survive the test of time, but what can you do to keep people coming back? New content being read by your visitors is critical in keeping them coming back, as well as engaging newer visitors. Google knows the proportion of visitors are new, and returning. It follows them around your site, and rewards you against how well you engage them.

So, content is key. But how can you offer up new content on a regular basis?

Here are a few ideas…

  1. How about some detailed information on a product or service – ‘focus of the month’?
  2. Engage a copywriter to write articles for you on various topics.
  3. Client case studies. These can show how you give great service, value, or flexibility for example, and are very useful for readers.
  4. Comment on relevant
Myth 6: Images from my phone are ok.

Maybe…

1. Size

Most modern phones take images of huge size, some over 20Mb in size. Loading these to your website for great quality without any adjustment will slow the site down to a crawl on busy wifi networks, or using mobile data.

Step 1 is to reduce the size to the exact, size you need, or a little larger. A full screen web page is 1920 pixels wide. This article is 675 pixels wide on a PC, with a little padding at the edges.

Step 2 is to run it through a compressor, either on your computer, or online. There are free online services available to do this.

2. Naming

Dont take an image from facebook, or your phone, and load it using the default name, eg DSC0023.jpg. This has no use at all with Google. Give it a name which is relevant to the photo content, or the content where it is to appear.

3. ALT Tags

Some people view web pages without seeing the images, either for speed, or because they are visually impaired, and/or they use text to speech reading services. Alt tags give a short description o the photo’s content. Images contructed to include text cannot be read by Google, and the Alt Tag helps identify the relevance of the photo. Alt Tags can be editing within most website’s media libraries, or on loading up to the server.

Myth 7: Add Google Ads to my other ads to gain income.

Pages heavily geared around advertising, particularly to affiliate schemes will get you punished.

Create content first with the reader in mind. Ads should be secondary, rather than dominating the page or site.

Myth 8: Allow comments - it's free content

Um, no. Unlikely.

Over 95% of comments placed on the web are SPAM. The most complimentary comments are usually there for one of a couple of purposes.

1. You moderate the comment, allowing the comment onto the site. Along with the relevant or complimentary comment, there may also be a link back to the poster’s own website, which may be malicious.

2. Some sites are set up so that once one post is accepted, future posts from the same person do not require approval. (We never set this up in this way!). Once the first innocent comment arrives, they can then try to leave other less generous posts.

If you are really keen on comments, then make sure you have Akismet or some other filter, and that moderation setting are tightly controlled.

Myth 10: Matching my domain to my service helps search results.

Little case study here.

In the ‘old days’ you could set up a domain such as ‘www.dogwalkingoxford.co.uk’ and it would serve you well for search terms in the title.

This was the case for a furniture shop, which sold a specific manufacturer’s products. It designed its website around the manufacturer’s name. This served them well for many years, until Google announced that EDM’s – Exact Domain Matches were to be downgraded. A very quick drop in visitor numbers forced us to change the website name quickly to something different, which ironically was the name of the business now. Numbers quickly recovered, and are now thriving, and with the manufacturers name embedded within every product’s description, they still rank at number 1 for their stockists.

So, What Now?

Well, the above are the most commonly misconceived beliefs we come across. Google is not an exact science, and there are many factors which will affect your rankings beyond these.

We can conduct a free 10 point analysis of your website and associated digital media platforms.

We also have a far more comprehensive 50 point SEO tool to analyse your digital marketing, which is a premium service, and would result in output which you could implement yourself, or we would quote to partner with you to make faster progress.

About the author

Rob Jones

Owner Village Web Design

Rob has been creating websites since 2007. After leaving a career at commercial director level in high street retail and hosptality, Rob has focussed his skills on helping others reach out more via digital media. With over 500 websites so far, Village Web Design has helped organisations with websites, digital security, online advertising, CRM systems, as well as market research, benchmarking, and other business advice.

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