In 2017 the process of doing SEO has come a long way from adding white text on to white backgrounds to cram in extra keywords. These days, there’s a method to the madness… Kind of. Whilst we can never be certain that search engines like what we’re doing, by reading Google guidelines and industry news you can quite easily form an opinion around what’s best practice. I often get asked questions that, as an SEO specialist, make me want to face-palm constantly. So here I’m going to debunk some common SEO myths.
#1 Directory sites are good for SEO
This simply isn’t true. Whilst it’s good to be on some directories, such your local news directory – for example, the Nottingham Post – this doesn’t mean adding yourself to 50 directories is going to benefit your SEO. Backlinks are assessed by quantity, quality and relevancy – meaning if you have quantity but nothing else, search engines can pick up on this and your rankings will suffer as a result.
#2 Page speed doesn’t matter
Oh, it really does. Google’s webmaster blog has already confirmed everything we need to know about page speed. They have indicated that page speed is part of the RankBrain algorithm used by search engines to assess your on-page content and rank your pages in the SERPs. As well as this, research from Kiss Metrics suggests that 40% of people abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, possibly losing you a load of potential customers all down to your site speed.
#3 Template sites rank just as well as custom built websites
At Fifteen, we only build custom websites for a reason. They’re cleaner, the functionality is better, you have more control over the user journey and importantly – they’re a LOT better for SEO. Template sites are often very code-heavy, meaning they’re slow and have limited functionality. We all know Google hates duplicate content, so when your website is using the same template/code as hundreds of other websites it’s going to seriously hinder your search efforts.
#4 Meta keywords and descriptions are still important
No. No they are not. During the on-boarding process with new clients they all seem utterly convinced that meta descriptions and meta keywords have a huge impact on your SEO. Unfortunately it’s not that easy anymore. Meta keywords have been obsolete since 2010, as the RankBrain algorithm is now intelligent enough to asses on page content to figure out what you’re trying to rank for. Meta descriptions are still seriously important to help improve the click through rate of your website in the SERPs, however they have no direct impact on SEO.
#5 Buying an old domain is best
Although this was true at one point, I’m not convinced it is anymore. It was well noted in the SEO industry years ago that “age of domain” is a ranking factor, and that was absolutely true. However, I work with a huge range of websites with varied domain ages from brand new to 10+ years old, and with the right mix of top quality content, relevant backlinks and on-page structure, new sites can easily outrank old ones.
#6 Site security is only important for e-commerce websites
People seem to think if you don’t sell your products or services directly from the website then site security isn’t important. As of September 2016, Google announced that the Chrome browser would start displaying safety warnings in the browser for unsecured sites. And this month I’ve seen warnings in webmaster tools of a few unsecure sites saying this security warning will be added to website forms too as of October 2017. Search engines certainly care much more about website safety now, and if it isn’t in the ranking algorithm yet, then it sure will be soon.
#7 You can only do SEO once your website is live
SEO is the backbone of your site. You wouldn’t build a house then go back and add in support beams in the hope it doesn’t fall down – you start with a solid foundation and build around it. It’s exactly the same for SEO. You need to be thinking about optimisation from the very first stage all the way through to completion, and then ongoing. By creating the perfect sitemap pre-build, you’re going to save time trying to move things round and optimising it later.
Conducting keyword research and a competitor analysis, and then writing your content around your findings, is easy enough during the development stage. It will save you a tonne of hassle later on. If you’re migrating an old website, it’s important to implement regular SEO error scans throughout development and launch to check for broken links, https errors and any other migration errors that may occur.
#8 SEO is dead
Organic traffic still brings in over 50% of an average website’s traffic, meaning it’s truly alive and kicking. The old form of SEO, as you can see from the above, is dead. It’s much harder to rank and you have to think intelligently with users in mind rather than search engines. Here, I’m that passionate, I even wrote a blog about it – SEO is dead… Or is it?
So no, adding yourself to directories won’t “get you to the top of Google”, and buying an old domain isn’t a sneaky way to boost your rankings. SEO these days is all about having a website that has the user in mind. They still use trust marks such as backlinks to assess how popular a website is, but technical aspects such as custom code on secure sites are having a much bigger impact on rankings and, as such, you need to explore all the factors.
Don’t be fooled by old techniques, and don’t believe the SEO myths!