At Active Internet Marketing (UK), we know exactly how confusing the world of SEO can be – with Google’s lack of clarity, the same approaches generating totally different results, and seemingly random fluctuations occurring every day, the world of SEO can seem impossible to understand.
Because of this, it’s common for SEO myths to get shared around, with many people hanging onto them and building entire strategies around something that might not even be true!
We’ve set out to dispel some of these myths. Based on Google’s guidelines and the various studies done on the subject, we can make some fairly sound deductions about what works (or doesn’t!) in SEO.
Do I have to get backlinks for my website to rank?
No! Backlinks have long been seen as one main ranking factor by SEOs and businesses, because Google originally built a lot of their algorithms around them. However, Google now looks at 100s of ranking factors. Links are no longer the be-all and end-all (with many successful SEO campaigns not focusing on link-building at all). Take it from the horse’s mouth:
You focus too much on links, imo — I’m glad that we use 100s of factors in our crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms.
— ???? John ???? (@JohnMu) January 22, 2019
Local SEO vs National SEO – which should I do?
It’s common to think that you have to choose one or the other, but it’s well documented that local SEO helps your national campaigns further down the line. If you’re local, you may never want to go national, which is great! You can just focus on local SEO. If you do want to achieve national SEO exposure at some point, though, a solid local SEO foundation will help immeasurably, so it’s good to start here.
Are my keyword rankings my most important SEO metric?
What with the Hummingbird algorithm and Google’s machine learning, ‘exact’ keywords are quite a thing of the past. However, picking core keywords that you can anchor your content to is still a great tactic. You shouldn’t obsessively watch these rankings though – focus instead on checking your traffic and your Google Search Console to see what queries bring in traffic and how it converts; you’re probably ranking for a whole range of phrases you’re not even watching.
Is SEO dead?
If we had a penny… People are usually referring to the ‘traditional’ SEO tactics here of link building, ‘Page Rank’, keyword meta tags, etc. These are somewhat dead and SEOs have had to evolve and take a more holistic approach. SEO more generally, though, is not dead. It’s evolved, sure, but organic click through rate is still incredibly large and a great source of traffic for your business. However, SEO now must concern itself with SERP optimisation, brand optimisation, CRO, and so much more.
Can the right SEO toolset do your SEO for you?
Many SEO toolsets claim to be the magic kit to solve all of your SEO website woes. However, interpreting your SEO data can be tricky, and the wrong interpretation can cause some disastrous decision-making. A tool tells you the keywords you’re tracking aren’t ranking? Refer to the point above – that might just be because you’re tracking the wrong things! A tool tells you that you’ve got a backlink from a low authority domain? In local SEO, a low domain score doesn’t matter at all – if it’s a highly relevant and local link, it helps massively. Toolkits give you data, finding someone who can read that data correctly is what will help you succeed in SEO.
Will duplicate content earn me a Google penalty?
This is a very common misunderstanding, even amongst experts. Duplicate content will not incur you a Google penalty. However, you will likely have problems with getting pages indexed and ranked. It’s not that Google de-ranks (penalises) the pages – it just barely bothers to look at them at all. This might not seem like much of a difference, but consider this: if you’ve got, say, strong landing pages but lots of similar product pages, Google won’t ‘penalise’ the website! And, most importantly, your landing pages should have no problems ranking, which is great as these rankings should be the aim anyway. Just don’t expect the same for the thin or duplicate ones …
If my website doesn’t get any mobile traffic, why should I worry about the mobile experience?
Google now (mostly) indexes your website using its mobile crawler, meaning your mobile experience is the main one that Google sees. Aside from that, your poor mobile experience might be causing people using those devices to leave your website without engaging with it. These poor metrics might make you interpret a lower mobile use as a lack of relevance in your sector, but focusing on your mobile experience could be the trick to bringing in all of that mobile traffic – and keeping it!
Do I just need to hire a good web developer for SEO?
Web developers and SEOs can work very well together, and some web developers have taken it upon themselves to become experts in technical SEO and can build websites (and diagnose problems on other websites) with great SEO knowledge in mind. That being said, an SEO generally will also provide content, keyword research, analytics analysis, and much more. The 100+ rankings factors we mentioned above? An SEO focuses on those, whilst a web developer focuses on learning how to build (and fix) websites with SEO in mind – it’s a portion of SEO but it isn’t the full picture.
We’ve only scratched the surface here of the common SEO myths and the questions we come across all the time. Even within the industry, there’s so much confusion, as things are changing daily. We hope this has helped to clear up some misconceptions, but if you’ve still got some burning questions about SEO, get in touch with our team! We’re always happy to chat about what we do and how you can navigate the tricky world of Search Engine Optimisation.