Welcome to search month! Today I want to talk about Search Engine Optimisation and the biggest misconceptions associated with the marketing strategy. If you can relate to high school you can relate to SEO! It’s all a popularity game – optimise yourself and you will be ranked higher. If you don’t put in the effort to stand out then you will be quickly forgotten!
Digital marketers are always going on about the importance of fluid SEO and the effects it can have on your site traffic. Some people find it extremely tedious but I promise there’s a method to the madness. Like all marketing strategies, SEO is constantly transforming as Google and other domains develop their indexing and ranking capabilities. With SEO methods constantly developing you will find that much of the current advice on SEO is a little outdated.
Let’s pull apart the most common SEO myths! Today you will learn:
- Why quality of content is more important than quantity
- How to utilise keywords and related terms
- Google’s updated indexing strategy
- The importance of mobile optimisation
- How site sitemaps affect crawl time
Myth 1: SEO is all about Keywords
It’s a common conception that SEO is all about keywords, keywords and more keywords. Don’t get me wrong keywords are an integral part of a strong SEO strategy, but there’s more to it than that! The content of web pages is ‘crawled’ by the search engine to discover the most common phrases and words used on the page – these keywords determine ranking.
Prior to 2004 it was very important that the exact words were used religiously throughout the content, however now Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which is able to detect synonyms and related terms of keywords. With LSI indexing content creators can focus on writing for the reader, rather than forcing as many keywords into a piece as humanly possible. It’s more important to make the content reader-friendly as the ‘crawlers’ will pick up synonyms and related terms and calculate from there what the writers intent is.
Myth 2: More links are better than more content
Once upon a time SEO was all about link building and how many links you could get back to your site. If you think of the web as a city and crawlers as cars then the links are the side streets, the more streets that lead to your site the better. Search engines, like Google, analyse the popularity of a site by these links. Traditionally SEO experts placed a great importance on the number of links, rather than the quality or relevance of the links. Google’s Penguin algorithm update has changed this, decreasing search engine rankings for websites that use artificial links to manipulate their search signal. This places the importance back on quality of content rather than quantity of links. Links are still important but they need to be highly relevant.
Myth 3: SEO is all about ranking
Higher ranking = more search traffic, simple right? Well, not really. Don’t get me wrong, Searchmetrics statistics show that the top three results do get the most clickthroughs, however these clickthroughs don’t always convert to revenue and there are two reasons for that.
The first being, the keyword strategy used to increase ranking is misleading because popular, but unrelated, keywords are used. Secondly, because the meta description (text under search title) is not inviting or relevant enough. SEO solely for the sake of increasing search rank is like driving all the way to the shops only to find that they are all closed. Rank does increase traffic, but it won’t increase engagement with content and convert that traffic into revenue.
Myth 4: Mobile Doesn’t Matter
Google reports that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. For sites that aren’t optimised for mobile devices this is a dangerous statistic. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile then you’re making a big mistake!
In 2015 Google released an algorithm update called ‘Mobilegeddon’, making mobile-friendliness a ranking factor. And they aren’t stopping there releasing Mobilegeddon 2 in May this year. Mobilegeddon rewards sites that are optimised for mobile by increasing their ranking, and disadvantages those that aren’t. Google has even released a TestMySite tool which allows anyone to get a rating out of 100 based on how well their site is optimised for mobile. So next time someone tells you mobile doesn’t matter, do yourself a favour and don’t listen.
Myth 5: You don’t need an XML sitemap
You will probably come across the odd blog saying that a XML sitemap isn’t necessary to increase ranking but I can tell you right now that is a lie! A site map is most certainly needed if you want to make your site crawlable by search engines. Each time you write a new blog, or edit an existing post, Google’s XML sitemap generator will create an updated sitemap and submit it to Google. Submitting a sitemap to the search engine allows the crawlers to react to changes faster and do a better job of calculating your ranking. Take these graphs from Neil Patel’s 17 SEO myths You Should Never Follow blog. When a sitemap is submitted it takes an average of 14 minutes for Google to index the page. When a sitemap isn’t submitted it takes 1,375 minutes. The proof is in the pudding!
Find the balance between underwhelming and overwhelming the visitor to retain their attention. When it comes to SEO in 2016 the quality of content definitely tops quantity of keywords or links. SEO can be quite difficult, especially when everybody has their own opinion on what does and doesn’t work!