HubSpot has recently published it’s helpful guide “SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2015”. The guide describes outdated SEO practices and ways to fix them. The text was written by Rebecca Churt, the former SEO Marketing Manager at HubSpot. The guide was updated and designed by Erik Devaney, Content Strategist at HubSpot.
SEO has changed a lot; leading many to wonder what is still relevant. The goal of the guide is to “point out all of the most common myths and assumptions about how SEO works and debunk them for you.” Here are the myths:
Myth #1, Setting up Google Authorship can increase my search visibility & clickthrough rates. Google authorship had to do with establishing your photo, byline info, etc. for blogs. Authorship no longer exists.
Myth #2, I must submit my site to Google. Not any more! Google crawlers do this for you. What is more important is that you block crawlers (via your robots.txt file) from indexing pages that are not ready.
Myth #3, More links are better than more content. Link building is still important but linking is now more about quality than quantity. Don’t invest in link building until you have quality content in place. Quality content on your website, blog, marketing offers, guest blogs, etc. will attract links over time.
Myth #4, Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site isn’t important for SEO. This is not true. Google uses HTTPS as a ranking signal in about 1% of global queries. Not a big deal at the moment; but will become more important over time.
Myth #5, SEO is all about ranking. This is a bit deceptive. What HubSpot is saying is, ranking will not get you customers. And that is true! Customers happen at the conversion point. Conversion is more about your website than your site’s ranking. However, the way HubSpot states the myth perpetuates the problem. In fact: SEO is all about ranking! That is the purpose of SEO. Conversion is about getting customers.
Myth #6, Meta descriptions have a huge impact on search rankings. The truth is they do not impact ranking. Back in 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) will have no bearing on your ranking. However, meta descriptions do tell the searcher what your website is about and so could lead them to choose your website when considering which site to visit.
Myth #7, SEO is something I can hand off to IT. While SEO has some technical aspects, it also includes a lot of creative components such as creating quality content, images, videos, etc. The IT folks can help insure the site is crawlable, has an XML sitemap, the proper redirects, etc., the IT folks also setup printers and wireless systems. They may lack the essential skills to do the SEO work.
Myth #8, Keyword optimization is THE key to SEO. Google is migrating to using intent rather than actual words. Focus on quality content that uses synonyms, explains idea, creates lists, etc.
Myth #9, Keywords need to be an exact match. Write in a way that informs the reader not the search engine. Don’t worry about exactly matching keywords. Google is smarter than that.
Myth #10, The H1 is the most important on-page element. The title tags no longer matter. Place your most important content upfront and closer to the top of the page. Use a clear headline to tell your reader what your page is about.
Myth #11, My homepage needs a lot of content. Keep your homepage simple. Tell your visitor who you are, what you do, your location, your value proposition and what they should do next. That’s it. Don’t overwhelm or underwhelm your clients. Write enough to build trust and to get a response.
Myth #12, The more pages I have, the better. The number of pages increases your chances of showing up. However, content is more important (along with quality inbound links). If you cannot create a lot of quality content, then don’t have a lot of pages.
Myth #13, Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore. This myth is absolutely wrong. As recently as July, 2014, Google launched a new algorithm called Pigeon, which focuses on help Google to raise the ranking of local companies. It works by evaluating distances between the static location of a business and the random location of a mobile device when determining rankings.
Myth #14, Microsites and other domains I own that link or redirect back to my site will help my SEO. Search engines know who the registrants are for each domain. If you change your registrant name/company, you might trick Google. However, the value is relatively small. However, using microsites to market different products or services is a viable option.
Myth #15, Google will never know if I have bad sites linking to me. Google knows everything. Don’t exchange links with a lot of inferior quality sites. You could be penalized. Don’t purchase a backlinking scheme – you will be penalized, eventually.
Myth #16, SEO is not a usability issue. According to HubSpot, SEO should be “Search Experience Optimization”. Their argument is that SEO should be about making the website more intuitive and easy to browse (accessible to both crawlers and users). Like Myth #5, this confuses SEO with quality website development strategies. This makes the mistake of Myth #7, giving SEO analysts the responsibility of being creative, such a content writers. Myth #16 is actually true. SEO is not a usability issue. Their perspective is from the SEO person who really wants to be a creative (designer, content writer, webmaster, etc.).
Myth #17, SEO and inbound marketing don’t mix. SEO is relevant for the first stage of inbound marketing: attracting people to your site. The stages of inbound marketing are “attract, convert, close, and delight”. Unlike Myth #16 and Myth #5, this response implies that HubSpot knows that SEO is just part of the inbound marketing strategy. The mistake some make is to believe SEO and conversion are the same thing. SEO is part of attracting clients. Conversion occurs when the client pays your bill.
HubSpot’s Conclusion: “SEO is about the overall experience for a searcher… The better their experience with you – from your SERP listing, to the quality and relevancy of the content on your site, to the ease with which they can move through your site – the better your SEO will be…”
My conclusion: 1. focus on good content & think what you would need/want as a surfer. Don’t think IT can do it but assign a professional to the task (a real copy :-).