Search engine optimization, or SEO, has been around the digital marketing space for decades. Many digital marketing professionals have shared their advice about SEO, and while some of this advice is helpful, sometimes it may lead you astray when taking action. To help you understand which SEO tips you can avoid, I have debunked six common SEO myths.
1. Google Ads Help Improve Search Ranking
The algorithm or machine-learning technology Google uses to determine an organic search position on Google search results is completely different from the one used for determining an advertiser’s Google Ads ad position. Therefore, running a Google Ads campaign will not help a website’s search ranking.
2. Domain Age Affects Search Ranking
The age of a domain WAS a factor in defining a website’s search ranking very long time ago. Domain age is no longer a determinant. A newer website can outrank an older website, given that the older website stops engaging in a SEO program, and that the newer website continues to publish new valuable website content, such as blog posts, regularly. Google favours websites that offer fresh, new web content to its users.
3. SEO Results Are Visible Within A Few Months
SEO requires a long-term strategy and should be viewed as a long-term investment. It typically takes a year of tactical, diligent SEO work to see significant SEO improvements such as increasing from an average position of 25 to an average position of 10.
A study by Ahrefs shows that of the 2 million keywords they analyzed, the average age of pages ranking in position 10 on Google was 650 days. This study indicates that newer pages take close to two years to rank on the first page of Google search results for targeted queries.
If your company has started implementing an SEO program for your website and you are not getting visible improvements, keep going and you will see improvements sooner or later.
4. Backlinks Cure All
While the number of backlinks a website earns is integral in improving a website’s search ranking, it isn’t everything. More important than the number of backlinks a website generates, is the quality of these backlinks. If a website garners a lot of backlinks from low quality websites such as spammy directories or blogs, these backlinks will not improve the website’s search ranking.
Low-quality backlinks may actually negatively impact the website by causing the website to drop in search ranking. Conversely, if a website has fewer but higher quality backlinks, such as links from renowned publications or schools, they will lead to more positive impact than a higher quantity of low- quality backlinks.
During a Google Search Central SEO hangout in February 2021, John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, states that the total number of backlinks does not impact a website’s search ranking. One good link from a relevant website can be more impactful than millions of low-quality links.
During the online chat, John gave a hypothetical example of a webpage garnering a backlink from a major news site. Google would see the backlink as an important page even if this is one of the only links it has.
“Or there could be one really good link from one website out there that is, for us, a really important sign that we should treat this website as something that is relevant because it has that one link. I don’t know, maybe from like a big news site’s home page, for example. So the total number essentially is completely irrelevant.”
5. Tabbed Content Affects SEO
Tabbed content is content that is present within the tabbed area; this content is related to each list item.
The tabbed content appears on the front-end on a website when a user clicks or hovers on the list item. A prime example of tabbed content is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section where users can click on the questions for the answers (tabbed content) to appear.
While tabbed content is “hidden” from the front-end of the website unless a list item is clicked, the content is available in HTML format. This means that Google can crawl and index tabbed content just as they would with other types of textual content. Google can rank the webpage that contains the tabbed content accordingly, based on the keywords in the tabbed content just like Google would with other content web pages.
6. Bounce Rate Affects Search Ranking
SEO experts have debated the relevance of Google Analytics bounce rate to search engine ranking for years. Many website owners optimize for lower bounce rates in hopes of improving their ranking. However, lower bounce rates do not lead to higher rankings.
A well-documented conversation between Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz, and Andrey Lipattsev, Google’s search quality senior strategist, illustrates this point perfectly. When Rand ran tests purposely increasing the bounce rate of different pages over the course of a few days, the results were inconclusive. Other SEO experts have expressed the same opinion. Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of Webspam, has denied Google’s use of bounce rates (and other Google Analytics metrics) in ranking algorithms.
A reason why bounce rate is not an effective SEO factor is because it is not a reliable measurement of quality. Bounce rate is not necessarily bad; for example, an informational page where users can find what they are looking for and then move on would have a high bounce rate, but the high bounce rate is not a bad thing. An excellent instance of this scenario is Wikipedia.
Another reason why bounce rate is not a useful SEO factor is that webmasters can easily manipulate and decrease Google Analytics bounce rate by setting certain triggers and events on Google Tag Manager.
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Written by Ray Wang