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SEO: Debunking 5 Common Myths
With all of the noise surrounding SEO, it can be a challenge to decipher truth from myth. Let’s explore 5 SEO myths and uncover the truth.
Links, ranking, optimization, bounce-rates, keywords, backlinks…. It’s difficult to make sense of the many SEO terms and what to do with them.
First, let’s define a few terms and then debunk some common SEO myths.
There are several types of links so it is important to understand the difference. Links are either internal, or external. Either can be referred to as hyperlinks. Internal links, or simply a link, is a clickable connection to another area within the same website. Whereas an external link brings the user to another website, document, or online content.
A backlink is also referred to as an inbound or incoming link. This is an external link coming from a different site to your site. Or vice versa. Which brings us to myth number one.
Myth 1: Backlinks are the most important factor in your SEO ranking.
Truth: It is true that links are helpful for your ranking, but if they do not direct users to a credible site, inserting multiple links won’t do you any favors. While having numerous backlinks will give you a higher ranking with Google, unless they are from reputable sites, it can actually hurt your ranking. This is because search engines evaluate the backlinks to your site. In addition, if you are not providing the user with engaging content, they will likely exit your site, increasing your bounce rate. More to come on bounce rates.
There are many factors that contribute to your rank. Check out Google’s guide to ranking for detailed information. Ranking is the way search engines evaluate a site based on their “relevant, useful results.” This is why the quality of your site is important, not the quantity of links.
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Myth: 2 High ranking should be your #1 goal
Truth: Rank is important, but it is crucial to know what the top ranking factors are, before trying to earn a top spot. According to Google, a few top factors are high-quality content, backlinks, website loading speed, and keyword optimization. However, all of these factors are judged based on the quality, not just the quantity, they contain.
Keywords, or search terms, are what users search for on various search engines. Keyword research is important because when you know what terms your users are searching, you can then use those keywords in your posts and content to reach your audience and increase your ranking. However, there is a technique to effectively use keywords in your site. Don’t be fooled into thinking that using more keywords will improve your rankings.
Myth 3: More Keywords Equal Higher Ranking
Truth: It’s true that keywords play an important role, however, including tons of keywords on your site to improve ranking, known as keyword stuffing, will actually hurt your rank, not help it. This is because search engines are aware of this practice and have policies against it.
Keywords are important in terms of marketing because they indicate what your users are looking for. Your best bet is to know the keywords your customers are using and market to those words. Again, it’s all about the quality of your content. Consider Google’s advice to, “focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”
Page speed insights, or PSI, provide websites with a speed and efficiency score on the user experience. This includes how fast your site loads. Try Google’s page speed insights to receive a report on either a mobile or desktop device. Included is a list of areas for improvement. Performance, accessibility, best practices and SEO are all scored.
Myth 4: Page speed isn’t important
Truth: The truth is, when a user lands on a webpage, they expect it to load fast. If it doesn’t, they bounce. When a user leaves your site for another because a page took too long to load, it’s time to check your PSI.
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users that leave your site after viewing one page. Several factors account for this so be sure to consider all of them. Not to be confused with exit rate, which is the percentage of users who exit your site from a particular page, independent of previously viewed pages. The exit rate will provide which page was viewed last, before leaving the site. Both are important factors.
Myth 5: Bounce rate is the most important factor in your SEO
Truth: Actually, bounce rate is determined by many factors. Analyzing bounce rates is important because it could mean your site is not delivering what visitors want. If a user only views one page, then leaves, this could be an indicator that they failed to find what they were looking for. However, what is not calculated is how long it takes from the time a user lands on your site to the time they bounce. Which is why bounce rates are not a number one factor. In addition, Google analyst Gary Illyes states that, “we don’t use analytics/bounce rate in search ranking.”
The Hard Facts
Search engine optimization cannot be implemented once and forgotten about. It is somewhat complicated. Consider following Google’s SEO Starter Guide, which provides a step-by-step help outlining essential terms, tools, and methods to optimize your site.
SEO matters, and it’s worth investing in and educating yourself about. The bottom line is your site should pay attention to the quality of content it produces and the service it provides to your customer base. Search engine optimization is an ongoing process that needs to be revisited, monitored, analyzed and modified.