They say lightning doesn’t hit the same place more than once.
But here’s a fact: The Empire State Building in New York gets hit by lightning at least 25 times a year on average.
This proves that lightning definitely hits the same place more than once.
There are similar myths and misconceptions in all industries and all aspects of life.
One such element in marketing where misconceptions are particularly rampant is SEO.
With every core algorithm update on Google, people have new opinions and statements to make about search engine optimization and website ranking, which puts the SEO experts with science and experience-backed strategies, in undue predicaments.
With the latest update just having been released, it is time to clear the air and bust some long-standing SEO misconceptions.
Coming from our team of experienced professionals in SEO services in Chicago, here are 7 misconceptions in SEO that you need to let go of today!
Google only ranks fresh new content
As a blanket statement, the idea that Google ranks ONLY new content is a myth. However, since its 2011 update, Google prioritizes “fresh” content, which is not necessarily the same thing.
We all know that information and data in general, change with time. And Google’s intention is to get the most relevant and reliable information to users, upon searching for specific things. In this respect, Google would prefer a piece of content about a specific topic written in 2023, over another piece about the same topic written in 2019.
Moreover, ranking is also based on the user’s search intent and query. Sometimes, depending on what the user has searched for, older content may also be displayed if Google finds it relevant.
Hence, the right way to go is to constantly keep your website updated with the latest information obtained from reliable sources. This can also mean going back to a previous piece of content and updating it with new information.
While publishing solid content on a regular basis is important, you don’t necessarily need to constantly stress over publishing new content in order to get a rank.
Keyword-based writing has become irrelevant
Ever since the Hummingbird update, there has been a change in the way Google displays search results; it was a move designed to give the users a more relevant list of results based on their intent as well. This made many content producers rethink their keyword usage and strategies.
However, to date, any search query displays a set of results where at least one or two of the search terms are present. This is a clear indicator that keywords matter. The update was meant to provide more relevant results, based on the keywords.
Our experts in SEO services in Chicago say that now is the time to execute an optimized keyword strategy, as with the update, it is now easier to try and rank for specific keywords, with due weightage given to the intent. Besides, keywords form the basis of the platform called a search engine, as it would be impossible to find information on the internet without at least two words.
Having an XML Sitemap will boost ranks
Having an XML Sitemap will help improve your chances for search engines to crawl and index your web pages, but it is not a guarantee for a good rank on Google’s search results.
It is indeed an important tool to build a crawlable website, as it helps submit an updated sitemap to Google and other search engines, every time you post something new or make changes in your website. This, in turn, helps search engine crawlers do their job faster, leading to faster indexing.
In that sense, it improves your chances of ranking by providing more information about your website to Google. However, concerning the actual ranks, XML sitemaps do not do much. They are at best a guide to help you be seen by search engines, not a guarantee for a better rank.
A lot of content with the right keywords will get better ranks
Many marketers believe that stuffing home pages, product pages, or landing pages with a lot of content, with the right keywords incorporated can generate desired results. However, this can be considered a black hat SEO practice that can even lead to your site getting penalized by Google.
Moreover, with the popularity of landing pages rising, leading to the lesser use of home pages, having too much content on the home page can have the opposite impact. It can lead to higher bounce rates as people may not be interested in reading paragraphs worth of content when they are looking for specific information.
The goal of your home page must be to give a short and sweet description of what you offer, along with solid, clear links directing the reader to the next steps.
At the end of the day, Google and other search engines will prioritize only relevant content. Hence the ideal practice should always be to provide precise information, with the help of keywords.
Optimizing the meta tag is no longer relevant
Meta tags, as we know, are used to display a preview description of the content on the web page, in the search results. If you don’t provide a meta tag, Google pulls out a part of the content on the body, that it finds relevant to the search terms. Providing a specific meta tag with a title and description will not only help Google display what you need it to but will also make the results appear more attractive to the users, which in turn will lead to more click-throughs.
If you don’t provide a clear meta tag, there is a good chance Google displays a piece of information that doesn’t clearly describe your content well, or maybe even displays the wrong information, deceiving the whole purpose. Furthermore, the title tag of the meta tag, is a mandatory element and helps search engines, as well as users, understand your content better. While it may not be a ranking factor for search engines per se, optimizing the meta tag is still an excellent way to portray credibility and relevance. As professionals in SEO services in Chicago, we always advise having a solid grip on the basics of your web page to give yourself a good chance to rank.
SEO is a one-off project
Many companies hire SEO services on a campaign basis and proceed to move forward with a blind eye once the campaign is over. However, the fact is that SEO is not a one-off project; it is an ongoing and continual best practice that needs consistency and deliberation to continue seeing results. As the dynamics of search behavior change with time, and as the search engine algorithms upgrade, SEO practices have to evolve to accommodate those changes, failing which your reach and visibility will decline. Experts who are always on top of the latest trends, updates, and strategies in optimization can help you maintain your rankings with consistent efforts.
Keyword research is not important anymore
Many marketers go ahead and find a few relevant keywords and proceed to use them in the content without researching in detail. Not only is this limiting your potential reach, but also increases the risk of going the wrong way.
Understanding the target market and your final offering will give you a basic idea for keywords. These keywords must be further researched using reliable tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, and other manual techniques to gauge their valuable metrics, like traffic volume, to determine whether or not it is worth investing efforts in. Additionally, the research can also reveal a range of complementary keywords for you to rank, using which you can enhance your reach and be visible to more people, who may use other words to search for the same thing.
Suffice it to say, that keyword research still is, and perhaps always will be an important step in optimization strategies.
As discerning brand owners and marketers, you must always tread with an open mind when it comes to digital marketing and SEO. Do not base your strategies on hearsay; instead, rely on experts and keep yourself away from baseless misconceptions like the above-mentioned seven.