Top SEO Myths That You Should Never Follow
How did I increase my search traffic by 13.15% in just 30 days?
I followed a proven plan, tapped into a hungry market, created in-depth contentthat’s backed up by stats and data, solved a definite problem and promoted the blog posts. This strategy seems so basic, but that’s how to win at professional SEO.
The reality is that search traffic converts better than social media traffic by 9%. But in order to get it, you have to stop believing in some myths.
These SEO myths tend to keep hardworking content marketers/bloggers from improving their search traffic and rankings.
Some SEOs claim they’re affiliated with Google. That’s a big myth because Google doesn’t disclose who their SEO partners and affiliates are. So if an SEO consultant or agency promises you top rankings for the “low” price of $499 per month, that’s a SCAM. No one can guarantee top Google rankings.
Without further ado, here are the 17 SEO myths that you should ignore. I’ve also provided tips on what advice you should follow.
In no particular order, the myths are:
1. Keyword targeting became irrelevant after Google Hummingbird
Hummingbird changed the future of search. It prompted content producers to adopt a new mindset that will benefit the end user. If keywords are still showing on Google’s first page, it’s an indication that they still matter.
According to Matt Cutts, Head of the WebSpam Team at Google, 90% of searches were predicted to be impacted by Hummingbird, which wasn’t an update like Panda and Penguin, but rather a total revamp of the search algorithm.
Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, said that less than 15% of the ranking equation is wrapped up in keyword targeting. Instead, he suggested focusing on offering unique value, rather than unique content, which is what SEOs tried to achieve before.
However, it would be wrong to say that targeting relevant keywords in your content is no longer useful at all.
For instance, why would someone search for “small business CRM tool”?
- Does the person want to buy a CRM tool?
- Is the person looking to read some honest reviews?
- Is the searcher a beginner who doesn’t even know what CRM stands for?
What the Hummingbird algorithm change really did was stress to us the importance of knowing the reason behind a particular keyword, and creating content to meet that need.
This means that keywords are still important, because without them, you can’t know the searcher’s intent.
It’s almost impossible to find exactly what you’re looking for, except by using keywords to search. According to Brian Dean, “Keywords are like a compass for your SEO campaigns; they tell you where to go and whether or not you’re making progress.
2. Having an XML sitemap will boost your search rankings
Have you installed the Google XML Sitemaps generator on your WordPress site? Can a sitemap boost your search rankings? In the ranking factors below, you won’t find XML sitemaps anywhere.
But an XML sitemap is necessary if you want to build a crawlable site. Each time you create a new post or edit an existing post, the Google XML sitemaps generator will create an updated sitemap with your new pages and submit it to Google and other search engines.
Casey Henry experimented with sitemaps to find out whether they can boost search rankings. What he found surprised him.
When he installed the Google XML sitemaps generator on a client’s website, it took an average of 14 minutes for Google to index new pages.
Before he installed the sitemaps generator, it took 1,375 minutes.
So we know that an XML Sitemap helps search engines to crawl and index fresh pages faster. But does it improve search rankings?
Well, way back in 2008, Trevor Foucher and Susan Moskwa of the Webmaster Tools Team spoke at the Sitemaps Panel at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago. One of the many questions they were asked was, “Will a sitemap help me rank better?”
Here’s Trevor’s answer: A sitemap truly doesn’t affect the actual rankings of your web pages. Sitemaps are like an aid – a guide that gives more information about your site to Google, such as making sure that all your URLs are indexed for easy crawling.
Of course, it can lead to more visibility for your site eventually, when the URLs are prioritized, but that is not a guarantee.
A quick tip: If you’re not already using the Google XML Sitemaps generator on your WordPress site, you should install it now. There’s no guarantee your rankings will improve, but it will help Google discover your fresh content faster.
3. Meta tags don’t matter
Meta tags are HTML tags that appear in between the opening and closing <head> tags. They’re used to show preview snippets for a specific webpage in search results.
Interestingly, Danny Sullivan wrote an in-depth article on the “death of meta tags,” in order to discuss further the state of meta tags, and why they may not be that useful in today’s SEO.
The 3 elements of a meta tag are:
Note: The title tag appears in the <head> section of a web page, but it’s a necessary page element. The meta description and keywords, on the other hand, are optional page elements. Without the meta description, though, Google may pull text from the page body as a preview snippet.
Adding meta tags may not boost your search rankings, but meta tags help tell users and search engines what your site is about, says Kristine Schachinger.
Meta tags will also make your search results attractive, which can attract more clicks from search users.
You can take care of keywords, title tags, and descriptions with the All In One SEO WordPress plugin.
To create rich meta descriptions, use these tips:
4. Use meta robots tag to specify indexable pages
The source code looks like this in your HTML file:
Note: You should only check the NOINDEX button if you’re certain that you want the page to be private, and not for the public.
So does this mean that without specifying the meta robots tag, Google will not find your fresh pages?
I don’t think so. I can’t remember the last time I specified which pages Google should index. Unless you want to make specific pages private, there is really no need to go through the hassle.
You can use the Robot.txt file to block all web crawlers from all of your content, a specific folder, or a specific webpage.
But if you don’t need to block web crawlers, then don’t bother. Save your time and channel it to something more important.
5. Top-level domains improve rankings
A top-level domain occupies the highest position in the hierarchical domain name system. Most search users will recognize .com as a website extension, but may be confused when they find .biz or .guru.
This is partly because when you type any keyword phrase into Google search, 98% of the search results are .com domain names. Let’s see:
The only exception I know of is geo-targetable country domains. If I live in Canada but have a .com domain name, Google will assume that my audience is global and show my web pages in their search results to the global audience.
On the other hand, a Canadian site in the same industry with a .ca extension will show up primarily for search users from that country.
In terms of conversions, .com domains have achieved tremendous results for many people.
In 2007, prior to Google algorithm updates, ICANN introduced new generic top-level domain names – for example, .guru, .club, .company, .email.
But .com still trumps all of them, in terms of global usage.
Alexandros Ntoulas and his team found that top-level domains are the major culprits of web spam.
Their research showed that .biz, .us, and .com domains are the three biggest propagators of web spam. And this includes links that Google uses to rank web pages in their search engine.
The major factor in whether TLDs have an effect on SEO is whether the domain contains keywords. Of course, you and I know that Exact Match Domain names risk getting penalized.
Everything still boils down to the value you offer with your domain name. During the days of frequent updates, an average EMD ranking dropped from 13.4% to 26.6%.
This data shouldn’t scare you, but rather it should guide you. Now you know that when choosing top-level domains, what matters is the long-term brand and benefit when you register a memorable and professional domain name.
The caveat:If you haven’t registered any domain name yet, I’d advise you to choose top-level domain names (.com and .net).
However, if you’re already a site owner, just decide to focus on offering immense value, creating high-quality content, and using social media to connect influencerswho will help promote your content. I’ve even seen domain names with weird extensions do well in search, such as Paper.li.
In fact, this site currently ranks #4 for a high-volume keyword (create a newspaper online) with lots of competition.
This clearly shows that it’s no longer about the top level domain extensions, but the value your site offers.
6. Including a target keyword in anchor text no longer matters in SEO
When building links, should you use keywords in your anchor text?
An anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink (e.g. Neil Patel). The anchor text enclosed in the bracket is “Neil Patel.” When clicked, that phrase takes the user to the blog.
Many industry experts believe that anchor text will remain a ranking factor forever, no matter what changes come with the next Google update.
So is keyword-rich anchor text still helpful in boosting your rankings?
The goal of every algorithm update or change is to help searchers find the right sites that contain the information they need, in a user-friendly manner.
Over-optimization can get you penalized by Google. Before Google Penguin, you could use keyword-rich anchor text on your blog posts, both for internal linking and external linking (i.e., linking to other sites).
However, there is a slight change now. Of course, contextual links have 5-10x more ranking power than your usual author profile link that appears in your guest posts, for instance.
But to say that keyword-rich anchor text will no longer be relevant in search rankings isn’t accurate. In other words, it’s a myth.
Change your approach. Diversify anchor text, and make sure that your primary and secondary keywords, as well as your brand, URL, and generic keywords are used as anchor texts.
Personally, I like building natural links, because that’s what Google wants. You can’t be smarter than the engineers who spend their workdays making the algorithm work smarter. So stay off Google’s radar and avoid a penalty.
After the Penguin update, most sites with optimized anchor text got penalized. On the other hand, those sites with diversified anchor text experienced a boost, and only a few of them were negatively affected.
There are several types of anchor text that you can use, but let’s drill down and determine what works best.
In summary, the three types of anchor texts you should focus on are:
i). Natural anchor text: It could be keyword-rich, brand, or URL anchor text, but it should flow naturally with the rest of the content. These are mostly editorial links, and will definitely impact your rankings. For example:
Matt Cutts has been advocating natural anchor text for a long time. It works, because Google’s primary objective is creating the best search experience for its users.
ii). Brand name or brand URL anchor text: If you can build more brand or URL anchor text, you should be fine. Aim for branded anchor text in roughly 90% of your links.
For example, NerdFitness is an authority site for fitness enthusiasts. There are thousands of keywords the author could use to build links, but he doesn’t.
Instead, most of the anchor text pointing to his pages is either brand name, brand URL, and naked URLs (for example, nerdfitness.com).
SmartPassiveIncome also has more branded and URL anchor text.
Of course, you can’t possibly control what anchor text another person uses to link to your web page. But if you have the opportunity, either through guest blogging or interviews, steer clear of keyword-rich anchor text.
Or better yet, use your brand name + keyword (e.g., Brian Dean’s Link Building).
You can also use branded URLs as your anchor text (e.g., “To learn more about growth hacking, visit: http://neilpatel.com.”)
iii). Generic anchor text: This is often referred to as a “noise anchor.” Don’t use it excessively, because it could turn out to be over-optimized.
According to Search Engine Watch, over half of all anchor text has one to three words in it. This means that when using generic keywords, you should move from one word to three or more (e.g., learn more here, visit the site, see the homepage, check it out, get started today).
At least 5% of your anchors should be generic, especially when you’re linking out or from an irrelevant page.
For example, if I want to make a reference to a sports website from my internet marketing blog, I would use generic keywords.
See how that might look in the paragraph below:
When I started blogging, I was getting it all wrong, until a friend of mine from Canada, who runs a sports website advised me to narrow my niche and focus on a small group that has potential. Do you want to give him a shout out? Click here.
Bottom line: Keyword-rich anchor text is still important, but use this approach wisely and diversify where you can.
7. Google will find your fresh content and index it
Crawl optimization is an important topic that I’ll expand on in a future article. For now, let’s say that it refers to the things you do to help Google discover, crawl, and index your fresh content easily.
Search engine bots feed on fresh content. When your new article is live, it means that you’ve prepared a meal for them. But does that mean that your fresh content will be crawled and indexed without your input?
Sure, it can happen – but it may take up to two days, especially if your blog is fairly new. To get the ball rolling, you should help the search spiders discover your fresh content.
That’s one of the benefits of installing a Google XML sitemap generator plugin for WordPress. You don’t have to do anything once you setup the plugin.
The moment you press the “publish” button, a new XML sitemap is generated and sent to the major search engines and directories. This is not manipulative at all, and it helps Google index your new content as quickly as possible.
Updating your social profiles will get your fresh content indexed faster. It’s very simple, just share your link on your Facebook page or tweet it.
Another simple tool that works for me is Pingomatic. It let’s you quickly ping a bunch of web services to notify them of your new content. Using this free service gets my fresh content indexed within six hours.