In this article we will tackle 8 Common Myths that are highly controversial when it comes to modern SEO.

1. SEO is all about ranking

Your site launched, and you want to make sure you rank as high as possible on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), but that's not also the end goal. High ranking might ensure more search traffic overall, but it doesn't guarantee you success by itself. In order to increase the likelyhood of conversion is to:

  • Make a detailed keyword research to ensure you are not ranking high in unrelated keywords
  • Consider optimising content for the Featured Snippet, which can garner more clicks than the #1 listing.

2. Meta description has a huge impact on search rankings

Although meta descriptions may not affect rankings, they do affect clickthrough rates, which are important. Having a relevant, compelling meta description can be the difference between a searcher who clicks through to your page and one who clicks elsewhere.

Example of a good meta description:

3. My homepage needs a lot of content

Have you ever came across a homepage piled up with content, pop-ups, no clear indicators where to click and why? This is where the rule "quality over quantity" comes in. Think of your homepage as a gateway to your business, or as a a door to a home. You want to present yourself the best way possible, without overloading people with too much information right the way to get a good first impression.

4. The more pages I have, the better

Some people have the notion that if you have more pages, you will get more traffic to your website. Just like link-building, creating content just to have more pages isn’t enough. Make sure you are focusing not just on quantity, but on quality, too. If you don’t have good content, you will not rank well and all those pages you created won’t help your cause.

5. Images don’t require any optimization

For a long time, it was okay to neglect the images on your site and still rank without using alt text and image file names to boost your page relevance.

Search engines cannot see images on websites, so it is important to give the image an alt text and relevant file name to ensure Google knows what the image is about. By not creating this text, you lose a huge opportunity to be as visible as possible online.

It helps Google if the text on the page where the image is located mentions the image, too, so always try to reference your images in your text, close to where it lives on the page, using keywords similar to the alt text/filename of the image.

6. The H1 is the most important on-page element

Your H1 is still important, but it’s not the most important element on your pages. Search engines are smarter these days and realized that web designers are more likely to use header tags to define style. (And, unfortunately, people also spammed this to death.)

Think of the content structure on your webpage as an outline. It’s a tiered approach to presenting information to users and search engines. Which header tag your headline is wrapped in has little to no influence on your overall SEO. That header tag (whether it ís an H1, H2, H3, and so on) is only used for styling purposes.

7. Keyword optimization is THE key to SEO

It used to be important that you write your content with exact matches of your keyword. But now, Google uses RankBrain, which is its machine-learning algorithm. RankBrain most likely uses a variation of Word2vec to find keyword topics that are related to one another.

RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities, called vectors, that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.

The takeaways here? The traditional view of “keywords” in search has changed. Where a few years ago there were maybe 10-20 “big keywords” that would be sought after for ranking within a topic, there are now hundreds or thousands of long-tail variations that are regularly searched within a topic and change based on location. 

Simply dominating a few words is no longer enough to produce successful results, and while search engines of the future aren’t going to punish folks for under using keywords or failing to have an expertly crafted, keyword-optimized page title, they will continue to punish folks for overusing keywords.

8. Video doesn’t have any SEO benefits

Considering YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, we think it’s safe to say that this one is most certainly a myth.
So what’s there to know about video as it pertains to SEO?
Well, YouTube’s robust search and discovery system has two main goals: 

  1. Make it easy for viewers to find relevant video content based on their queries
  2. Promote long-term engagement with the platform. 

And with over 400 hours of video being uploaded to the platform a minute, YouTube’s engines are working around the clock to analyze, sort, and rank these videos based on a number of factors -- that are constantly subject to change.

If you know a thing or two about traditional SEO best practices for ranking content in Google, this level of constant change and ambiguity around ranking signals should come as no surprise. And much like on-page SEO, there are a number of elements you can optimize on YouTube to help the search engine better understand and index your videos.

In its own words, YouTube explains: “Videos are ranked based on a variety of factors including how well the title, description, and video content match the
viewer’s query. Beyond that, we look at which videos have driven the most engagement for a query, and make sure it’s easy for viewers to find those. Search results are not a list of the most-viewed videos for a given query.” Here’s a short list of elements to consider optimizing when getting started:

  • Video titles & descriptions
  • Categories & tags
  • SRT Files
  • Video Thumbnails

If you can take one thing away from this guide, it’s this: 

More than anything else, SEO is about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query. 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, too.

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