Can’t seem to achieve a coveted top search ranking for your website? Well, perhaps you’re guilty of believing one of the following SEO myths and misconceptions.
#1) Building More Backlinks Results in Higher Rankings
Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that the more backlinks you build, the higher your site will rank. After all, backlinks are a primary ranking signal used by all of the major search engines. However, it’s not the quantity of backlinks your site has that matters most; it’s the quality of those links. Just a few highly relevant backlinks from authoritative, reputable sources is a far more beneficial than thousands of irrelevant backlinks.
#2) You Must Submit Your Website to Google
Another common myth is that you have to submit your website to Google in order for it to rank. While Google allows webmasters to manually submit URLs at Google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url, this is completely unnecessary and will not have any impact on your site’s search rankings. Being the world’s most popular search engine, Google will find your website automatically; thus, eliminating the need for manual submission.
#3) Website Speed Doesn’t Matter
Your website’s speed can and will affect its search ranking. Google first announced the use of speed as a ranking signal in 2010, saying fast-loading sites create “happy users.” Since then, the Mountain View company has emphasized speed as a ranking signal, giving it even more weight than before.
Of course, it’s in Google’s best interest to deliver fast-loading results. If a website takes too long to load, users may switch to a different search engine.
#4) Everyone Sees the Same Search Results
Search results are becoming more and more customized. Performing a Google search on a mobile device, for instance, may yield different results than performing the same search on a desktop computer. Searching from a particular city or region may also yield different search results.
Furthermore, Google customizes search results based on the user’s browsing history. So, if you’ve visited a website in the past, that site may rank higher for you. The bottom line is that different users see different search results.
#5) You Must Achieve a First Place Ranking
Granted, a first place search ranking for your target keyword will typically deliver more traffic than a second place ranking, but this isn’t a definitive metric of success. You can still achieve your traffic and digital marketing goals without a first place ranking.
Google, for instance, often displays answers to questions at the top of its search results in Answer Boxes. Even if your website ranks in the sixth or seventh place, Google may display it in an Answer Box, in which case it will outrank all other sites for that keyword.
Additionally, you can still generate a substantial amount of traffic without a first place search ranking. Assuming your target keyword has high search volume, ranking anywhere on the first page should bring a steady amount of traffic.
#6) Meta Tags Can Boost Your Ranking
Including your target keywords as meta tags on your website will not help you rank for those keywords. On the contrary, it could actually hurt by revealing your SEO strategy to competing webmasters.
In 2009, Google announced that it was no longer using meta tags as a search ranking signal. You can still include them in your site, but keep in mind that anyone can see these tags by viewing the source code of your site in their web browser. As such, competitors may view your meta tag data to find your target keywords. This is why it’s best to err on the side of caution by avoiding the use of meta tags altogether.
#7) Exchanging Links Helps SEO
Exchanging links, also known as reciprocal linking, is not an effective SEO strategy. If you link to a website and that website also links to your site, the perceived value is eliminated. Google even lists “excessive link exchanges” as a link scheme and subsequent violation of its Webmaster Guidelines.
Link exchanging may still offer some value in terms of direct traffic, just not for SEO. However, you should keep reciprocal links to a minimum to avoid raising any red flags.
#8) Exact Match Domains are Easier to Rank
If you’re trying to rank for a specific keyword, you may assume that using a domain name of that exact keyword will help you rank for it. Known as an exact match domain (EMD), this strategy was once highly effective. But Google updated its search ranking algorithm in 2012 to specifically target low-quality sites using EMDs.
Today, most seasoned webmasters will agree that it’s better to use a unique and brandable domain name than an EMD. If your domain is unique, people will remember it. And when people remember your domain, they’re more likely to return to your site in the future.
#9) Moving to a New Domain is the Only Way to Recover from a Penalty
It’s disheartening when you discover your website, which once ranked high for its target keywords, can no longer be found on Google. Before jumping the gun and moving your site to a new domain, though, you should try using Google’s disavow tool.
Available at Google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main, it allows you to specify which backlinks you want to Google to ignore. If you believe your penalty was caused by bad backlinks, using this tool may help you recover. After adding your bad links to the tool, you should submit a reconsideration request to Google.
#10) Hosting with Dedicated IP Address Improves Ranking
Whether your website is hosted on a server with a dedicated Internet Protocol (IP) address or a shared IP address, this isn’t going to affect its ranking. You can literally share the same IP address as thousands of other sites without experiencing any decrease in ranking.
SEO practices continue to change from year to year. While many of the practices mentioned above were once effective, this is no longer the case. Familiarizing yourself with these 10 SEO myths will help you gain a better understanding of the current SEO landscape.