1St Edition Written by: Rebecca Churt, Former SEO Manager, HubSpot.
Over the last decade of SEO, we’ve seen remarkable change in how searchers perform queries and interact with results; in how engines crawl, index, and rank pages; and in how marketers effectively influence the engines to send them traffic. But, in spite of these monumental shifts, a shocking amount of misinformation about the practice of SEO persists.
MYTH 1: Setting up Google Authorship can increase my search visibility & clickthrough rates.
Bad news, friends: In June of 2014, Google removed Google Authorship photos from search engine results pages. While your name and byline would still appear, your beautiful headshot would not.
Then, in August of 2014, Google struck the final blow to Authorship and completely dismantled the program. All byline info disappeared from Google’s search results, and marketers everywhere let out a collective, “What?!”
For the past few years we’ve been touting the importance of getting Google Authorship set up on your blog. But for 2015 — and the foreseeable future — you can forget about Authorship altogether: It no longer exists.
MYTH 2: I must submit my site to google.
The idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results (or rank) is nonsense. While a brand new site can submit its URL to Google directly, a search engine like Google can still find your site without you submitting it.
And remember, a submission does not guarantee anything. Crawlers will find your site and index it in due time, so don’t worry about this idea of needing to “tell” Google about your site.
MYTH 3: More links are better than more content.
This is something that often comes along with the question, “Which should I invest in, link building or content generation?” Links are an important part of your website’s authority (even with the changing link landscape). However, if you have budget to invest in your website, I would say, “Hire someone to write for you.”
Too often, when businesses hire someone to do link building, they focus on the quantity of links rather than their quality — but linking is not a numbers game anymore (far from it, actually). You should focus on having relevant and diverse sources that link to relevant pages.
When you invest in content, that content can be used for webpages, blog posts, lead generation offers, and guest posts on other sites — all content types that will bring more links with them over time.
MYTH 4: Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site isn’t important for SEO.
Ever wonder why some website URLs start with “HTTP” and others start with “HTTPS”? The former is your standard “HyperText Transfer Protocol,” which facilitates communication over computer networks. The latter, “HTTP Secure,” provides the same functionality, only it has the benefit of an added layer of security called SSL/TLS
In August of 2014, Google announced that it had started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms, which means if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result.
For now, however, HTTPS remains a “lightweight” signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries (according to Google). So while it’s clear that Google wants everyone to move over to the more secure HTTPS protocol, don’t freak out if you haven’t done it yet. There are more important factors that Google is looking at, such as the presence of high-quality content.
MYTH 5: SEO is all about ranking.
While there’s a strong correlation between search results placement and clickthrough rates, ranking is not the supreme end goal that it used to be.
Studies of clickthrough rates and user behavior have shown that searchers favor the top search results — particularly the top- three listings. However, it’s also been shown that on subsequent pages, being listed toward the top of the page shows similar click behavior. And with search results now being appended with rich text/snippets, results that appear below the top-three search results are getting much higher clickthrough rates.
Even before all of that was applied, rankings did not guarantee success. Theoretically, you could rank quite well for a term, get tons of traffic, and not make a dime from it. Is that what you really want? I don’t think so.