There are few things more important to a website’s success than good search engine optimization, but rapid changes in this industry have left many site owners with a few dangerous misconceptions that could actually harm their website’s rankings and traffic levels. To keep up with developments in SEO and keyword-based marketing, those site owners need to learn about a few common misconceptions and how to avoid their potentially negative effects on website rankings, reputation, and overall authoritative reach.
1. When in Doubt, Just Add More Keywords to Content
There was a time, however brief, when more keywords in an article certainly did increase the visibility of those keywords and the search engine rank of the website that published them. Those days are long over, however. Google changed its algorithm in several major ways during 2011, 2012, and 2013, to combat scam websites that were participating in “keyword stuffing.” This practice elevated their websites to the top of Google’s search results, but offered no value to users and harmed Google’s reputation by extension.
Today, Google actually punishes websites that stuff keywords. Some are moved to the last pages of search results, while others are completely removed from the index entirely. That can be absolutely devastating for site owners, forcing them to reconsider their business’ online presence, name, and marketing tactics. Keep keywords few and far between, focusing instead on more authoritative written content.
2. More Pages are Better Than Fewer Pages
This common misconception arises from the belief that Google will view a large site, with many pages, as being older and more authoritative than a newer and more compact site. Nothing could be further from the truth. In SEO circles, the act of creating pages just for pages’ sake is known as “pages to nowhere.” Google has picked up on this, and realizes that an extensive network of pages is often designed to combat deficiencies in content. As a result, the search engine will rank sites lower if they have a complex, circular navigation that adds no real value to the content.
3. Getting Lots of External Links Will Improve a Site’s Position
Linkrolls and link exchanges were once a crucial way for websites to increase their visibility, since each external “inbound” link was perceived as an inherent endorsement of that site’s content and authority. As with many methods in the early SEO years, however, this was soon exploited by scammers and spam websites. Google responded accordingly, all but eliminating the importance of inbound links from other sites. Guest posts took the place of those links for a while, but even links from guest posts have been devalued by the search engine’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates from 2012 and 2013.
4. Headlines Were Made for Keywords
The headline itself doesn’t have a very big impact on a site’s search engine optimization. Instead of focusing on implementing keyword-inclusive headlines, focus instead on creating a catchy headline that grabs more attention from average users. Google values clicks more than keywords when it comes to headlines and, if the content is authoritative enough to match the headline’s catchy phrasing, users will turn into valuable repeat visitors.
Eliminate Common Misconceptions and Improve Search Engine Performance
By avoiding these common misconceptions, it will be easier for website owners to use keywords properly, leverage the power of headlines, and emphasize the importance of pulling in new readers. This will do more for SEO performance than any of these misconceptions, and it will be more sustainable over the long-term as Google technologies, algorithms, and policies change with the times.