SEO in 2015: 5 Myths Debunked
Search engine optimization saw a lot of changes in 2014, some good and plenty bad. Each year Google changes their algorithm 500 to 600 times, most of which are minor and go unnoticed. But some changes such as Hummingbird, Penguin, and Pigeon had significant changes that drastically changed search results. Now in 2015, we are entering a whole new ball game and it is our job to keep you informed on the SEO strategies that are outdated and simply don’t matter in 2015.
Myth 1: Links Hold More Value Than Content.
Once upon a time, this saying was true; the more links you have on your site, the better. Google has gotten smarter over the years and with that, links are now measurable. In other words, links are still much alive in SEO, but quantity is not only irrelevant but link schemes also go against Google’s guidelines. For on-page success, it is more valuable to receive one high authority link than 10 low value links. Improving your search engine results page (SERP) has more to do with providing users relevant content than strictly building links.
When you invest in content, it can be used for webpages, blogs, guest posts, social media platforms and other sites. Producing quality content will generate their own links over time and build your SERP as a result. With Google’s dedication to providing more and more relevant results to users, it’s no wonder why links are taking a back seat to content. Earn your backlinks by creating quality and relevant content for users; it is the safest and most effective method.
Myth 2 : Google Authorship can Increase my Search Visibility & Click-Through Rate!
Google Authorship was officially dismantled in August of 2014, and wow was this a blow to the SEO community! Up until that point, this snippet would display your awesome byline and your beautiful headshot in search results. This was considered an effective method in increasing visibility and click-through rates. However, after much testing Google determined that this rich snippet was not providing as much value towards users as they hoped it would.
Another reason for removing this in search results was to improve user experience on mobile devices (hint: time to go mobile). Your beautiful headshots do not provide mobile users any significance and take up too much screen space in an already limited area. Maybe one day Google will implement a new strategy in using the author’s data again, but for now, they are no longer tracking content using rel=author markup so don’t waste your time.
Myth 3: Google won’t Index My Site Until I Submit It.
You do not need to worry about submitting your website to Google; they will find and crawl your site in due time. Rather than concentrate on when your site will be indexed, you should work on building a sitemap. That way when Google does crawl your site all of your pages will be easy to find and all will be indexed. Along with a sitemap, you should also include a robots.txt file to block crawlers from any directories and/or pages you don’t want indexed. This is mainly to ensure your valuable content takes the lead.
Myth 4: The H1 is the Most Important On-page Element.
The H1 is considered a very important on-page element in 2015, but to say it’s the most important might be a bit of a stretch. The most important on-page element remains to be your title tag, description, and then your H1 tag. Your page heading is the first piece of content the user will see after landing on your page, so it is important to have a relevant headline to reduce your bounce rate. If the user is confident that your page has the answers they are looking for, then obviously they will spend more time on that page and this tells Google that you are relevant to that search query. However, if the user reads a headline that is irrelevant to their search, the opposite will occur and the user will return back to their search results while hurting your ranking in the process.
The Hummingbird update aims to provide a better user experience by looking past keywords in a search query and instead looking at the user’s intent. It is still recommended to use a keyword in your page heading, but it is most important to craft an H1 that speaks to a user’s intent. In order to construct the perfect heading tag, format your H1 into a question and then proceed to answer it in your content. And most importantly, there should be only one H1 tag on each page!
Myth 5: Meta Descriptions Hold a lot of Weight in Search Rankings.
Considering your title tag is the most important on-page element, it would make sense that Google also takes the description into account too, right? Wrong! In 2015, this continues to be the most common misconception. Meta descriptions do not have an impact on search rankings! Back in 2009, meta descriptions along with meta keywords were demoted. That’s not to suggest that meta descriptions are not important for SEO. Although they do not directly impact your rankings, they still have a great impact on click-through rates.
This small snippet gives you the opportunity to separate yourself from your competitors and convince your users that you have the most relevant information to match their search query. Engage with users by providing them the answer they are looking for. Bonus points are earned by adding a keyword, not for ranking purposes but because it will appear in bold if it matches the user’s search. Creating a compelling description can make all the difference in clicks.
After each and every update, Google remains true and continues to provide users with the most relevant information possible. So as we see further changes in algorithms, remember to always optimize your content for users and not search engines.
Learn more about our white hat techniques and stay tuned for Part 2 as I continue to debunk SEO myths of 2015!