It can boost your business or keep you up all night. It’s of vital importance — or maybe it’s not that big of a deal, after all? (It is.) It’s SEO, and if your business has a website — which it absolutely should — it’s crucial for attracting potential customers and building brand awareness.
With such an importance placed on SEO, and the evolution of search engine algorithms, it’s no surprise there is a lot of misinformation out there. Some of it might have been true at one time but has now become obsolete. Some of it is simply bogus but repeated often enough to have gained currency.
Everyone knows duplicate content will kill you in search engine rankings, right? Well, not necessarily. Sure, if your website is just the same content posted over and over on several different pages, or your website is just a reproduction of someone else’s website, it will hurt you because you have nothing to add. But say you have a page listing categories of products you sell, then another page with product details. Odds are, some of that content will be the same, and that’s OK.
‘Content is king’
This isn’t necessarily untrue, but it’s important to offer value. It’s not enough to just throw up as many posts as possible. Search engines look for quality, authoritative content. Engaging content gets read, and if your website packs a whole lot of value there is going to be a handful of positive knock-on effects for your website metrics and in turn your SEO. If your content is engaging, visitors will look around for longer so your bounce rate should decrease, your time on site should increase and so should your pages per visit and these are all incredibly important on-page ranking factors.
Former Google head of web spam Matt Cutts guest blogging “done” in 2014. What he meant was, don’t just post anything and everything from guest bloggers who barely string a sentence together to build links to your page. As with any content, make sure a guest blog post is well-written and by someone who knows what they’re talking about. With SEO, quality is better than quantity. Expert guest posts can be a great source of traffic, and search engines don’t necessarily even know a post is from a guest.
Slow loading speed doesn’t necessarily hurt you with search engines, at least directly. But that doesn’t mean speed doesn’t matter. No matter how interesting a link on your site might seem, people won’t wait forever, and having people leaving your site in droves will affect your SEO. Research indicates that 53% of people will leave a webpage if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load! So, it’s vital that you know your site’s speed — a great tool for determining this is Pingdom.
When Google launched Hummingbird, its latest algorithm, there was some chatter that keywords didn’t mean much for SEO anymore. That’s not true. What’s gone is the ability to game the system by stuffing pages with keywords. Because earlier search engine algorithms weren’t as in tune with human speech as they are now, web crawlers would be impressed simply by the frequency of a keyword, ranking those pages higher. Now, more sophisticated algorithms are looking at the context of that keyword to make sure it’s actually relevant.
No Quick Fix
Just because you don’t see immediate improvement in your search engine rankings after making a few changes to your SEO strategy, that doesn’t mean nothing’s working and you should give up. There are more than a billion registered websites out there, and you’re not going to appear on Google’s front page for every topic. On top of that, it can take months for search engines to reflect your changes. Build organically, use best practices, and be patient.
SEO isn’t dead
Rumors of SEO’s demise have been flying around for the better part of a decade, but the reality is, SEO will be around as long as people are using the internet. It might look significantly different than it used to, and it will continue to evolve as technology improves. That doesn’t mean you need to re-optimize with every single change, but you should do so periodically and keep up with major changes, or risk getting left behind.