Busting SEO Myths in 2018

bowling pins being struck by a bowling ball

There are a lot of “SEO expert” advice all over the internet. Some even claim that much of the “old school” SEO no longer works. Boy, have I got news for them; old school SEO still works so don’t be too quick to toss away what you have learned over the years.

Now, let’s get starting busting SEO myths.

Building Your Website

1.) Exact Match

A perfect example of SEO experts touting that exact match domains no longer work. Huh!
screen print of a Google search

I’m not saying you’ll have perfect results like the one shown in the screen print above, but this proves that exact match domains are NOT dead! Far from it, obviously … wouldn’t you agree?

Apparently some “experts” are reporting that according to their data, the usage of exact match keyword in the page title, heading 1 tag … or even within the actual content of the page itself no longer have an important connection with Google’s ranking.

Are they kidding me?

Ahhh … but then it seems that these “experts” are selling links.

Obviously links are extremely powerful but to me, their saying such things like this is flat out DEAD WRONG … even a lie.

When most website owners read this type of a report, especially by those being touted as industry leaders, they leave having read such a published claim, truly filled with misinformation.

Please, do understand, I’m not saying that you need to run right out and get an exact match domain name. But if you are starting up a brand new, local business, why not use this simple method of easily gaining an SEO advantage over your competition.

2.) Domain Extensions

By this I mean a website url extension like, .com, .net, .org, .info, .ca, etc. Which one do you think ranks better?

If you have quality content on ANY of these domain extensions it WILL rank well. The old adage of .com being ranked above others no longer applies … really! In fact, you may even discover a .info site ranks higher than a .com site IF it is optimized properly and offers great content.

3.) Age of a Domain

An aged domain, if it had content on it previously then it will rank higher than a new domain. However, if it didn’t have content on it before, then it has been found to be no different than a new domain, providing all things are equal … like both sites are fully optimized, offer quality, unique content, etc.

4.) Security

If you are curious as to whether a page that uses the secure protocol https will out rank an unsecure page that is using http, then you need wonder no more. Google states that you should always use https, even if your website doesn’t handle sensitive data. This is clearly stated in Google’s guide regarding security protocol.

Back in 2014, Google announced that they will now offer a better ranking to sites using https so to encourage site owners to help them provide a more secure internet for mobile users. That ranking factor still exists today: https://moz.com/blog/https-tops-30-how-google-is-winning-the-long-war.

information icon in toolbar

This has been tested and proven to work as a ranking factor. However, unless your competition already has the SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate in place, I wouldn’t think you’d need to run right to get one, but do consider it an important tool to add to your site … soon.

Where to Place Your Keyword On-Page

The following are the best locations:
1.) Page Title or Heading 1 Tag

This is the most important position on the page (old school SEO folks!), for obvious reasons; Google wants to bring links in their search results to their users that offer relevant information. If you do nothing else, please make sure your keyword is in your page and post titles.

If you’re using HTML to code your web pages, then your page title will be between the following HTML code or tags: <title></title>

However, because so many websites are now built using WordPress, I’ll let you in on some good news! Luckily for their users, WordPress makes all of your page and post titles heading 1 tag by default.

1st edit window of WordPress post

Your heading 1 tag (your page or post title) will appear in your browser tab too, and it is the most important heading tag, and as such should only EVER be used once per page or post.

2.) Within Your Content

Keep from stuffing your keywords, please! If you overuse your keywords, Google could ban your website and you don’t want that to happen. Keeping your usage around 2% seems to the best or leading advice.

2nd edit window of WordPress post

3.) In Your Page URL

Under Settings in your WordPress dashboard you need to make sure to set your “Permalink Settings” to “Post name” and then “Save Changes”. In this way, you gain the SEO-friendly URLs that everyone is always talking about.

WordPress Settings Permalinks

Now, when you give your post (or page) a title, making sure to use your keyword in your title, then you will have your keyword in your page URL.

3rd edit window of WordPress post

4.) Heading 2 Tag

Story is that the heading 2 tag is presently ranking higher than heading 3 and 4 tags, though over time, this ranking COULD change.

The screen print below will show you how you can change your subtitles within your content to the different heading settings. Just be sure to completely highlight the subtitle you wish to change, and then click on “Paragraph” and select your heading setting.

4th edit window of WordPress post

No cheating either. Make your first subtitle heading 2, your second subtitle heading 3, your third subtitle heading 4, etc. And remember, WordPress makes your page and post title heading 1 by default and you only need one heading 1 tag per page or post.

5.) Heading 4 Tag

Heading 4 tag is ranking higher than 3 at this time … not sure why. This too changes over time.

6.) Heading 3 Tag

Explained above.

7.) Words Emphasised in Bold or Italic Format

Sometimes Google uses this as a ranking factor according to some SEO experts. While apparently other times Google ignores this. You can format your keywords like this ONLY if is logical. Be sure not to abuse this.

8.) The Site Image File Names and Title

Some SEO experts are still touting to use your keywords in your image ALT tag. Do NOT do this as Google ranks sites better when you use your ALT tag for the visually impaired web surfer’s screen readers, as that is what the ALT tag is for.

showing ALT tag in media library

However, by all means go ahead and use your keyword in your image file name BEFORE you upload your images to you site … and, you can use them in your image title too.

9.) Site Description or Meta Tag

Most search engines use a maximum of 160 characters. Keep this in mind so not to have your site description truncated in search results. Be sure to use your keyword properly within your site description.

Some WordPress themes come with a description field offered under the editing window. Also, if you use a SEO plugin (like the All In One SEO plugin by Michael Torbert), they too offer users a description field to use, and this textbox too can be found under the edit window in your WordPress posts and pages.

What SEO Correlation Studies Proved

As of this writing, using Open Graph and Schema markup will give your site a boost in rankings. These are considered as advanced things simply because not many website owners are using them. If you want to improve your rank, here are two options to make sure you include in your website.

What is Open Graph?

Technically, Open Graph “enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph.” Example in screen prints from Facebook and Twitter below:

screen print of a post that was shared on Facebook

screen print of a post shared on Twitter

What is Schema markup?

Schema is code that you put on your website to help search engines understand your content. At the present time, this is offering the best possible results when determining the information provided in order to help internet searchers find what they are looking for.

Adding Schema markup to your website also improves how your web pages get displayed in search engine results pages or SERPs. Example in screen print below:

screen print of a Google search result shown with stars

Sources:
https://www.aira.net/open-graph-social-media-traffic/
http://www.fscinteractive.com/schema-seo-markup/

Once you’ve chosen your means of offering schema markup (my farourite is the Yet Another Stars Rating plugin) be sure that you test your site’ structured data by using Google’s testing tool: https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool. It took me trying several different plugins before I found one that did not throw even one error.

Here are the Google guidelines on schema: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/review.

Some “experts” in SEO are saying that keywords in a domain name do not work anymore. They claim that you should NOT focus on keywords in your domain name. They couldn’t be further from the truth if they tried! You might even find those “experts” are the ones selling backlinks … really.

If in doubt … test it out. That’s how you can easily determine for yourself that many of those “SEO expert” reports are myths. Old school SEO is here to stay.

Adding Site Content

1.) Title

As stated above, this is the most important on-page element that there is. Don’t fret about using your keyword more than once in your titles just so long as they don’t sound like you’re keyword stuffing.

Used properly, multiple phrases still work, example: “Pipes, Tobacco Pipes, Pipe Smoking, Wooden Pipes – as used on tobaccostore.com”.

2.) URL

Having your keyword in your URL is very important in order to improve your page rank.

Google loves hyphens in page titles as opposed to no hyphens.
Example:
http://www.yoursitename.com/hyphenswin/
verses
http://www.yoursitename.com/hypens-win/

Thankfully, WordPress adds hyphens between the words in your page and post titles by default. All you need to do is make sure your “Permalink Settings > Common Settings > Post name” is set, as stated and shown above.

3.) Article Length

It has been reported that after several tests were conducted, it has been found that the “sweet spot” for post length is 1300 words of relevant content.
Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/09/14/20-reasons-your-business-is-failing-at-seo-and-how-to-fix/#6183feb94363 – #11 Your content is too short

That’s the word count on you page and it is NOT including any HTML coding that you may have added to your page.

5th screen print of edit window of WordPress post

Nevertheless, don’t fret if your post is, say, 1698 words, as long as you have a great article.

As the Forbe’s article clearly states, approximately between 1100 and 1300 words. So, please don’t get all hung up thinking you have to make every post that you publish, exactly 1300 words, as that’s not the case.

This word count is referring to multiple variables. I’m sure you can find great examples of someone’s 4000 worded article ranking as number 1. That is not the point here; given all things being equal (in a world where everything is NOT equal), on average the 1300 word posts rank higher.

4.) Keyword in the First 100 Words

It has been proven that including your keyword within the first paragraph wins when it comes to a post ranking in a search result. However, being sure to keep your keyword above the fold, you’re posts will be well on the way to rank high.

5.) Images

Apparently, testing has been conducted between the usage of personal (unique) images verses stock images … and the stock images won. Go figure!

Is it because stock images are known to Google already? Not sure.

Still, this doesn’t mean you can’t use your own images. If it is that Google recognizes stock images faster than unique images, then once your images become known to Google, they’ll rank the same as stock images.

Does compressing images boost your page ranking? Lots of experts claim that it does … and I’m making sure to compress all my images used here. But, this factor alone has proven to not increase a page’s rank. Thus it has been concluded that compressing images is not a primary factor.

That being said … page loading time IS a user experience factor, thus it is strongly suggested that you compress all images used on your website … especially if your site is already getting traffic. Suffice it to say, that if your priority is to get on to Google page one, this is not a priority to start with.

6.) Outbound Links or Citations

Do outbound links to authority sites help a web page to rank? Yes … and get this, outbound mentions (not a hyperlink) of an authority site worked every bit as well as a hyperlink did. Just make sure to wrap relevant content around your mention of an authority website.

7.) Latent Semantic Indexing (or LSI, meaning relevant terms surrounding your keywords)

Is LSI a ranking factor? Studies proved it is.
Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latent_semantic_analysis
https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-is-latent-semantic-indexing-why-does-it-matter-for-your-seo-strategy

For an example of this, I Google searched “perfect harness for dogs” (without the quotation marks, of course) and then scrolled to the bottom of the page 1 search results. The screen print below is what I saw:

screen print of search terms listed at bottom of Google search results

Yet, there’s an easier way than doing that.

For a LSI keyword generator that you can use, simply go to lsigraph.com, type in your keyword, click their “Generate” button and VOILA! The site will issue you a list of LSI topics that were found.

screen print of Isigraph.com

Then there is ntopic.org which is a tool that lists potential LSIs … and, offers you the ability to see how latent semantic indexed your website content is. Simply add the URL of the page you want to test, add your keyword to the appropriate field, then click the SCORE button and POOF!

screen print of ntopic.org

8.) Internal Linking

Google clearly states the following: “the number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.”

Internal links can easily share link juice (urban lingo for sharing SEO) within a website. Avoid linking to the same pages over and over again as you need to offer a variety of internal links. A limit of 100 links is highly recommended … and this includes EVERY link including all of the links in your web page navigation or menu bar, sidebar, and footer too.

Ahrefs.com offers paying members a means of discovering the most linked to (the most powerful) pages on your website. In this way, you can discover a way to add useful internal links logically to those highly linked to pages.

screen print of ahrefs.com

Your Website Needs to be

1.) Mobile-Friendly: Responsive

As of April 2015, Google started to reduce the rank of any website that was not mobile-friendly. Having addressed this issue on my hobby site too late, I lost a full rank of this website which has been around since 1995 and was ranking quite high. So, yup, this IS a ranking factor!

If a site is not at least responsive, don’t expect your site to rank as high as one that is responsive and mobile-friendly.

2.) Loading Speed: Time To First Byte (TTFB)

Is page speed a ranking factor?

Since 2010, Google has been saying that page speed is a factor, and that any page that loads faster will outrank a page with slower page loading time. Apparently, when tested this was not always the case.

However, what was discovered is that TTFB, the time it took the server to respond to a link that has been clicked really matters. So, you want to have FAST hosting as this IS important. You can easily test your website at bytecheck.com to see if your host responds quickly … or not.

screen print of bytecheck.com

3.) Lean Code

This would be something Drag ‘n Drop web page software users would need to be concerned with as this type of web page building software is notorious for bloating coding on web pages. Bloated code (unnecessary code) makes reading a web page harder for search engines thus will naturally rank lower.

Those of you with WordPress websites that are using fully optimized, premium themes shouldn’t need to worry so much about bloated coding. But HTML coders do need pay close attention and be sure to use clean code on all web pages created.

4.) Sub-Domain Verses Sub-Folder

For the purpose of a multinational website, it has been found that a sub-domain tends to rank higher than a sub-folder. Explanation is offer at the site cited directly below as Source.

Example of a sub-domain: www.fr.yoursite.com
Example of a sub-folder: www.yoursite.com/fr/
Source: http://www.bloggingflail.com/subdomains-vs-subdirectories-seo/

Do you need to add these ranking factors to your website? Do you need help?

If your answer is yes, feel free to contact me, detailing your needs and I will do my best to get back to you with an estimate.

If you have found this post helpful, please share this with your friends. Also, all comments will be gratefully appreciated.

Credit for Header: image by © Kotist | Dreamstime.com – Bowling Strike Concept Photo

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