As e-commerce continues to grow in importance and an increasing number of companies wade into the digital world, securing high rankings on search engines is more and more important to get your business seen by potential customers. At the same time that search engines gain prominence as a key generator/source of site traffic, they also frequently make changes to their ranking algorithms. And with that, many misconceptions have emerged about how search engines operate.
Search engines tend to provide vague outlines into what contributes to a site’s page rank, leaving people to try and fill in the lines or make educated assumptions on how to boost rankings. In my time as a digital marketer, I have come across many people making incorrect assumptions and are frustrated about what is involved with SEO. SEO doesn’t need to be confusing – no matter how vague search engines can be –I’ll try to clarify some of these more common misconceptions.
Keywords and links are all that matter
Yes, keywords and links play a big role in SEO, but they are not the only pieces to the puzzle. As the algorithms used by search engines become more complex, everything from social vitality of content to whether or not a website is optimized for mobile traffic can influence a search rank. Googles recent Hummingbird update ensures that searches are executed based on the full context of a query, not just single keywords. It also provides results based on the geo-location of a searcher.
Backlinks from the comments sections of blogs and forums are good links
In the past when you visited a blog or industry forum, it was common for people to drop links to their websites in their responses or include links as part of their profile. I thought this was finally debunked for good until while visiting some of my favorite blogs and in comments section of our own blog, I still see people dropping backlinks. Even though these types of posts may generate more traffic they are not going to boost rankings. Many blogs have “no follow” instructions built into their comments sections, telling search engines to ignore all links within the comments section. In fact, search engines can even raise a red flag if they see a good portion of your backlinks coming from comments sections.
Everything Google is good for your rankings
Somewhere during the evolution of SEO, someone started to say that using any of Google’s products improve rankings. Thankfully it never progressed to the point where somebody tried to say that using Google Translate will help with page rankings. However, there are many pieces of the Google pie that have been misconstrued as helpful to search ranking optimization efforts, most commonly with Google Authorship and +1’s from Google+.
The +1 confusion began when sites with a high number of +1’s resulted in very high search rankings within Google. Unfortunately, this was a misinterpretation of several studies, which showed that pages with highly-ranked content also had a high number of +1’s. So SEO marketers started correlating that +1’s contributed to good rankings; fortunately, Google has since clarified this and stated that this is not true. +1’s are good because they help raise awareness of content, but they do not directly contribute to search rankings.
Authorship helps Google give proper credit to the author of content, which doesn’t boost a page’s ranking. What it does do is put a face to the name behind the content which helps the content stand out more. The picture increases the click-through rate of your page by building trust from your readers as you’re not just another random person writing content on the internet.
Only Google matters
I covered this topic last week in a separate post. Yes, Google is the dominant global search engine with two-thirds of all searches running through them. In 2013, there were over 3 trillion searches performed online which means that 1 trillion of these were performed on other search engines like Bing, Yahoo!, Ask.com, etc. So while optimizing Google should be your first priority, also remember to allocate some time to learning how to optimize for the other search engines.
Paid Search boosts your organic results
There is a conspiracy theory floating around that says search engines reward those who advertise with them with higher organic search rankings. The reality is that all major search engines worry about their online reputation in the same way that we do. They have set up very specific rules and organization policies to prevent “pay for sway” scenarios. If a search engine violated this type of policy, their business might be irreparably damaged. Google has come out and said they do not engage in this sort of practice, and there is no proof that PPC positively affects organic search rankings.
Hopefully this clears up some common misconceptions about SEO and helps you determine where to focus your SEO efforts. Just remember that search engine algorithms are always changing which means the rules will also change. Are there any other questions or concerns you have regarding SEO? Let us know in the comments section below!