12 SEO Myths: Unraveling Google, Bing, SSL, Keywords, and More

Blue pushpin in word "SEO" at center of a targetLocal? Images? Mobile? All important.

By Becky Livingston

Below is a list of SEO myths that people might still believe to be true.

MORE: 9 SEO Musts and 20 Pitfalls | Quick Tip: Link Building | How to Improve Your Mobile SEO | How to Research Keywords | How Long Does It Take to Rank?
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  1. I must submit my site to Google and Bing for it to be indexed. What makes this a myth is the “must” part. If you’re creating a site that’s never been indexed before you can submit it to Google and Bing to be indexed, however, that doesn’t guarantee the site will be indexed or that this step will increase your search ranking. If you have an existing site, say that’s been around for a while, you don’t have to do this step even if it’s never been done before.

  1. Having an SSL certificate on my site’s domain is not important. Au contraire, it’s more important than ever. In late 2017, Google released a new version of its Chrome browser that indicates a page is not secure if it does not include an SSL certificate on its domain. You might think this isn’t required for your site because you don’t sell any products online. But if you have any kind of form on your site, including a simple contact us form, you’re collecting information from visitors. Or, if you link to a portal that requires someone to log in, that too is considered a potential risk, therefore securing your site is a best practice.
  2. Meta descriptions have a huge impact on search ranking. The myth in that statement is “huge.” The meta description plays the role of separating your pages from other pages and helps to ensure your page is worth visiting by searchers. They don’t affect rankings, but have a big impact on click-through rates, which impact only your ad buying pricing, as well as providing searchers with relevant information about what you offer.
  3. Pop-ups hurt my site ranking. In early 2017, Google said it would penalize sites that use intrusive pop-ups. Therefore, all pop-ups are not penalized, just those that prohibit the visitor from easily accessing the information they want – particularly on mobile devices.
  4. Keyword optimization is the bomb! Well, even though I talk + about finding and using keywords, they can be your downfall as much as your windfall. In Google’s case, exact keyword match is no longer how the algorithm works. It’s now based on artificial intelligence vectors that find words or phrases that might have a similar meaning. Thus, this search engine relies on analyzing phrases versus simple keywords. That’s why phrases in keyword fields are better than simple terms, like “tax services.” Tip: When it comes to keywords, long-tail variations that are regularly searched by topic or location work better.
  5. H1 heading tags are the most important. The word “most” is the myth for this statement. In the past, H1 tags did have more pull than other heading tags, which made sense from the reader’s perspective. Remember, though, search engines are machines, not humans. What’s important is that you think of your pages as an outline of content. Heading tags may be used to separate content into sections, while the most important concepts are presented closest to the top – much like a newspaper article.
  6. Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore. That could not be further from the truth. If anything, local SEO is more important than ever before. If you have a physical business location, even if you’re using a time-share office location, creating a free, local business listing on Google and Bing helps to increase your search ranking locally.
  7. Search engines don’t know I have low-quality sites linking to my content. This is just plain wrong. Links from your content to other sites are just as important as those linking to your site. The lower the link quality, the lower your search ranking could be.
  8. Images don’t need optimization. Skipping image optimization will prevent your SEO from being the best it can be. Alt text for images provides the search engine with a reference point for the image. Without the alt text, the image cannot be “seen” by the engine.
  9. Mobile optimization isn’t important for my brick-and-mortar site. Since 2015, Google has been including the mobile optimization piece in its algorithm. In fact, it rewards mobile-friendly sites in its ranking signal.
  10. My IT or web designer can do my SEO. Web designers and technology pros may not be your best SEO experts, but they might assist in the effort. Often, web designers are asked to “do” SEO, but their role is really to make sure the site functions the way it’s intended and meets “good design” standards. IT professionals have many skills from hardware installation, to software and server skills, which don’t necessarily encompass SEO.
  11. My domain’s age plays a big role in search rankings. This might have been true five or 10 years ago, but is no longer relevant. Matt Cutts, Google engineer and spokesman, said, “Domain age is a pretty insignificant factor, especially after a site has been around for two or three months.”

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