October 25, 2013
Today, search engine optimization (SEO) involves many different strategies used across multiple channels including your website, social profiles, mobile campaigns and other digital properties. But as the search engines continue to upgrade and improve their algorithms, businesses must quickly adapt and make the changes necessary to stay relevant (and ranking) in the search engine results. Search engine algorithms change constantly, and it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. Here are five SEO beliefs that may have been true in the past, but are simply not true anymore:
- The number of inbound links to your website is the most important factor in high search engine rankings.
Not true. Although that used to be the case several years ago, search engines have become quite sophisticated in their abilities to read and index content from all over the Web and determine quality based on a variety of factors. Inbound links are still important, of course, but quality counts more than quantity with inbound links. Make sure your inbound links come from other websites that have good quality scores and credibility in your industry.
- Inbound links from .edu and .gov websites are worth more than other inbound links.
Although many .edu and .gov websites do rank well in the search results and have good quality scores, the value of the inbound link is only as good as the quality of the site, regardless of its extension. You gain nothing by having an inbound link from a government or educational site unless that site already has a high authority or quality score.
Keywords are No Longer Useful in SEO.
Way, way back when search engines were first invented, businesses could specify what their websites were about by using a “Keywords” meta tag in the Web code. Not surprisingly, people began stuffing keywords in their meta tags hoping to trick the search engines into ranking their sites higher. Search engines have not used the keywords meta tag as a ranking signal in years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pay attention to keywords. Today, the search engines expect your keywords to appear in other places (like title and description meta tags), but they must also appear in the visible content of your Web page. The number of times a keyword is used on a Web page is still an important ranking factor for the search engines; however, over-using keywords is a negative ranking signal and can actually hurt you in the rankings.
Internal Links Do Not Matter in SEO.
Inbound links (links coming to your website from other quality sites) are an important ranking signal, but internal links — links among the pages of your website — are also important to the search engines. The search engine “bots” that crawl your website access your internal pages by following links, so make sure your site’s navigation system is well organized, coded properly (no broken links), and is consistent among all the pages of your website.
SEO is a One-Time Thing.
Just like other types of marketing, SEO is an ongoing process that requires adjustments to be made over time as the Web evolves. You can’t SEO your site once and then forget it. The search engines change their algorithms all the time, new technologies emerge, additional platforms are developed, and search behaviors shift, meaning you have to continually evolve your SEO strategies as well.
Lauren Hobson is president of Five Sparrows, LLC. Five Sparrows provides professional website and online marketing services to small businesses and non-profits.