We’ve posted many blogs about search engine optimisation (SEO) over the years as well as quite a few useful guides. Since nobody knows the exact factors that influence SEO (we’d be very rich if we did), it is unsurprising that there is a wealth of misinformation and confusion around the subject.
We’re often asked about our own SEO strategies and we find that the same misunderstandings crop up all of the time. So in the interest of setting the record straight, here’s a few of the most common myths we hear from our potential and existing clients:
The dreaded duplicate content penalty
Yes, if you decide to copy and paste content from another website on to yours word for word, it’ll be pretty much impossible to rank that content effectively. Google does prefer fresh and original content – that much is true – however there is no such thing as a duplicate content “penalty”.
Duplicate content is not rewarded by Google however your website as a whole will not be penalised if some of your blog posts are not original. Any pages or posts that include fresh content will still have the potential to rank well in search engines if you follow the usual SEO best practices. A duplicate content penalty in that sense will never be introduced as there are certain cases where there is a legitimate reason for having content that is identical to another site.
Don’t ever link out to external content
Over the years blog writers and webmasters have shied away from linking to content externally for fear of losing any precious link equity (aka “link juice”). Typically a website owner will decide to set nofollow tags on any external links that are absolutely essential to the content. This allows you to link to external content without Google observing it.
All very good. Although not so much when you consider the fact that linking to high quality, relevant external content actually helps search engines to understand where you sit within a niche and how your content is related to the rest of the internet.
The next time you write a landing page, about your services or a blog post, consider including a few external links to good quality websites.
Great content ranks well automatically
It is true that Google values fresh, in-depth and timely content (like a 1500+ word tutorial on a current topic) however unfortunately if you haven’t followed SEO best practices you may struggle to see results. If your website is difficult to index or you’re missing critical on page aspects like title tags or a short load time, you will definitely experience issues.
It is more true to say that great content plus great search engine optimisation ranks well more effectively. As well as long form content, ensure that your website has no indexing issues and take steps like installing a sitemap, following all on page best practices and we guarantee that you will see a rise in search rankings.
Paid search ads benefit your organic SEO
This is a myth that has been perpetuated over the years mostly by personal experiences of clients. Unfortunately running paid ads with Google has absolutely no impact on your organic search results. Search engines observe a strict divide between their paid and organic offering.
The one and only connection between these two avenues is that if you see good traffic and results in your paid advertising for certain keywords, these are probably also the phrases where you should focus your SEO efforts.
It’s essential to submit your site to Google search console
We get asked regularly whether our website design services include submission of a new or redesigned site to Google search console (aka webmaster tools). So is it necessary to present your website to the search engines in able to get a head start on your SEO? Nope.
Google and other search engines are incredibly proficient and fast at finding and indexing new content on the internet. Their bots automatically discover your website to ensure that it can appear in search results and they do not require you to complete any type of special submission.
Of course it’s very easy and quick to submit your site to Google so you may as well. Although if you haven’t or can’t for what ever reason then there is absolutely no reason to worry.
You need to rank your homepage
It is very common for businesses to begin their SEO by completely optimising their homepage for a variety of keywords. This normally involves adding a load more written content and results in a less than ideal experience for humans.
It is true that your homepage will develop the most authority over time since most external links will point to it. However if you view your homepage as the gateway to your website and design it as such (with clear links and connections to your other website content) then it is unnecessary to spoil the user experience by focussing on SEO first and humans later.
It is a much better approach to create a separate landing page for each keyword that you are optimising for and then link to these intuitively from your homepage.
We hope this post has been informative and has dispelled any misconceptions that you may have had about SEO. As always if you have any questions or require any help please do let us know.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent many years working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.