Ranking in Google’s top search results is the dream of every business. However, with billions of blogs on the Internet, winning in SEO and grabbing that number one sweet spot on Google’s SERP has become super competitive.
The truth is, SEO traffic converts 9% better than social media traffic according to Neil Patel. But you won’t get that traffic if you still believe and practice some SEO myths.
These myths about SEO have a tendency to keep you from improving your search traffic and website rankings.
It’s 2021 now, and time to unlearn those outdated ideas about SEO. If you make a living with words or you plan to, you owe it to yourself and your clients to gain some level of SEO knowledge.
But how do you go about this?
Stop wasting your time on SEO strategies that no longer work and unlearn some myths about SEO.
If you’re ready to win in SEO in 2021, here are 9 SEO myths that you should ignore.
What are the 9 SEO myths to ignore in 2021?
Myth #1: Having an XML Sitemap of your website will increase your search traffic
An XML Sitemap helps search engines like Google to crawl and index your fresh pages faster. In fact, this is the only way search engines will ever crawl and index your site.
If you’ve installed the Google XML Sitemaps generator on your website, every time you update a post or create a new one on your site, the XML generator submits it to Google and other search engines.
But does it improve your search engine rankings?
According to Trevor Foucher of the Webmaster Tools Team, a sitemap doesn’t affect the actual rankings of your web pages. Instead, sitemaps give more information about your website to Google, helping Google’s crawlers to find your content faster.
If you’re not already using the Google XML Sitemaps generator on your WordPress site, you should install it now. While there’s no guarantee that your rankings will spike, it will help Google to discover and index your fresh content faster.
Sure, Google can still crawl and index your new content without your input– but it may take up to two days, especially if your blog is new. To get the ball rolling, you can help the search bots discover your content faster.
A quick tip: If you’re not already using the Google XML Sitemaps generator on your WordPress site, you should install it now. There’s no guarantee that your rankings will improve. But, it will help Google discover your fresh content faster.
Want to know if your site is currently indexed? Simply do a site search for your URL like this: site:hubspot.com (for instance, site:digitalhama.com).
Myth #2: Keyword targeting doesn’t matter anymore
When Google released the Hummingbird update, many predicted that the new update would impact 90% of searches. The misconception many people have about this update, however, is that targeting keywords in your content is no longer relevant.
But that’s a farce.
For one thing, if keywords still show up on the first page of Google, it means they still matter.
Keyword targeting is still as important as much as it was decades ago.
In fact, it has become much easier with the Hummingbird update. Instead of paying attention to a certain keyword ratio in your content, you just have to focus on searcher intent–knowing the reason behind a particular keyword and creating content to meet the searcher’s need.
What does this mean?
Keywords still matter. Why? Without them, it will be hard to know the searcher’s intent. And Google rewards you for helping the searcher discover the content they’re searching for, regardless of the exact keywords they use.
Myth #3: More links are better than more content
Does having more backlinks improve your rankings?
In the past, that was how SEO typically worked, and you were sure to rank higher.
Today, building links is still an important part of SEO because a link from another website to yours is more than just a link–it’s a vote of confidence and trust. Yet, it’s not just about building many links. Instead, focus on building quality backlinks from authoritative sites.
You can learn more about how to build quality backlinks here.
But, to say more links are better than more content is way too misleading. So, should you invest more in link building or content creation?
Short answer: both!
Long answer: Remember that one of the ways to build quality backlinks is to create quality content.
Myth #4: Having a secure (HTTPS) site isn’t important for SEO
You’ve probably noticed the extra “s” in some URLs (https://) when browsing certain websites that require giving your sensitive information, like when you’re paying for a product or service online or paying your bills.
To simplify, that extra “s” means your connection to that website is encrypted, so hackers cannot intercept any personal data you share with that site. And the technology that powers that extra “s” is called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
Way back in 2014, Google announced HTTPS as a lightweight ranking factor, not necessarily something that would skyrocket your rankings. At the time, it also meant that if your website still used the standard HTTP, your rankings were primed to suffer.
On the flip side, sites that have SSL certificates (HTTPS) may receive a slightly rank boost than their HTTP counterparts.
Let’s face it!
An unsecured website like this…:
…doesn’t really build trust, right? When a visitor lands on your unsecured website, they generally have a bad first impression. And you don’t want that for your business.
Chrome browsers will soon start shaming your unencrypted website for serving an unsecured HTTP version to users.
What’s more, 85% of people say they will not continue browsing if a site is not secure (missing the lock icon), according to Hosting Tribunal:
Once users start bouncing off your website, it increases your site’s bounce rate, which could hurt your overall rankings.
However, simply making your site HTTPS compatible doesn’t guarantee higher rankings. You still have to work on your on-page SEO, build backlinks, create quality content, and every other thing that helps you win in SEO.
Want to know if your website has SSL?
If the URL begins with “https” instead of “http,” then the site is secured using an SSL certificate. A padlock icon displayed in a web browser also indicates that a site has a secure connection with an SSL certificate.
You can also use HubSpot’s free SSL Checker tool to check if your website is secure.
Myth #5: Meta descriptions don’t matter
Meta descriptions are short page descriptions that appear under the title in search results. Question is, do they serve as an official ranking factor for engines like Google?
Here’s the thing. Meta descriptions provide search engines with information about your site. Without the meta description, though, Google may pull text from your page’s body as a preview snippet.
What does this mean?
Google doesn’t use the keywords in your meta description in page rankings. However, meta descriptions are still important.
For one thing, they can influence whether or not a user clicks on your page— therefore, it’s just as important when doing on-page SEO.
Meta descriptions also make your search results attractive, which can attract more clicks from users.
Still not convinced? These are more reasons you should spend time on meta descriptions:
Here’s what makes for a good meta description:
Myth #6: Guest blogging is dead
In 2014, Matt Cutts said, “if you’re using guest blogging as a way to get links … stop.” A lot of SEOs who didn’t understand exactly what Cutts meant started announcing the death of guest blogging.
Okay! That was in 2014. Is guest blogging really dead in 2021?
Well, Matt Cutts was referring to crappy guest blogging content. What’s more, Google’s Panda update had already begun punishing low-quality content.
So, NO! Guest blogging isn’t dead. And, it won’t be for as long as the web exists. That’s how renowned digital marketing guru, Neil Patel, grew his blog traffic. Besides, Matt Cutts eventually endorsed guest blogging himself:
As you embark on your guest blogging journey, make sure you avoid spammy blogs, build relationships–not links, build your brand, and keep your links within your content, not in your author profile.
Myth #7: The longer your content, the higher your rankings
When it comes to SEO, no one factor can ensure your rankings. Instead, several factors contribute to improving your site’s rankings, and simply creating long-form content will not improve your search rankings overnight.
In the age of the Hummingbird update, you should focus on the searcher’s intent and gaining high-quality backlinks to rank in Google SERPs.
Yes! In-depth content is valuable to both people and search engines.
Yet, if that content isn’t of high quality, it won’t be as valuable.
Myth #8: You shouldn’t link out to other sites
Offer value, always. When creating content for the web, keep that mantra in mind. And if it means linking out to another website that offers more valuable information, then it’s perfectly okay.
In fact, Google Webmaster, John Mueller, says you won’t be doing anything wrong or annoying Google if you do this:
However, if you’re linking to another website in exchange for a link, link out to your comments, or link to an advertisement, that’s not as valuable. And Google doesn’t take this lightly as it goes against Google’s policy and it’s a really good and fast way to get your website banned.
You might argue that linking out to other websites sends your visitors away. Yet, most successful sites grew by sending their visitors to other websites.
Here’s the thing. If you create valuable content for your readers and still encourage them to follow links from your site to other sites to get additional information, they’ll love you and keep coming back for your content.
While Google may not have explicitly stated that this improves your rankings, through years of writing content and doing SEO, I’ve found it to work every time.
Myth #9: Having H1 tags will increase your rankings
H1s are important page elements and also useful for Google. But what are they used for? Let’s ask the source: Google.
“We use headings to better understand the context of different parts of a page,” Google WebMaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, explains.
Beyond that, H1 and other heading tags create a better experience for your users, helping them to easily navigate your website and differentiate between subheadings and the rest of your content.
Yet, there’s no clear indication that H1s can boost your search engine rankings.
So, don’t use H1 tags because you want to boost your rankings. Use them because you want to make the user feel at home once they land on your site. Besides, if your readers love your content and stick around (reduction in bounce rate) because you used H1 tags to create a better experience for them, Google will reward you with better rankings and increased traffic.
Final thoughts on SEO myths
These 9 SEO myths will not only help you grow your site but find better ways to cater to your audience.
Over to you!
Do you know of any other SEO myths that keep site owners from increasing their organic traffic and rankings? Tell us in the comments below.
Wait. Wait. Wait.
Don’t run off just yet. I have something for you!
Because I understand that this list of SEO myths might not be exhaustive, I’m giving you something very valuable. Remember our discussion about offering value in Myth #8 above? That’s what I want to give you now: VALUE.
I’m giving you a guide that will help you to point out even more myths and assumptions about SEO and show you how to debunk them and win big in SEO. Because, in the end, you don’t want to waste a single moment on things that simply don’t matter for SEO in 2021.
Are you ready to learn about 21 additional myths about SEO and how you can ignore them in 2021?
Click below to get a FREE copy of 21 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2021 from HubSpot: