A neon sign that says "Myths Facts" in a talk box

Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed quite a bit over the last decade. Google frequently releases updates and makes adjustments to their search engine, and the processes of optimization often have to be adjusted accordingly. This requires marketers to stay up-to-date and educated on each update to adapt their SEO strategies accordingly.

While SEO has evolved over time, there are some assumptions and ideas about optimization that haven’t changed—dangerous myths that could hold you, your website, and your business back in 2020. Here are 5 commonly believed myths and what you can do instead:

Myth #1: Keywords are the most important SEO practice.

With the constant increase in mobile and voice searches, Google has made updates over the past several years focused on processing natural language to better understand these queries. This change in the search algorithm shifted the focus from keywords to more topic-focused SEO.

Instead of focusing heavily on a few “big keywords” when creating and optimizing your content, focus on the reader. Think about what they’re searching for and how you can help them discover the content they seek, rather than trying to predict and optimize the exact keywords they will use. Resourceful, informative, topic-focused content that is appropriately optimized is more valuable than content that is built around and filled with specific keywords.

But this doesn’t mean you should ignore keywords altogether—include relevant long-tail variations, as well as a few low-volume keywords. While low-volume keywords don’t guarantee a high traffic volume, they can offer more intent, which yields a higher chance of conversion.

A healthy balance of keywords and phrases is useful for your SEO, but the quality and value of the content itself should come first.

Myth #2: Don’t link to other websites/external sources.

Many entrepreneurs and SMB owners are afraid to link to other websites or external sources in fear of losing (or handing over) potential business to competitors and non-competitors alike. But before you can make a sale or conversion, your business and your website should provide value to the prospect, which goes beyond the product or service you offer. 

Naturally and organically linking to other relevant and useful websites and sources in your content shows the potential client or customer that you care about their needs and are willing to provide as much value as possible. This can also boost your reputation and make you and your business a useful and reputable source.

When including outbound links in your content, always make sure that they are relevant, naturally placed, and are reputable/secure sites themselves. Linking to unsecure or spam websites can have a negative impact on your reputation, so it’s important to make sure that you are always pointing your readers to safe, secure, and reliable sites.

Myth #3: Meta descriptions can make or break your SEO.

If you’re unfamiliar with meta descriptions, they are the short page descriptions that appear beneath the page or article title on the search engine results page. Meta descriptions are not an official ranking factor for search engines, but they do have a tendency to influence clicks. They also carry over to social media when your content is shared, which can pique interest and encourage clicks there, too.

Because they don’t directly affect your search rank, they don’t necessarily make or break your SEO, but they are still valuable and important to optimize whenever possible. Here are the ingredients for a good meta description:

  1. Approximately 120-160 characters. (Google occasionally allows larger meta descriptions, but mobile devices cut off at 120, so keep this in mind depending on your audience’s device usage).
  2. Include vital keywords to show relevance.
  3. Include a call to action to pique interest and encourage clicks.

Myth #4: Your homepage needs lengthy content.

When it comes to creating new content for their website and their homepage especially (or even revising old copy), many entrepreneurs and business owners become overwhelmed. They are often unsure of how much they “need” to include, or how much is “too much”.

Your homepage is your visitors first impression of you. They should clearly and easily learn:

  • Who you are
  • What you do and what you offer
  • Where you are located
  • What value you offer them
  • What they should do next

This information should be presented to them clearly, concisely, and (when possible or appropriate) creatively. You don’t need a never-ending wall of text to deliver this information, but your homepage also shouldn’t be so bare that they barely spend a few seconds on it. Your visitors should feel satisfied with the content they have been presented with on your homepage—not over or underwhelmed.

Myth #5: Local SEO is obsolete.

Many entrepreneurs and SMB owners overlook local SEO when exercising SEO practices. But for local business, optimizing local search helps to “put you on the map” where it matters most. Recent studies have shown that 46% of searchers on Google are seeking local information, and 88% of consumers who do a local search on their mobile device will visit or at least call a store within a day.

Optimize your website to include valuable information about your location, and be sure to make this information even more accessible to your customers by including this information on platforms like Google My Business and popular local directories. For more information about the importance of Local SEO, check out our blog post!

Is your SEO ready for 2020?

If you’ve fallen for any of these SEO myths and you’re ready to make some necessary updates to your SEO for the new year, contact us today so we can discuss how our digital marketing team can help!