SEO standards are — pardon the understatement here — constantly evolving. Over the course of multiple updates a year, the current best approach to SEO content is a difficult nut to crack, unless you’re paying extremely close attention to exactly what Google is looking to prioritize at any given moment.
It’s inevitable that, in an environment so constantly in flux, the reality of SEO gets somewhat mired in a mix of outdated information, arbitrary rumor mongering, and misinterpreted update information. Often, people sharing this information actually mean well; they’ve simply been misinformed.
This year, so far, is no exception. So let’s get to debunking some of these rumors early! Here are 8 new SEO myths that need debunking in 2018:
1. You need to submit your URL manually to Google.
The confusion stems from this page, which allows manual submission of URLs for indexing. You don’t have to do this; Google’s automated indexing will find any new world wide web content. As Matt Cutts (former Google’s webspam team leader) says in the first second of Google’s video How search works: “When you do a Google search, you aren’t actually searching the web. You’re searching Google’s index of the web, or at least as much of it as we can find. We do this with software programs called spiders. Spiders start by fetching a few web pages, then they follow the links on those pages and fetch the pages they point to; and follow all the links on those pages, and fetch the pages they link to, and so on, until we’ve indexed a pretty big chunk of the web, many billions of pages stored on thousands of machines.”
2. HTTPS encryption isn't important for SEO.
Turns out it’s more important than ever. Essentially, an unsecured website will always rank a step below a similarly ranked page that is encrypted. And as of last year, Google Chrome will indicate to users if a page with a form is unsecured. For more information about this topic refer to our blog post from the beginning of 2018, Google Will Flag Insecure HTTP Pages.
3. Meta descriptions are a major part of SEO ranking.
They’re actually irrelevant to SEO, but only in the technical sense. Since your overall goal with SEO is to increase your chances of gaining pageviews and ultimately improving the revenue gain of your online presence, metadata is still important. Just make sure to tailor it to human users, not a search algorithm.
4. Google penalizes pop-ups in their search results.
As of last year, they sort of do. Pop-ups in general aren’t what Google set out to discourage, however; disruptive, distracting content is. If your pop-ups use a reasonable amount of screen space, don’t cover up large swaths of content, and have some level of legitimate utility, you won’t see your SEO harmed at all. In advanced to this pop up ban, on December of 2016, we published An Open Letter To Marketers About The New Google Mobile Pop-Up Ban where you can learn more about this topic.
Example of allowed pop-up (Interstitials)
5. Keywords need to be an exact match.
This is far, far, far from true, and leveraging proper keyword usage will be a massive boon towards making sure your SEO content meets the standards of both Google’s search algorithm and actual human users. Don’t awkwardly repeat keywords. Variations read better, and are accounted for by Google’s search rankings.
6. Homepages need to have reams of content.
This is another misconception that can actually harm your SEO. It’s not about how much content your homepage has, it’s whether it succinctly communicates what it is.
7. The more content you have, the better your ranking will be.
Google’s algorithm, combined with subcontracted crowdsourcing, accounts for whether your many pages are actually useful or not. Much as your index page doesn’t need to have extraneous content, you also don’t need a website packed with page after page of keyword-stuffed nonsense. Be informative, provide useful content, and your SEO will pay off.
8. Local SEO isn't important anymore.
If local keywords don’t seem to be doing the trick for you, that’s because you aren’t properly managing your local SEO. Google puts a heavy focus on local content that maintains a Google Business Page, as well as other factors that help make sure the local content displayed is updated and accurate.