Google, like every search engine, is run by a suite of complex, constantly-changing algorithms. Now and again search engine optimisation experts make assumptions about what these algorithms are looking for, and try to figure out how they might impact the search results.
Here’s some insight into SEO myths that were once thought to either boost or dampen down a website’s visibility but, in fact, don’t. If you’re concerned about any of these, you can safely chill!
- Domain age is irrelevant – No matter how venerable your domain is, it won’t fare any better in the search results. In the same way that getting older doesn’t automatically make a human behave better, an aged domain doesn’t automatically mean the business sitting on that domain is trustworthy, or that the domain itself is in any way better than one that hasn’t been around for so long.
- Social signals and user engagement don’t affect rankings – You can grab all the social media likes, links and shares in the known universe, but while Google acknowledges the feedback you get and ranks the content you put on social media, there isn’t a relationship between social success and high search rankings. Nor does user engagement, measured by looking at all the different things someone might do when on a site, matter. Actions like reading posts and pages, setting up accounts and signing up for newsletters won’t drive better SERPs positions.
- Google treats singular and plural words as different – Apparently Google can treat singular and plural keywords as entirely separate, which means you need to take more care then ever not to stuff your content with keywords willy-nilly.
- You can use more than one H1 tag in a page – Google has recently changed its mind about multiple H1 tags, allowing more than one per page for the first time. It might feel counter-intuitive to give multiple important messages the same weight and influence, but it means you can target more keywords in a single page without asking for trouble.
- Why would you want to use special characters in your title tag? Plenty of brands do, and it looks awful. As far as Google is concerned there’s no need to include Trademark, Copyright or any other symbols in your title tags. It won’t affect your search performance either way, but your special-character-less tag will be easier for people to read, and that always matters.
- Outbound links don’t affect your rankings – Wikipedia, newspapers, universities… they all have great reputations, and for a while some people thought linking out to authority websites would result in better search positions. But while these links help users find the information they want, they don’t confer higher SERPs rankings.
- Last but not least, and this is a biggie! Here’s something everyone in digital marketing should never forget. There is no single thing you can do, no particular pathway to follow, that will result in guaranteed top of page one search positions. It’s wholly multi-factoral. And because you’re operating in a constantly-changing landscape where your competitors are doing the same as you – adding fresh content, optimising their pages to perfection and so on – the sands are constantly shifting. There just isn’t a simple formula for winning top rankings, and there probably never will be.
If someone tries to tell you they can guarantee great SERPs positions for your website, they can’t. Don’t give them a penny of your hard-earned cash. In today’s climate you’re more likely to get a slap for trying to manipulate the system. On the other hand if someone tells you that with hard work, time and dedication, you might be able to steadily shift the needle and eventually gain better search prominence, they might just be right.