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5 Automotive SEO Best Practices For Driving Business In 2022

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Whether you’re managing a car and truck dealership, a tire shop, or any other type of automotive business, search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial ingredient in every impactful marketing campaign.

In fact, digital marketing spending now outpaces conventional advertising in many industries, including automotive.

Since 2015, automotive marketing experts have significantly increased their SEO budgets, while spending on traditional channels like TV remains flat or has even decreased throughout the automotive vertical.

Many shoppers begin serious auto searches on websites like EveryCarListed.com or TrueCar, and spend about 14 hours researching dealerships, pricing, and reviews before ever contacting a business like yours.

What’s more, a full 53% of mobile and desktop users click on organic search results rather than paid ads.

All these stats make one fact extremely clear: SEO is a set of tactics you can’t afford not to master in 2022.

However, automotive SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” solution.

Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times every year.

To stay on top of these changes – and at the top of Google’s search results – you’ve got to know what factors matter.

Ready to get started?

Let’s dive into the most powerful SEO techniques for car dealerships and other automotive businesses in 2022 – and explore how you can drive new potential customers straight to your website by making these practices part of your SEO strategy.

1. Develop Original Automotive SEO Content And Incorporate Rich Text Snippets

Although a website can be a powerful tool for reaching customers outside a dealership’s designated market area (DMA), It can be tricky to figure out exactly how much content to include on each page of your website.

You may have heard that Google prefers pages with 1,600 words or more – and while that’s certainly true for longer content like blog posts, most visitors aren’t going to read more than a few hundred words per page.

However, Google does prefer longer word counts for in-depth content like automotive blog posts.

While estimates differ, most experts put the ideal blog post length somewhere between 1,500 and 2,400 words.

As a general rule, marketers agree you’ll be safe sticking with a length of around 1,600 words per post, give or take a few hundred words.

Posts of this length typically outperform shorter posts as long as they’re original, unique, and relevant (more on this under Technique #2 below).

And strikingly, this result holds true across all business types, including car dealerships and other automotive companies, and across all geographical locations worldwide.

When posting blogs and setting up web pages, you’ll want to ensure your web developer or SEO expert adds rich snippets.

Rich snippets are bits of code that tell Google which text to display when it summarizes a page in search results.

In combination with schema markup (described under Technique #4 below), rich snippets will make sure your pages stand out from the crowd, with visually striking messages that drive customers to click.

2. Incorporate Video SEO Into Your Marketing Strategy

If you’re in the car business, you know that video SEO is essential to reaching potential customers.

After all, car dealerships are one of the most popular categories on YouTube.

And since YouTube is the second largest search engine, it’s important to make sure your videos are properly optimized to appear in search results.

Studies have shown that internet users are far more likely to watch a video than read a block of text. By optimizing your videos for search engines, you can dramatically increase your chances of being seen by potential customers.

Furthermore, videos are also more likely to be shared on social media, meaning that they have the potential to reach an even wider audience.

Luckily, you can follow a few simple tips to improve your car dealer video SEO.

  • First, make sure your videos are keyword-rich. Use relevant keywords in your title and description to help your videos rank higher in search results.
  • Second, keep your videos short and sweet. No one wants to watch a long, boring car commercial. Aim for two minutes or less.

3. Make Sure Your Entire Site Loads Beautifully On Mobile Devices

As of 2022, more than 57% of all online traffic (upward of 12 billion searches) comes from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

However, the average bounce rate is 51.6% for mobile users. This can happen when a page fails to load properly on their device – and most of those customers never come back for a second glance.

In other words, among the 18,000+ car dealerships and other automotive businesses in the US, those that fail to take mobile searches seriously are sacrificing more than half of their prospective customer base.

That’s a whole lot of profit margin to leave on the table.

The good news is that you can capture that market share for your own automotive business by deploying a gorgeous mobile version of your website.

A reasonably skilled web developer can ensure your site automatically detects mobile browsers, recognizes each user’s screen dimensions, and adapts every page to look tailor-made for that individual’s display.

As more mobile users spend time on your site, your search rank will soon rise.

4. Add Autodealer Schema And Claim Your Google Business Profile

Lately, you may have noticed big detailed info boxes about local businesses popping up at the top of your Google search results.

These business profiles automatically pull information from a company’s Google Business Profile and display color photos of the business, a map with directions, and details like open hours, contact info, and even popular times to visit.

You can set up your own big colorful box by claiming your free Google Business Profile (GBP) – which only takes a few minutes.

Next, ask your web developer or automotive SEO expert to add schema markup to the top-visited pages on your website.

Schema markup code tells Google how to organize and display information it finds on your site, such as images, street addresses, open hours, and rich text snippets (explained in Technique #1 above).

In particular, make sure you add AutoDealer schema, which Google will use in combination with your Google business profile, to create a display box that’ll capture attention at the top of prospective customers’ search results.

Once you have set up your Google Business Profile, remember to ask every delighted customer for a positive review.

Positive reviews will boost your local search ranking, contribute valuable social proof to your profile on search pages, and measurably increase your business’s likelihood of showing up in search results on Google Maps and other GPS apps.

5. Leverage Strategic Relationships For Link Building

The more third-party sites link to your pages, the more trustworthy and relevant your business looks to Google, particularly when those inbound links come from relevant keywords.

Inbound links, also known as “backlinks,” serve as the cornerstones of an effective link-building strategy, which can drive a flood of organic search traffic to your site if it’s done skillfully.

The principle is simple: Reach out to the owners of businesses and other organizations you work with, and ask them to link to specific pages on your site.

For example, if you want to drive traffic to a page titled “Miami Florida BMW Dealership,” you could ask a local auto parts distributor to add a link to your website and explain how they would benefit from doing so.

Obviously, link building can take some finessing.

Start by requesting inbound links from businesses and organizations in your local area whose opinions Google values extra highly when it comes to backlinks.

For example, consider asking for inbound links from local charities and sports teams you support, and from suppliers you work with.

In short, it doesn’t take much to update your automotive SEO strategy for 2022 – just some original content, video and mobile optimization, Google Business Profile management, AutoDealer schema, and link building.

Master these techniques, and capture the lion’s share of the automotive market in your local area.

More resources:


Featured Image: iQoncept/Shutterstock

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11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check Plagiarism

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11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check Plagiarism

Are you certain that the content you’re publishing on your website is 100% original?

Steering clear of plagiarism is a top priority for content creators, educators, businesses, and others in order to maintain credibility and avoid legal issues – among other things.

While Copyscape has long been one of the most well-known and popular options for plagiarism checking, the range of available tools has expanded significantly, with various features designed to meet people’s unique needs.

In this article, we will cover the basics of plagiarism – what it is, why you should check for it, how to check, and what to do if someone plagiarizes your content – before highlighting some of the top alternatives to Copyscape, helping you keep your content unique and valuable.

What Is Plagiarism? 

Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s work, whether words or ideas, and present it as your own without proper attribution.

Plagiarism can range from directly copying someone’s work to closely paraphrasing something without acknowledging the source. Sometimes, it’s purposeful, while other times, the perpetrator might not even realize they’re doing it.

Regardless of intent, plagiarism is a widespread problem that is difficult to combat – but the first step is detecting it.

Why It’s Important To Check For Plagiarism

The consequences of plagiarism can be severe – you can lose credibility, harm your reputation, and even face legal repercussions.

Here are a few reasons why it’s essential to check for (and avoid) plagiarism:

  • Prevent legal problems. Engaging in plagiarism or copyright infringement can expose you to a range of potential legal issues.
  • Maintain your reputation. Trust is vital. But why should audiences trust you if you’re stealing somebody else’s work? Checking for plagiarism is crucial to preserving your reputation and trust with your audience or customers.
  • Preserve your SEO efforts. Google and other search engines are actively trying to crack down on plagiarism and will penalize any plagiarized content. This can hurt your website’s ranking and visibility.

How You Can Check For Plagiarism

There are a handful of different ways to check for plagiarism, including:

  • Manual checks. This is precisely what it sounds like: manually reviewing content for plagiarism by cross-checking text using search engines and academic databases. If you’re examining a small chunk of text, this can work, but it can get unwieldy fast.
  • Use alerts. It’s possible to create your own plagiarism checker by setting up Google Alerts. Simply enter your content into the search query field and let Google know how frequently you want it to alert you of copied content. While not a totally accurate or complete method, it can be effective at times.
  • Monitoring services. You can use existing tools that help flag unauthorized use of your content. They do so by scanning the internet and leveraging algorithms to detect plagiarized content.
  • Online plagiarism checker tools. Software and tools designed specifically to analyze content and run a comprehensive check for plagiarism.

While checking text for direct plagiarism is one thing, identifying paraphrased content or ideas is much more complicated.

And while we will highlight many useful tools in this article, it’s worth remembering that no tool is perfect.

With the sheer amount of content available and more being produced and published every second, it’s nearly impossible to complete a full check. Hence, why plagiarism is an ongoing issue.

What To Do If Someone Plagiarized Your Content

So, what do you do if you discover that somebody else has plagiarized your content? Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Collect evidence. Take screenshots, make notes, and save any URLs as proof of the offense.
  • Contact the perpetrator. As we mentioned earlier, sometimes, plagiarism can be an innocent mistake. No matter the situation, we recommend contacting the offending party and requesting that they either remove your content or label it with the proper attribution.
  • File a complaint. If that doesn’t work, you can file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown complaint, which will send notice to the service provider (e.g., Google or web hosting companies) to remove the content or face legal liability.
  • Seek legal advice. If the case is particularly egregious, or the above steps fail, you can consider speaking with a legal professional.

Top 11 Plagiarism-Checking Alternative Tools To Copyscape

1. Grammarly

Screenshot from Grammarly.com, June 2024

While most people know Grammarly for its spelling and grammar check capabilities, it also offers a useful plagiarism checker tool.

Grammarly’s free plagiarism checker will compare your text (up to 10,000 characters) against academic databases and billions of webpages, then give you an immediate report that lets you know whether it found any plagiarized content.

As a helpful bonus, it will also flag if it finds problems with grammar, spelling, punctuation, conciseness, readability, word choice, or other writing issues.

If you want to take it a step further, Grammarly offers a Premium version of the tool with more advanced capabilities. The paid version will highlight specific sentences of concern, include source information, give you deeper writing feedback, and even allocate your text an “overall originality score.”

Cost

  • Free version available with limited plagiarism detection as well as basic grammar, spelling, etc. checks.
  • Premium Grammarly membership starts at $12/month and includes advanced plagiarism detection.

2. Plagiarisma

Screenshot of Plagiarisma homepage showing a text box for URL input, file upload options, and various supported languages icons. The page includes detailed information about the tool and highlights its effectiveness.Screenshot from Plagiarisma.net, June 2024

If you’re looking for a plagiarism checker that works in several languages, look no further than Plagiarisma. It supports 190+ languages and offers both free and paid versions.

Users can enter text into Plagiarisma in a variety of ways, including uploading documents, entering URLs, or pasting text directly into the tool. Once you’ve shared your copy, it will check it against sources like books, websites (you can choose between Google and Bing as your search engine of choice), and academic papers.

With the free version, users can run plagiarism checks up to three times in one day. You can also upgrade to a Premium membership for access to more features, including a Synonymizer (which helps you leverage synonyms to recreate sentences), a Similarity Checker (which compares documents for similarity), and unlimited access to plagiarism checks.

Cost

  • Free version with up to three plagiarism checks per day.
  • Premium membership starts at $5/month and offers unlimited plagiarism checks and more advanced features.

3. ProWritingAid

1720970763 998 11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check PlagiarismScreenshot from ProWritingAid.com, June 2024

Similar to Grammarly, ProWritingAid is an AI-powered writing assistant tool that analyzes your copy and suggests areas for improvement. It also offers a helpful plagiarism checker – and while there is no free version, it’s still reasonably affordable.

According to ProWritingAid, its plagiarism detection tool can compare your text (up to 2,000 words) against billions of sources, both online and offline, including databases, periodicals, and websites.

It will flag directly copied content and give similarity percentages to show areas needing improved paraphrasing or citation.

You can use ProWritingAid’s online editing tool to conduct your check or leverage its Microsoft Word Add-In.

Unlike some other tools, you pay for ProWritingAid based on the number of checks you want to conduct versus a monthly or yearly subscription – so that is worth noting, and might be a benefit if you only have a specific number of documents you need to look at.

Cost

  • No free version.
  • Pricing starts at $10 for 10 checks, $40 for 100 checks, $120 for 500 checks, and $200 for 1,000 checks.

4. Plagiarism Checker

Screenshot of Plagiarism Checker tool showing a text box to insert text, options to check plagiarism via URL, and buttons for grammar checking, paraphrasing, and various other settings.Screenshot from Plagiarism-Checker.me, June 2024

Plagiarism Checker is a fairly straightforward plagiarism detection tool that’s both free and easy to use. If you need a quick and simple option, this is worth checking out.

It boasts a simple user interface and allows users to insert their text directly into the web-based editor, share a URL, or upload a document. You can even denote a URL you want it to exclude, which is a helpful feature if there are particular pages on your site that you want to ignore for now.

Plagiarism Checker scans your text against blogs, websites, and academic papers to detect plagiarism, which it delivers as a percentage. It’s compatible with Mac, Windows, and Android, and supports multiple file formats, including .rtf, .pdf., .docx, .odt, and txt.

Note that there is a limit of 1,000 words per check. The tool also includes a grammar checker and word counter, and you can download the reports it gives you.

Cost

5. CopyGator

Screenshot of CopyGator website explaining how it helps monitor and track content feeds.Screenshot from CopyGator.com, June 2024

CopyGator is a free service designed to help bloggers and content creators monitor and detect duplicate versions of their content on other blogs or websites.

It works by monitoring your website’s RSS feed to see whether content has been republished elsewhere – and automatically notifying you if it finds plagiarism or quotations.

There are two different options for using CopyGator:

  • Image badge: By copying and pasting some code into your site, you can add a CopyGator image badge to your blog that will monitor your feeds for you. When you want to run a check, simply click the badge. If it turns red, CopyGator has detected plagiarized versions of your content.
  • RSS feed: Your other option is to input an RSS feed directly into CopyGator’s tool and ask it to watch the feed. It will create your own custom overview page where you can get updates.

Cost

6. PlagScan

1720970763 752 11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check PlagiarismScreenshot from PlagScan.com, June 2024

PlagScan is quite a robust plagiarism detection tool most commonly used by academic institutions and professional writers. One thing to note upfront: There is no free version of this tool.

PlagScan compares your text to a massive database of websites, academic resources, and journals to find plagiarism and compiles a report to help you understand the results.

You’ll receive a PlagLevel score, which summarizes the level of duplicate text found within a document, as well as colored highlighting for possible plagiarism:

  • Red for direct matches.
  • Blue for potentially altered copy.
  • Green for correctly cited text.

With PlagScan, you get a list of sources that match your document to help you with proper citation. You can also compare two documents side-by-side to find similarities. It works with most file types, and your data is protected.

Cost

  • No free version.
  • PlagScan uses a prepaid pricing model based on the number of words/pages. Pricing starts at $6.5 for 6,000 words/24 pages.

7. Copyleaks

Screenshot of the CopyLeaks Plagiarism Detector homepage, displaying highlighted text sections within an example showing potential plagiarized content. Various partner logos are visible below the displayed text.Screenshot from Copyleaks.com, June 2024

Copyleaks is a more sophisticated plagiarism detection tool than many of the options used on this list, making it a popular choice for businesses, educational institutions, and individuals around the world.

According to Copyleaks, it uses “advanced AI” to detect instances of plagiarism across over 100 languages, including paraphrasing, plagiarism in programming code, and even AI-generated plagiarism. Each scan checks content against 60 trillion websites, more than 16,000 journals, over 1 million internal documents, and 20+ code data repositories.

The tool has a very user-friendly interface, allowing you to choose from different types of files you might want to scan – text, documents, code, URLs, etc. You can also use the “compare” option to compare two documents or URLs to each other.

Another handy feature within Copyleaks is the ability to schedule recurring scans so that it will automatically check for duplicate content on a regular basis. It also offers easy and flexible API integration,

Cost

  • Free trial available.
  • Paid plans start at $8.99/month for up to 1,200 credits (equal to 300,000 words). For $13.99/month, you’ll get access to both the plagiarism detection and AI content detection tools in one.

8. Plagium

Screenshot of Plagium's plagiarism detection interface, featuring options for quick search, deep search, and file search with pricing details below. Screenshot from Plagium.com, June 2024

Plagium is a good choice if you’re looking for an easy and cost-effective plagiarism checker. It uses a simple web-based text box and offers both “quick search” and “Deep Search” functions, the latter of which is basically a term for a closer check and the ability to scan large documents.

A quick search is free and allows up to 500 characters – though the website appears to indicate that the number of quick searches is capped. In order to use the Deep Search feature, you’ll need to create an account – and these searches start at $0.08/page using Plagium’s credits system.

As a member, you’re able to upload different types of documents – such as PDFs – and Plagium also integrates with Google Drive and offers a Google Docs Add-on.

Cost

  • Free quick search up to 500 characters.
  • Paid plans start at $9.99/month for over 143,000 characters, with options for prepaid plans if that is more your speed.

9. Dupli Checker

1720970763 634 11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check PlagiarismScreenshot from DupliChecker.com, June 2024

Need a free, easy-to-use plagiarism checker that’s available in up to seven languages and accepts a variety of file formats? Dupli Checker could be for you.

Dupli Checker’s simple interface makes it easy to scan your documents for plagiarism. You can paste directly into the website or upload files from your computer, Dropbox, or Google Drive. Like other tools in this list, you can also share a URL you’d like the tool to check, and up to five URLs you want it to exclude.

The tool promises 100% privacy – meaning it doesn’t save any of your documents – and summarizes your results in a report that highlights duplicate copy, gives you a percentage rating, and offers more features like grammar issues.

Cost

  • Free version with up to 1,000 words per search.
  • Paid plans start at $10/month for increased searches, higher word limits, and other advanced features.

10. Quetext

1720970763 386 11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check PlagiarismScreenshot from quetext.com, June 2024

Quetext has become a popular plagiarism detection tool, and for good reason. It’s dependable and user-friendly, with some handy little features to help you spot plagiarism in your documents.

How does it work? You just enter your text into the web-based browser box and click “Check for plagiarism.” Quetext then uses its DeepSearch™ Technology (a machine-learning algorithm) to scan your text against billions of internet sources and spot plagiarism.

It provides you with a report that includes a plagiarism score and both exact matches and near matches to other existing text.

It highlights the latter using its ColorGrade™ feedback feature, which uses different colors to highlight exact match copy vs. “fuzzy” matches (or close matches) – a valuable tool for spotting plagiarism that might have otherwise flown under the radar.

It also offers a “Cite Source” feature, which helps you produce citations across Chicago, MLA, and APA formats.

Cost

  • Free version available, which includes up to 500 words, a website citation generator, and a citation assistant.
  • Paid tiers start at $8.80/month, which includes 100,000 words per month and a range of other advanced features.

11. PlagTracker

1720970763 220 11 Copyscape Alternatives To Check PlagiarismScreenshot from Plagtracker.com, June 2024

PlagTracker is an online, web-based plagiarism detector that bills itself as “the most accurate plagiarism checking service.” The tool lists students, teachers, publishers, and site owners as its intended users, and it checks text against over 14 billion webpages and “more than 20 million academic works.”

Using PlagTracker is pretty straightforward. Users upload a document into the tool, which scans it and then returns a detailed report that shows what percentage of their document is plagiarized and highlights specific sections with sources.

It supports multiple languages –English, German, French, Romanian, Spanish, and Italian – making it a versatile tool. PlagTracker has a 5,000-word limit for free users, though you can pay for a Premium membership for unlimited access.

Cost

  • Free version is available with a 5,000-word limit.
  • Premium subscription starts at $7.49/month for unlimited volume and other advanced features.

The Best Plagiarism Detection Tools On The Market

And there you have it: Copyscape is by no means the only option for plagiarism detection tools.

Those listed above are great alternatives that cater to a wide range of use cases, whether you’re looking for a cheap and easy solution or an all-in-one AI-powered writing assistant.

If you’re a content creator of any kind, you must produce work that’s original and unique – and these tools can help you do just that.

However, always remember that these tools are far from perfect; you should have other checks and balances in place to ensure the quality of your work.

Avoiding plagiarism will protect your credibility and reputation and ultimately drive more traffic to your website. Not to mention, it’ll keep you out of trouble.

More resources: 


Featured Image: VectorMine/Shutterstock

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Google Warns Of Last Chance To Export Notes Search Data

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Google issues a final warning for users to download their Google Notes data

Google updated their documentation for the Google Labs Google Notes experiment to remind users that Notes will go away at the end of July 2024 and showed how to download notes content, with a final deadline beyond which it will be impossible to retrieve it.

Google Notes

Notes is an experimental feature in Google Labs that lets users annotate search results with their ideas and experiences. The idea behind it is to make search more helpful and improve the quality of the search results through the opinions and insights of real people. It’s almost like Wikipedia where members of the public curate topics.

Google eventually decided that the Notes feature had undergone enough testing and they decided that their are shutting down Google Notes, a decision announced in April 2024.

Update To Documentation

The official documentation was updated to make it clear that Notes is shutting down at the end of July and that users who wish to download their data can do us with their Google Takeout, a Google Accounts feature that allows users to export their content from their Google Account. Google Takeout allows Google Account holders to export data from Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Photos, a total of up to 56 kinds of content can be exported.

Google’s Search Central document changelog explains:

“A note about Notes

What: Added a note about the status of Notes to the Notes documentation.

Why: Notes is winding down at the end of July 2024.”

This is the new announcement:

“Notes is winding down at the end of July 2024. If you created a note, your notes content is available to download using Google Takeout through the end of August 2024.”

Check out the updated Google Notes documentation here:

Notes on Google Search and your website (experimental)

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26 Common SEO Myths, Debunked

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26 Common SEO Myths, Debunked

SEO is a complex, vast, and sometimes mysterious practice. There are a lot of aspects to SEO that can lead to confusion.

Not everyone will agree with what SEO entails – where technical SEO stops and development begins.

What also doesn’t help is the vast amount of misinformation that goes around. There are a lot of “experts” online and not all of them should bear that self-proclaimed title. How do you know who to trust?

Even Google employees can sometimes add to the confusion. They struggle to define their own updates and systems and sometimes offer advice that conflicts with previously given statements.

The Dangers Of SEO Myths

The issue is that we simply don’t know exactly how the search engines work. Due to this, much of what we do as SEO professionals is trial and error and educated guesswork.

When you are learning about SEO, it can be difficult to test out all the claims you hear.

That’s when the SEO myths begin to take hold. Before you know it, you’re proudly telling your line manager that you’re planning to “AI Overview optimize” your website copy.

SEO myths can be busted a lot of the time with a pause and some consideration.

How, exactly, would Google be able to measure that? Would that actually benefit the end user in any way?

There is a danger in SEO of considering the search engines to be omnipotent, and because of this, wild myths about how they understand and measure our websites start to grow.

What Is An SEO Myth?

Before we debunk some common SEO myths, we should first understand what forms they take.

Untested Wisdom

Myths in SEO tend to take the form of handed-down wisdom that isn’t tested.

As a result, something that might well have no impact on driving qualified organic traffic to a site gets treated like it matters.

Minor Factors Blown Out Of Proportion

SEO myths might also be something that has a small impact on organic rankings or conversion but are given too much importance.

This might be a “tick box” exercise that is hailed as being a critical factor in SEO success, or simply an activity that might only cause your site to eke ahead if everything else with your competition was truly equal.

Outdated Advice

Myths can arise simply because what used to be effective in helping sites rank and convert well no longer does but is still being advised. It might be that something used to work really well.

Over time, the algorithms have grown smarter. The public is more adverse to being marketed to.

Simply, what was once good advice is now defunct.

Google Being Misunderstood

Many times, the start of a myth is Google itself.

Unfortunately, a slightly obscure or just not straightforward piece of advice from a Google representative gets misunderstood and run away with.

Before we know it, a new optimization service is being sold off the back of a flippant comment a Googler made in jest.

SEO myths can be based on fact, or perhaps these are, more accurately, SEO legends?

In the case of Google-born myths, it tends to be that the fact has been so distorted by the SEO industry’s interpretation of the statement that it no longer resembles useful information.

26 Common SEO Myths

So, now that we know what causes and perpetuates SEO myths, let’s find out the truth behind some of the more common ones.

1. The Google Sandbox And Honeymoon Effects

Some SEO professionals believe that Google will automatically suppress new websites in the organic search results for a period of time before they are able to rank more freely.

Others suggest there is a sort of Honeymoon Period, during which Google will rank new content highly to test what users think of it.

The content would be promoted to ensure more users see it. Signals like click-through rate and bounces back to the search engine results pages (SERPs) would then be used to measure if the content is well received and deserves to remain ranked highly.

There is, however, the Google Privacy Sandbox. This is designed to help maintain peoples’ privacy online. This is a different sandbox from the one that allegedly suppresses new websites.

When asked specifically about the Honeymoon Effect and the rankings Sandbox, John Mueller answered:

“In the SEO world, this is sometimes called kind of like a sandbox where Google is like keeping things back to prevent new pages from showing up, which is not the case.

Or some people call it like the honeymoon period where new content comes out and Google really loves it and tries to promote it.

And it’s again not the case that we’re explicitly trying to promote new content or demote new content.

It’s just, we don’t know and we have to make assumptions.

And then sometimes those assumptions are right and nothing really changes over time.

Sometimes things settle down a little bit lower, sometimes a little bit higher.”

So, there is no systematic promotion or demotion of new content by Google, but what you might be noticing is that Google’s assumptions are based on the rest of the website’s rankings.

  • Verdict: Officially? It’s a myth.

2. Duplicate Content Penalty

This is a myth that I hear a lot. The idea is that if you have content on your website that is duplicated elsewhere on the web, Google will penalize you for it.

The key to understanding what is really going on here is knowing the difference between algorithmic suppression and manual action.

A manual action, the situation that can result in webpages being removed from Google’s index, will be actioned by a human at Google.

The website owner will be notified through Google Search Console.

An algorithmic suppression occurs when your page cannot rank well due to it being caught by a filter from an algorithm.

Essentially, having copy that is taken from another webpage might mean you can’t outrank that other page.

The search engines may determine that the original host of the copy is more relevant to the search query than yours.

As there is no benefit to having both in the search results, yours gets suppressed. This is not a penalty. This is the algorithm doing its job.

There are some content-related manual actions, but essentially, copying one or two pages of someone else’s content is not going to trigger them.

It is, however, potentially going to land you in other trouble if you have no legal right to use that content. It also can detract from the value your website brings to the user.

What about content that is duplicated across your own site? Mueller clarifies that duplicate content is not a negative ranking factor. If there are multiple pages with the same content, Google may choose one to be the canonical page, and the others will not be ranked.

3. PPC Advertising Helps Rankings

This is a common myth. It’s also quite quick to debunk.

The idea is that Google will favor websites that spend money with it through pay-per-click advertising. This is simply false.

Google’s algorithm for ranking organic search results is completely separate from the one used to determine PPC ad placements.

Running a paid search advertising campaign through Google while carrying out SEO might benefit your site for other reasons, but it won’t directly benefit your ranking.

4. Domain Age Is A Ranking Factor

This claim is seated firmly in the “confusing causation and correlation” camp.

Because a website has been around for a long time and is ranking well, age must be a ranking factor.

Google has debunked this myth itself many times.

In July 2019, Mueller replied to a post on Twitter.com (recovered through Wayback Machine) that suggested that domain age was one of “200 signals of ranking” saying, “No, domain age helps nothing.”

Image from Twitter.com recovered through Wayback Machine, June 2024

The truth behind this myth is that an older website has had more time to do things well.

For instance, a website that has been live and active for 10 years may well have acquired a high volume of relevant backlinks to its key pages.

A website that has been running for less than six months will be unlikely to compete with that.

The older website appears to be ranking better, and the conclusion is that age must be the determining factor.

5. Tabbed Content Affects Rankings

This idea is one that has roots going back a long way.

The premise is that Google will not assign as much value to the content sitting behind a tab or accordion.

For example, text that is not viewable on the first load of a page.

Google again debunked this myth in March 2020, but it has been a contentious idea among many SEO professionals for years.

In September 2018, Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, answered a tweet thread about using tabs to display content.

His response:

“AFAIK, nothing’s changed here, Bill: we index the content, and its weight is fully considered for ranking, but it might not get bolded in the snippets. It’s another, more technical question of how that content is surfaced by the site. Indexing does have limitations.”

If the content is visible in the HTML, there is no reason to assume that it is being devalued just because it is not apparent to the user on the first load of the page. This is not an example of cloaking, and Google can easily fetch the content.

As long as there is nothing else that is stopping the text from being viewed by Google, it should be weighted the same as copy, which isn’t in tabs.

Want more clarification on this? Then check out this SEJ article that discusses this subject in detail.

6. Google Uses Google Analytics Data In Rankings

This is a common fear among business owners.

They study their Google Analytics reports. They feel their average sitewide bounce rate is too high, or their time on page is too low.

So, they worry that Google will perceive their site to be low quality because of that. They fear they won’t rank well because of it.

The myth is that Google uses the data in your Google Analytics account as part of its ranking algorithm.

It’s a myth that has been around for a long time.

Illyes has again debunked this idea simply with, “We don’t use *anything* from Google analytics [sic] in the “algo.”

Gary IIIyes tweet: "We don't use *anything* from Google Analytics in the algo."Image from Twitter.com recovered through Wayback Machine, June 2024

More recently, John Mueller dispelled this idea yet again, saying, “That’s not going to happen” when he received the suggestion telling SEO pros that GA4 is a ranking factor would improve its uptake.

JohnMu: "That's not going to happen"Image from Twitter.com recovered from Wayback Machine, June 2024

If we think about this logically, using Google Analytics data as a ranking factor would be really hard to police.

For instance, using filters could manipulate data to make it seem like the site was performing in a way that it isn’t really.

What is good performance anyway?

High “time on page” might be good for some long-form content.

Low “time on page” could be understandable for shorter content.

Is either one right or wrong?

Google would also need to understand the intricate ways in which each Google Analytics account had been configured.

Some might be excluding all known bots, and others might not. Some might use custom dimensions and channel groupings, and others haven’t configured anything.

Using this data reliably would be extremely complicated to do. Consider the hundreds of thousands of websites that use other analytics programs.

How would Google treat them?

This myth is another case of “causation, not correlation.”

A high sitewide bounce rate might be indicative of a quality problem, or it might not be. Low time on page could mean your site isn’t engaging, or it could mean your content is quickly digestible.

These metrics give you clues as to why you might not be ranking well, they aren’t the cause of it.

7. Google Cares About Domain Authority

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to measure the importance of a webpage.

Google used to display a page’s PageRank score a number up to 10 on its toolbar. It stopped updating the PageRank displayed in toolbars in 2013.

In 2016, Google confirmed that the PageRank toolbar metric was not going to be used going forward.

In the absence of PageRank, many other third-party authority scores have been developed.

Commonly known ones are:

  • Moz’s Domain Authority and Page Authority scores.
  • Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow.
  • Ahrefs’ Domain Rating and URL Rating.

Some SEO pros use these scores to determine the “value” of a page.

That calculation can never be an entirely accurate reflection of how a search engine values a page, however.

SEO pros will sometimes refer to the ranking power of a website often in conjunction with its backlink profile and this, too, is known as the domain’s authority.

You can see where the confusion lies.

Google representatives have dispelled the notion of a domain authority metric used by them.

John Mueller said in 2022:

“We don’t use domain authority. We generally try to have our metrics as granular as possible, sometimes that’s not so easy, in which case we look at things a bit broader (e.g., we’ve talked about this in regards to some of the older quality updates).”

Tweet by JohnMuImage from Twitter.com recovered through Wayback Machine, June 2024

8. Longer Content Is Better

You will have definitely heard it said before that longer content ranks better.

More words on a page automatically make yours more rank-worthy than your competitor’s. This is “wisdom” that is often shared around SEO forums without little evidence to substantiate it.

There are a lot of studies that have been released over the years that state facts about the top-ranking webpages, such as “on average pages in the top 10 positions in the SERPs have over 1,450 words on them.”

It would be quite easy for someone to take this information in isolation and assume it means that pages need approximately 1,500 words to rank on Page 1. That isn’t what the study is saying, however.

Unfortunately, this is an example of correlation, not necessarily causation.

Just because the top-ranking pages in a particular study happened to have more words on them than the pages ranking 11th and lower does not make word count a ranking factor.

Mueller dispelled this myth yet again in a Google SEO Office Hours in February 2021.

“From our point of view the number of words on a page is not a quality factor, not a ranking factor.”

For more information on how content length can impact SEO, check out Sam Hollingsworth’s article.

9. LSI Keywords Will Help You Rank

What exactly are LSI keywords? LSI stands for “latent semantic indexing.”

It is a technique used in information retrieval that allows concepts within the text to be analyzed and relationships between them identified.

Words have nuances dependent on their context. The word “right” has a different connotation when paired with “left” than when it is paired with “wrong.”

Humans can quickly gauge concepts in a text. It is harder for machines to do so.

The ability of machines to understand the context and linking between entities is fundamental to their understanding of concepts.

LSI is a huge step forward for a machine’s ability to understand text. What it isn’t is synonyms.

Unfortunately, the field of LSI has been devolved by the SEO community into the understanding that using words that are similar or linked thematically will boost rankings for words that aren’t expressly mentioned in the text.

It’s simply not true. Google has gone far beyond LSI in its understanding of text with the introduction of BERT, as just one example.

For more about what LSI is and how it does or doesn’t affect rankings, take a look at this article.

10. SEO Takes 3 Months

It helps us get out of sticky conversations with our bosses or clients. It leaves a lot of wiggle room if you aren’t getting the results you promised. “SEO takes at least three months to have an effect.”

It is fair to say that there are some changes that will take time for the search engine bots to process.

There is then, of course, some time to see if those changes are having a positive or negative effect. Then more time might be needed to refine and tweak your work.

That doesn’t mean that any activity you carry out in the name of SEO is going to have no effect for three months. Day 90 of your work will not be when the ranking changes kick in. There is a lot more to it than that.

If you are in a very low-competition market, targeting niche terms, you might see ranking changes as soon as Google recrawls your page. A competitive term could take much longer to see changes in rank.

A study by Semrush suggested that of the 28,000 domains they analyzed, only 19% of domains started ranking in the top 10 positions within six months and managed to maintain those rankings for the rest of the 13-month study.

This study indicates that newer pages struggle to rank high.

However, there is more to SEO than ranking in the top 10 of Google.

For instance, a well-positioned Google Business Profile listing with great reviews can pay dividends for a company. Bing, Yandex, and Baidu might make it easier for your brand to conquer the SERPs.

A small tweak to a page title could see an improvement in click-through rates. That could be the same day if the search engine were to recrawl the page quickly.

Although it can take a long time to see first page rankings in Google, it is naïve of us to reduce SEO success just down to that.

Therefore, “SEO takes 3 months” simply isn’t accurate.

11. Bounce Rate Is A Ranking Factor

Bounce rate is the percentage of visits to your website that result in no interactions beyond landing on the page. It is typically measured by a website’s analytics program, such as Google Analytics.

Some SEO professionals have argued that bounce rate is a ranking factor because it is a measure of quality.

Unfortunately, it is not a good measure of quality.

There are many reasons why a visitor might land on a webpage and leave again without interacting further with the site. They may well have read all the information they needed on that page and left the site to call the company and book an appointment.

In that instance, the visitor bouncing has resulted in a lead for the company.

Although a visitor leaving a page having landed on it could be an indicator of poor quality content, it isn’t always. Therefore, it wouldn’t be reliable enough for a search engine to use as a measure of quality.

“Pogo-sticking,” or a visitor clicking on a search result and then returning to the SERPs, would be a more reliable indicator of the quality of the landing page.

It would suggest that the content of the page was not what the user was after, so much so that they have returned to the search results to find another page or re-search.

John Mueller cleared this up (again) during Google Webmaster Central Office Hours in June 2020. He was asked if sending users to a login page would appear to be a “bounce” to Google and damage their rankings:

“So, I think there is a bit of misconception here, that we’re looking at things like the analytics bounce rate when it comes to ranking websites, and that’s definitely not the case.”

Back on another Google Webmaster Central Office Hours in July 2018, he also said:

“We try not to use signals like that when it comes to search. So that’s something where there are lots of reasons why users might go back and forth, or look at different things in the search results, or stay just briefly on a page and move back again. I think that’s really hard to refine and say, “well, we could turn this into a ranking factor.”

So, why does this keep coming up? Well, for a lot of people, it’s because of this one paragraph in Google’s How Search Works:

“Beyond looking at keywords, our systems also analyze if content is relevant to a query in other ways. We also use aggregated and anonymised interaction data to assess whether Search results are relevant to queries.”

The issue with this is that Google doesn’t specify what this “aggregated and anonymised interaction data” is. This has led to a lot of speculation and of course, arguments.

My opinion? Until we have some more conclusive studies, or hear something else from Google, we need to keep testing to determine what this interaction data is.

For now, regarding the traditional definition of a bounce,  I’m leaning towards “myth.”

In itself, bounce rate (measured through the likes of Google Analytics) is a very noisy, easily manipulated figure. Could something akin to a bounce be a ranking signal? Absolutely, but it will need to be a reliable, repeatable data point that genuinely measures quality.

In the meantime, if your pages are not satisfying user intent, that is definitely something you need to work on – not simply because of bounce rate.

Fundamentally, your pages should encourage users to interact, or if not that sort of page, at least leave your site with a positive brand association.

12. It’s All About Backlinks

Backlinks are important – that’s without much contention within the SEO community. However, exactly how important is still debated.

Some SEO pros will tell you that backlinks are one of the many tactics that will influence rankings, but they are not the most important. Others will tell you it’s the only real game-changer.

What we do know is that the effectiveness of links has changed over time. Back in the wild pre-Jagger days, link-building consisted of adding a link to your website wherever you could.

Forum comments had spun articles, and irrelevant directories were all good sources of links.

It was easy to build effective links. It’s not so easy now.

Google has continued to make changes to its algorithms that reward higher-quality, more relevant links and disregard or penalize “spammy” links.

However, the power of links to affect rankings is still great.

There will be some industries that are so immature in SEO that a site can rank well without investing in link-building, purely through the strength of their content and technical efficiency.

That’s not the case with most industries.

Relevant backlinks will, of course, help with ranking, but they need to go hand-in-hand with other optimizations. Your website still needs to have relevant content, and it must be crawlable.

If you want your traffic to actually do something when they hit your website, it’s definitely not all about backlinks.

Ranking is only one part of getting converting visitors to your site. The content and usability of the site are extremely important in user engagement.

Following the slew of Helpful Content updates and a better understanding of what Google considers E-E-A-T, we know that content quality is extremely important.

Backlinks can definitely help to indicate that a page would be useful to a reader, but there are many other factors that would suggest that, too.

13. Keywords In URLs Are Very Important

Cram your URLs full of keywords. It’ll help.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as powerful as that.

John Mueller has said several times that keywords in a URL are a very minor, lightweight ranking signal.

In a Google SEO Office Hours in 2021, he affirmed again:

“We use the words in a URL as a very, very lightweight factor. And from what I recall, this is primarily something that we would take into account when we haven’t had access to the content yet.

So, if this is the absolute first time we see this URL and we don’t know how to classify its content, then we might use the words in the URL as something to help rank us better.

But as soon as we’ve crawled and indexed the content there, then we have a lot more information.”

If you are looking to rewrite your URLs to include more keywords, you are likely to do more damage than good.

The process of redirecting URLs en masse should be when necessary, as there is always a risk when restructuring a site.

For the sake of adding keywords to a URL? Not worth it.

14. Website Migrations Are All About Redirects

SEO professionals hear this too often. If you are migrating a website, all you need to do is remember to redirect any URLs that are changing.

If only this one were true.

In actuality, website migration is one of the most fraught and complicated procedures in SEO.

A website changing its layout, content management system (CMS), domain, and/or content can all be considered a website migration.

In each of those examples, there are several aspects that could affect how the search engines perceive the quality and relevance of the pages to their targeted keywords.

As a result, there are numerous checks and configurations that need to occur if the site is to maintain its rankings and organic traffic – ensuring tracking hasn’t been lost, maintaining the same content targeting, and making sure the search engine bots can still access the right pages.

All of this needs to be considered when a website is significantly changing.

Redirecting URLs that are changing is a very important part of website migration. It is in no way the only thing to be concerned about.

15. Well-Known Websites Will Always Outrank Unknown Websites

It stands to reason that a larger brand will have resources that smaller brands do not. As a result, more can be invested in SEO.

More exciting content pieces can be created, leading to a higher volume of backlinks acquired. The brand name alone can lend more credence to outreach attempts.

The real question is, does Google algorithmically or manually boost big brands because of their fame?

This one is a bit contentious.

Some people say that Google favors big brands. Google says otherwise.

In 2009, Google released an algorithm update named “Vince.” This update had a huge impact on how brands were treated in the SERPs.

Brands that were well-known offline saw ranking increases for broad competitive keywords. It stands to reason that brand awareness can help with discovery through Search.

It’s not necessarily time for smaller brands to throw in the towel.

The Vince update falls very much in line with other Google moves towards valuing authority and quality.

Big brands are often more authoritative on broad-level keywords than smaller contenders.

However, small brands can still win.

Long-tail keyword targeting, niche product lines, and local presence can all make smaller brands more relevant to a search result than established brands.

Yes, the odds are stacked in favor of big brands, but it’s not impossible to outrank them.

  • Verdict: Not entirely truth or myth.

16. Your Page Needs To Include ‘Near Me’ To Rank Well For Local SEO

It’s understandable that this myth is still prevalent.

There is still a lot of focus on keyword search volumes in the SEO industry, sometimes at the expense of considering user intent and how the search engines understand it.

When a searcher is looking for something with local intent, i.e., a place or service relevant to a physical location, the search engines will take this into consideration when returning results.

With Google, you will likely see the Google Maps results as well as the standard organic listings.

The Maps results are clearly centered around the location searched. However, so are the standard organic listings when the search query denotes local intent.

So, why do “near me” searches confuse some?

A typical keyword research exercise might yield something like the following:

  • “pizza restaurant manhattan” – 110 searches per month.
  • “pizza restaurants in manhattan” – 110 searches per month.
  • “best pizza restaurant manhattan” – 90 searches per month.
  • “best pizza restaurants in manhattan” – 90 searches per month.
  • “best pizza restaurant in manhattan”– 90 searches per month.
  • “pizza restaurants near me” – 90,500 searches per month.

With search volume like that, you would think [pizza restaurants near me] would be the one to rank for, right?

It is likely, however, that people searching for [pizza restaurant manhattan] are in the Manhattan area or planning to travel there for pizza.

[pizza restaurant near me] has 90,500 searches across the USA. The likelihood is that the vast majority of those searchers are not looking for Manhattan pizzas.

Google knows this and, therefore, will serve pizza restaurant results relevant to the searcher’s location.

Therefore, the “near me” element of the search becomes less about the keyword and more about the intent behind the keyword. Google will just consider it to be the location the searcher is in.

So, do you need to include “near me” in your content to rank for those [near me] searches?

No, you need to be relevant to the location the searcher is in.

17. Better Content Equals Better Rankings

It’s prevalent in SEO forums and X (formally Twitter) threads. The common complaint is, “My competitor is ranking above me, but I have amazing content, and theirs is terrible.”

The cry is one of indignation. After all, shouldn’t search engines reward sites for their “amazing” content?

This is both a myth and sometimes a delusion.

The quality of content is a subjective consideration. If it is your own content, it’s harder still to be objective.

Perhaps in Google’s eyes, your content isn’t better than your competitors’ for the search terms you are looking to rank for.

Perhaps you don’t meet searcher intent as well as they do. Maybe you have “over-optimized” your content and reduced its quality.

In some instances, better content will equal better rankings. In others, the technical performance of the site or its lack of local relevance may cause it to rank lower.

Content is one factor within the ranking algorithms.

18. You Need To Blog Every Day

This is a frustrating myth because it seems to have spread outside of the SEO industry.

Google loves frequent content. You should add new content or tweak existing content daily for “freshness.”

Where did this idea come from?

Google had an algorithm update in 2011 that rewards fresher results in the SERPs.

This is because, for some queries, the fresher the results, the better the likelihood of accuracy.

For instance, if you search for [royal baby] in the UK in 2013, you will be served with news articles about Prince George. Search it again in 2015, and you will see pages about Princess Charlotte.

In 2018, you would see reports about Prince Louis at the top of the Google SERPs, and in 2019 it would be baby Archie.

If you were to search [royal baby] in 2021, shortly after the birth of Lilibet, then seeing news articles on Prince George would likely be unhelpful.

In this instance, Google discerns the user’s search intent and decides showing articles related to the newest UK royal baby would be better than showing an article that is arguably more rank-worthy due to authority, etc.

What this algorithm update doesn’t mean is that newer content will always outrank older content. Google decides if the “query deserves freshness” or not.

If it does, then the age of content becomes a more important ranking factor.

This means that if you are creating content purely to make sure it is newer than competitors’ content, you are not necessarily going to benefit.

If the query you are looking to rank for does not deserve freshness, i.e., [who is Prince William’s third child?] a fact that will not change, then the age of content will not play a significant part in rankings.

If you are writing content every day thinking it is keeping your website fresh and, therefore, more rank-worthy, then you are likely wasting time.

It would be better to write well-considered, researched, and useful content pieces less frequently and reserve your resources to make those highly authoritative and shareable.

19. You Can Optimize Copy Once & Then It’s Done

The phrase “SEO optimized” copy is a common one in agency-land.

It’s used as a way to explain the process of creating copy that will be relevant to frequently searched queries.

The trouble with this is that it suggests that once you have written that copy – and ensured it adequately answers searchers’ queries – you can move on.

Unfortunately, over time, how searchers look for content might change. The keywords they use, the type of content they want could alter.

The search engines, too, may change what they feel is the most relevant answer to the query. Perhaps the intent behind the keyword is perceived differently.

The layout of the SERPs might alter, meaning videos are being shown at the top of the search results where previously it was just webpage results.

If you look at a page only once and then don’t continue to update it and evolve it with user needs, then you risk falling behind.

20. Google Respects The Declared Canonical URL As The Preferred Version For Search Results

This can be very frustrating. You have several pages that are near duplicates of each other. You know which one is your main page, the one you want to rank, the “canonical.” You tell Google that through the specially selected “rel=canonical” tag.

You’ve chosen it. You’ve identified it in the HTML.

Google ignores your wishes, and another of the duplicate pages ranks in its place.

The idea that Google will take your chosen page and treat it like the canonical out of a set of duplicates isn’t a challenging one.

It makes sense that the website owner would know best which page should be the one that ranks above its cousins. However, Google will sometimes disagree.

There may be instances where another page from the set is chosen by Google as a better candidate to show in the search results.

This could be because the page receives more backlinks from external sites than your chosen page. It could be that it’s included in the sitemap or is being linked to your main navigation.

Essentially, the canonical tag is a signal – one of many that will be taken into consideration when Google chooses which page from a set of duplicates should rank.

If you have conflicting signals on your site, or externally, then your chosen canonical page may be overlooked in favor of another page.

Want to know if Google has selected another URL to be the canonical despite your canonical tag? In Google Search Console, in the Index Coverage report, you might see this: “Duplicate, Google chose different canonical than user.”

Google’s support documents helpfully explain what this means:

“This page is marked as canonical for a set of pages, but Google thinks another URL makes a better canonical. Google has indexed the page that we consider canonical rather than this one.”

21. Google Has 3 Top Ranking Factors

It’s links, content, and Rank Brain, right?

This idea that these are the three top ranking factors seems to come from a WebPromo Q&A in 2016 with Andrei Lipattsev, a search quality senior strategist at Google at the time (recovered through Wayback Machine; find this discussion at around the 30-minute mark).

When questioned on the “other two” top ranking factors, the questioner assumed that Rank Brain was one, Lipattsev stated that links pointing to a site, and content were the other two. He does clarify by saying:

“Third place is a hotly contested issue. I think… It’s a funny one. Take this with a grain of salt. […] And so I guess, if you do that, then you’ll see elements of RankBrain having been involved in here, rewriting this query, applying it like this over here… And so you’d say, ‘I see this two times as often as the other thing, and two times as often as the other thing’. So it’s somewhere in number three.

It’s not like having three links is ‘X’ important, and having five keywords is ‘Y’ important, and RankBrain is some ‘Z’ factor that is also somehow important, and you multiply all of that … That’s not how this works.”

However it started, the concept prevails. A good backlink profile, great copy, and “Rank Brain” type signals are what matter most with rankings, according to many SEO pros.

What we have to take into consideration when reviewing this idea is John Mueller’s response to a question in a 2017 English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout.

Mueller is asked if there is a one-size-fits-all approach to the top three ranking signals in Google. His answer is a clear “No.”

He follows that statement with a discussion around the timeliness of searches and how that might require different search results to be shown.

He also mentions that depending on the context of the search, different results may need to be shown, for instance, brand or shopping.

He continues to explain that he doesn’t think that there is one set of ranking factors that can be declared the top three that apply to all search results all the time.

Within the “How Search Works” documentation it clearly states:

“To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors and signals, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings.

The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query. For example, the freshness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics than it does about dictionary definitions. ”

  • Verdict: Not entirely true or myth.

22. Use The Disavow File To Proactively Maintain A Site’s Link Profile

To disavow or not disavow — this question has popped up a lot over the years since Penguin 4.0.

Some SEO professionals are in favor of adding any link that could be considered spammy to their site’s disavow file. Others are more confident that Google will ignore them anyway and save themselves the trouble.

It’s definitely more nuanced than that.

In a 2019 Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout, Mueller was asked about the disavow tool and whether we should have confidence that Google is ignoring medium (but not very) spammy links.

His answer indicated that there are two instances where you might want to use a disavow file:

  • In cases where a manual action has been given.
  • And where you might think if someone from the webspam team saw it, they would issue a manual action.

You might not want to add every spammy link to your disavow file. In practice, that could take a long time if you have a very visible site that accrues thousands of these links a month.

There will be some links that are obviously spammy, and their acquisition is not a result of activity on your part.

However, where they are a result of some less-than-awesome link building strategies (buying links, link exchanges, etc.) you may want to proactively disavow them.

Read Roger Montti’s full breakdown of the 2019 exchange with John Mueller to get a better idea of the context around this discussion.

  • Verdict: Not a myth, but don’t waste your time unnecessarily.

23. Google Values Backlinks From All High Authority Domains

The better the website authority, the bigger the impact it will have on your site’s ability to rank. You will hear that in many SEO pitches, client meetings, and training sessions.

However, that’s not the whole story.

For one, it’s arguable whether Google has a concept of domain authority (see “Google Cares About Domain Authority” above).

And more importantly, it is the understanding that there is a lot that goes into Google’s calculations of whether a link will impact a site’s ability to rank highly or not.

Relevancy, contextual clues, no-follow link attributes. None of these should be ignored when chasing a link from a high “domain authority” website.

John Mueller also threw a cat among the pigeons during a live Search Off the Record podcast recorded at BrightonSEO in 2022 when he said:

“And to some extent, links will always be something that we care about because we have to find pages somehow. It’s like how do you find a page on the web without some reference to it?” But my guess is over time, it won’t be such a big factor as sometimes it is today. I think already, that’s something that’s been changing quite a bit.”

24. You Cannot Rank A Page Without Lightning-Fast Loading Speed

There are many reasons to make your pages fast: usability, crawlability, and conversion. Arguably, it is important for the health and performance of your website, and that should be enough to make it a priority.

However, is it something that is absolutely key to ranking your website?

As this Google Search Central post from 2010 suggests, it was definitely something that factored into the ranking algorithms. Back when it was published, Google stated:

“While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal in our implementation and the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on Google.com at this point.”

Is it still only affecting such a low percentage of visitors?

In 2021, the Google Page Experience system, which incorporates the Core Web Vitals for which speed is important, rolled out on mobile. It was followed in 2022 with a rollout of the system to desktop.

This was met with a flurry of activity from SEO pros, trying to get ready for the update.

Many perceive it to be something that would make or break their site’s ranking potential. However, over time, Google representatives have downplayed the ranking effect of Core Web Vitals.

More recently, in May 2023, Google introduced Interaction to Next Paint (INP) to the Core Web Vitals to replace First Input Delay (FID).

Google claims that INP helps to deal with some of the limitations found with FID. This change in how a page’s responsiveness is measured shows that Google still cares about accurately measuring user experience.

From Google’s previous statements and recent focus on Core Web Vitals, we can see that load speed continues to be an important ranking factor.

However, it will not necessarily cause your website to dramatically increase or decrease in rankings.

Google representatives Gary Illyes, Martin Splitt, and John Mueller hypothesized in 2021 during a “Search off the Record” podcast about the weighting of speed as a ranking factor.

Their discussion drew out the thinking around page load speed as a ranking metric and how it would need to be considered a fairly lightweight signal.

They went on to talk about it being more of a tie-breaker, as you can make an empty page lightning-fast, but it will not serve much use for a searcher.

John Mueller reinforced this in 2022 during Google SEO Office Hours when he said:

“Core Web Vitals is definitely a ranking factor. We have that for mobile and desktop now. It is based on what users actually see and not kind of a theoretical test of your pages […] What you don’t tend to see is big ranking changes overall for that.

But rather, you would see changes for queries where we have similar content in the search results. So if someone is searching for your company name, we would not show some random blog, just because it’s a little bit faster, instead of your homepage.

We would show your homepage, even if it’s very slow. On the other hand, if someone is searching for, I don’t know, running shoes, and there are lots of people writing about running shoes, then that’s where the speed aspect does play a bit more of a role.”

With this in mind, can we consider page speed a major ranking factor?

My opinion is no, page speed is definitely one of the ways Google decides which pages should rank above others, but not a major one.

25. Crawl Budget Isn’t An Issue

Crawl budget – the idea that every time Googlebot visits your website, there is a limited number of resources it will visit – isn’t a contentious issue. However, how much attention should be paid to it is.

For instance, many SEO professionals will consider crawl budget optimization a central part of any technical SEO roadmap. Others will only consider it if a site reaches a certain size or complexity.

Google is a company with finite resources. It cannot possibly crawl every single page of every site every time its bots visit them. Therefore, some of the sites that get visited might not see all of their pages crawled every time.

Google has helpfully created a guide for owners of large and frequently updated websites to help them understand how to enable their sites to be crawled.

In the guide, Google states:

“If your site does not have a large number of pages that change rapidly, or if your pages seem to be crawled the same day that they are published, you don’t need to read this guide; merely keeping your sitemap up to date and checking your index coverage regularly is adequate.”

Therefore, it would seem that Google is in favor of some sites paying attention to its advice on managing crawl budget, but doesn’t consider it necessary for all.

For some sites, particularly ones that have a complex technical setup and many hundreds of thousands of pages, managing crawl budget is important. For those with a handful of easily crawled pages, it isn’t.

26. There Is A Right Way To Do SEO

This is probably a myth in many industries, but it seems prevalent in SEO. There is a lot of gatekeeping in SEO social media, forums, and chats.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

We know some core tenets about SEO.

Usually, something is stated by a search engine representative that has been dissected, tested, and ultimately declared true.

The rest is a result of personal and collective trial and error, testing, and experience.

Processes are extremely valuable within SEO business functions, but they have to evolve and be applied appropriately.

Different websites within different industries will respond to changes in ways others would not. Altering a meta title so it is under 60 characters long might help the click-through rate for one page and not for another.

Ultimately, we have to hold any SEO advice we’re given lightly before deciding whether it is right for the website you are working on.

When Can Something Appear To Be A Myth

Sometimes an SEO technique can be written off as a myth by others purely because they have not experienced success from carrying out this activity for their own site.

It is important to remember that every website has its own industry, set of competitors, the technology powering it, and other factors that make it unique.

Blanket application of techniques to every website and expecting them to have the same outcome is naive.

Someone may not have had success with a technique when they have tried it in their highly competitive vertical.

It doesn’t mean it won’t help someone in a less competitive industry have success.

Causation & Correlation Being Confused

Sometimes, SEO myths arise because of an inappropriate connection between an activity that was carried out and a rise in organic search performance.

If an SEO has seen a benefit from something they did, then it is natural that they would advise others to try the same.

Unfortunately, we’re not always great at separating causation and correlation.

Just because rankings or click-through rates increased around the same time as you implemented a new tactic doesn’t mean it caused the increase. There could be other factors at play.

Soon, an SEO myth will arise from an overeager SEO who wants to share what they incorrectly believe to be a golden ticket.

Steering Clear Of SEO Myths

It can save you from experiencing headaches, lost revenue, and a whole lot of time if you learn to spot SEO myths and act accordingly.

Test

The key to not falling for SEO myths is making sure you can test advice whenever possible.

If you have been given the advice that structuring your page titles a certain way will help your pages rank better for their chosen keywords, then try it with one or two pages first.

This can help you measure whether making a change across many pages will be worth the time before you commit to it.

Is Google Just Testing?

Sometimes, there will be a big uproar in the SEO community because of changes in the way Google displays or orders search results.

These changes are often tested in the wild before they are rolled out to more search results.

Once a big change has been spotted by one or two SEO pros, advice on how to optimize for it begins to spread.

Remember the favicons in the desktop search results? The upset that caused the SEO industry (and Google users in general) was vast.

Suddenly, articles sprang up about the importance of favicons in attracting users to your search results. There was barely time to study whether favicons would impact the click-through rate that much.

Because just like that, Google changed it back.

Before you jump for the latest SEO advice being spread around Twitter as a result of a change by Google, wait to see if it will hold.

It could be that the advice that appears sound now will quickly become a myth if Google rolls back changes.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Search Engine Journal/Paulo Bobita



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