In part 2 of this series, we will be discussing everything from pop-ups to HTML elements. If you missed part 1, you can access it here. As I said previously, Google is constantly updating their search algorithms. The most recent update happened on August 1st. Google has once again said pretty much the same thing. Produce great content and your rankings will climb. With that being said, let’s dive into some more SEO myths.
SEO Myth #6: Pop-ups will always hurt my ranking in search
As web designers, we stress to make websites clean, and user-friendly for our visitors but at the same time, we want to generate leads for our clients. Pop-up forms placed on websites are the perfect tool for generating leads. According to SumoMe, “the average conversion rate for all pop-ups is 3.09%.” So pop-ups do work but misuse of pop-ups over the years has led to questioning if marketers should use them. We all know that pop-ups can be annoying.
Even Google agrees. In August of 2016, Google announced that they now penalize websites that use “intrusive interstitials.” In layman’s terms, pop-ups that block the majority of the main content of a website.
The keyword here is “intrusive.” Google doesn’t penalize all pop-ups; only pop-ups that affect the user’s ability to access the content easily on mobile devices. Therefore, a pop-up that only blocks the top of the screen (a banner) will not be penalized. A pop-up that blocks the main content will be penalized.
Pop-ups, when used in helpful ways, can be a vital part of generating leads. Be sure that pop-ups on your site offer valuable relevant content to the visitors looking at a particular page. Make sure your pop-ups don’t sacrifice your users’ experiences and they will not affect your SERPs.
SEO Myth #7: Keyword optimization is the key to SEO
When search engines were first created, it was important to write your content with exact matches of your keyword. Not anymore. Google now uses Rankbrain, an AI learning algorithm. According to Moz.com, “RankBrain is a component of Google’s core algorithm which uses machine learning (the ability of machines to teach themselves from data inputs) to determine the most relevant results to search engine queries.” Essentially, when RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with it makes a guess as to what words or phrases have similar meanings. It then filters the results accordingly.
RankBrain is just one way Google has changed its search practices. With the rise of mobile & voice search, people have started to search more conversationally. In the beginning of search, users would type fragmented keywords to achieve results. Nowadays, users ask questions such as “What time is the Yankees Game”? (Don’t hate I’m from New Jersey.) Google’s updates since 2013 (Hummingbird) focused on understanding conversational search better through natural language processing.
In summary, the way keywords are currently being used has changed. Years ago, there were maybe 10 – 20 big keywords that would be used to rank for a topic. Nowadays, there are thousands of long-tail variations that are searched within a topic & change based on location. Search engines of the future will not punish sites for underusing keywords but they will continue to punish for keyword-stuffing.
SEO Myth #8: Keywords need to be an exact match
Keywords do not need to be repeated throughout a piece of content. In fact, as stated earlier, keyword-stuffing will negatively affect your SEO. Keyword-stuffing is a dangerous game and is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The goal in today’s search game is to inform the reader, not the search engine. Now, your headline SHOULD include your keyword.
That doesn’t mean that you should have an awkward headline just to somehow get your keyword in there. You should write a headline with about 4 – 9 words that clearly explain what the content is about. So, yes, do include your keyword where it makes sense. Building great content has a lot to do with context. Creating content with a mismatching headline would negatively affect your SERPs ranking.
SEO Myth #9: The H1 is the most important on-page element
Your H1 is still important, don’t get me wrong. It’s just no longer the most important element on your pages. According to Neil Patel, “The h1 is an HTML tag that indicates a heading on a website.” It is basically the headline of a web page. It should be the first words a visitor sees when going to a new page (not including the header). The H1 should be larger than the rest of the content. It basically screams “THIS IS WHAT THIS PAGE IS ABOUT!” This is not only good for SEO purposes but also for making your page easily readable for visitors. From a purely SEO standpoint, it now matters much less to have your target keyword as the first word in an H1 tag.
SEO Myth #10: My homepage needs a lot of content
Think of your homepage as your digital first impression. An all-access digital home for your business. In terms of a home, I know I like to keep my home neat and tidy, especially if I have company coming over. At the same time, I don’t want my home to be bare and boring. I want it to be warm and inviting. The same should go for your homepage. A cluttered homepage can cause confusion and deter guests from staying. A homepage that doesn’t convey your message will leave visitors lost as to what you do as a business. Your homepage content should clearly display who you are, what you do, where you’re located (if a local business), your value proposition, & what visitors should do next. Your site visitors should leave satisfied, neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed, & definitely not confused. Take a look at our homepage for an example.
In conclusion, there is a lot more to SEO than just keywords in today’s search environment. Proper use of pop-ups, compelling organized content, and an inviting homepage with clear definition of what you do all will help boost your SERPs rankings. Stay tuned for part 3 of this series.
If all this seems overwhelming or will consume too much of your time, swing by our SEO services page so we can help.
SEO & Web Design Manager
Blue Water Marketing