9 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in Your Digital Marketing Efforts in 2022

9 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in Your Digital Marketing Efforts in 2022

It’s no myth that the internet and the world of digital marketing is a constantly evolving minefield. What worked two years ago, or even ten months ago, might not work today as our online habits change and new patterns are tracked. 

It's 2022, and as Speak’s resident SEO expert, I’m putting on my best Sherlock Holmes hat and uncovering some common SEO myths that aren't applicable to websites any longer. Some are old ways of thinking that, while once true, are shifting with the digital tides. Others are made up entirely, but are still frequently asked questions by clients and marketers alike. 

To get the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, we skipped the guessing games and went directly to the source. I recently spoke with an expert at Google who filled me in on what truly are best practices for SEO in 2022. So, read on as we debunk some common myths surrounding search engine optimization (SEO) and get a masterclass in speaking Google’s language. 

Myth #1: “Page titles should be under 70 characters.” 

While Google does only display up to 70 characters on the search engine results pages (SERP), it will not actually affect your rankings if your page title is longer than 70 characters or gets cut off on the SERP. Having a longer title will not negatively impact a page. 

The 70-characters number is a made-up external metric by auditing software like Moz and SEMRush, but it is not actually Google’s recommendation.

Of course, you want to aim for quickly digestible titles that will be understood when found on the SERP, so we do recommend aiming for a level of brevity in your page titles and H1s, but the worst that can happen if your title goes beyond the made-up 70 character limit is that a title will be cut off from displaying entirely. 

Myth #2: “Click-Through Rate (CTR) is a ranking factor.” 

Don’t get me wrong – CTR is a valuable metric, but according to Google, it won’t actually impact your search rankings positively or negatively. 

Google has confirmed that CTR is used alongside other engagement metrics in controlled search quality tests. It is also used for personalization: the types of results an individual typically chooses can “teach” Google’s algorithm which type of results that person prefers. However, it is not a direct ranking factor. 

The reason being: “If you think about it, clicks in general are incredibly noisy. People do weird things on the search result pages. They click around like crazy, and in general it’s really, really hard to clean up all that data.” 

Continue to use CTR to inform where people are clicking on your site, but don’t worry about it impacting your search rankings

Myth #3: “Quantity of backlinks matters.” 

Backlinks are part of a solid SEO strategy, but they won’t make or break your site’s rankings. This myth is a case of the age-old saying ringing true yet again: Quality > Quantity. 

According to Google: the total number of backlinks is actually irrelevant. Google’s John Mueller said recently, “the total number [of backlinks] is essentially completely irrelevant… You could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.” 

This means that site owners shouldn’t worry about the total number of links floating around the internet that point to their website, nor the total number of unique referring domains. 

What actually makes a difference in rankings? Mueller explained that a single link from a relevant or powerful source can be more beneficial to your rankings than several less relevant backlinks. 

Myth #4: “Duplicate content is a negative ranking factor.” 

It’s long been a struggle of website owners to avoid duplicate content for the purpose of maintaining a solid ranking on Google. We preach the importance of splintering content to make sure it’s being spread across pages on your website, your blog, social media, and other websites. It can be a challenge to do so while also avoiding duplicate content for the purpose of SEO. 

So, this good news from Google brings a sigh of relief: Duplicate content does not impact a site negatively in terms of search rankings, and Google won’t penalize for duplicate content. By that same token, having identical content in different content formats (example: a video and a blog) is not considered duplicate content, and doesn’t need to be a concern. 

According to Google: “If you have the same content on multiple pages, then we won’t show all of these pages. We’ll try to pick one of them and show [only] that. So it’s not that there’s any negative signal associated with that. In a lot of cases, it’s kind of normal that you have some amount of shared content across some of the pages.” 

There is a right way to approach duplicate content, though. Focus on making sure any duplicate content on your site brings value to the visitor experience. There’s no need to have carbon copies of pages or copied and pasted language in multiple places. If you want to spread your messaging across multiple places online, do so in a way that adds value, rather than simply adding more noise. 

Myth #5: “Competitive product price is a ranking factor.”

Good news for owners of e-commerce sites: offering competitive prices may attract customers, but it doesn’t actually impact rankings for e-commerce sites. 

According to Google: “Purely from a web search point of view, no, it’s not the case that we would try to recognize the price on a page and use that as a ranking factor. So it’s not the case that we would say, ‘we’ll take the cheaper one and rank that higher.’ I don’t think that would really make sense.” 

Pretty straightforward – we’re closing the file on this one. 

Myth #6: “Word count is a ranking factor.” 

Just as word count doesn’t matter in page titles, word count on your website pages is irrelevant to Google. If a shorter page communicates the same information as a longer page, Google will recognize that it offers the same value to searchers: 

“We don’t use word count for ranking. It’s fine to use word counts for yourself as a guideline for your content, if it encourages better content from your writers.” 

Don’t throw a focus on word count completely out the window – it’s still important to keep the user experience in mind when writing page copy and content, but don’t feel like you have to count every word to pass Google’s SERP test. 

Myth #7: “Keywords in the domain name are a ranking signal.” 

A website is not more likely to rank for a keyword because the keyword is in the domain name. It adds no extra value to Google: “Just because a website has a keyword in its domain name does not mean that it’s more relevant than others for that keyword. In short, you don’t need to put keywords in the domain name.” 

What about keywords in the page URL, you might ask? Google says these are only a very light signal. “Keywords in URLs are overrated for Google SEO. Make URLS for users, not for Google.” 

Myth #8: “404 errors and bounce rate are negative ranking factors.” 

I don’t have to tell you that 404 errors aren’t ideal to have on your site. But they’re bound to happen on even the most highly monitored websites. Google recognizes this, and doesn’t treat them as a negative ranking factor. The only instance, says Google, that would negatively impact your rankings is if the homepage is returning 404s. If you can avoid this, you’re in the clear.

As for bounce rates, Google says, “We try not to use signals like that when it comes to search. 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.’” 

We’ll chock this one up to saying, Google gets it. 

Myth #9: “You should only have one H1 per page.” 

This myth has been floating around for quite some time, so I’ll officially dispel it now. Google has never made the recommendation to have one H1 per page. Publishers are free to have more than one H1 tag on a page.

From Google: “You can use H1 tags as often as you want on a page. There’s no limit, neither upper or lower bound. Your site is going to rank perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags.”

Want more expert advice? 

So there you have it. Nine SEO myths to leave behind in 2022. Want even more tips on digital marketing best practices from a team of experts? Look no further than Speak. 

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Posted by Allison Brown at 08:44