Five myths you may have heard about technical SEO

September 29, 2020 by Aimee

When trying to implement an effective SEO strategy, you can fall prey to myths and untruths that can throw your best-laid plans off track. No, SEO is not dead, and it’s not just something you can set and forget about. Here are five other common myths.

Long-tail keywords are easier to target

There is often a misconception that long-tail keywords are easier to target and rank for compared to head terms that drive large search volumes. While long-tail keywords attract fewer searches over a given period, this does not mean that they can be used to boost rankings for more esoteric or niche queries.

This is because keyword difficulty, a metric that tracks the ranking difficulty of a word or phrase, can be very similar for both high-volume and low-volume keywords. Long-tail keywords are more specific and longer in length, hence the name, but are not a silver bullet for better rankings.

Google will penalise duplicate content

Duplicate content is defined as any copy that appears on two or more pages, either on the same site or across multiple domains. It is not desirable as it can undermine SEO strategies, but Google has stated on several occasions that there is not a specific search penalty for any websites that continue to host duplicate content. You can find out if you have any issues with this by running a site audit and checking the final report.

Google only ranks new content

Publishing new content is very important, especially as Google uses a ‘freshness’ signal in its ranking algorithm, but there are times when an article or a blog can continue to rank near the top of SERPs even though it was published several years ago.

This usually occurs when freshness does not have a negative impact on the quality of the content. For example, Google currently ranks a page from 2013 at the top of search for the query, ‘how to tie a tie’. The answer to this question is the same now as it was seven years ago, so freshness does not factor into it.

PageRank is not relevant anymore

PageRank is an algorithm that measures a webpage’s authority. Google has confirmed that it continues to be a ranking factor, but its decision to discontinue public scores for the metric back in 2016 has caused confusion. Some SEOs now claim that it is no longer relevant for this reason.

However, PageRank is still used by Google when ranking content, and research shows that the metric aligns quite closely with organic search traffic, which highlights its value.

SEO should focus on first-place rankings

The top position in search rankings is the best place to be, but it does not always translate to higher levels of traffic. A recent study of 100,000 branded search queries found that the first listing only gets the most overall traffic from search 49% of the time. Perhaps surprisingly, pages between fifth and 10th are able to drive the most traffic for 10% of queries.

This suggests that a first-place-or-bust mindset is foolish because pages can rank for more than one keyword and thus generate higher levels of traffic overall. The key is an effective SEO strategy that aligns search intent with the right content.