Published on 04/07/19 by James Vjestica.
Where do these eCommerce SEO myths come from?
The world of SEO is not as concrete as Digital Marketers would necessarily like. Due to its forever evolving nature, marketers are always keeping track on the latest SEO developments and Google updates to stay ahead of the curve. However, this can lead to uncertainty, which in turn can create false information among the SEO community. In short, these SEO myths can cause havoc for your SEO strategy, especially in relation to your business’ website.
It is important to be cautious when looking into SEO information and advice; the main culprits of SEO myths include the following:
1. SEO con-artists
Quite often with SEO, individuals want – or even expect – fast results in terms of page ranking. This can unfortunately play into the hands of SEO con-artists who purposely provide false information as to how this can be achieved for their own financial gain. It is therefore important to research agencies or individuals you are looking to hire thoroughly as well as researching any big changes online.
2. Vague information
Blog posts are rife regarding SEO and are quite often published with good intentions. However, much like a game of ‘Chinese Whispers’, this information can be distorted among bloggers which can lead to the information being ambiguous and therefore unclear. Without clarity, it is difficult to effectively utilise an SEO marketing plan.
3. SEO evolution
SEO can be compared with a chameleon; they both constantly change to adapt to their environment. Due to Google updates, SEO is forever evolving which means that something that may have been effective for ranking previously, may now be outdated and ineffectual. It is therefore essential to keep up to date with what changes have been made to Googles algorithms and how this could affect your SEO strategy.
What are the top ten eCommerce SEO myths?
Although there are numerous ranking factors to take into consideration when utilising an SEO plan, there are also many myths which we should be equally aware of, if not more. Despite there being so many SEO myths, we have focussed on what we feel are the ten most common ones that arise daily. These myths include the following:
Myth 1 – Quantity over quality
The content of your pages is essential. Depending on how well these are written, they will highlight to Google what searches to rank your site on along with how high to rank it. In terms of ranking, certain aspects are considered including:
- Strong key words used throughout an article
- Use of quality backlinks
- Use of headers (predominantly h1’s and h2’s)
- Use of bullet points
- Mobile optimisation
- Ensure content is original and does not duplicate a third party
In other words, it would be more beneficial to have a 1000-word article with the above than a 2000 word article which is below standard. Quality content is key. However, be aware that page ranking can be a time-consuming process which requires a precise plan in order to drive quality traffic.
Top tip: Ensure your content is not duplicated as this will lead to Google omitting some pages due to their lack of quality and relevance.
Myth 2: Frequent use of keywords improves page ranking
Keywords are inevitably important, but that does not mean that no thought should be put into when to use them. While it is important to use keywords throughout your pages to help rank for specific queries, it can be harmful to your ranking if the keyword is overused. If keywords are overused for a topic, Google will perceive this as being manipulative and untrustworthy which will essentially lead to damaged page rankings.
Top tip: When writing an article, it is usually a good idea to write it naturally without obsessing over how many times to use your respective keyword. If you have planned what you are writing, the keyword will be included, and it will be a ‘tick’ in Google’s SEO box. However, do make a conscious effort to include the keyword in the title, first paragraph and where required throughout the article.
Myth 3: Links are irrelevant
Obtaining backlinks from credible external websites are still one of the most efficient strategies to strengthen your website’s SEO ranking on Google. Google essentially considers these links as trust signals, and the more trustworthy your site is perceived to be, the higher your website’s domain authority will be ranked. However, be aware that only quality links will boost your ranking. In fact, if you were to collect backlinks from poor and/or untrustworthy websites, this can have an adverse effect on your website as Google will be unimpressed with these links and potentially lower your ranking.
Top tip: One avenue to consider when searching for backlinks is to produce a PR strategy. Make a list of potential good news stories relating to your business. This could include new staff, mergers, new products, charity events, outstanding results etc. Once you have these, make another list of potential media organisations you could contact with your stories such as newspapers, online news websites or even niche blogging websites that are relevant to your respective practice area. These high domain authority websites will be considered trustworthy by Google and attaining their backlinks will therefore strengthen your website’s overall authority.
Myth 4: HTTPS will not affect your website’s ranking
Google made an announcement in September 2016 that any website without SSL would be marked as unsafe in their Chrome Browser. Essentially, ‘unsafe’ and ‘untrustworthy’ go hand in hand in Google’s view, which means that your domain authority and ranking will be negatively affected by not having SSL. Ensuring your website is secure with ‘HTTPS’ will solve this issue and potentially place you above any of your competitors who do not have SSL.
Top tip: It may be worth hiring a hosting provider who offers SSL certificates for maximising your website security.
Myth 5: Meta tags improve SERP
Although meta tags are important for your website, they do not necessarily boost your SEO ranking. Essentially, these are used to provide both search engines and visitors with information about your website. As these snippets are shown on Google, it is well worth spending the time to write clear and concise titles and meta descriptions to attract potential customers to your pages. However, just be aware that this will not impact the ranking of your website.
Top tip: When writing your meta descriptions, ensure that these are not too long and clearly outline what the respective page is about. Although meta tags do not have an impact on your ranking per se, they do go hand-in-hand with your keywords. Google likes to see your main keywords in the title and meta description of your pages as it makes it easier for them to find them when crawling your website. For this reason, it is imperative that you include your keywords in these sections to provide the best chance of a high Google ranking.
Myth 6: Increase organic ranking with Google Ads
According to Google themselves, this is a myth. Although a case could be made that appearing in both organic searches and paid ads leads to more overall clicks, there is no evidence to suggest that Google Ads will directly improve organic search rankings.
Top tip: It would be advisable to prioritise the organic ranking of your pages before delving into paid search as SEO offers better long-term value.
Myth 7: XML site maps improve search engine ranking
The idea that creating an XML sitemap using Google XML Sitemaps generator helps boost search ranking is a myth as Google crawler uses this file for indexing newly published content. An XML sitemap will help Google find your webpages but will not give any authority to what position these pages are ranked.
Myth 8: Google supports and endorses rel=next/prev pagination
Pagination is used when the volume of content is such that you spread it across several pages in order to upload it to your website and notify Google that it is part of a larger set of pages. This has previously been dictated to Google by the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” directive. It is widely believed that using these directives has been the correct way to deal with pagination and therefore be beneficial to your overall SEO, however this was quietly scrapped by Google several years ago.
Top tip: Google has since recommended to try and upload your content on a single page where possible as opposed to breaking it up into several pages. Google themselves have stated that ‘studies show that users love single-page content, aim for that when possible, but multi-part is also fine for Google Search. Know and do what’s best for *your* users!’.
Myth 9: Images do not need optimising
Neglecting to optimise your images was previously not an issue as websites would rank highly regardless. SEO has changed since then, meaning that excluding images can lead to your website not fulfilling its SEO potential.
Without an image ALT text search engines rely upon their image recognition technologies to understand an image, often incorrectly, so make sure you include this for every image. Optimising a relevant file name will also help Google to track down the image. Images indexed by Google include the following:
Images do not affect your webpages organic ranking directly, however, they can help generate additional SEO traffic by ranking well on image aggregating sites such as Google Images. Google images is separate to the main search engine and as such offers an opportunity for images used on-site to rank and generate a new stream of traffic.
Top tip: In addition to alt text and file name, you should also include the location within your content. It is also strongly advisable to input keywords as your alt text and file name along with including descriptive titles and captions.
Myth 10: SEO ranking is a quick fix
Sadly, this just is not the case; SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. For this reason, it is important to stay up to date with any Google updates that have been made to ensure your pages do not get left behind in the SEO wilderness. However, once any amendments have been made, it can take weeks, or even months, for Google to recognise these changes and rank both your page and overall domain authority accordingly.
SEO is a long-term strategy that focuses on slowly building up content and backlinks over time.
If an external agency offers you an overnight solution to any ranking issues, avoid at all costs! It’s likely they will use black-hat techniques that may hurt your long-term strategy.
Top tip: Firstly, ensure you have an in-depth SEO plan in terms of how your pages should be structured to essentially tick all the boxes for Google to approve. When planning, think carefully about the keyword(s) you will use for each respective page, which may require an element of trial and error. In order to select a successful keyword, you must ideally choose one that is actively searched for, but without it being too saturated on Google search. When choosing your keywords, actively look to see if these are being used by your competitors. If so, tweak the keyword so that you increase the probability of it being highly ranked due to it being slightly more unique.
You can compare the search volume of keywords by clicking here for Keyword Planner.
How can you keep up to date with eCommerce SEO?
You can actively stay ahead of SEO trends by keeping an eye on any updates that Google announce. These may provide insights into what SEO changes may be made due to these. Once you know what is being changed in Googles algorithm, you should tweak your SEO strategy accordingly as failing to do so could have a negative ranking impact on your organic rankings.
However, SEO is constantly evolving, which can make it difficult to keep ahead of the curve. Another option is to hire a team of SEO professionals who you can trust to do this on your behalf, leaving you with the time to focus on other business commitments. Given the complexities of SEO, you must make the wise decision when choosing which agency to use, as anything less than excellence could potentially not see a return on investment (ROI).
It is also useful to follow a few industry experts and digital marketing aggregation websites as they tend to break news on all important industry changes first.
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