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Truths and Myths About SEO And Ranking Factors

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
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This article was written by Victoria Pickard.

Search engine optimization specialists (SEOs) across the world have their own opinions about ranking factors. Google’s search engine has at least 200 of them. Some are proven to be true, some are not well-received, and others are pure speculation on the part of SEOs.

For these professionals, keeping up with the latest trends and shifting rankings is a passion. But, for small businesses, it can be difficult. Here are a few basics about SEO truths and myths that can help your small business stay on track.

Domain age and length of registration

People have been saying that domain name age and the length of time a domain has been registered are major ranking factors. In the past and even today, webmasters and business owners have hunted for old domain names to register because of this.

In 2010, Matt Cutts said in response to a question regarding these factors, “So in general, how important is it for website authority? Well, my answer is not to worry that much.” This isn’t 100% clear, but John Muller was even more candid with his “no” here and here.

Verdict: It’s a myth.

Our tips: Don’t be too concerned about domain age and registration length. Focus more on having a website with strong content and a domain name that clearly represents your business. Also, consider backlink health and past ranking history if buying an old domain.

Using keywords in domain names

Keyword domains are those that consist of mostly or all main keywords. These are also known as exact match domains (EMDs). Many believe that these sites rank better because the domain names contain highly searchable keywords. For some time EMDs did rank better, but Google changed up their algorithm to make things more fair. This was helpful because many EMDs practiced spammy optimization techniques. In 2018, Google’s own John Mueller responded to a question about this issue to help clear things up.

Verdict: Today, this is a myth.

Our tips: Using a keyword heavy domain doesn’t really mean much for ranking these days. A lot of successful companies use more brandable domains (think Amazon, Facebook, and Yahoo!) rather than EMDs. Your online presence as a whole should be more important and your domain should be memorable.

Putting keywords in URLs

Using keywords in your URLs for relevancy is actually a factor in Google’s rankings. You may be confused about this and the above SEO myth, but think about it this way. The domain name and a URL are not actually the same. URLs refer to a page on a website rather than the domain name itself. Here’s an example.

Using a URL like “cheapphonerepair.net/cheapandroidrepair” looks weird and sounds spammy with the EMD. But, if your phone repair company has a catchy name and a keyword optimized URL for “cheap android repair,” your legitimate business will seem more so to searchers and likely search engines.

John Mueller has confirmed that although it can be helpful to use keywords in your urls, it isn’t so important in the grand scheme of things.

Verdict: This is an SEO truth. But, it isn’t all that significant.

Our tips: If you are creating new pages on your website, consider keyword optimization in the URLs. Think about what would help you website visitors more, though.

Using keywords in title tags

Title tags tell search engines about the information a page contains. Search engines also use the title tag to help present a snippet to people who may click into your website. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Martin Splitt, addressed the importance of metadata (including title tags) in a 2019 video.

Verdict: It’s a truth.

Our tips: Use natural titles for pages and title tags. Always consider what your website visitors want to see and what might help them, as well as SEO.

Optimizing for keywords in description tags

Unlike title tags, description tags can be long. They also help show what information is on a page. Using keywords in this part of your metadata only helps with creating snippets and, as an aside, SEO. Google specifically stopped using this as a ranking factor in 2009.

Verdict: This is a myth.

Our tips: Just because using keywords in this way isn’t a ranking factor doesn’t mean you should skip it. You can create attention-grabbing snippets to help bring people to your website and enhance your SEO that way.

Including keywords in your header tags

Some say optimized tags are a strong ranking factor. These tags, also known simply as H1 tags, act as a secondary title for your page. This appears on the page as the most prominent text (or it should, at least, for clarity). There are other tags (H2, H3, H4, etc…) that you can use to help structure the page for search engines and website visitors. Many people place one keyword or phrase in the H1 to help Google see what the page is about and increase their rankings in search.

Although many SEOs claim that using H1 tags will surely help boost rankings, in a Google Webmasters hangouts, John Mueller disagreed.

Verdict: Keywords in H1s SEEM to be a true ranking factor, but this issue is still up for debate with SEOs.

Our tips: Always use H1 tags appropriately by including one keyword or phrase for one page. Whether or not it is truly a ranking factor, taking this step helps search engines and readers see the focus of your content.

General SEO tips to remember

This is by no means a comprehensive list of ranking factors, but some examples to pay attention to. With so many categories of factors (domain, content, site structure, performance, links, etc…), it can be easy to become confused. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  • Don’t focus so much on ranking factors, but on creating content on every page that is beneficial to your potential customers. Your website should be easy to navigate, mobile friendly, and load fast too.
  • Keeping up with all of the changes that search engines make can be overwhelming. They make large and small updates all the time. Natural updates and changes also happen through the AIs that they use. Let a website agency handle this for you.
  • You need to have a strong online presence. Your website isn’t the only way to do this. Make sure that you have active social media too.
  • Every website is unique. You can be aware of what the experts say, but you need to make sure you are listening to what your own data is telling you.

Handling SEO with a digital marketing company

By teaming up with a local digital marketing and web design agency, you can have confidence in your online presence and focus on what YOU do best. The Team at UCI Digital is prepared to help you do just that! We offer a variety of Services to help you succeed in the digital realm. You can reach us at (806) 553-5332 or send us an
Email for more information.