The most common SEO myths and how to debunk them

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8 Minutes
The most common SEO myths and how to debunk them

Keeping up to date with the latest SEO updates and best practice can be challenging for any business.

Google updates its algorithm on a frequent basis and the correct way to deal with the changes can be confusing. This guide highlights the most common myths about how SEO works and how you can debunk them to improve your rankings in 2019.

Having an XML sitemap will boost your search rankings

An XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website that helps Google discover and crawl all your important pages. This includes pages that lack internal links which would otherwise be difficult to find.

What the sitemap doesn’t do is index your pages. Once crawled, the pages will only be indexed by Google if it deems them good enough quality, so always ensure your pages contain useful, well written content. So whilst a sitemap can increase your chances of getting pages indexed, it will not directly benefit your SEO.

A good way to upload an XML sitemap for your site is through an SEO plugin. For example, the Google XML Sitemaps generator plugin for WordPress websites will automatically update the sitemap with your new pages and submit it to Google and other search engines, enabling the pages to be crawled and indexed.

Hire an agency that promises top position rankings

Beware of any agency or SEO professional that guarantees you a first page position on Google. Rankings are unstable and Google regularly implements changes and updates to its algorithm which make rankings impossible to control. Local results will also skew rankings so depending on your physical location, the results will be different as Google works to deliver customised search results that match your location.  

Whilst an agency can help you implement white hat SEO techniques that will help to improve your visibility, it is not possible to guarantee a first page position and you should always treat any such promises with caution.

I have a small business so SEO doesn’t matter to me

Wrong! SEO is just as applicable to small business as it is to larger organisations. In fact, if you’re a small company with a limited marketing budget, SEO can be done relatively inexpensively. Many agencies provide affordable SEO packages so you can choose an option that best suits your budget.

By installing an SEO plugin on your site, you can optimise content with on-page elements such as titles and descriptions. Providing useful content is a huge part of today’s SEO so you should make the time to write compelling blog posts and content for your pages which will provide a solution to the user’s problem. This is turn will make the content more shareable and boost your SEO.

I need to submit my new site to Google

There is no need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results. Google’s crawler, Googlebot, will automatically discover your pages and add them to its search page index in due time. Submitting your URL to Google is still possible but does not guarantee anything.

Having an SSL encrypted site isn’t important

Have you noticed that some URLs start with 'https' and others start with 'http'? The extra ’s’ at the end stands for ‘secure’ and refers to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology which is used to encrypt data submitted through your website to keep it safe from hackers.  

In August 2014, Google announced that it had started using HTTPS as a ranking signal. Then in 2017 Google started issuing a ‘not secure’ warning to users visiting an HTTP site in Chrome. From a usability and SEO perspective, it’s essential you have SSL enabled on your site. It will boost your rankings, keep your data and website safe and act as a trust signal to users that you take data privacy seriously.

Meta descriptions matter for rankings

A meta description is an HTML attribute that summarises the contents of your page and appears as a preview snippet on the search results page.

In 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions have no bearing on search rankings. They do however affect clickthrough rates and can help to differentiate you from the competition in search results.

Descriptions can be easily updated using an SEO plugin. Make them descriptive, unique for each page and front load them with your keywords to demonstrate their relevance to users.

H1 tags increase search rankings

H1 tags are important elements, but there is no clear indication that they can boots your search rankings. In fact, SEO guru Rand Fishkin advises that heading styles no longer matter in today’s SEO - it is more important to provide a great user experience, and an H1 tag can play a key role in improving your UX. It provides consistent styling of the heading element on your page and presents a useful summary of your page content which will help the user decide if they want to continue reading. The H1-H3 heading hierarchy also enables you to break your text into more easily digestable chunks of information, further improving the user experience.

The age of my domain will help me rank

It’s commonly believed that older domains perform better in search results. Google’s Matt Cutts has confirmed that domain age is a fairly insignificant factor, especially after a site has been around for a few months. Cutts advises that rather than focus on domain age, marketers should instead concentrate on providing quality content that will improve the user experience, which will in turn benefit your SEO.


Web Foundry can advise on SEO best practice and the best ways to drive more traffic to your website. Contact us today to get the conversation started: or 0161 820 5727

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