Wednesday, March 16, 2016

SEO Myths Busted

When it comes to SEO, it seems everyone in the digital marketing space has an opinion. And with hundreds of ranking factors affecting Google’s algorithm, it isn’t hard to see why. While we can all agree on the basics (i.e. quality content, good; spammy backlinks, bad), there are several ideas that can cause a good-natured SEO argument. 

For instance, was Mobilegeddon really much ado about nothing? Do search engines always listen to a site’s Robots.txt? What happens when backlinks are removed? Let’s take a dive into some hotly debated SEO tactics and myths.
Ahhhhhh, Mobilegeddon: last year’s Y2K for SEOs. There was chatter, then panic, and then…no real consequence, right? Well, according to the latest research, Mobilegeddon was, in fact, pretty profound. 
Google released its mobile update last April, which was supposed to favor mobile-friendly sites in the search results. Initially, there wasn’t much movement in traffic, and webmasters let out a collective sigh of relief. But according to Stone Temple, non-mobile-friendly sites began to suffer lower rankings as time went on. Google likely rolled out the update slowly, so the full impact of the update wasn’t felt until later. 

The lesson learned here? Wake up, and make sure your site is mobile-friendly! 

The effect of outbound links
It’s a widely held belief in the SEO community that linking to other sites dilutes a website’s PageRank and authority. After you finally get a user to your site, why tempt them to leave, right? Not so fast.

Google’s main mission is to provide users with the information they’re seeking. So if your website helps Google achieve its goal, they’re pretty happy. Providing users with relevant, high-value links to other sites makes sense, and it can also help your rankings.

To prove this point, our friends across the pond at RebootOnline (←see what I did there) conducted an experiment. They created 10 websites with similar domain names, site architecture, and an article optimized for a word they made up that returned no results in Google’s SERPS. They placed three follow outbound links to other highly authoritative sites to half of their experiment sites. And what happened? You guessed it. Those sites ranked higher for their made up word than the sites without outbound links. 

The takeaway? Incorporate outbound links that are authoritative and useful to your readers!

Robots.txt and noindex meta tags
A well-configured robots.txt is on every SEO checklist. But just because you created one and submitted it to search engines doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to listen. It’s more of a suggestion.

That’s also true for the “noindex” meta tag. While a robots.txt is supposed to stop a page from being index and crawled, a noindex meta tag is only supposed to stop a page from being indexed. But this doesn’t always happen.
What’s the point? Don’t rely too heavily on spiders listening to your directions in a robots.txt or noindex meta tag.
Link echoes
Backlinks have a huge impact on SEO and organic rankings. That’s why SEOs spend so much time acquiring quality links, disavowing spammy ones, and developing top-notch link strategies. But have you ever wondered (or noticed) what happens to a site’s rankings after a particularly good or bad link is removed? Do all of its positive or negative effects get erased too? 
It’s been theorized that Google tracks links even after they’re removed. Sound crazy? Maybe. But a Moz team took this idea and ran with it. They pointed links to websites, watched their positions increase, and then removed the very links that increased the websites’ rankings. The sites’ positions didn’t change much at all, and they stayed static for several months after the links were removed. Moz ran several tests to eliminate any tricky variables, and the results remained the same.

So what does this mean? Links are incredibly influential and their impact is not easily removed. So take your time when link building, because your strategy will affect your site well into the future.

Organic search is always changing, and as SEOs, it’s our job to stay on top of developing trends, tactics and updates. While there is almost always room for debate, we hope Tandem Interactive answered a few questions and settled a few friendly SEO arguments.

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