7 Common Myths About Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Debunked

7 Common Myths About Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Debunked
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June 29, 2021

With Google processing over 90 percent of all online searches, according to StatCounter, you should develop your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy around Google. Your website will generate more impressions and attract more visitors if it ranks high on Google. A successful Google SEO strategy, though, requires an understanding of what works and what doesn't for the popular search engine.

1) PageRank Is Obsolete

While it no longer reveals this data publically, Google still uses PageRank. PageRank, in fact, has been a part of Google's ranking system ever since the company was founded in 1998. It takes into account outbound links and backlinks. Using this gathered data, web pages are assigned a PageRank of 0 to 10, which affects their overall rankings.

Google had previously made PageRank data available to the public. You could identify your website's PageRank, as well the PageRank of your competitors' sites, by using a web browser toolbar or PageRank-checking service. In 2016, Google stopped serving this data, leading many website operators to believe that PageRank had become obsolete. The reality is that Google still uses PageRank to calculate rankings; it just uses PageRank internally.

2) Separate Mobile Index

A common myth is that Google has two indexes: a desktop index and a mobile index. For its desktop index, many website operators believe that Google indexes desktop-optimized websites, and for its mobile index, they believe Google indexes mobile-optimized websites.

Google, however, only has a single index. It uses a mobile-first indexing approach in which Google ranks websites from a mobile perspective. The way your website looks and functions when viewed on a mobile device will affect how it ranks on Google for all devices. Regardless, Google only has a single index.

3) Penalizes for Negative SEO

You don't have to worry about negative SEO bringing down your website's rankings on Google. The popular search engine has safeguards in place to protect websites from negative SEO. If your website comes under fire from a competitor, your site should retain its rankings.

Most forms of negative SEO involve backlink spam. If a competitor wants to dethrone your website from the top of Google, they may mass-build low-quality backlinks to it. Google can easily distinguish these spammy backlinks from legitimate and organically procured backlinks. When it discovers them, Google will typically filter the spammy backlinks so that they neither help nor harm your website's rankings.

If you're still worried about spammy backlinks, you can choose to disavow them. Google offers a disavow tool that allows you to specify which backlinks you want Google to ignore.

4) Search Console Is a Ranking Signal

Using Search Console won't necessarily lead to higher Google rankings. Google can obviously tell which websites use Search Console and which ones don't, but it doesn't favor the former over the latter. Search Console is not a ranking signal for Google. Search Console simply offers data and tools that can assist you with SEO.

This principle applies to Google Analytics as well. You can install Google Analytics to track your website's performance for optimization purposes, but Google won't rank your site higher just because it uses Analytics.

5) TLDs Directly Affect Rankings

Your website's top-level domain (TLD) won't directly affect its rankings. TLDs, of course, are domain name extensions. You'll have to register a domain name for your website, during which you'll have to choose a TLD for it. It's the final part of your website's domain name.

According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), there are well over 1,000 TLDs. Some of them, such as .com, are well-known and trusted. Other TLDs have a more shady image because they are frequently used by spammers. Nonetheless, the TLD won't directly affect your website's Google rankings.

Although Google doesn't use them as a direct ranking signal, TLDs may have some influence on where your website ranks. With a well-known and trusted TLD, your website will generate more traffic. More people will trust it, so they'll feel more comfortable visiting your site and sharing it with their friends or followers.

6) Nofollow Backlinks Are Useless

Another common Google SEO myth is that nofollow backlinks are useless. Nofollow is a Hypertext Markup Language Attribute (HTML) attribute for links. It was developed by a consortium of search engines, including Google, in the early 2000s to counter backlink spam.

For many years, Google filtered nofollow backlinks. Backlinks given this HTML attribute held no influence over the Google rankings of the websites to which they linked. But Google changed its tune in 2019 when it announced two new nofollow alternatives: the ugc attribute and the sponsored attribute. The ugc attribute is designed for visitor-created backlinks, whereas the sponsored attribute is designed for backlinks contained in ads and sponsored posts.

In this same announcement, Google said it would begin treating backlinks with these attributes as ranking hints. Nofollow backlinks, as well as UGC and sponsored backlinks, are now treated as ranking hints by Google. They don't have as much influence as standard backlinks, but they can affect your website's Google rankings, nonetheless.

7) Social Media Engagement Directly Affects Rankings

Like its TLD, social media engagement won't directly affect your website's Google rankings. There are plenty of high-ranking websites that have little or no social media engagement. In 2014, Google revealed that it doesn't take into account shares, upvotes, comments or other forms of social media engagement when calculating rankings. Since then, Google has reiterated its stance on social media engagement.

Bing views social media engagement differently than Google. Bing's Webmaster Guidelines even state that strong social media engagement is a sign of popularity, so it uses this metric for rankings. But whether you want to rank high on Google or Bing, social media engagement is always beneficial. The more engagement your website gets on social media, the better.

There's no substitution for Google when carrying out your SEO strategy. It reaches more users in any given month than all other search engines combined. By rejecting these Google SEO myths, you'll experience higher rankings and greater success with the world's top search engine.

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