More SEO Myths Unravelled

Last year we uncovered 4 myths about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here are two more!

1. “Meta Descriptions have a huge impact on rankings”

Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that concisely explain the contents of web pages. You’ve seen them before on Google’s search engine results pages, where they’re commonly used as preview snippets. So, it’d make sense that Google’s algorithm would take these meta descriptions into account when determining search rankings … right? Well, not so much.

All the way back in 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) have no bearing on search rankings. That’s not to say that these descriptions aren’t important for SEO, though. On the contrary, in fact: Meta descriptions present a major opportunity to separate yourself from the riff-raff and convince searchers that your page is worth navigating to. And in December of 2017, Google announced that it would be increasing the length of meta descriptions to allow for more descriptive snippets.

Although meta descriptions may not affect rankings, they do affect clickthrough rates, which are important. Having a relevant, compelling meta description can be the difference between a searcher who clicks through to your page and one who clicks elsewhere. And guess what: Bing and other search engines evaluate clickthrough rate as a ranking factor. Unfortunately, Google has been avoiding giving a straight answer to the question of whether their algorithm rewards sites with higher clickthrough rates.

2. “Pop-ups will always harm my ranking in search”

Any business owner or marketer will agree that we care about creating lovable experiences for our website visitors – and, at the same time, we also want to generate leads for our sales teams. To help generate these leads, many marketers have put pop-up forms on their website pages. (After all, pop-ups work). But the misuse of pop-ups has led to a lot of controversy over whether marketers really should use them.

Even Google had to weigh in on it all by announcing in August 2016 that they would begin to penalise websites that use what they call “intrusive interstitials.” (read “annoying pop-ups”). This penalty eventually rolled out in January of 2017.

For marketers, the key word here is “intrusive.” Google doesn’t penalise all pop-ups – just the ones that get in the way of a user’s ability to easily access the content on the page when they search.

For example, pop-ups that a mobile user has to dismiss before being able to access the main content of the page will get you in trouble with Google. On the other hand, pop-ups (including banners and slide-ins) that use a reasonable amount of screen space and don’t disrupt the mobile user experience are just fine. When they’re used in a way that’s helpful instead of disruptive, pop-ups can be a healthy part of your inbound strategy. Be sure yours offer something valuable and relevant to the people visiting that particular site page, and fit them seamlessly into the context of what your users are doing already so as not to sacrifice user experience.

WSI are a digital marketing agency based in Eastbourne and have been generating business for clients for over 13 years.