17. Ranking Myths

With Will, Ned, Gerry, Barry, Stephen, Dawn and Dixon.

Dixon Jones – Majestic Marketing Director – Receptional Founding Director
Ok, so I’ll start, and I’ll go with “more links does not necessarily mean better rankings”. The myth is, that you get more links you’re going to get better rankings. That doesn’t hold true, if your links are from orphaned pages, for example, that Google never see, or if they’re from pages that have no kind of activity themselves, they’re not going to make any use at all.

There is a correlation between the number of referring domains and rankings, assuming that Google can find the referring domains. But the logic that more links equals better ranks, doesn’t hold, I’m afraid. Better links equals better ranks.

Dawn Anderson – Director Move It Marketing
I’m going to go with, “you need a minimum of 300 words to rank this page”. Not true, it depends on the intent. There is the great example, of how to boil an egg, I think it has like 150 words. Answer the question, meet needs, above the fold, and just answer the question. However many words it takes, sometimes succinct is all that is necessary.

Obviously if someone is looking for something very, very in depth and informational, and there is a lot of competition for that, then sometimes you do need to go with longer form content. And if somebody is looking for inspirational ideas, you can probably rank just as well with using pictures and very few words.

Stephen Kenwright – Director of Search Branded3
I’m going to go with “redirects all being treated equally”. Whether they’re 301s, 302s, 307s or whatever. Potentially, that’s where we’re going to get to. Potentially, that is what we are going to see in the future.

But actually, right now, we’ve had a lot of success changing 302s to 301s and I don’t necessarily see doing the other way round, actually that has got its risks. So I don’t think that’s necessarily true right now.

Barry Adams – Founder Polemic Digital
I’m going to go with “structured data as a ranking factor”. Because some people believe that if you put structured data on a webpage it’s going to rank better. Now, there is probably an indirect correlation there, in that structured data can trigger Rich Snippets, which in turn can trigger a higher click-through-rate, which in turn could help provide a temporary boost in rankings. But the structured data itself, if you implement it on any webpage, doesn’t actually improve rankings in any way.

Gerry White – SEO Consultant Just Eat
I’m going to go with a “more pages one”. It’s a common myth that if you have more pages you are going to get more traffic. It turns out that if you write a lot of low quality content on the site, and Google kind of goes “Yup you know what, you‘ve got a lot of rubbish on your site”, it’s actually going to downrank your main pages. And I’ve seen this time and time again where actually removing and consolidating pages tend to improve your traffic levels rather than…

Dawn Anderson

Gerry White
Yeah, dust!

Ned Poulter – CEO & Founder Pole Star Digital
Okay, dust. Yeah, I’m going to go with the “out of the box solutions being readily set up for SEO”. So WordPress “is optimized for SEO” or any theme that you buy, for WordPress or Magento or whatever it may be, when you pay that 19,99$ extra that makes it “SEO friendly”, it will actually make it SEO friendly. If that was case and it was that simple, I think most of us wouldn’t have a job.

Will Critchlow – CEO & Co-Founder Distilled
I think unfortunately there is a little dynamic whereby a number of myths arise from things that Google themselves say. So you already called out the redirects one, but there is a few of these kind of things where I think you have to parse what Google is saying very, very carefully. And in some cases they’re technically true, which is the best kind of true.

So they’ll talk about things like “countrycode Top Level Domains being exactly the same for rankings as any other domain”. They’ll talk about “subdomains being just as good as subfolders” and I think, in both cases, they’re making that very technical definition of true.

Which is like, all else being equal, they rank equally well. But of course all else is never equal, because you’ve got your big dotcom, and you’re going to buy a new countrycode TLD. That is not going to rank as well, as the big dotcom, but people still believe that myth because Google said it! Google said that TLD is going to rank just as well as their dotcom.

And the same with subdomains and subfolders. All else being equal, a subdomain might rank just as well. But all else isn’t equal, because the subfolder is on your big domain. So I think that’s the general thing to just watch, really parse carefully, what Google is saying.
Because, I think, that it’s coupled with that fact that sometimes they’re saying things that are technically true – best kind of true – sometimes they actually don’t realize the second order effects.

So, I think where the redirect one probably comes from, is they probably don’t have a line in their code that says “If 301, then … whatever”, but it’s a byproduct of all the rest of the factors that they got baked in there. So they are often kind of taking that very narrow definition and that’s where some of that myths come from. <