SEO is an industry that’s filled with self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who lack real experience but boy do they enjoy talking about it. The web is now littered with SEO advice from unqualified (and qualified) individuals. While it’s great that everybody is sharing their knowledge, it has caused a ton of misinformation spread about SEO.
I’ve been working in SEO for about six years now and when I first started out I read everything I could find. It ended up working out fine, but at the beginning I was reading nonsense without even realising it. It took me a while to figure out which sources to trust and what information was valid.
The list of myths floating around about SEO are endless, but I’ve decided to round up eight myths that come up time and time again:
1. Good content is all you need
Many people are under the assumption that if you make ‘good’ content they will come. While making fantastic content is an important piece of the puzzle to ranking, if you rely on that alone you will be disappointed with your results.
Google has come out and admitted that the top two rankings factors are indeed content and links pointing to your site. Backlinks are still a necessity to rank; especially for competitive results. The notion of ‘link building is dead’ comes up time and time again but has never held any water.
In order to succeed in SEO you now have to create content that deserves to rank ahead of the competition. This doesn’t necessarily mean the longest. It means the content that adds the most value to the user. You will also need a very strong domain authority for it to move up the rankings or build links directly to the content itself. In some situations you’ll need both to succeed.
2. Meta tags don’t matter
Yes, you’re absolutely right if you say Google doesn’t consider meta keywords in their rankings. They’re archaic and should be avoided. Other than keywords there are still two very important meta tags that should be considered which are: title and meta description. While including your keyword in either may not have a direct impact on rankings, they are the way you present your website on the SERPs.
Just a few years ago SEO experts recommended to follow this type of formula for your title tag: “Keyword 1 – Keyword 2 | Brand”. It worked for a bit, but it was ugly and offered a poor user experience. Now that Google has moved towards semantic search, writing titles for robots is a thing of the past. Still include your main keyword in the title, but more importantly you should be writing titles that entice people to click your listing over others.
Same applies for meta descriptions which act as the SEO equivalent of ad copy for paid search ads. Present a strong message with a call to action in your meta descriptions and optimise for the click.
In the end of the day SEO is all about getting quality traffic from search engines. Although improving your titles and meta description may not have a direct impact on rankings, it can definitely get you more clicks to your site which is the end goal anyway.
3. Google hates SEO
On the contrary, Google likes SEO. What SEOs really do is help Google better understand and index the world wide web. If it weren’t for SEOs their job would be much harder.
What they don’t like are people who try to manipulate their search engine or harm users online. Doorway pages, hidden content, linking schemes, among other blackhat tactics which create a poor user experience. Good SEO: creating amazing content and encouraging others to link to it makes the web better for everybody, and Google rewards it.
4. Keywords are no longer important
Although Google is using semantic search to understand the meaning behind content, keywords still play a vital role in SEO. What’s really changed over the past few years the focus on matching one keyword per page with a focus on keyword density. Now you should be matching a main topic with related keywords naturally spread throughout the page.
For example: if you are a pizza restaurant that delivers and serves pepperoni pizza in Glasgow, previously it may have been beneficial to make a /delivery-pizza-glasgow and /pepperoni-pizza-glasgow page. Now it’s likely better to just include all of that information on your homepage and on third party citations around the web. That being said, unless you mention the keyword “delivery” somewhere on your website (and Google My Business) your website won’t show up for delivery pizza terms. Google can’t read minds; keywords still need to be present.
Proper keyword research can also make or break any SEO campaign. If you target keywords with no search volume, you won’t drive any traffic. If you target keywords that are too competitive, you’ll have no chance to rank for them. Every SEO campaign should still use rank tracking software and monitor rankings as a metric to success.
5. SEO companies can guarantee rankings
If any company guarantees you rankings, run! Nobody has control over the SERPs which means that it’s all up to the algorithm and it changes constantly. Generally companies that promise rankings will focus on keywords that have no value and drive zero search volume. These may be possible to guarantee ranks for because they have no competition.. Because nobody wants to rank for them. Companies that guarantee rankings thrive on uneducated clients.
Once you spend time doing some SEO you realise that not everything makes sense. You may have more backlinks, an older domain, perfect on-site SEO and still you’re getting outranked. There are simply things that we do not know and cannot promise. Even if you do the best possible job you may come up short.
That’s not to say that SEO is hopeless. On the contrary, SEO may be one of the best marketing channels for your business and the ROI can be tremendous. Just be weary of companies that over promise for a low fee. That company offering you guaranteed #1 ranking for £29/month? No, they don’t have a special relationship with Google; it’s a scam.
6. Adwords impacts SEO
This is a common myth that arises because people think that since you’re paying Google, they’ll reward you with better rankings. This is absolutely false and the two have no effect on one another. Spending money on Adwords will not help your rankings.
There are a few studies which show that having an Adwords listing can increase your organic CTR on that page, which makes sense since the user will have already seen your brand name. It might pop out to them. That being said, the increase is negligible.
What you can use Adwords for to help your SEO is keyword research. Run ads with the keyword list you plan on using for SEO to figure out which keywords convert the best. It’s a great way to figure out which keywords to target.
7. Outbound links will hurt your rankings
For some reason many people who are new to SEO have the assumption that linking out on your website will hurt your rankings. They hear about ‘Google Link Penalties’ and refuse to link out or add no-follow links to keep their ‘link juice’. These assumptions are not only incorrect, but they can hold back your rankings as well.
A study done by Reboot Online found that linking out to authority websites actually have a positive effect on rankings. They created 10 brand new websites: half had outbound links to relevant websites and half did not. Every single one of the websites with outbound links ranked higher in the SERPs.
This doesn’t mean that you should go wild and link out with every other word. Just don’t be scared to link to websites when relevant.
8. Paid links are blackhat and will get you penalised
This one is still controversial and some SEO purists don’t believe in paying for links. The thing that you need to realise is that Google is a company and this all-seeing being that many SEOs make it out to be.If you pay for a link placement on a relevant website with no trace, there is no way Google can know it’s paid. At that point there is no difference between a natural link and a paid link.
Where you get in trouble is if you make it obvious or trust others to place the links for you in bulk. Anybody who offers to sell you 5 30+DA links for $X amount is going to bite you in the end. Also any software that promises to build links at scale should be a BIG no.