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Common SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing NOW

If you’ve spent any amount of time researching SEO, then you’re sure to have come across countless guru’s and SEO experts spouting all manner of contradictory theories and methods. Here are some common SEO myths you should stop believing right now.

#1 Small Guys Can’t Compete

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A big misconception about SEO is that small sites can't compete with established, larger brands. By having a small site with a narrow and specialized focus, it's often easier to be rewarded as an authority on a subject and rank for its queries. This was emphasized during the August 1st algorithm update when large generalized sites were pushed down the SERP in favor of smaller specialized sites, who were rewarded for their expertise on their subject. In addition to their expertise, smaller sites can implement and start seeing benefits from technical enhancements (AMP, Schema, Page Speed) much quicker than their enterprise competition. Large sites are often burdened with platform restrictions, limited development resources and having to work across multiple teams, which delays the deployment of SEO enhancements.

Contributors: Andrew Hagemann from Ovative Group

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#2 SEO is Handled by My IT Guy

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Search engine optimization is first and foremost focused on how your customers find your brand. It starts with marketing. Generally, but not always, your company's IT guy is working with hardware, e.g., computers, printers, servers, etc. The marketing department's whole job centers around knowing your brand and your target audience. While SEO work on a website is technically done on a computer, that's about as far as it goes for your IT guy. There is no control alt delete for a bad SEO strategy and no matter how many times you restart your computer, your SEO efforts won't simply work themselves out. 

Contributors: RJ Martino from iProv, LLC 

16 points
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#3 Effect of bounce rate

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A common myth about SEO that I see people talking about is the effect of bounce rate on overall SEO. If a bounce rate is high, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It has to be weighed against the average time on page as well. If you have a high bounce rate (+60%) but your average time on page is a couple minutes long then you're doing just fine. This means your content is engaging and providing value to the reader--that's positive SEO. When it comes down to it, one metric never tells the whole story with SEO. 

Contributors: Jordan Scheltgen from Cave Social 

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#4 We can guarantee that you rank #1 for a keyword

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This is one of the biggest myths in the SEO niche. Many freelancers and small companies use this to entice the buyer to use their service. It is impossible to guarantee ranking first on any keyword because algorithms change constantly and there is no guaranteed way to hold the position once you get there. Even Google warns potential buyers that this is too good to be true and to stay away from the scam.

Contributors: Bryan Pattman from 9Sail

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#5 You shouldn’t exceed character limits

There is a limit in meta title and snippet that Google will show in SERP, but it's far from true that you shouldn't exceed that length. Google will read it fully regardless it's a bit longer, and it might have a positive effect on SEO in some cases. It might mix parts from what you wrote and made a new title or snippet that fits the best user intent.

Contributors: Aleksandar Ratkovic from SEO Aleksandar

5 points
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#6 SEO doesn’t scale

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When SEO is compared to other channels, such as Facebook or Google Ads, they say that SEO does not scale. Although, in fact, it is not. SEO can become a scalable channel but you need to make much more effort than on Facebook, where you need to select the target audience, draw a banner and finally click the button. For SEO, you need to do a semantic analysis to build a semantic kernel. Better yet, do a cluster analysis that will probably open up America for you - and give you queries that you did not even know about.

You need to do internal optimization. You need to build the correct page structure on the site. You need to do an external optimization - so other trust sites link to your site. You need to write tasks for content, and then check that copywriters write correct texts. You need to constantly check the Google Search console to find new working queries and modify the articles for them. As you can see, everything is much more complicated than launching a new advertising campaign on Facebook. However, you get constant traffic, which will cost you much less than campaigns on Facebook or other CPC networks.

Contributors: Alexander Sergeev from Hygger

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#7 No one knows exaclty how SEO is done

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Larry and Sergey wrote The Anatomy of their search engine and it's available online since before they finished their studies (btw, did you know Google's initial name was Backrub?). It's been 20 years now, and SEO's had plenty of time to study how optimization works, and we actually even know what might change in how it works, because a great guy Bill Slawski keeps an eye on Google patents and tells us what might be coming. 

Contributors: Ela Iliesi from London Marketing Academy

4 points
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#8 Social Media Helps With SEO

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<p>Social media is exploding. More and more people get onto new and existing social media platforms every day, so marketers are doing a lot to make their business pages SEO friendly. But social media sites don't want people to leave, so they restrict what search engines can see. Social media may help you make money, but it does not help with SEO.

Contributors: Ty Belknap from Timeless SEO Secrets

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#9 It doesn’t matter what I name my images

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This is not true, naming your image is better then the generic 0001.jpg, in fact, there is an increase of traffic to your site when you name it appropriately, plus it also helps blind people who rely on audio. When browsing the web, the last thing you want is for them to hear 001.jpg.

Contributors: Moses Francis from Mediasaya Sdn Bhd

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#10 Keyword search volume doesn’t automatically equal higher Traffic

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This is especially true for new website owners who are DIYing their SEO. A new website with a DA of 10 or lower must fight in their weight class. This means going after high volume keywords with medium to high difficulty will likely be unsuccessful and you’ll likely rank 80 or higher in your SERPS. The best method of building domain authority with a new site with few backlinks is to attack keywords with a search volume of 150 or lower with low difficulty. This way your content can rank on the first few pages coming out of the gate and ultimately increase your domain authority thereby allowing you to move up to heavier weight classes.

Contributors: Sonny O’Steen from InsuranceQuotes2Day

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#11 Keyword Density Has Something To Do With Ranking

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I'm continuously surprised by the number of people who still believe keyword density impacts your ability to rank well on search engines. That was true at one point in time but certainly not today. Search engines like Google are more interested in your ability to satisfy a searcher's query because satisfied searchers come back again. The more times someone visits, the more opportunity Google has to entice them with revenue-generating advertisements. 

Roughly 90% of Google's $89.5 billion revenue in 2016 came from its proprietary advertising service, Google AdWords. The percentage of times a keyword or keyword phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page has nothing to do with satisfying searcher intent. Website owners should focus more on producing high-quality content and earning signals (like links) that tell Google your content is worthy of a high ranking. 

Contributors: Donna Duncan from B-SeenOnTop (Philadelphia SEO) 

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#12 Redesigned website will immediately help SEO & increase traffic

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One common myth is thinking that a new and improved site will instantly help improve their SEO and search rank. Very commonly, even if launching a website with much better content, structure, and UX, you will experience a temporary drop in your rankings after the launch. The advantages of a redesign and relaunch far outweigh the temporary drop you'll see while you wait for 301s, re-indexing, and the shuffle that happens with a launch, but it's important to be aware of this before launching a new website. You can avoid some of the drop in organic traffic by correctly setting up redirects, performing thorough keyword analysis, creating a flawless sitemap, and re-indexing as soon as you can.

Contributors: Stephen Gilbert from Anchour

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#13 Being #1 on Google is the golden solution

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No, the #1 spot on Google actually became less valuable with the latest updates. It's all about structured data nowadays. Local results, Shopping results etc. are always on top of the organic search results and steal a lot of traffic from the #1 organic spot. Due to that, it's very important to focus on structure data to rank on Google My Business, Google Shopping etc.

Contributors: JP Wallhorn from Syntx - Digital Agency

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#14 Having an SSL certificate is not a requirement

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Google's Chrome browser will now flag any websites without an SSL certificate (https://) as unsafe. Best to install that SSL, they're cheap. 

Contributors: Jon Tavarez from Pro Housekeepers

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#15 Set It And Forget It

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SEO often has a reputation for being a strategy that you implement at the launch of a new website, meaning that you’re done, right? Wrong. Technical SEO strategy can and should be implemented as a new website is being built, but On-Page SEO and Off-Site SEO strategies are ones that should be constantly fluid and built upon. SEO takes time and is a longer-term strategy, meaning that you need to revisit the strategies and content that you are using from the past.

Also, you need to have a good pulse on the ways that people are searching for your content because that can change over a year or two. As your products or services, or an industry becomes more well known by consumers, you will notice more variation in how people are searching in Google. A smart SEO strategy includes plans to revisit keyword research and map out new long-tail keywords that can be tied into existing or new content. If you Set It And Forget it… You will quickly be forgotten in the search results.

Contributors: Scott Fish from 32° digital marketing

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#16 Posting More = Better

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A common SEO tactic is to churn out as many articles as you can target at a large variety of long tail keywords. This strategy can work but is relatively low ROI for your time investment. Instead, spend your time or money investing in a few strong articles for the most relevant keywords AND the long tail searches. You may spend 20 hours researching, writing and optimizing one article, and the ROI will often by way higher than writing 20 articles that took one hour each.

Contributors: Alex R. from Team Building Hero 

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#17 Links are no longer useful

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Links are still the lifeblood of Google as they have been since day one. However, the company is obviously way more sophisticated and can measure the links usefulness. Long story short, a link helps from an authority site or page that Google trusts. Google trusts, who it trusts, trusts. Be careful to use naked links (the URL.com) as opposed to heavy anchor text links. A small percentage of anchor text with keywords is ok and natural. The links should be from relevant pages with high authority. There are tools that measure authority, But they are often inaccurate or not update. You can guess that a link from Twitter or Instagram probably is useful. Look at relevancy, authority and how active is the link? How often is it clicked helps.

Contributors: Tim O'Keefe from Spider Juice Technologies

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#18 Meta Descriptions Don’t Matter

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It’s common knowledge that Google no longer use a page’s Meta Description as a ranking factor, as they once did. This has led to the myth that you don’t need to optimize these tags and that doing so is a waste of time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst it’s true that Google doesn’t directly use the Meta Description as a ranking factor, you mustn’t forget that this is typically what is displayed on the SERPs under your title tag. It’s one of the things which entices a user to click on your site over others. Google is also likely measuring CTR and using this as a ranking factor and, on these grounds, if you’re able to improve the number of searches who click through from your result, this could have a positive impact upon rankings. Spend time writing a user-focussed meta description and ignore the myths that you don’t need to bother.

Contributors: James Brockbank from Digitaloft 

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#19 Search rankings are precise

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In reality, the rankings you see for a given search query can vary even within your immediate geographic area. Search engines take into account a searcher's location, browsing history and search history to personalize results. So, when looking at search query rankings, it's best to consider the average ranking position to see where your listing is generally positioned when it does appear on search engines for that term. 

Contributors: Dylan Brooks from Insurance Technologies Corporation

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#20 SEO is cheap and easy

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Sites like Fiverr will sell you some quick and dirty services for onsite keywords and link building, however, they normally lead to heartache and penalties from Google. You can absolutely get 100k backlinks from these less than reputable seller on one of these sites, but a by-product of this is that they send out a script that posts to a low-value wiki, or blog comment systems. It is usually not too damaging and they will send you a reporting spreadsheet with all these wonderful links. 

Sometimes, these links will cease to exist long before Google can index them which means you threw money away and got nothing for it. That can often be better than the alternative, which is when the links exist for months, Google finally index's them and then starts to penalize the site because the sites associated with it are spammy or contain malware.

Contributors: Simon Ponder from Image Freedom

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#21 SEO is a Ripoff

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This could not be further from the truth. But, there have been many businesses that have been burned by SEO companies that used black hat tactics and had their websites delisted in the process, at the worst. In many cases, the websites were penalized to the point where it was hard to rank and they swore off SEO and could never recover from the penalties. 

Bonus tips:

  • Make sure that the SEO company has a good reputation. 
  • Ask them how they will build backlinks. Avoid companies that mention PBN's or outsourcing.

Contributors: Rich Huey from Amp It Up Media

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#22 Duplicate Content Results in a Penalty

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Contrary to popular belief, Google does not penalize sites with duplicate content. Google typically identifies the original (oldest) content and ranks that page or website, ignoring the duplicate content. So it doesn't penalize the originator or the copycats, but it only rewards or acknowledges a single (best) source. Since the methodology applies to title and meta descriptions, it is important to customize those code elements for every page on your website.

Contributors: Kent Lewis from Anvil Media Inc.

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#23 Ranking isn’t possible without backlinks

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It is true that backlink will help your rankings and are a necessary strategy for SEO, but if you just started a new website or business rankings are not impossible. You need to focus on what you want to be known for first and foremost, 'your name' make sure you have an about us page and plenty of content of who you are and what you solve. Then your next step should be to go after long-tailed keywords that have very little content on the web and work on becoming an authority in your industry, you'll be amazed by the results! 

Contributors: Joe Sloan from Advice Media

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#24 Keyword stuffing

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In the early days of search engines, it was a popular (and successful) strategy to place as many keywords as possible into website content like blogs and articles to rank high on search results. The result was a less than ideal experience for the user because the content would not always make sense because of the forced word count (basically gaming the system). Google now actually penalizes you for keyword stuffing and rewards the content based on relevance to the search. In fact, Google originally got rid of these algorithms in 2008 and then again in 2012. The key take-a-away here is to create quality and relevant content. 

Contributors: Peter Mikeal from Small Footprint

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#25 Pages blocked in robots.txt can’t be indexed

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Google generally honors the request not to actually crawl these pages, but if they're linked to FROM crawlable pages, they'll sometimes be indexed even though their actual content was not viewed. The description in the searching listing will generally say A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt when this is the case. Use a meta robots HTML tag set to noindex if you don't want a page indexed. 

Contributors: Mark Brown from The Zebra

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#26 Publish best content on your own site

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One of the most common marketing myths and misconceptions I run into is SMB owners thinking that all of their best content should be published on their own site. You should always invest the majority of your content efforts into your own site first, but don't ignore well-established channels, such as industry blogs, community forums, and strategic partnerships, that can help you expand your marketing reach. A big part of building your own audience is tapping into the audience of others.

One way small businesses can do this is by diversifying their content channels. As a consultant, I've written countless guest post articles, and several of these posts resulted in direct leads. In fact, one particular article I published back in 2014 helped me double my monthly revenue. This post wouldn't have gotten nearly as much traffic and exposure if I had published it on my personal blog. But since it was published on a high authority domain, I was able to tap into a pool of hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors. In addition to guest posts, there are several other sites that allow businesses to publish content for free, such as LinkedIn and Medium. These sites carry a high domain authority which means they tend to rank higher in a search.

Contributors: Brandon Seymour from Beymour Consulting

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#27 Long-term rewards world

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The SEO world is a long-term rewards world. There are things you can do that will provide short-term gains, and while they are tempting, they will almost always result in penalties from search engines down the line. Spammy tactics like buying links, using clickbait, or creating dynamic pages that serve different information to robots and users might help you see an immediate increase in traffic or clicks, but you will be hurt in the long run. SEO is about meaningful, long-term strategies that don't always make KPI's jump right away. It requires patience and persistence.

Contributors: Lauren Hilinski from Shred Nations

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#28 Relevancy vs authority

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If I produce articles with relevant keywords, I will show up higher in the search rank.

A common problem for people new to SEO is not understanding the difference between Relevancy and Authority. Relevancy is the metric based around keywords and how likely people who click into your page will stick around and read it. Authority, on the other hand, is the, Why should we care about this? metric. If you have content that has the right words, but you haven't spent any leg-work on getting featured by high Authority sites (i.e. getting inbound links), you are unlikely to get to page 1.

How do you find the authority sites in your space? Search for competitors who show up for your keywords using Moz's free tools. Then reach out to those sites and see if they will feature you too!

Contributors: Casey Hill from HGC

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#29 You Can’t Rank For a Keyword Quickly

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A common myth floating around is that it takes months to rank for a keyword. That's simply not true. I won't argue that SEO is a long game, and it's definitely not a guaranteed overnight solution. But it's entirely possible to rank for a good keyword much sooner than most SEO experts claim. Many factors play into this, such as your niche, keyword, and your content, of course. But I took over the #7 spot in Google with a page on one website just 4 days after launching the site.

In fact, that page now still ranks #3 for its keyword, over 4 years later. I've had similar results on other sites, ranking on the first page of Google within a couple of weeks. My results come from choosing longtail keywords and creating optimized pillar content (2,000-5,000 words). To rank more quickly, I submit the pages to Google for instant indexing. Sometimes take longer than others, but on several occasions, I've landed on the first page in weeks rather than months. So yes, prepare to invest time in your SEO strategy, but don't think it's not possible to rank quickly just because everyone tells you that you can't.

Contributors: Melody DiCroce from Soloprenista

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#30 You need a Marketing/Digital Marketing degree

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There is a lot to learn in SEO, but because it's an industry that frequently changes, you're always learning. Just because you learned about SEO in college two years ago doesn't mean that it's the same now. Surprisingly, there are a lot of great guides and articles online that can teach you the best practices for SEO. It's also a good idea to follow SEO industry blogs to stay up to date on recent trends and changes. You might not be able to learn everything about SEO on your own, but you can get a basic understanding from researching about it. 

Contributors: Aerin Ogden from Big Leap

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#31 More traffic to your page means higher rankings

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So many people think if you dive more traffic to a webpage through email, ads and other channels that this will help that page rank better. This simply is not true but many people think it is. 

Contributors: Siham Bourquia from ListGiant 

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#32 Link building is about quantity over quality

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A common misconception about link building is that it is a treasure hunt; it's about getting as many links from as many different sites as possible, no matter whether they are spammy sites or have a domain authority of 1 or 100. While low-authority links do add value to your website, it's not really about volume, it's about quality. One high-authority link, such as a link from The New York Times or the BBC, can blast 50 low-authority links out of the water. SEO's shouldn't be focusing on the scattergun approach to link-earning. They should be trying to gain links from relevant sources; these links look very attractive to the search engine and have a greater impact on your SEO campaign.

Contributors: Steve Pritchard from Africa Travel 

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#33 Linking to another site only sends traffic away

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While they might give a visitor and site crawlers the opportunity to venture onto a new domain, outbound links help your SEO. Outbound or external links let you properly cite authors and publishers, making your content richer and more credible. You can use “no-follow” alt tags when linking to a website with a low domain authority score, or in paid ads and members-only internal links. Link out to no more than three authoritative sources per page. Your sources should be deliberate and meaningful as search engines learn to rank content based on how much they trust your content to be true (e.g., relevant or factual). 

Contributors: Terese Kerrigan from Backlink Queen

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#34 Mobile-Friendliness Does Not Impact Search Ranking

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With more and more users browsing on tablets and smartphones, Google has officially introduced mobile responsiveness as a factor in your website’s search ranking. That means your website needs to deliver a consistent experience across all screen sizes, viewports, and mobile/tablet devices. How do the search engine crawlers define ‘mobile-friendly’? Like the rest of Google’s mysterious algorithm, they do not reveal the exact calculation. Instead, they offer what they call a ‘multi-screen overview’ guide to serve as a handy checklist as you’re checking your website's responsiveness. Check these boxes, and you’re mobile friendly enough to earn points in the rankings. Without a mobile-friendly site, not only are you losing on conversions or sales, but there is a less likely chance that users will even find your website. This goes beyond just search engine optimization—mobile browsing has been steadily increasing for years, especially in the eCommerce sector. By 2020, experts predict nearly half of online shopping will be conducted via smartphones.

Contributors: Jenna Erickson from Codal

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#35 If you build it, they will come

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Essentially this idea of Content is King and all you need is content iswrong. Not completely wrong, just missing a key component - promotion! Ifpeople don't know you, Google likely won't rank your content well, so youneed a good content promotion strategy to pair with any content you want torank.

Contributors: Kyle Menchaca from Kyle Menchaca Marketing

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Written by Zak Parker

Article Writer, Pianist, Internet Marketing Enthusiast; I delve into a variety of creative mediums and take advantage of what they have to offer. With experience in SEO, Dropshipping, Affiliate Marketing and Advertising, I'm a plethora of general marketing knowledge and enjoy helping those new to the game get their foot through the door. I'm always excited to hear of the latest method, or if the chance presents itself, create my own.

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