By John Greco
SEO is always changing.
Thanks to Google’s frequent search algorithm updates, some of the stuff that worked a year or two ago does not work anymore.
There is also a huge amount of misinformation out there regarding SEO. So much so that it can sometimes be impossible to separate myth from reality, even for seasoned SEOs.
With these thoughts in mind, I compiled a list of some of the most common SEO myths of today.
Myth #1: SEO is dead.
This is easily one of the most common myths surrounding SEO. It’s also one that can cause severe damage to those who believe in it.
I frequently come across people on marketing forums and communities saying “SEO is dead,” and I can’t help but think that these people either don’t fully understand SEO or they are just really bad at it.
The truth is, SERPs are driven by search engine algorithms, which are always changing. That means you have to always be adapting your strategy as well. If you don’t roll with the changes, you will undoubtedly go down in rankings.
Myth #2: SEO is all about keyword optimized content.
Just include the keyword in the page title, description, sub-headings, first paragraph, and last paragraph and boom! You are on page 1, right?
Far from it.
This ‘strategy’ may have worked in the early years of Google, but it turned into a myth long ago. While having the right keywords is still important, topical relevance and user experience is more important now, especially after the arrival of RankBrain – Google’s shiny new ranking algorithm.
Myth #3: SEO is all about getting the #1 spot on page 1 of SERPs.
Many believe achieving the #1 spot on SERPs is the holy grail of the SEO industry. In reality, what you actually accomplish by being in the #1 spot matters far more.
Are users getting the right information from your website? Are users staying on your website or clicking away soon after they arrive? Are visitors converting into customers? All these questions need to be addressed way before you reach the #1 spot so that you can reap the benefits once you do reach it.
Myth #4: The more web pages you have, the better.
In this case, more is not merrier. Building dozens of pages with little to no content on them is a recipe for disaster.
Since the Penguin update, and especially so after the Hummingbird update, search engines are penalizing sites that have thin content and rewarding those with highly relevant, in-depth, useful content that keeps the user hooked and answers all their queries. In other words, focus on quality, not quantity.
Myth #5: Images don’t help with SEO.
Thinking that search engines can’t read your images means you are missing out on higher rankings and free traffic.
While search engines can’t exactly ‘read’ your images, they certainly can read and understand the image’s context through the image caption, image alt text, and description. So be sure to add all that info to give a little boost to your rankings.
Myth #6: Mobile optimization is not necessary.
Earlier this year, Google released a new update that focuses on rewarding mobile-optimized web pages with higher rankings. With the amount of global traffic that comes from mobile devices these days, it would be suicidal to still believe in this myth.
In order to make your website more mobile friendly and improve user experience, you need to optimize:
- Page Design
- Page Speed
- Screen Size
- Page Responsiveness
- Number of Clicks Needed to Reach a Piece of Information on your Site
Luckily, Google has a very nifty mobile-friendly test tool that lets you check your site against all these important metrics.
Myth #7: Link building is not important anymore.
Building links is as important as it has ever been. While link building tactics may have changed over the years, contextual links are still an effective tool to gain credibility and improve search presence. The important thing is to know which links are good and which are bad for your rankings.
Using gray or black hat tactics, such as Private Blog Networks (PBNs) built using expired domains with shady backlinks profiles, may only be effective for a short period of time or even not at all.
On the other hand, getting contextual links using outreach, guest posts, or even sponsored posts is an effective, long-term link building strategy. Moz recently conducted a survey of the most commonly used link building tactics from SEOs around the world. The results are really interesting and clearly show that quality links will always help in SEO.
Myth #8: Social Media does not influence SEO.
Google tracks traffic coming to your website from all channels, be it social, search, or otherwise. Regardless of how a user gets there, Google tracks how each user behaves. Things like how long a user stays on a page, which and how many pages he/she visits, whether or not he/she visits another website for the same search query, etc. All of this can directly affect your search rankings.
Additionally, a site that is getting more social shares compared to a competitor will be perceived by users as more authoritative and useful. Google knows that as well and rewards such sites with higher search presence.
So, next time you think about how time-consuming it might be to get your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram efforts up to full efficiency, think of all the benefits you can reap from the increased traffic.
Myth #9: Write epic content and you won’t need to worry about SEO.
In other words “If you build it, they will come”.
If only it was that easy.
While producing quality content is very important, there is no way you can ever hope to see your site climb up the SERPs if that content is not discoverable. In order to get rewarded for your content, you need to actively promote and optimize it. This includes going all out with your on-page and off-page SEO efforts.