Think you’ve got a pretty solid grasp of the fundamentals of SEO? You might want to think again…
Even if you’re an SEO OG and have been optimizing websites for years, there’s a good chance that most (if not all) of your SEO “knowledge” is nothing more than misinformation and meaningless tropes.
That’s right… You’ve most likely been misled about certain SEO “truths”, that are anything but. Part of the problem is that controversy sells, so, many sites carelessly publish articles that deliberately provide incorrect information just to generate buzz.
The other problem is that SEO is complex and ever-changing. What held true a few months ago could very well be completely untrue today. No wonder there are so many myths about SEO floating around out there.
Read on to see how I debunk 15 of the costliest myths in SEO today.
15 SEO myths that are eating up your profits
I’ll begin by quickly debunking the biggest myth of all: that you need to hire a professional agency to engage in effective SEO.
The fact is, virtually anyone can get the hang of SEO. The problem, however, is that best practices change so often that it’s difficult stay fresh. With that in mind, it makes sense to hire someone as your SEO watchdog. Your proverbial “man in the trenches” who stays on top of SEO trends and ensures that your sites stay in Google’s good graces.
Hiring an SEO manager is simple enough, but what others really eat into your budget? Here are 15 more SEO myths that you should look out for.
Having a top ranking on the search engine results pages, or SERPs, is advantageous, but it’s not the be-all, end-all when it comes to SEO.
This wasn’t always the case…
In the early days of SEO, achieving a top slot was a top priority. Today, however, that ranking must be backed up by top-notch content, or it won’t last long.
Don’t have tunnel vision about achieving a top ranking on Google–and don’t despair if you’re not there. Focus on developing relevant, useful, unique content, and everything else will fall into place.
Yes, Google has officially stated that social signals, such as Facebook likes and retweets, aren’t taken into consideration by the algorithms. However, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence suggesting otherwise.
What’s clear is that despite protestations to the contrary, major search engines like Google and Bing take cues from social signals to determine how useful and relevant a site is. Develop and maintain a strong social media presence to make the most of this.
It’s easy to see why this rumor just won’t die. In 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts famously tweeted that people should stop using guest blogging to get links because it doesn’t work.
What many folks don’t realize is that Cutts did a complete about face shortly thereafter and officially gave guest blogging his blessing. It’s not like it matters much, anyway. There’s no reliable way for a search engine to discern a “normal” blog post from a guest blog post.
How is this one still an issue? Although some of the dust has settled since the mobile revolution really got underway, assuming that mobile optimization doesn’t matter is a big, fat mistake.
Think about it: Google has officially come out to say that mobile friendliness is taken into account when rankings are assessed. Further, when a site is mobile friendly, it delivers a better user experience.
Don’t create a separate mobile site. Have your site developed using responsive web design, or RWD, so that it renders properly across all devices.
Snapping up as many top-level domains may seem like a great way to quickly boost SEO, but that’s not always the case. It generally holds true for .com and .net domains, but others won’t get you far.
Before investing in newer top-level domains like .guru and .company, make sure that your existing .com domain is relevant to the content of your site. Use keywords in your domain when it makes sense, but understand that relevance is far more important than keywords.
Yes, Google loves long-form content. Articles and other content that average around 2,500 words or so tend to perform well.
This isn’t universally true, though, and it should not be the basis of your SEO strategy. When the situation warrants it, long-form content is terrific. You see, the topic at hand must be complex enough to justify going into such detail.
Just because content is 2,000 words or longer doesn’t mean it will give you a big rankings boost. For that to happen, it must deliver value to readers, and it must be relevant to the main gist of your site.
Even though this hasn’t been the case for several years now, a disconcerting number of people still believe that SEO is mostly about using the “right” keywords.
Keywords still affect rankings–supposedly, less than 15 percent of a webpage’s ranking is influenced by its keywords–but other factors matter more nowadays. Properly addressing user intent is much more important, so make sure that people are getting what they need when landing on your website.
About 10 years ago, anchor text optimization was all the rage. Google got wise to some of the underhanded tactics that were being used though, so things are a little different these days.
That’s not to say that anchor text is somehow irrelevant all of a sudden. It is still a great way to enhance an SEO strategy. However, some old techniques should be shelved.
Most notably, avoid excessively using the same anchor text again and again. Diversification is crucial. Don’t just focus on keywords in anchor text, but mix things up with generic terms like “click here” from time to time.
This myth flies completely in the face of reality. If anything, optimizing images is more important than ever, as visual content has been growing in importance by leaps and bounds.
Since there’s no way for search engines to “read” images, you must optimize them yourself using titles, tags and captions. By describing each image in this way, you bolster your SEO and have the opportunity to appear in image searches as well.
When engaging in social media marketing, optimizing messages and content is, indeed, beneficial. By doing so, you make it easier for people to find the pieces that you’re trying to promote.
No, optimized content on social media doesn’t affect your search engine rankings. Instead, it provides another way to ensure that the right people find your content. Social sharing also enhances link building, so this is a win-win situation.
Given how much new content flies onto the internet every minute of the day, it’s safe to say that Google can’t possibly keep up with it all. Despite this, many people are under the impression that once they post something, indexing will quickly and magically occur.
This is patently false, but there are things that you can do to prompt Google to index new content. Most notably, use the Google XML Sitemap Generator plugin for WordPress to ensure that search engines are alerted to fresh content as soon as it is published.
For some reason, this misconception has gained new life recently. I can debunk this myth by stating the following: Google’s algorithms prioritize relevance and usefulness. Rambling on and on across dozens of pages won’t get you anywhere if the content on them is irrelevant or not useful.
If you legitimately need to add a new page, do so. Don’t add more pages to your site in the hopes of achieving a better ranking, or you will be sorely disappointed.
Given how quick and easy it is to add meta tags–in particular, for titles, keywords and descriptions–there’s no reason not to do so. Matt Cutts officially announced that Google doesn’t care about them, but they are still worthwhile additions to any page.
Using meta tags may not boost your site’s ranking per se, but they tell people what to expect from a given page and may therefore make it more useful and relevant to them.
Links will always matter, and they will always affect how webpages are ranked. Therefore, link building isn’t in danger of dying any time soon.
Still, link building has evolved considerably. The best link-building strategies focus on producing top-notch content that people naturally want to link to. Asking websites to randomly share links to yours is totally out.
This myth, in particular, costs many businesses dearly. They are told that SEO is a thing of the past and not to bother with it, and then they wonder why their sites flounder on the major search engines.
SEO is not dead. It has just changed, and it continues to change. The very fact that it constantly evolves certainly suggests that it will continue to be relevant for a long time to come.
If you’ve fallen for any of these myths, you have my sincere apologies. Now that you know the truth, you can move forward into a brighter, better online marketing future.
The bottom line here is to always be careful about anything that you read online. That’s as true about SEO as it is about anything else.
Which of these myths shocked you the most?