SEO is an ever evolving concept.
Right from its early days to the day today, SEO has witnessed a sea change. Practices that were set standards a couple of years back are now no more than spam.
With Google holding ~90% of the search engine market share, an effective SEO strategy warrants that you understand the latest changes Google makes to its algorithm.
Interestingly, a lot of stuff that Google left behind is still a drag on us in the form of common SEO myths. If you still follow these SEO practices, your SEO can go down the drain real quick.
In this article, we will together expose some of the most common underlying SEO misconceptions and provide the real truth behind those myths.
Let’s get started.
Myth #1: SEO Is dead
If it were true, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now.
Let me put this simply — as long as there are search engines, SEO is going to stay alive.
Search engine algorithms constantly keep upgrading, and that directly impacts SEO.
For instance, the old SEO practice of keyword stuffing is dead. But that doesn’t mean that the new practices don’t evolve. Keyword placement is still important, just that you need to be natural and follow semantics.
Another latest update from Google — BERT — will help the search engine better understand the nuance and context of words in search queries.
That means that you need to re-adjust your SEO strategy and focus on creating content that is fundamentally useful and unique.
Using the old SEO tactics will not get your efforts anywhere. Keep educating yourself with the new practices, learn what’s important, and what will move the needle.
Till then, SEO is not dead. The old practices are dead and have been replaced by the new ones.
Myth #2: SEO is a one-time activity
Every investment wears off with time, and the same is the case with SEO.
Optimizing your website for search engines is a never-ending process and not a one time activity.
It involves tons of planning — strategically placing keywords, optimizing your content, creating backlinks, and much more. It’s not something that brings you high traffic overnight.
Once everything is done, you rinse and repeat. You can always update the content, improve the UX, build more backlinks; and so on.
SEO never stops.
If you still don’t believe it, just stop doing SEO on your website and wait for your traffic to drop.
Myth #3: There must be some secret to ranking on the top
Many people, especially the beginners, are of the notion that there must be some kind of secret sauce to getting on the top of Google results.
Let me break their notion.
SEO is a culmination of multiple activities done each day, week and month, and in the right manner.
There is no magic trick behind SEO; just a handful of plain old vanilla techniques that work when done with persistence.
Myth #4: Doing ‘X’ will solve all your SEO worries
If you didn’t know already, Google’s ranking algorithm includes 200+ factors. If you think a particular element or tactic can help you rank high, you are completely mistaken.
For that matter, people even think that tool X will fix all their SEO issues.
There are indeed many great SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, KWFinder, OnPage Champ and more. But at best, they can help you audit both on- and- off-page SEO and provide you insights into where you need improvement. They can’t make your SEO problem go away.
SEO is a place where the whole is greater than the sum of individual parts. Each ranking factor has to work in tandem with others to help your rankings.
A couple of factors might be more important than the others, but that doesn’t mean only doing one single thing will serve the purpose.
Myth #5: Doing the right thing gets you ranked in X days/months
If any SEO expert/agency is guaranteeing you a top Google spot, it’s time to run away from them.
When it comes to ranking organically on Google, no one can offer you a guarantee. At best, they can offer you a probability.
Good SEOs know that ranking organically is a long-term practice, and there are no underlying guarantees. Factors like unique & optimized content, great backlink profile and sound technical SEO can help boost your page ranking, but you might still struggle.
Commit to SEO only when you have the right expectations set.
Myth #6: SEO Is free
You are in for a good joke.
Just because you don’t pay for clicks in SEO (as in the case with Google Ads), it doesn’t mean that traffic doesn’t cost you anything.
SEO costs are hidden. SEO takes effort and time, and that comes at a price.
If you have an inhouse marketing, you need to hire staff or may choose to do it by yourself. Either way, you will need to allocate resources, including tools, time, and more, to manage SEO.
If you are outsourcing to an SEO agency, you are anyways spending on consultancy.
So don’t say that it’s free traffic.
Calculate the RoI of the traffic, and that’s where SEO outshines everyone else.
Myth #7: Guest posting is white hat
Most of the things we consider ‘white hat’ in SEO are actually ‘black hat’ in disguise, just like guest posting done at scale.
Guest posting as a concept is not spam, but most people use guest blogging in the wrong way. And that makes it a spam in the eyes of Google.
In fact, Google has also started taking manual actions against websites, which it suspects offer guest posting for money.
When it comes to guest posting, offer value before offering the money for the backlink.
Here is Google’s official take on what it considers as spam:-
Branding is an essential component of SEO today.
A no-follow link tag was introduced by Google so that SEO spammers won’t bother posting irrelevant links to blogs, comments and forum posts.
But that doesn’t mean no-follow links are worthless. It still provides valuable referral traffic from the source. You can then funnel this traffic down to leads and conversion.
The key is to build your brand, so you need to find which links can help establish your authority in the industry. Whether it’s a follow or no-follow link, either way, your ultimate aim should be to build trust and traffic, in the same order.
Myth #9: DA/PA helps me rank better
Google consistently denies the use of domain authority (or page authority, for that matter) as a ranking factor.
Your main goal shouldn’t be to improve your site’s ‘authority.’ Instead, you should focus on earning relevant and natural backlinks from reputable websites in your industry.
And when you get backlinks from websites with high domain authority, it will automatically improve the DA of your website.
Besides, Google cares more about the authority of the linking page rather than that of the linking domain.
When it comes to ranking your website, many users think that the more the backlinks, the better. But it is not entirely true.
You need backlinks, but it should be based on merit and not paid or building schemes.
You need to consider different factors like the anchor text being used, the power of the sites, the quality of the page, follow/no-follow profile and much more.
What I am trying to say here is that one high-quality link from an authority site could be worth more than 50 links from random low-authority sites.
If yours is a website that has gained multiple low quality backlinks, consider doing a thorough audit and disavowing them.
Myth #11: Google ads improve organic ranks
Investing in Google Ads won’t affect your organic rankings.
Organic ranking and paid ranking are two different disciplines, and they do not correlate.
Google ads sponsored links are based on your bid and total investment. However, paid ads can help strengthen your brand identity when your ad appears above the search rankings.
When your site appears on the ad as well as organic listings, it establishes trust in the user’s mind. It directly impacts the click-through rates, but it doesn’t help with rankings.
Myth #12: Social media doesn’t help in SEO
In the recent past, the definition of SEO has changed altogether. Earlier, it was only about rankings, but today, it is more about branding.
Social media might not give you links, but it gives you exposure. It helps you get in front of your audience, make your content discoverable and generates traffic to the website. A part of this traffic may actually link back to your content if they find it useful.
Furthermore, social media platforms like Twitter and Quora are indexed by Google. If you search on Google, very often you will find Quora answers ranked on the listings.
It results in increased brand presence, which ultimately drives more traffic to your website.
Contrary to popular belief, social media followers don’t contribute to SEO as a ranking factor.
That doesn’t mean social media followership is not relevant. You should consider social media marketing as an integral part of your branding program.
It’s the social media engagement — the collective likes, shares, and overall social media presence of the webpage — that counts, which is perceived by search engines.
Social signals are similar to backlinks, except that they are more useful in driving traffic to your webpage rather than acting as a ranking tactic.
Myth #14: Keywords don’t matter anymore
That’s not true. At best, keyword stuffing doesn’t matter anymore.
It’s still crucial that your keywords appear at certain places in your page; such as title tag, header tags, URL, meta descriptions, image alt text, and so on.
In today’s time, keyword placement is important, not its frequency. You don’t have to worry about repeating a keyword nine times in the body anymore.
Besides, you should be focusing more on semantically related keywords to tease out the meaning behind your words.
Myth #15: Commenting offers SEO value
Commenting on blogs used to work in the past, but not anymore. Especially when most of the comment backlinks are no follow and offer practically zero link juice.
Unfortunately, for many SEOs building backlinks, blog commenting is still a major activity.
Commenting helps you build relationships with the authors and readers, which might help bring more traffic to your website. Provide value through your comment, participate in the discussion and then leave a link with a perspective that you are after the traffic, not the backlink.
It’s time to say goodbye to SEO myths.
SEO is continually changing shape, and thus, with time, best practices become outdated even before you realize that.
You need to keep a close eye on all SEO updates to maintain an effective strategy.
Luckily, there are tons of resources that can help you brush up your SEO knowledge. In fact, let me share a curated list of the top SEO blogs that can help you stay updated.
Understand the SEO truths, debunk the myths and get efficient with your organic search strategy.