9 Myths About SEO People Still Believe
Search engine optimization is a black-box field for many. “Google works in mysterious ways,” they say. After all, there’s only so much that the tech giant reveals about its algorithm.
That must be the reason why SEO is full of myths that are presented as facts by many “specialists.” Some of them used to be true once – but got outdated with time.
Want to test and see if what you know about SEO holds up? Check out these nine myths SEO – and reexamine what you think you know about SEO.
Keywords Are Everything
SEO specialists seem to obsess over keywords. They tell you to focus on some high-volume and low-volume ones, pepper them throughout your pages, and track your rankings based on them. But while keywords used to matter a lot, that’s not the case anymore.
The thing is, Google has gotten a lot better at processing natural language requests. It’ll recognize “I need Essaypro writers to write an essay for me” as well as “essay writing services.” Since people don’t need to use specific keywords to find what they’re looking for, there are now thousands of long-tail variations for every high-volume keyword.
That’s why you should focus on topic clusters, not keywords. Take stock of your existing content and group it based on the topic. Then, create a pillar page for the topic that contains all the key information on this subject.
PPC Advertising Will Boost Your Ranking
For some, it’s a no-brainer: if you pay Google or Bing Ads for pay-per-click advertising, it’s supposed to be a “scratch your back” kind of situation. Surely, Google will return the favor and nudge your ranking closer to the top, right?
Well, that’s a myth. Organic and paid search are two completely separate domains. And even if you pay for PPC ads, that won’t give your pages any more chances to rank higher in organic search. (You can benefit from running PPC ads along with SEO for organic search, but that’s a different story.)
Domain Age Helps Rank Higher
Whenever you look at the top-performing websites trending in your niche, you can’t help but notice one thing. All of them have existed for quite a while now. So, the website age must play a role in the ranking, right?
Well, correlation doesn’t equal causation. (This myth was busted by a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller on Twitter, too.) The thing is, older websites had plenty of time to optimize the content and get backlinks.
So, that doesn’t mean you, with a new website, can’t break into this club. You’ll just need time to optimize your pages well, too.
Tabbed Content Doesn’t Have as Much Weight
Some SEO specialists will tell you that the content that isn’t immediately visible when the page is loaded doesn’t get taken into account by Google crawlers. So, for example, if you present some of the content in an accordion or tab format, Google will simply ignore it. Right?
Well, that’s not true, as explained by Gary Illyes in 2018. As long as the text is visible to bots in the HTML, it’ll get indexed. And it’ll have the same weight as the text visible to users on the first load, too. So, don’t stop yourself from using tabs or accordions simply because you think it’ll be bad for SEO – it won’t be.
Link Quantity Matters More than Quality
This is the number one SEO tip for many. They say you have to build links; the more, the better. And while link building is a ranking factor, it’s not the quantity that matters to the search engine – it’s their quality.
But what does the link quality mean? The four major items to describe it are:
- Links are relevant: a cycling blog linking to an article about Bitcoin will look weird to Google;
- Links come from authoritative domains: a backlink from the Washington Post matters more than from a no-name blog;
- Links are followed: they don’t contain a rel=“nofollow” tag in the HTML code;
- Anchor text isn’t spammy: it’s not stuffed with keywords and is presented naturally.
Local SEO Isn’t Worth the Work Anymore
It’s hard to track down the origins of this myth, but somehow it persists. Some people think optimizing for local searches is a waste of time – all while it can be a goldmine for local businesses. Just consider this: almost half of all Google searches are related to local information!
So, if you’re a local business, optimize for your location. If you run a restaurant in Manhattan, add “Manhattan” to your keywords. Avoid using “near me” instead of the location, though. It’s not specific enough, so it won’t bring you enough qualified leads.
Plus, get acquainted with the free Google My Business tool. It’ll help you create a presence on Google Maps and Search, making your business easy to find.
Images Are Irrelevant in SEO
If you still think Google doesn’t care about the visuals you put on your website, think again. It does. Here are two reasons why:
- Alt text. This alternative text describes your image. It can be displayed if the image fails to load – and it gives the crawler an idea of what the image is about. Just make sure to make it specific and informative (and avoid keyword stuffing, too).
- Loading speed. Some images can slow your page down, and that can bring your ranking down. For example, BMP or high-resolution ones are too heavy for a page. So, you need to compress them into JPEG (or SVG for vector visuals) to avoid a drop in loading speed.
Being Mobile-Friendly Is a Bonus, Not a Necessity
It’s nice to have a mobile-friendly website if you care about user experience. But it has nothing to do with SEO, right?
It used to be true – until 2015. This was when Google started taking mobile optimization into account. And in 2019, it switched to mobile-first indexing. (It’s no wonder why – more than half of all searches happen on mobile devices.)
So, adopt a mobile-first approach to your website if you haven’t yet. Google Search Console also has its own Mobile-Friendly Test – use it!
Optimizing Your Content Once Is Enough
Let’s imagine you published a blog post a couple of years ago and optimized it to perfection. You can just leave it be and reap the benefits, right?
Well, not exactly. The rules change several times a year – and sometimes, they’re akin to Armageddon. (When Google started prioritizing mobile-friendly websites, it was dubbed Mobilegeddon.) So, you need to keep up with them.
Plus, content tends to get outdated (even if it’s supposed to be evergreen). For example, if you have a blog post listing cryptocurrency news sources, you’ll need to check for broken links and whether those sources are still kicking every once in a while. Google doesn’t like outdated content.
These are only nine constantly perpetuated SEO myths that are still out there. But there are at least as many more. So, whenever you read or hear that you need to do this or that to optimize your page, be a critical thinker. Take it with a grain of salt and fact-check the claim.
If you don’t, you might waste your precious resources – time and effort – on doing something that has little to no impact on your ranking. (Or, it may even harm it.)
Breaking all the habits that have already settled in isn’t easy, either. So, prepare for a long journey ahead of you, even if you’re hardly a newcomer to the world of SEO.