9 SEO Myths That Grind My Gears

Every time you try to speak about SEO, everybody already knows more than you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a community manager, a web developer or a marketing manager: everyone knows everything there’s to know about SEO.

So this is why I came up with the greatest hits of the SEO myths. This is what I’ve been asked about and tried to explain to anyone who claimed SEO is all smoke and mirrors.

Here is the top 9 bullshit statements about SEO:

1. Google wants SEO dead

It’s easy to believe this. Some days you’ll look at your Universal Analytics graphics and think “Why are you so mean, Google? Why me?”

But this is far from reality. In fact Google loves SEO:

  1. In Google’s words, SEO can “potentially improve your site and save time” and “If you’re thinking about hiring a SEO, the earlier, the better”.
  2. Google Analytics offers various SEO reports. They are not very good or accurate, but at least they exist.
  3. The new Google Webmaster Tools (now called Search Console) gives a lot of useful information about duplicate content problems and shows more keyword information than Universal Analytics does.
  4. Google has its own SEO starter Guide.

The only true thing to this is that Google hates dishonest SEO. This is, the kind of SEO that is based on tricks and black hat techniques.

2. “OMG marvellous keyword” is the keyword I want to rank #1

This is what the most of business owners comes with the first time I meet them to discuss the strategy that fits best for their business model and potential users.

There’s something called “long tail keywords” that, 99% of the time, will drive more quality traffic to your website than the magic word you think that must rank #1.

Long Tail Keywords
Image: http://neilpatel.com/

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase.

When you reach the point where the visits come to your site when your content matches their needs, but not necessarily the same keywords they are searching for…

That, my friend, that’s magic.

3. SEO is a fraud

Well, let’s look at this organic traffic graph:

Google Analytics

This is what SEO looks like when it is well done and you combine it correctly with content marketing, and this graphic isn’t either a unicorn nor an Ent for people who consistently invest in SEO for their marketing strategy.

There are not many webs that get easy SEO wins without sweating hard, and if this happens, it’s always because they had easily fixable technical problems. For most of the cases, SEO wins come with real effort and commitment.

A lot of businesses have been approached by marketing vendors who promise SEO services that deliver quick wins for $300/month, and that is probably why a lot of people have a unfounded opinion about SEO.

4. Social Media doesn’t affect SEO

This is something that I have to argue about, very often, with those clients who want to develop just the SEO strategy, putting every other marketing strategy aside.

Explaining why this is wrong would take me a whole post (OMG, a new post idea) so I’ll try to explain it briefly. The affirmation I hear the most would be:

“Google said they don’t use Facebook or Twitter interactions to rank websites. Therefore, social activity doesn’t matter to SEO.”

Recently, Google said that it will start to use tweets in search results. In fact, at this point, it is indexing a 7% of all tweets, so I think it might be using Twitter interactions as ranking factors… Don’t you think?

Anyway, that’s not the point. Successful social activity can and will have significant secondary effects on your SEO efforts. Social activity helps address two of the major tasks facing SEOs:
Search engine discovery and indexation.
Content distribution, which leads to links and shares.
This post of AJ Kohn has everything you need to know about Social Signals and SEO.

5. Link Building is dead

First let’s clear up what “white link building” is: It means getting links honest and transparently, and not tricking both search engines and users in order to gain relevancy.

Link building is not like “let’s go put some links in some random forums and blog comments” In fact, search engines still use link authority and anchor text signals heavily in their search ranking algorithms. And white-hat link building is a completely legitimate and time-tested marketing practice.

Link Building

This clear graphic of Search Metric’s 2014 ranking factor study shows that backlinks are still a very important method in SEO strategies.

The truest truth is that manipulative link building is dead or, at least, it should be.

6. Google answers boxes are killing SEO

For me, as a SEO, it gets scary when I ask Google for something like “Madrid Weather” or “euros to dollars” and, instead of a link, it shows me an answer box.

Weather in Madrid

However, even if Google tries to offer answers within its SERPs, it is usually just for questions that are easy to answer or still require the user to click in a result.

Besides, the number of people accessing to the Internet and search engines is increasing each day.  The opportunities in SEO are bigger than ever.

  • World Internet and search activity continues to rise, particularly in the mobile sector. This generally indicates that more users are performing more searches on a greater number of devices.
  • Only 4.9% of Google searches result in an answer box.
  • A recent study by Stone Temple showed that 74.3% of Google answer boxes contained linked attribution, while the rest was public domain knowledge.

Still, most of the people I asked about this would rather enter the website to learn further information if an answer box happened to appear.

7. SEO is just one time thing

This is maybe the most repeated phrase about SEO: “Oh, we did SEO that one time”.

tumblr_inline_mm5etdqtaV1qz4rgp

It’s very common for many websites doing the SEO when it is first launched and then forgetting about it forever. There are a lot of reasons why SEO needs to be a continuous effort:

  • Link degradation (a.k.a. link rotting)
  • Publishing new pages
  • Search engine algorithms evolving
  • The competition moving ahead of you
  • Outdated content

Even if you manage a website that actually doesn’t need to invest in SEO in a monthly basis, I’m pretty sure that you will need to update its content or review the technical aspect of your website. Even simply monitoring your SEO with the addition of a deeper dive 2-3 times per year may be sufficient.

8. SEO is all about tricks

The problem, I believe, is the first thing any web developer, webmaster or marketing manager hears about SEO. It is something close to “put more keywords in the title tag.” And that’s no good. It seems like SEO is all about trying to cheat Google but that is actually what black-hat SEO is about.

What real SEO does is making every part of the web something useful and enjoyable, both for users and search engines:

  • Improving accessibility through site architecture and user experience
  • Sharing content with the right audiences through links and mentions
  • Making content more easily indexable
  • Structuring data for human understanding
  • Improving the website’s site speed
  • Optimising content for social media and social sharing
  • Understanding how search engines generate snippets and improving the content for them to use
  • Creating content that answers users needs
  • Understanding technical standards to help search engines categorise and serve content

And, trust me, those aren’t tricks.

9. Google will figure it out

Here’s what many webmasters see far too often when they trust search engines to do their SEO for them:

That’s right, nothing.

Many website owners and developers throw as many URLs as possible and expect that Google’s crawlers with their mysterious algorithms with unicorns and and and elves will magically deliver these pages to valuable users. So, once this doesn’t work, they throw to a SEO expert that wants to blow their head off when he discovers what that website is hiding.
Google is powerful, but not almighty.

What’s forgotten there is that Google tries to mimic human behaviour in evaluating content (and no human wants to sort through a million near-duplicate pages) and use human generated signals (such as links, mentions and engagement metrics) to crawl for and rank results. Without these qualities, search marketing is a game of chance that almost always loses.

Please help me in adding to this marvellous list 😉