The Biggest SEO Myths
In the world of SEO, there are myriads of opinions, tactics and thoughts about best practices. Some are true now, some were true in the past, and some are simply myths. Today we will look at some of the common misconceptions about SEO and bust some of the biggest myths out there.
Your objective in this chapter is to debunk common misconceptions about best practices in SEO.
Busting SEO Myths
Why do SEO myths exist?
Search engines do not share their “secret” algorithms about how they operate. Some search engines, such as Google, share some elements of operation but most of them are not exact. Google chooses to not share specifics to prevent spammers from exploiting the algorithms and ranking worthless websites.
By keeping algorithms a secret, spammers have to keep guessing how to rank sites. This can also be frustrating to small businesses and SEO companies. Small businesses have the advantage of using the best practices (outlined by Google) to achieve decent ranking. Typically, being creative and producing great content ranks websites higher and helps businesses to excel above their competitors.
Since there is so much “mystery” around SEO best practices, people speculate. They speculate based on what they have seen or what they think may work. The problem with this is that these people tend to promote this speculation as fact. In addition, algorithms constantly change so what may have been true a year ago (or even last month) may not be true today. That’s why it’s important to read a little each month to stay updated.
At OrangeFox we aim to produce timeless content. Our guides are updated regularly to keep you informed on best practices. Our blog posts are designed to help you know exactly what works now. When there are changes, we’ll share tips on our blog (hint, hint!) so we encourage you to bookmark it and check it out regularly to stay updated!
So, what exactly are some of the common SEO myths?
Top 12 SEO Myths
#1: Stuff Keywords
Myth: The higher the volume of your keyword, the higher your website would rank.
Truth: Search engines will look at topics and determine rankings based on the topic, not repeatedly stuffed keywords. Write your content for visitors and you will not need to worry about this issue.
#2: Most Important Factor is Backlinks
Myth: Backlinks are the only factor that matters in SEO.
Truth: Backlinks are a huge part of the search engines’ algorithms. But it doesn’t end there. People have been exploiting backlinks for a number of years, so in 2013 and 2014 Google made a shift to other factors determining which sites rank higher.
Now, search engines ask questions such as: Is a business local? Is it active on social media? Is it being talked about by industry leaders? Is it producing great content?
We refuse to deny that backlinks are powerful. However, they’re not the only aspect of SEO that matters. There are a number of other factors to consider.
#3: Increase Number of Backlinks
Myth: The more backlinks you have the better you will rank.
Truth: The number of backlinks to your website is not nearly as important as the quality of backlinks to your website.
One link from a site such as Harvard.edu would carry more weight than a thousand backlinks from a low quality site. It’s far more important to have a few links from high authority websites that are relevant to your industry than a slew of backlinks from a low-quality site.
#4: Submit Your Site to Search Engines
Myth: You must submit your site to search engines.
Truth: Search engines will find you.
Most likely when you purchased your domain, the registrar or hosting company offered to do “SEO” for your website as an add-on. For only a few dollars a month, they will submit your site to the search engines. Usually these are submissions to low traffic search engines.
This may have been valuable in the late 90s, but today the big search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing have methods to find new websites quickly. They don’t require you to submit your site. Instead, focus on building your company’s online presence and let the search engines do what they’re made to do.
#5: Focus on Most Searched Keyword
Myth: Focus on the keyword with the most searches.
Truth: You want to rank high for big keywords. However, when you’re just beginning, it’s a long, uphill battle. Instead, find long tail keywords that people may search before making a purchase. Typically, these keywords have less competition and therefore are easier to rank. You may end up bringing in buyers while working toward the big keywords.
#6: Use Meta Descriptions and Keywords
Myth: Meta Descriptions and Keywords will help you rank.
Truth: Google has ignored meta descriptions and keywords for several years now and they will not help your website rank. However, if you abuse them, they can hurt your rankings. Meta keywords are essentially pointless. If you really are set on using them, feel free to add a few words.
Meta descriptions are still important for conversions (not ranking). The search engines can ignore this field, but typically this is what they will display in the search engines when your website appears. We see this as a fast opportunity for you to convince a potential visitor to go to your website. Write the description to appeal to a potential customer, not stuff it with keywords.
#7: Use All 3 H Tags and Keywords
Myth: Using all 3 H tags and keywords will increase your rankings.
Truth: This myth is not very old, but it is no longer true. The three “H” (Heading) tags are H1, H2 and H3. They are a code added to make a text larger on a webpage. Instead of using these to try and increase rankings, use them as they were meant to be: headings. Use them to break up large chunks of content to make your website more readable. If it makes sense to add keywords, then add them. If it doesn’t, leave them out.
In essence, use H tags and keywords for the ease of your visitors, not the search engines.
#8: SEO Is A One Time Service
Myth: SEO is a one time service.
Truth: SEO is an ongoing process.
There are parts to SEO that only need to be done one time. However, SEO as a whole is an ongoing process. Your website should grow with your business. Adding content, acquiring links and growing your digital footprint are tasks that need ongoing attention. As time progresses, revisit your site to make updates and increase your rankings.
#9: Using HTTPS Helps
Myth: Using HTTPS helps increase rankings.
Truth: This only a partial myth. It helps only when implemented correctly, however most businesses don’t do it correctly and actually see a decrease in traffic.
HTTPS is designed for sites that have secure data such as banks, e-commerce sites and social media platforms. It is made for security purposes and there are different levels of SSL certificate quality.
#10: Misplaced Trust
Myth: My (insert family member) just graduated with a marketing degree, so he/she can do my SEO.
Truth: It may sound silly, but it’s more common than you’d think. While this individual may be proficient at marketing, it is not the same as being proficient in SEO. An expert in marketing may help you with certain pieces of SEO, but it’s important to trust someone who uses SEO every day and is aware of the changes in the SEO world. If you’re going to trust your marketing expert, trust them in marketing, not necessarily SEO.
#11: Make Your Site Bigger
Myth: Bigger sites always rank better.
Truth: There is some truth to this statement. However, it depends on the content. If you are simply pumping out “junk” content to make your site bigger (or worse, copying content) it will not help you rank. If you can create a large website that contributes valuable information to your target market, your rankings will increase.
#12: Rank #1
Myth: Ranking #1 is all that matters.
Truth: We would all love to rank number one. Remember that only one website per keyword can hold that position. While it is definitely a goal to strive for, it’s not the only way to direct traffic to your site. By leveraging long tail keywords, social media, paid traffic and local listings, you can build a very successful online presence. Aim to rank for the #1 spot, but if you are #2 or #3, you’re doing great.
You’ve met your objective in this chapter of debunking common misconceptions about best practices in SEO.