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by Astri Suciati

November 29, 2019

Action Guides 7 min read

Debunking 10 Common Myths About SEO

SEO — or search engine optimization — is the pillar of any digital marketing strategy.

It improves your search engine ranking, drives organic traffic to your web pages, and increases the chance of conversions.

But like any popular strategy, you’re bound to meet misinformation and malpractices along the way.

Putting SEO myths into practice can put a dent on your campaigns. They’re often outdated, sneaky, and overall a complete waste of time.

Why are there so many myths about SEO?

Myths about SEO spring from the desire for quick results.

But in the world of SEO, quick and easy hardly yields anything positive. Much like snake oil scams and get rich quick schemes, they’re a waste of time and effort. And in some cases, could end up damaging your website ranking for good.

Keep reading to learn the most common SEO myths — and the truth behind them.

10 of the Most Common Myths about SEO

1. SEO is FAKE

“SEO is fake, and anyone who offers SEO services is scamming me off my money.”.

The truth:

SEO gets a bad rap from scam, ripoff services. But this shouldn’t put you off it.

To highlight — SEO is one of the most legitimate ways to drive qualified leads to your website.

Make sure you partner with a company that looks out for your best interests. They should be able to send you details about your campaign performance on a regular basis.

And one thing we couldn’t stress enough: if they guarantee # 1 rankings in a day, week or month — you might be looking at a scam.

SEO is an ongoing process. Whether you choose to work with an SEO service provider or DIY, it takes time to actually see the results.

2. SEO is all about keywords, keywords, keywords!

“The more keywords, the better, right?”

The truth:

Technically, keywords DO play an important role in SEO. But when you’re using them in excess, you’ll be doing your website more harm than good.

“Keyword stuffing” is the practice of cramming keywords into website content. They could appear out of context or repeated several times in a paragraph.

For example:

We are Indonesia’s # 1 supplier of dried shrimp. We specialize in exporting dried shrimp around Southeast Asia. If you want to buy bulk dried shrimp, contact our dried shrimp suppliers at:

[email protected]

It looks spammy and unreadable, but hey, as long as it gets you better rankings!

Not quite. It’s all fun and games until Google catches wind of what you’re doing — and penalizes you for it. You could end up getting kicked off search engine results for good.

Use keywords the honest to goodness way:

Map out your keywords

Instead of a single keyword — think of a whole theme of keywords.

Suppose you want your website to rank for “vegan cafe Jakarta”. Your homepage can mention your vegan cafe in general, while other pages mention your all-vegan menu or the benefits of a vegan diet.

Know where to insert keywords on your web pages

In your headers:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description and meta keywords tag

In your content:

  • Headers and subheaders
  • Page content
  • Alt and Title attributes

Not only do you get on the good side of search engines, you also create a better user experience.

Download our FREE Guide: How to Write an Effective Meta Title and Description

3. Google penalizes duplicate content

3. Google penalizes duplicate content

“Duplicate content means that my web pages will compete against each other and in turn, hurt my rankings.”

The truth

Google doesn’t penalize duplicate content. In fact, they’ve debunked this years ago in a 2008 Google Webmaster blog.

Google understands that duplicate content is normal for websites. So the search engine consolidates duplicate content and displays just one version on search results.

The only downside of duplicate content is that it lowers the quality of your website. But it’s nothing a 301 redirect can’t fix.

You can learn more about this and other tips to fixing duplicate content here.

4. SEO is a one-time thing

4. SEO is a one-time thing

“I can do SEO once and the results will last a lifetime!”

The truth:

Remember when we said SEO is an ongoing process?

Even after a successful campaign, you can’t expect the results to stay positive forever.

You need continuous maintenance to keep your authority. This means regularly updating content, staying up to date with the latest search engine algorithms, building your presence on and off your website.

You should also monitor your website ranking regularly with the help of tools like SERPRobot, SERPWatcher, and Alexa Rank.

5. Keyword research is a waste of time

5. Keyword research is a waste of time

“Keyword research is irrelevant!”

The truth:

Keyword research is still important. We repeat: It is still relevant, important, and all-powering!

But here’s the catch. The approach to keyword research has changed over the years thanks to the latest Google algorithms. RankBrain, for example, is Google’s latest machine learning technology that looks at context when ranking your website.

So say you search the word SEO. Instead of displaying ads of SEO services, Google presents the definition of SEO in the form of a rich snippet.

(note to design: i got this from searching on SEO on google)

So what does this all mean for keyword strategy?

Simple: When conducting keyword research, you need to adapt to the changing search engine landscape. For RankBrain, optimize your keyword strategy by focusing on search intent instead blindly targeting popular keywords.

By understanding the intent behind every keyword, you put yourself in the position of users.

The best part is, there are a lot of FREE tools that’ll help you find the keywords to rank for. Google, for example, offers a suite of tools including Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console.

SEO extraordinaire Neil Patel also has a free tool you can work with. Try out Ubersuggest — we did and we’re loving the app so far!

6. Long form content = higher rankings

6. Long form content = higher rankings

“The longer my content, the more it can improve search engine rankings.”

The truth:

Well, it is true.

Long-form content invites more clicks, shares, and engagement. And Google’s RankBrain algorithm is known to favour long-form content over shorter ones.

But before you go, “ha!” — hear us out. Long-form content needs to be backed up by credibility.

Meaning, it isn’t as simple as writing a 3,000-word essay. You need to come up with sticky, valuable content that answers a user’s search queries.

If you manage to do this — you’ll be looking at higher click-thru rates, higher dwell times, and YES, higher site rankings.

7. Guest blogging is obsolete

7. Guest blogging is obsolete

“If you’re using guest blogging for link building … stop, it’s a waste of time.”

The truth:

You’ll find some so-called SEO experts who preach against guest blogging.

But guest blogging is alive and well. Top websites like the New York Times, eHow, CNN, Buzzfeed, and Mashable rely on guest blogging.

The truth is that when it comes to guest blogging, neither the guest or the content is the problem — it’s the context.

You wouldn’t be writing a financial article on a marketing website. And it wouldn’t be smart to reuse the same content over and over again on different websites. You could end up being penalised or banned from the web forever.

Follow these smart guest blogging tips below:

  • Avoid spam blogs. These blogs are written with the sole purpose to sell links/ads.
  • Do not chase links, build relationships. Write for websites that are related to your niche. And make it a point to guest blog to share insights and establish your credibility.
  • Create high-quality content for end users, something that will be able to resonate with them. And don't leave it at that, reply to comments and build your email list.

8. Keyword anchor texts have no ranking power

8. Keyword anchor texts have no ranking power

“Content with keyword-rich anchor texts can get you penalized."

The truth:

Some marketers argue that link building is becoming risky business for SEO.

But in truth, you only put your website at risk when you over-optimize your anchor texts.

Before the Google Penguin update, it was possible to use keyword-rich anchor texts for both internal and external links. Now it's considered a violation.

Don’t ruin your website’s SEO. You can always change your approach by playing it safe.

Bad anchor text:

We sell quality medicinal herbs.
Links to: acme.com/quality-medicinal-herbs

The takeaway? Stop linking to websites that use the exact keyword on its URL.

Focus on building these types of anchor texts instead:

  • Natural anchor text. It could be keyword-rich, brand or URL anchor text, but it should flow naturally with the rest of the content. These are mostly editorial links and will definitely impact your rankings.
  • Brand name or brand URL anchor text. Or better yet, a brand name + a keyword.
  • Generic anchor text. Over 50% of all generic anchor texts have one to three words in it. So when using generic word anchors, stick to three words, like check this out, visit our website, learn more here, etc.

9. Using Google Ads will increase organic ranking

9. Using Google Ads will increase organic ranking

“Advertising with Google Ads increases your organic rankings.”

The truth:

Paid rankings and organic rankings function at different levels.

Organic search results come from the index database, while sponsored links depend on your bid and investment. The conversion rate of traffic to PPC sponsored links is usually much higher compared to organic traffic.

But while paid ads DO increase conversion rates of organic results, they’re in no way related to SEO.

10. Social signals are a ranking factor

10. Social signals are a ranking factor

“Google measures everything from your number of followers to your poor choice of Instagram filters.”

The truth:

A hard no. Search engines like Google don’t view social media as a ranking factor.

But indirectly — a strong social media presence does help your SEO. Think about it, social media increases brand recognition and visibility.

By putting out interesting content that links to your web pages, you’ll start building backlinks and drive more traffic to your website.

Conclusion

You’ll find so many SEO myths floating around the internet.

Don’t let them deter you from executing a successful SEO plan. Remember to separate fact from fiction with the help of proper research. And when you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to consult an SEO professional or agency.

Want more SEO Tips? Read our helpful guides here:

A No-Stress, No-Fuss Guide to On-Page and Off-Page SEO
Local SEO for Beginners: 5 Ways You Can Win Local Search

Skip to section

1. SEO is FAKE
2. SEO is all about keywords, keywords, keywords!
3. Google penalizes duplicate content
4. SEO is a one-time thing
5. Keyword research is a waste of time
6. Long form content = higher rankings
7. Guest blogging is obsolete
8. Keyword anchor texts have no ranking power
9. Using Google Ads will increase organic ranking
10. Social signals are a ranking factor