Each time that Google releases a new algorithm or updates a current one, shudders run down the spines of SEOs everywhere. However, with each passing day, the number of myths about SEO (and its future) seems to increase. From the beginning of search engine optimization as a well-known tactic, to its current position as a critical factor in website visibility, myths and misconceptions surrounding SEO have emerged. In this piece, we identify some of the most common myths about SEO and try to shatter those misconceptions once and for all.
Myth: Link Building is Dead
This is perhaps the most common SEO myth floating around today. The rebuttal to this myth is difficult because there isn’t one, clear answer. Link building was black-balled in 2010 when Google began releasing Panda and Penguin algorithms and subsequent updates. Evan Pryce, the head of SEO at SUSO, says that “all the Google penalty propaganda and prevalence of spammy link building has led some people to decry the fine art of link building, claiming that pushing to gain links to improve your rankings will land you in hot water with Google.”
In reality, link building is not dead and won’t die anytime in the near future. In order to compete in their respective industries, webmasters will need to maintain some element of link building. The approach that you take in building links to your site comes with risks. If you cut corners or try to build links quickly, you’ll likely pay the price on search engine results pages. However, smart link building remains an effective tool for improving your rankings without garnering negative attention from Google.
How can you safely build links to your site? The best approach is to build personal and professional relationships with influential figures in your industry. When you gain links from personal relationships you gain an advantage over your competitors because they cannot easily replicate your efforts.
Myth: Keyword Stuffing and Density
We’ve all seen a website or snippet of content on a search results page that stinks of spam. For years, search engines have relied upon keywords to measure the value of a website and rank it appropriately following a user’s query. Content creation was once plagued by writers stuffing keywords into sentences and paragraphs in grossly unnatural ways, creating content that did not flow easily and was rough to read. Even worse, there were websites that had the same one or two keywords mentioned over and over again.
With the release of each new Google algorithm, keyword stuffing and density was put on the naughty list when it came to content creation. Again, rebutting this myth is complicated. On the one hand, unnatural keywords are still frowned upon by search engine algorithms. However, according to MOZ, keyword density has been proven a false alarm time and again. Keywords should be used intelligently when creating fresh content, and should always be placed on your website in a manner that is easily read and feels natural to the reader’s tongue.
Myth: Paid Search Bolsters Organic Results
While this is not the most common SEO myth like our first one on this list, this concept generates the most intense debate among SEOs. Again, MOZ points out that this myth is false. There is no evidence to suggest that spending money on search engine advertising can improve your organic SEO rankings. All of the big search engines have internal walls in their systems that prevent search engine advertisings to crossover and impact a website’s ranking on the results page.
Webmasters still spend millions of dollars each month advertising with Google and other search engines, but it rarely provides a positive result. All the money in the world has failed to break down that internal wall and allow big spenders to get special access or consideration from search engines to improve standings for particular keywords.
Myth: Content Marketing tops SEO
Both SEO and content marketing have existed for years. At one point in time, content was created with the sole purpose of improving rankings in Google search results. The quality of the content was viewed as an afterthought. As long as new content was able to improve a site’s standing on search engine results pages, its quality was irrelevant. This was the first target of Google’s fury when new algorithms were introduced.
Steve Beatty, senior SEO director at Covario, says that “many people took advantage of this, creating bad user experiences for online searchers. Google began to roll out aggressive algorithmic updates to combat it. This in essence forced marketers, PR specialists, and SEOs to change their strategies and collaborate more to create content that can reap benefits across various channels.”
The reality is that content marketing and SEO are not mutually exclusive factors. When you create content, it has to be useful to users and worth sharing on social media platforms. By creating content that users want to engage with and share with others, content marketing gets legs of its own and helps improve the visibility of your website.
SEO Alone Drives Viewers to Your Site
We saved this myth for last because it might just be the most dangerous myth out there. The phrase “content is king” is often used to describe the importance of SEO for any company, webmaster, marketer, or advertiser. The fact is that SEO alone cannot provide the return on investment that many people believe it can. Josh Meah, co-founder and COO of JackMyRep.com, told CIO.com that “the truth is that most purchasers of SEO services have the correct expectation that SEO can help drive business, but the wrong knowledge as to how SEO actually helps.”
SEO will help your company generate higher levels of web traffic, but it will not drive business and higher revenues on its own. Fresh, relevant content will bring customers to the counter (if you will), but it is still imperative to close the deal with quality on-page experiences for users. Your visitors need to have a positive experience with every facet of your business. Content will bring them in, but your reputation and the experience users have with your products, services, and staff will seal the sale.