If you search the keyword “SEO” right now on Google, there are over 3 billion results.
Beyond that, there are tens of thousands of SEOs from all over the world trying to rank for keywords ranging from legal advice to how to keep a flat tummy in old age.
Then, you have Google, the most reputable source when it comes to their own algorithm, who provides general information about ranking high, but never talks in absolute terms.
When you combine these situations, then it’s inevitable that there will be many “experts” who shout at the top of their voices to promote SEO myths, that are not backed by data and experience.
Sadly, taking these myths as gospel and using them to form your SEO strategy can lead to poor search rankings.
In this post, we’ll bust the 10 most common SEO myths you should always watch out for.
Who knows, you may find myths that you currently believe.
1. SEO is a “set and forget it” task
It’s a common scenario to see a business hire an SEO freelancer for a month. Their job? To carry out an SEO audit and optimize their pages for search engines.
The problem with this is that many businesses have an erroneous approach to SEO. Unfortunately, you can only have lasting results if you work on your SEO regularly.
For instance, new information always becomes available in many industries. In such cases, you need to update your pages to remain valuable to a visitor.
For some keywords, you can lose your rankings if you fail to update your pages. Furthermore, you may need to update internal links when adding new pages to your website.
Another reason you can’t set and forget SEO is the need to experiment with essential page elements and track changes in performance. As long as your website is online, you need to track your results constantly and take action when necessary.
2. Keyword density affects rankings
In most cases, your keywords tell search engines what your page is all about. Therefore, it’s important to have a large variety of target keywords on a page.
Albeit, there’s no need to get cunny. You’ll see many recommendations about what percentage of your page should be your keyword. In fact, some WordPress plugins help you track your keyword density.
In reality, adding a specific number of keywords wouldn’t get you to the top of the rankings. And if you stuff your page with keywords, it will affect your rankings negatively.
Ultimately, while creating your pieces of content, you should be more focused on providing value to your audience. So, even when you have keywords on your page, it should look like natural language.
3. Word count is a ranking factor
Over the years, pages that rank at the top of the rankings have a high word count. According to a study by Brian Dean, posts that ranked first had an average of 1,890 words.
But does this mean that if you just write a blog post with 1,890 words, you’ll rank first for your target keyword? Of course not.
This is just a case of correlation being mistaken for causation. In reality, many factors affect a page’s search rankings.
Longer content is only better if that length helps it provide more valuable information to its audience. Otherwise, adding more words to your page for the sake of it is just a waste of time.
Now, look at another study by Searchmetrics that looked at features of top-ranking pages across industries:
Here, the word count varies across niches. Therefore, your page should only be long enough to provide relevant information to the visitor.
4. Backlinks are dead
Many years ago, you could buy tens of backlinks and watch your page rise in the search rankings. When Google threw those pages off the rankings, many of that black hat tactic died down.
But some have overcorrected on that issue by claiming that backlinks are now unnecessary. Of course, that’s not true.
As a matter of fact, backlinks remain one of the most crucial ranking factors. And this is because of the psychology behind it.
One way Google can judge a quality page is to watch what other online experts think about it. Therefore, backlinks can be seen as votes of confidence favoring a particular page.
So, if reputable websites in a niche link to a page, it’s an indirect way to say the page is valuable.
5. Buying backlinks in bulk will help your rankings
While having backlinks to your pages is important, buying them is the wrong way to go about it. That’s because these links are invariably low quality and from spammy sites.
Moreso, these sites are sending spammy backlinks to other websites. If you engage in this practice, it’s only a matter of time before your page drops out of the ranking altogether.
On the other hand, the best backlinks you want to build are editorial backlinks. These are websites that link to your pages without asking.
The next best is to engage in email outreach to have backlinks from pages whose audience will obtain value from your post.
Guest posting is another great alternative to control the content that is being written about your website and make sure the links are written in a natural way.
6. Social signal is a ranking factor
Today, most websites share their posts on social media. After all, their visitors are there.
In some cases, posts can take off in popularity when they go viral on social media. Sometimes, you can also see these posts rise in search rankings.
Does that mean social signals have helped these posts rank directly? No.
This is just a case of correlation. However, social signals can help a page obtain ranking signals. For instance, a popular page on social media can get more traffic and backlinks.
Apart from that, more social shares won’t directly make your page rank higher.
7. Running Google Ads will increase organic rankings
Seeing your ads at the top of Google rankings can make you happy. Enjoy it while your budget lasts and optimize your ads for optimum conversions.
However, don’t expect your ad rankings to filter into your rankings. As stated by John Mueller, PPC algorithm is separate from Google's algorithm.
Of course, as a result of your ads, you can have more traffic and backlinks to the advertised page. In that case, that will be due to your page quality and not because Google is helping your SEO efforts.
8. Keyword research is unnecessary
If keyword density has little impact on rankings, does that nullify the impact of keyword research? After all, what’s the point of targeting a keyword?
Well, it’s not as simple as that. Keyword research provides more insight into the terms your potential audience is putting into the search box.
In many cases, searcher intent can differ across similar keywords. Therefore, keyword research can help you uncover the right keywords to target in your posts.
You can use metrics such as search volume, keyword difficulty, click-through rates, cost-per-click, potential traffic, etc. to determine the right keyword strategy for your website.
9. Domain authority is a ranking factor
If you have a big site with high domain authority, then ranking high must be easy, right? Not so fast.
When Google stopped using PageRank, SEO tools developed ways to rate domains and pages. The most popular are domain (DA) and page authority (PA) by Moz. Others are domain rating (DR) and URL rating (UR) by Ahrefs.
As a result, most businesses judge their SEO efforts on these metrics. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t use them in its rankings.
Then, why do these websites often rank higher than sites with lower domain and page authority? These websites have acquired thousands of backlinks over the years and tend to produce valuable content.
Even though it’s difficult, “smaller” websites still rank ahead of big websites for some keywords.
10. There is a duplicate content penalty
Considering the size of the internet, it’s almost impossible to police duplicate content. So what does Google do about duplicate content?
Contrary to popular opinion, Google doesn’t remove websites with duplicate content from its index. However, it determines the best version, pushes it up the rankings, and drives the other versions down.
This is because sometimes, duplicate pages are present in the same domain. Therefore, if you copy content from other websites, you should be more afraid of being sued.
Believing in SEO myths can lead you to take the wrong actions for your SEO efforts.
In light of this, you should always watch out for these myths while planning your SEO strategy. Of course, there are more myths than we’ve covered in this post.
Is there a myth you feel should be mentioned? Tell us in the comments!