8 Common SEO Myths and Misconceptions

Greg Miles | 15 October 2015

SEO is often seen as a bit of a dark art.

You might have been contacted by an SEO firm in the past that wasn’t entirely above-board. Your own website may even have fallen victim to some dicey black hat practices.

With such practitioners lurking the back alleys of the interweb, a frightening amount of misinformation that could damage your marketing efforts exists online.

The industry has changed dramatically over the years, and with Google Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon updates, staying on the right track can be a dizzying task. But it’s important that you know what’s outdated, what’s harmful and what’s simply a waste of effort, so that you can focus your energy on white hat search engine optimisation strategies.

Let’s debunk the common SEO myths and misconceptions so you can begin working on the things that are going to impact your website’s organic search traffic.

1. I Need to Submit My Site to Google

The idea that you need to submit your site to Google in order to be indexed is a load of baloney.

Although there is an option to manually submit your URL to Google Search Console, doing so is a waste of your time. Search engines have ‘bots’ that crawl the web to collect information, and report what they find back to Google to be indexed. They will look for you, they will find you, and they will rank you.

2. Stuffing Keywords in My Content Will Boost My Ranking

This is so 2011, but occasionally I see it happen which means there are still people out there who think this is a good idea.

Keyword stuffing is the process of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the SEO playbook – and guess what. Google is onto it. In fact Google was onto it five years ago.

That doesn’t mean keywords aren’t relevant anymore. They are still fundamental to SEO. But if you keep adding keywords so that it appears unnatural to the human reader, you are trying to game the system. Don’t do it or you will be penalised.

3. Keywords Need to Be an Exact Match

When writing content, the focus should always be on pleasing the human reader, rather than trying to ‘over-optimise’ the page for robots. Keywords do not need to be repeated verbatim throughout your content.

Search engines use synonyms and related terms to work out what a page is all about. They have a very clever system called LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) that means a page can rank for search queries that don’t include an exact match of keywords.

For example, if you search for “motivational quotes” in Google, you are also likely to see pages that include the keyphrase “inspirational quotes” in the results.

4. Social Media Doesn’t Affect My Ranking

Social media absolutely does affect your ranking.

There is still debate around whether or not social shares directly impact your rankability (that should be a word). But even if it doesn’t; the more your content is shared, the more it is engaged with, and the more it is engaged with, the higher it will rank.

The increased visibility also means your content is more likely to attract inbound links. This definitely affects SEO, so make sure you have a solid social media strategy in place.

5. Content Marketing Has Replaced SEO

Has content marketing replaced SEO? IS content marketing SEO?

Well, the two are very closely related. They both need each other to be effective. Your site needs high quality content to engage visitors, but you need SEO to bring them there.

Today, driving traffic to your website (and that is the goal, right?) requires a much broader marketing lens than traditional SEO tactics. Content marketing hasn’t replaced SEO per se, but you do need a consistent stream of high quality, compelling content in order to achieve your SEO goals.

6. The More Links The Better

Having more inbound links will not help your site rank highly, unless those links are high quality.

A high quality link is a link from a trusted website that has authority. Having one link from a site like Forbes will have a better impact on your site’s ranking than 1000 links from spammy content farms. In fact, spam links will get your site penalised and you can lose your ranking over night.

You should focus on having relevant and diverse sources that link to high quality content on your site. Quality over quantity, every time.

7. SEO is a One Time Thing

SEO can not be done once and then left to soak up all that juicy traffic forever. Search engines are constantly being updated to improve the user experience, and your site will need to be updated in alignment with these changes, as well as the competition in your space.

Google also loves fresh content. That means new content will outrank your currently-high-ranking pages if you don’t update them in the future.

8. SEO is Dead

If by ‘SEO’ you mean trying to manipulate search engines to rank a site higher than it deserves to be, then yes, SEO is dead. But hold up, because that isn’t SEO.

Search engine optimisation means working to make a site more accessible to search engines. It’s the art of making a website better, so that it does deserve to be ranked higher. The approaches might change over time, and today it is just one part of a bigger marketing picture.

But SEO is very much alive, and it will be for as long as people use search engines.