5 SEO Myths You Need To Stop Believing

Perhaps nothing in marketing creates as much anxiety, as much speculation and as many theories, as the topic of search engine optimisation. To the modern marketer, Google has become the all-powerful god who works in mysterious ways, which explains the whole body of myth and legend about how to appease, trick and satisfy its appetites.

But there is a way from the darkness into the light. It’s time to stop believing in these five SEO myths that are still being recited in offices and marketing departments throughout the world.

1.             “Get a few more keywords in – the more the better”

This is the most ancient tale of all, basically SEO’s answer to the Creation Myth. If you still haven’t realised that keyword stuffing belongs in the mists of Internet time, perhaps a verse from the SEO bible, or Google’s own guidelines, will enlighten you:

“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.

Google Webmaster Tools

Use relevant keywords of course, but don’t overdo it! Copy should be well-written and natural.

2.              “We need to get as many links to our site as possible”

Another misguided path, the discredited cult of link-building still has its devoted adherents. These believers cling to the hope that building as many links as possible to their site on external pages is the key to rising in the search engine rankings.

And to be fair, for a long time, it was. SEO consultants and DIY web marketers happily went about embedding backlinks in directories, and buying links on sites, often with little regard to quality and relevance.

But then Google sent Penguin and Panda, two major updates of the ranking system, to punish the bad and reward the good. Suddenly, many sites were suffering because of those poor ‘link-farming’ practices. The focus now has to be on quality links i.e. on relevant sites and pages, and quality content.

3.              “We need to cut down all our links

Another thunderbolt from heaven came earlier this year, when well-known flower company, Interflora, suffered a dramatic loss of ranking because it had been paying for backlinks on reputable news sites. Interflora was temporarily removed from the search results for relevant terms, including its own brand name.

In the wake of this and similar horror stories, a wave of repentant SEO marketers have been trying to redeem themselves by overzealous link cleaning. But beware going too far in the opposite direction. When it comes to link-building, it’s a case of ‘all things in moderation.’ Too many links can be harmful, but so can too few. As always quality, not quantity, should be the rule of thumb.

4.              “The SEO team is responsible for SEO”

Blasphemy! No one who writes, posts or manages any kind of online content for the company can wash their hands of SEO. In a truly effective search strategy, there needs to be an broad awareness of the relevant keywords, techniques and aims of the approach. That includes the PR team, whose press releases end up online, the community managers, whose social media posts contribute to rankings, and even the HR department, who need to be optimising job specifications. Good communication between the SEO team or agency and the rest of the company is vital.

And as time goes on, and content marketing becomes more and more the norm, the lines between SEO and other departments will slowly fade.

5.              “SEO – it all seems a bit dishonest, doesn’t it?”

Although there are probably as many sinners as saints in the church of SEO, don’t be left thinking that the whole business is a sordid one. The mighty Google itself dedicates a large section of its guidelines to search engine optimisation, do’s and don’ts, and how to find the right SEO consultant.

Done right, good search engine optimisation is an excellent way to promote your business and get the attention of customers.

Let’s finish with some key commandments:

  • Focus on building links from good-quality, relevant sites
  • Keep abreast of developments in SEO, as search engine algorithms are frequently updated
  • Make sure your content is unique and interesting
  • Don’t panic!

Want to know more about the shift to quality content in SEO? Read What is Content Marketing.

by Ahmed Ahmed, Online PR Manager at inbound marketing consultancy, Tomorrow People