20 SEO Myths You Can Safely Leave Behind Now It’s 2020!
Searching for information on the right way to do SEO for your business can be a bit of a nightmare at times.
You’ve probably come across countless articles each telling you something different that you absolutely must try…today…right now!!
Yes, there are some essential strategies to implement in your search engine optimisation strategy as soon as you can but there are some absolutely stinking lies and SEO myths that are persistently sticking around in the marketing stratosphere.
So, for 2020 I decided to run through the 20 SEO myths you really can forget about today and gain some higher search rankings as a result.
What is an SEO Myth?
An SEO myth is a persistent incorrect belief that’s shared by many people about the right or wrong way to perform search engine optimisation on a website.
20 SEO Myths to forget about in 2020
- SEO is a onetime fix
- SEO plugins are a complete solution
- Image optimisation is a nice add on
- SEO is about ranking #1
- Invest in Google Ads to improve your SEO
- Local SEO doesn’t matter for virtual businesses
- Your main keyword should be in the domain
- Buying links is an easy way to the top
- More backlinks are better for SEO
- Link building is dead
- You shouldn’t link out to other websites
- Social media marketing doesn’t help with SEO
- You need to use as many keywords as possible
- Keep churning out content for the same keyword
- Article spinning is an easy hack for better SEO
- Longer content ranks better
- A/B testing prevents good SEO
- SEO is all about technical stuff
- You’ll immediately see results from SEO
- SEO is a scam
Myth 1 – SEO is a onetime fix
I’m often asked to “do the SEO” on a website that’s either new or struggling to make any impact. In either case, most people expect me to fix the issues and wave me a thank you and goodbye only to come back a few years later to say they’re having problems with their traffic and conversion rates.
Search engine optimisation is a form of marketing that comes with a wide range of benefits but like any form of marketing, for it to be effective it needs to be applied consistently.
Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms and we only get to hear about the biggest updates. Unless you’re constantly working on SEO and keeping to best practice, big fixes every few months or years isn’t going to keep you ahead of your competitors.
Myth 2 – SEO plugins are a complete solution
If you think installing Yoast or RankMath or any other SEO plugin and doing what they tell you is enough to keep on top of your search engine optimisation, I have to tell you that sadly, it’s not, this is an SEO myth.
SEO plugins are useful as a general guide to on page optimisation and things you should be looking out for, but they don’t tell you about technical issues, image optimisation problems with file size, file name, etc. They miss just as much as they can help you with.
I’m not saying don’t use them, just take them with a pinch and salt and realise that there are many aspects of SEO they don’t take care of.
Myth 3 – Image optimisation is a nice add on
No, sorry. Image optimisation is essential to ranking well on search engines.
So many websites I’m asked to audit and fix for SEO have no image alt text (or it’s the filename), a filename that’s not relevant to the content, is the wrong size and file type, and in some cases, breaches copyright.
Fixing all of these issues can have a dramatic effect on your website’s SEO.
Reducing the file size of your images and using the correct file type for the purpose of the image (i.e. don’t use .png unless you need a transparent background, stick to jpg) can quickly reduce page loading times. The less time your audience has to wait the more likely to stick around and read your content sending those all-important social signals to Google that your content is of high value.
Image alt text is about accessibility for your audience. Helping disabled people access your website with assistance from a screen reader. Describing the image and it’s context to your content can make all the difference in helping a potential client understand what you’re about and how you can help them (and yes, everyone has disabled people in their audience so don’t think it doesn’t apply to you!)
Google will also read the alt text to understand the purpose of the image and how it relates to the website, that added info can be beneficial in Google understanding your website better and ranking appropriately.
Myth 4 – SEO is about ranking #1
Wait, I’m telling you that’s wrong?
Yes, yes I am. This is one of the biggest SEO myths out there.
Ranking is important for driving traffic to your website and getting those new clients through your door but it isn’t the only goal. SEO is about generating the right traffic for your website rather than just any traffic – 1000 website visitors from your number 1 spot might sound good but if only 10 of those become customers, is it? Wouldn’t it be better to have 50 visitors from a number 6 position but have 40 of them convert?
Just because your website is in the top spot for your preferred keywords doesn’t mean your SEO strategy is helping your business to increase its revenue and grow. Sometimes those lower ranking keywords are the ones bringing in the money, especially if those top spots are taken by government websites, etc that you can never compete against.
Myth 5 – Invest in Google Ads to improve your SEO
If you really want to appear at the top of Google search results, paying for an ad is the easiest way to do it but it’s not going to directly benefit your organic SEO campaign.
One way that PPC ads can help is by driving more traffic to your website which can then lead to improved brand awareness and recognition and a higher probability of your organic search listings being clicked on.
But when you stop those adverts, that traffic will disappear.
Google Ads can be expensive and can work if you need a lot of traffic very quickly, for a seasonal promotion, for example. But ultimately, paid ads don’t influence your natural search results and need to be in conjunction with a good SEO strategy rather than replacing one.
Myth 6 – Local SEO doesn’t matter for virtual businesses
I often hear that if you don’t have physical premises you don’t need to worry about local SEO but that’s another of those pesky myths!
Local SEO can be beneficial for any website, no matter what you do.
It’s easier to rank locally than compete with thousands of websites around the world and even if your audience are aware that the service you do is remote, or that you ship around the world, most people will still use their location in a search query.
As Google knows the location of its search users, it’s not unusual for local listings to appear at the top of the results even without a location-based search query.
It also helps with your credibility if you have a Google Business profile with location and reviews that your potential customers can check up on.
Myth 7 – Your main keyword should be in the domain
This is just wrong.
It may have worked once, many years ago but these days? I find some domain names are quite cheesy when they’ve squeezed a search term in like plumbingsuppliesderby.com, for example. It kinda puts me off as a customer than a website that has taken care and thought over its website and marketing.
Google uses advanced AI to understand your website and what it’s about. If you’re selling plumbing supplies online and have some general blogs about plumbing, Google will know that you sell plumbing supplies (and if you’ve done local SEO, that you’re in Derby!)
Also, keyword domains are expensive! Don’t fall for the trap and fork out more than you need to for a domain name.
Myth 8 – Buying links is an easy way to the top
Getting those emails offering to sell you links to “high domain authority websites”?
I also see link buying ads all over the place in SEO groups online – they get ignored because yet again, this is another SEO myth.
It is not an easy way to the top, it’s more likely to be an easy way to the bottom of search results thanks to potential Google penalties.
The same goes for paid guest posts too.
Google can catch on quite quickly to what it sees as an attempt to beat its algorithms, and when it does so will flag your website and penalise it. Even if you remove those links and the associated content, your website may never regain its search rankings or get high results for new content.
It simple isn’t worth the risk.p>
Myth 9 – More backlinks are better for SEO
The number of backlinks on your website doesn’t directly correlate to better SEO.
Indeed, too many can be seen as a red flag by Google and lead to penalties.
It’s the quality of the links that matter. Focusing too much on volume can mean that you lose relevancy for your audience and potentially be seen as spammy. One high-quality backlink can drive prospects to your website that are already interested in you and what you do, and lead to new clients and higher revenues.
Myth 10 – Link building is dead
Just because you shouldn’t buy links or have too many doesn’t mean that link building is dead.
It’s still a valuable way of improving the experience for your users, and that’s how you need to look at it.
By posting genuine blogs on related websites that naturally link back to your website through the content (for example, if I wrote an article on easy SEO tips for virtual assistants on a VA association website), or answering questions on Quora and including links to my content that provides further information on the topic; I’m creating links from my external websites to my own that provides value to my audience.
If you’re unsure about link building the right way, Google has a handy page highlighting the strategies to avoid.
Myth 11 – You shouldn’t link out to other websites
This is one of those SEO myths that I’ve always struggled to understand where it started.
Back when I was a copywriter, I was often told off by my clients for including links to other websites. These weren’t competitors, they were professional bodies, government guidelines, etc. The kind of valuable content you absolutely should be linking to on your website.
“I don’t want the visitors on my website to go anywhere else,”
Was often the cited reason.
Really? They’re going to sit there reading your website forever?
Pedantry aside, you can create links that open in a new tab/window so they don’t leave your website at all but that’s not the point. A website without links going out (but a ton coming in) can be seen as attempting to cheat the system by Google and it doesn’t provide the best user experience.
Referencing and linking to sites that have authority in your industry and are relevant to your content/business will be seen as a natural way to build links, provide additional value to your audience and help you gain additional authority with Google.
Myth 12 – Social media marketing doesn’t help with SEO
In my opinion, the opposite is true. Good social media marketing plays a vital, supportive role with your SEO campaign.
Social sharing is a fantastic way to increase the traffic to your website naturally and send those signals back to Google that your content is seen as valuable by your audience. You’re also creating new links to your website that help with indexing and being visible to your audience, and Google.
What you share on social media helps Google build a bigger picture about you and what you do, and how your website plays a part in that. Indeed, some social media platforms like Pinterest can help your website appear in Google search results for some added SEO. .
Myth 13 – You need to use as many keywords as possible
I used to dread the days when I had to highlight how many times I’d used a keyword in a text I’d written for a client or agency as a copywriter.
And yet, this is an SEO myth that still continues and I often see this in writer’s briefs and job ads.
There were often demands to include each keyword 5 or 10 times in a 500 word piece of content for 3 keywords. It was excessive, it was impossible to do without it looking spammy and it meant I couldn’t write the high-quality content I wanted to.
Referred to as keyword stuffing, this is bad practice.
You should naturally include keywords where they are relevant in a piece of content. Choose a keyword and write content for that keyword rather than artificially trying to cram keywords into a piece of content, you’ll find it far easier and more effective.
Remember, you’re writing for a human audience not a robot.
Myth 14 – Keep churning out content for the same keyword
I’ll admit that this is a myth I fell for before I knew better.
It can actually be counterproductive to re-use the same keyword over and over again as the focus of your blogs and content because you’re diluting the impact that keyword can have. One well-written article sharing your knowledge around a keyword will show your expertise with your audience, and Google. Hundreds of smaller articles rehashing the same info over and over again doesn’t add anything new in terms of quality or SEO.
You need to research your target audience and figure out what they want to know about the keyword you want to write for (big clue – do your research before you decide on the keyword!). Then create content that covers everything your audience wants to know about that topic in one tidy blog or article. Yes, it’ll be long form content rather than snappy little articles but it’s far more effective.
More content doesn’t mean better SEO, think quality rather than quantity.
Myth 15 – Article spinning is an easy hack for better SEO
This is one of those persistent SEO strategies that won’t disappear no matter how ineffectual it is.
Article spinning is where a perfectly decent article is put into an app which literally moves words and sentences around, chooses new adjectives and tries to create a new article. The problem being that the article produced is poor quality as a result. When a writer chooses an adjective, it’s with a specific purpose in mind, substituting it with another adjective can change the entire tone and meaning of that sentence.
Your audience can tell that this article isn’t natural and so can Google, so don’t do it!
Repurpose your content instead. Instead of trying to re-use the content, turn it into something else like a video, series of social media graphics or create an e-book out of a sequence of blog posts.
Myth 16 – Longer content ranks better
There is a snippet of truth in this SEO myth (and you’ll see that I tend to write long form content rather than short articles).
The truth is that you need to write as much as needed to answer the question/cover the topic that your audience are searching for. But. As you want to rank above your competition, you need to be better than them – so offer more.
If you’re writing a blog for an accountancy firm on end-of-year accounts, you’re not going to be able to cover everything those potential clients need to know in just 500 words. A series of blogs could do it but why send people to various links or hope they’ll come back for your next blog when you can have everything they need in the one article to start with?
Myth 17 – A/B testing prevents good SEO
One way to test how well an article is performing and if it needs tweaking is by using A/B testing.
This is where you create two slightly different versions of a page or post to see which one performs better. When I say slightly, I mean two different headlines and the rest of the content the same, or using a different page design but the same content, etc. The trick is to not change too much but just one variable, test it to see which performs better and then test something else to keep improving.
A/B testing doesn’t actually mean creating two different pages or posts though, it’s all cleverly done through plugins or even Google’s own A/B testing app (and if they’ve got an app for it, is it really going to hurt your SEO?) I think this is where the myth started, that different pages on the same topic is confusing and diluting – which it is! But that isn’t how A/B testing works so get tweaking!
Myth 18 – SEO is all about technical stuff
I’d hope that my myth busting around the content-based SEO would give you a clue that there’s a lot more to search engine optimisation than content only (sadly, it isn’t and never has been “king”).
Technical SEO is the back-end side of things that you might not be aware of, like page loading speeds and changing the factors on your website that can make your website slow to load (like large image files, inflated CSS coding, etc).
Technical and on-page optimisation work together with content to improve your SEO, and you need to consider the three together for best results. I’ve seen some clients outsource the technical side without addressing the content and on-page optimisation issues and been disappointed with the results, don’t do that.
Myth 19 – You’ll immediately see results from SEO
It’s unlikely though. If an SEO agency is showing you overnight success, then scrutinise what they’re showing you, they may have used some dodgy tactics that could cost you in the future when Google discovers what they’ve been up to.
Results tend to peak at the 3 – 6 months stage of an SEO campaign but it is hard to predict. A new website is put into a “sandbox” where it won’t be ranked for several weeks until Google is sure you’ve stopped tweaking it and it’s ready to go. An older website with existing content can gain rankings much faster with a handful of tweaks.
Be patient, trust the process. It’s a slow one, but the tortoise wins the race!
Myth 20 – SEO is a scam
Yes, your email inbox has numerous SEO agencies telling you your website is terrible and they can improve things straight away and get you first place position. There’s a reason why they tend to end up in the spam folder, that’s exactly what they are.
That gives those of us who do know what we’re doing a bad name. Unfortunately, there are people in every industry that will use dodgy tactics and strategies to cheat the system for financial gain. The problem in the SEO world, is that it’s you that has to suffer the consequences, and a penalised website seldom gets close to previous rankings let alone improves on them.
SEO itself is not a scam.
Improving your website to create a better user experience for your audience is at the heart of every good SEO strategy and that alone will increase your conversion rates and brand awareness if nothing else. But climbing those search page rankings so you reach more of your audience and improving those conversion rates even more is the goal here, and SEO can certainly help you achieve that.