The world of internet marketing and search engine optimization is evolving and changing at an alarming pace! What was true yesterday might not be so today. Similarly, many of the things that you think you know about SEO, or those which were very much true a year or so back might not be true today.
And then of course, there are things that were never true to begin with!
In this article, I’ll attempt to separate fact from fiction as far as the IM and SEO industry is concerned. So without further ado, here are 11 SEO myths that have been well and truly debunked:
Myth # 1: Meta descriptions help rankings
Well, they used to, but not anymore. Metatag descriptions are no longer indexed by Google (or even Bing, for that matter), so they have absolutely no effect on your rankings. However they still do serve an important purpose: meta description is the text that accompanies your link whenever your website shows up in the SERPs. Which is why it is essential to write a compelling description.
Myth # 2: It is vital to rank one
No, it isn’t. Allow me rephrase that: it is essential to rank on the first page. Despite popular belief that search engine users tend to favor the top search results – specifically the first 3, studies have shown that the CTRs of the subsequent results are as good as the top 3. In addition, the integration of rich snippets into Google’s search results has meant that results with author profile-boxes have better CTRs than the results on the top!
Myth # 3: When it comes to SEO, the more the better
Incorrect, especially since more SEO almost always refers to over-optimization, and with the recent Google algorithm updates – Google Penguin in particular – it means that over-optimization (or as Google refers to it: ‘too much SEO’) could land you in some serious trouble with Google. You can read more about the different aspects of on- and off-site over-optimization and its perils on this link.
Myth # 4: Social media and SEO are two different things
Wrong, they aren’t – well unless you’re still living in 2006! Social media is now, in fact, an integral and essential part of SEO. For starters, Google now considers a blog/website’s social signals to be an essential part of its rankings. Then there’s Google Plus’s integration with Google search results – which means that content from Google Plus now shows up in your search results (replace Google+ with Facebook content for Bing). And of course there’s the whole Google Authorship – which is essentially search results being accompanied with thumbnail-sized pictures of the author linking to their G+ profile. And then let’s not forget that social media can be an invaluable source of traffic as well. Bottom line: social media is now as important a part of SEO as ever, and its importance will only rise.
Myth # 5: Some SEO firms are ‘Google-approved’ or ‘Google-endorsed’
This is actually one of the funnier ones! There’s no such thing as being approved, associated with or endorsed by Google, and feel free to call someone out on that. Most of the times, SEO firms will use this to lure people in, providing them with false proof about being ‘Google-approved’ – that’s your cue to look elsewhere because there is no such thing as being approved by Google and Google does not award any such endorsement(s) at all!
Myth # 6: PageRank and Alexa rankings are true representatives of your blog’s worth
False, again. While they do provide you with a rough (read: inaccurate) idea of your blog’s standing on the internet, they are far from being accurate metrics to measure your website’s worth. For instance Alexa rankings are determined by the blog’s traffic, and therefore can be easily manipulated. And perhaps most importantly, both these things (especially Google’s PageRank) have no bearing or effect on a blog’s actual search results either. PR2 websites could rank higher for the same keywords as PR6 ones! So safe to say, both are not accurate representatives of a blog’s worth.
Myth # 7: Using a keyword a certain times in your copy will allow you to rank better for it
Well, this used to be true, but isn’t any more. In fact, Google takes keywords stuffing as a serious offense now. Before the Panda and the Penguin updates, having a 5% keyword density in your copy, for instance, would allow you to rank well for that keyword, depending on its competitiveness. However after search engines evolved, and got smarter over the years, they learnt about websites trying to manipulate rankings through keyword stuffing.
Myth # 8: Social media = Facebook. Period
One of the more interesting myths that I’ve heard recently is that Facebook is the only ‘profitable’ social medium out there, and SEOs should invest their time and energy on Facebook only. Yes, Facebook is the biggest social networking website, and yes it is the most popular one as well, and therefore (arguably) the bulk of your social media marketing efforts should probably be geared towards Facebook, however not having an active presence on other social networking websites is a mistake. And some social networking websites might even be better suited (and more profitable) for certain niche blogs (Pinterest, for instance, is dominated by the female population, and hence is an excellent fit for cooking blogs, for instance).
Myth # 9: An XML sitemap will boost your Google rankings
Total BS – an XML sitemap is an essential file that fulfills a very specific purpose – it tells Google’s crawlers about the structure of your blog and how your blog should be indexed, but ‘boosting’ your Google rankings is not one of the things that it does. Having your URL in your XML sitemap won’t give it any juice at all.
Myth # 10: Building links is more important than creating content
Any SEO or IM worth his salt would know that this is utter garbage. Yes, linkbuilding is an important… no, integral part of search engine optimization and getting inbound links are important to a website’s authority. However creating valuable and high-quality content is by far and wide, the single most important aspect of good SEO. An SEO with his priorities right would know that more links is never better than more content. Content is the heart and soul of a successful blog. And besides, a less amount of quality links are better than a large number of low-quality ones.
Myth # 11: SEO is dead (or is a dying breed)
“SEO is dead! Long live SEO!” Uh, no, it isn’t! SEO was never dead and as long as search engines and the internet is around, it probably never will be dead. It will keep evolving and changing with the passage of time, pretty much like it’s continued to do over the years.