Debunking 10 Common SEO Misconceptions

Working in a search marketing agency, I often forget that basic SEO techniques are not second nature to the general public.

This became crystal clear to me earlier this summer, in fact. While sitting in a graduate class, we were discussing the topic of search engine optimization and my professor told the class that keyword stuffing is the way to go.

Orange Is the New Black

Yes, I made sure the professor and class were immediately corrected. 

After that instance, I realized that there are multiple myths and generalizations made about SEO that are not 100% true.

Let’s look at 10 of the most common ones I’ve encountered:

1. SEO Is Dead

No, SEO is not dead. If it were, I wouldn’t have a job. Instead, SEO has evolved (and continues to), at a rapid rate, from its humble roots of cloaking, keyword stuffing, and buying links. SEO is no longer solely dependent on keywords or an over abundance of links.

It has evolved into a complex strategy that involves research, analysis, and testing as each website requires a personalized approach. Today, search engine optimization goes far beyond simply optimizing existing landing pages based on search volume.

Instead, it is a mixture of optimizing and amplifying new and old content that meets consumer needs to enhance brand awareness, and capture social signals and links to rank higher in SERPs.

2. SEO Produces Results Overnight

Unfortunately, much like trying to lose weight or training a dog to rollover, results from SEO will not happen overnight.

Why? 

Many SEOs believe that site trust plays a big role in whether a site will succeed or fail from a search perspective. Yet earning trust is a process gained through consistent user engagement; think about any relationship you’ve ever had.

Indexing is another reason. Web crawlers, like Google bots, look at webpages and follow links on those pages, similar to how you and I browse sites. They go from link to link and bring data about those webpages back to Google’s servers. This takes time, even if your XML and HTML sitemaps are up to date.

3. Keyword Stuffing Is a Good Idea

Keyword Stuffing Isn't a Good Idea

This is one of my biggest pet peeves when evaluating a site’s SEO value. Keyword stuffing (or plugging in a keyword for the sake of having it) is an outdated and discouraged practice. Search engines have improved their ability to recognize natural language through algorithm updates and machine learning. So they know when you’re stuffing, and eventually you will be caught.

That doesn’t mean that keyword optimization shouldn’t be part of your SEO strategy as it helps your site communicate with search engines. If your site does not mention your product or service, search engines will find it difficult to know what your site is all about.

4. Link Building Is All About Quantity

Links have always played an important part in building and maintaining SEO value, but the practice of obtaining them has vastly changed over the years.

Since SEOs discovered the benefits of building links, they looked for ways to build more links, more easily. The more links you acquired, the better. It didn’t matter how you got them, only that you had more than your competitors.

Today, the process of link building (or rather earning links) has more structure and rules; dubbing that quality is better than quantity. For example, Google’s Penguin algorithm catches sites deemed to be spamming, particularly those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

5. All Links Carry The Same Weight

To carry on the discussion of link building, another key thing to keep in mind in is that not all links are valued equally. A link from my personal blog does not carry the same weight as a link from Forbes (sad but true).

Trusted and authoritative links relative to your site have more value whereas links from spammy websites are discounted or grounds for a penalization. In addition, search engines prefer “natural” links ranging from follow and nofollow, keyword-rich anchor text, branded anchor text and so on.

6. Social Media Presence Doesn’t Matter

I have discussed this topic before in a previous blog, as I feel that social media presence is an important SEO tactic to utilize. While number of likes and retweets are not used as a direct metric for search rankings, they do influence the trust of your brand and website.

The more people liking your posts or following your profiles can lead to more natural links, which as I mentioned earlier, are preferred by search engines.

Utilizing social media also places your content in front of your target audience, helping to drive them to your site and influence engagement. So while there isn’t a direct benefit, the secondary effects significantly boost your SEO.

7. SEO Is A One And Done Deal

As I’ve mentioned several times already, SEO is rapidly evolving and, if you don’t keep up, you’ll fall behind.

The continued maintenance of SEO efforts is essential as links can lose value, algorithms change, knowledge graphs pop up, competition fluctuates, and new channels to reach your audience are developed.

More importantly, consumer wants and needs change. Aligning with those will have a direct impact on organic ranking and, if you don’t, you won’t succeed.

8. All SEO Can Be Automated

SEO Software

Have you ever googled ‘SEO software’? It renders more than 3 million sites of both organic and paid results. So, that means SEO automation is a great thing, right?

Not exactly.

There is not a one size fits all strategy for SEO. Automation is a wonderful thing, but it cannot replace the human element in SEO. While you utilize services to conduct keyword research, generate reports, and collect data, you don’t want to use a machine to build links or optimize content.

It’s one of the things we pride ourselves on here at KoMarketing, our ability to customize and personalize SEO programs.

9. Mobile SEO Isn’t Important

“Oh, we are a B2B company, where C-level executives are our target audience. Mobile isn’t how they are searching and buying.”

While they may not be buying your product off an iPhone, they are indeed searching and learning about it there. Each year, we see the number of mobile searches increase, to where now it has surpassed desktop searches.

Yet, in order to take advantage of the shift, sites must be optimized to fit comfortably in a 1334×750 pixel screen.

Mobile SEO is so important, that Google developed a separate algorithm to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in mobile search results (remember mobilegeddon?).

They are several tactics to use in mobile SEO, similar to traditional SEO. The newest tactic to develop is the utilization of accelerated mobile pages (AMP). AMP is a scaled down version of your site’s HTML aimed at increasing page speed and smartphone usability.

10. It’s All About the Content

Ah, the old ‘content is king’ argument. For years, SEOs have debated this notion as content plays a big part in online marketing success.

But, according to Google’s webmaster guidelines, “Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience.”

Content works best when complemented with other impactful SEO efforts, like link building and social media. Having content is great, but if nobody’s reading it, does it really matter?

Final Thoughts

While some of these myths may be blatantly obvious, other are not. As SEO professionals, we must be prepared to address these whenever clients, coworkers, bosses, or even professors bring them up. Fortunately for us, the truth is in the data.

What other myths about SEO techniques have you come across? Tweet us @KoMarketing!

“The team @ KoMarketing Associates clearly understands how to effectively utilize all methodologies of search engine marketing and builds powerful programs to achieve outstanding results. The team they have constructed is not only professional but fantastic to work with.”

— Chad Beasley, Vice President at Delivery Agent

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