Top 10 SEO Myths
SEO myths are still circulating among small business owners. Almost every time we speak with a new potential client we find they’ve been told something about SEO that’s either an exaggeration or downright false. Have you heard any of these? Let us know in comments, below.
1. Satisfaction guaranteed
There is no such thing as guaranteed organic rankings. Distrust anyone who promises otherwise. There are about 200 factors in the Google ranking algorithm, and no one can control all of them. Most people who “guarantee” top rankings only do so for long-tail searches that get little or no search traffic — phrases like “podiatry malpractice lawyer on Main Street in Chatham”.
2. High Google PageRank = high rankings
Google PageRank is one of the 200 or so ranking factors in Google. It’s at best a fair indicator of a page’s link popularity, and it may be weighted more heavily than many of the other factors, but it’s not uncommon for a web page with a lower PageRank to rank higher in search results than a page with a higher PageRank. It’s a visible indicator of what Google thinks of your page, but again it’s only one of many ranking factors.
[Update December, 2021] Google hasn’t revealed PageRank for years. But there are third-party attempts to replicate it, perhaps the best is Page Authority from Moz. While important for rankings, it’s still only one of many factors Google considers.
3. Endorsed by Google
Any company that says they’re “endorsed”, “approved” or “certified” by Google is probably a fraud. This is one of the most egregious SEO myths still circulating. Google has a certification for Google Analytics and Google Ads (the PPC ads), but Google has no stamp of approval for any SEO company.
4. The meta keyword tag matters
I heard this one as recently as last week. Matt Cutts (“the Google Guy”) totally debunkrd that one in this video. Google considers the meta keyword tag to be a waste of time. Knowledgeable SEOs completely ignore it. [Update 2022: there’s some evidence that other search engines may still consider the keywords meta tag, and adding keywords there can’t hurt and just might help a little bit on other search engines.]
5. You can cheat your way to the top
This reminds me of an old database client of mine who once asked if I would help him send out spam. (It should go without saying that I strongly declined.) Cheating is always a bad idea. Even if it works once in awhile, as soon as the search engines find you out (or when a competitor rats you out) you risk being banned from the search engine results with disastrous bottom line results. This happened to JC Penney recently and to both Ricoh and BMW before that.
6. Cram those keywords in
There’s no magic number of keywords needed to get a high ranking. You need to use the keywords, of course, but using them too often creates what I like to call “overredundancy”. The more common term is “keyword stuffing“. Forcing your keywords into a web page almost always destroys the page’s power to influence the person reading it and encourage them to want to buy what you’re selling. Pay attention to your keywords, and use them on the page, but make sure you’re always writing for your visitor, not for the search engines.
7. Spending on Google AdWords boosts your rankings
Google has repeatedly denied any connection between participating in Google Ads and organic rankings. SEO experts agree. There is some research showing that if you show up in both the PPC ads and in the organic results, that boosts the likelihood of the searcher clicking on one of your listings. The organic listing super-validates your PPC ad, increasing the likelihood of a click on one or the other. But having a PPC ad has no impact on where you rank in the organic results.
8. Landing pages
The concept of a “landing page” is relevant only to PPC. Almost any page on your website can show up in the organic listings. Don’t assume that people will always enter your site through the front door, for example. In SEO, almost any page on your site can be a “landing page”.
9. Set it and forget it
It’s true that once your pages are well-optimized there’s often little or no need to constantly tweak, change, or “freshen” them up. However you can’t just forget your SEO as soon as you get great rankings. An ongoing stream of inbound links may be important to maintain your rankings, and if those links aren’t happening by themselves it may require some level of continued effort. Also, a blog is a great way to add new content on a regular basis.
You need to monitor your rankings. There’s no guarantee your great rankings will be permanent, especially if your website undergoes even a minor redesign or if your competitors become more aggressive in their social presence and link building. At least keep an eye on your rankings so you can respond if they begin to fall.
10. Rankings are your goal
Rankings aren’t everything. High rankings are great, but you’re not in business to get high rankings. The bottom line needs to be your bottom line. Do those rankings result in visitors? Do those visitors convert into paying customers? SEO can get more people to your website, but it’s the job of your website to convince them they want to do business with you and with no one else. You need great content that’s effective in closing the sale. All the rankings in the world can’t make up for a poor user experience on your website.