Search engine optimization (SEO) myths or widely held beliefs that are false about the discipline can harm marketing campaigns. Most marketers and business owners see the importance of SEO as a digital marketing strategy. It can increase relevant traffic to a business, which helps generate leads that can result in more conversions or sales.
However, there’s a lot of misinformation about SEO online that can confuse organizations considering the strategy. In this blog, I’ll bust some of the myths surrounding SEO, so you’re well-informed and can avoid potentially wasting your marketing budget.
1. Only link out to high DA sites
DA (Domain Authority) is a Moz metric that predicts how well a website will perform on search engines. Each site is given a score ranging from one to 100, and a higher score signifies a greater overall ability to rank.
You may have heard something like, "Link to as many high authoritative websites as possible” or “Avoid linking to low authoritative sites." Many are referring to DA whenever they use the word ‘authoritative’ and believe linking out to sites with low DA is contagious. However, the DA of the websites you link to doesn’t matter, providing that the content is useful, relevant, and trusted.
Furthermore, adding outbound links to your website has several SEO benefits, such as the following.
- Outbound links can improve the quality of your content and enhance the overall user experience.
- Links (inbound and outbound) provide hints to search engine algorithms about your website that may improve ranking positions.
- Outbound links can encourage other people to link to you from their website, social media posts, or other sites.
- You may attract potential customers by linking out. Businesses that employ SEO as a strategy tend to monitor their backlinks and visit sites that link to them. For example, a SaaS company can link out to its intended audience’s websites to grab their attention.
- Outbound links increase the value of your website. You can’t provide all the necessary information on your site no matter how big it gets, so use others to scale.
Websites that don’t provide additional relevant supporting information to their audience via links are harming the user experience. Outbound links are effective when they help enrich your content; the DA score doesn’t matter.
2. Getting links too fast will hurt SEO
Poor link building practices are what hurts SEO, not the speed of acquisition. In other words, the problem isn't the number of links you're building within a particular time frame. It's the quality and type of backlinks.
Buying links, dropping links on random sites, and using shady link network exchanges hurt SEO efforts more often than not. These kinds of tactics and others are also against Google’s, including Bing’s quality guidelines. But there are no penalties for gaining tons of high-quality backlinks fast.
3. Ranking No. 1 is all that matters
Some people assume that appearing top on the first page of search engines is all that’s required, but it isn’t true. You don’t get to fold your hands and reap the rewards without additional work. Rankings are only one part of SEO, not the whole. You must also hold your visitor’s attention long enough to learn about the brand or engage with products.
Therefore, the quality of your content and user experience matters more. Ensuring those are on point is how you create memorable experiences that can help convert traffic into sales and get visitors to return. Ranking first won’t save your business if quality and user experience are lacking.
4. Adding meta keywords is still important
The meta keyword tag is an HTML markup that helps inform search engines about the information on a page. Here's how it looks:
There was a time when the meta keyword tag was an essential aspect of SEO. It used to have a direct influence on rankings since search engines analyzed them to evaluate web pages.
However, webmasters abused the tag by stuffing keywords. You could add hundreds of keywords to a page using the tag and propel it to the top spot overnight. Your visitors couldn’t see them, so it didn’t matter if you had a thousand keywords on one page.
Thankfully, search engines put a stop to the party. Google ceased using the meta keyword tag, and Bing followed suit. So it’s a waste of time to use it on your web pages.
5. Buying ads on search engines help your rankings
Giving your money to search engines has no direct impact on your organic rankings. Search engines disallow paid ads from impacting organic search results directly because it’s not good for business. Their primary responsibility is to ensure users find the most relevant information whenever they perform a search. And people generally don’t use search engines because they want to see paid ads.
Nonetheless, a well executed marketing campaign can help brand awareness, which may also boost your rankings indirectly. For example, you can earn more content shares and backlinks as a result of paid ads. That’s why some people think paying for ads affect organic rankings directly.
6. SEO doesn’t take time
This myth is one of those lies SEO firms that are desperate for customers use to win over new clients. But the truth is there’s no way to guarantee how long it will take for SEO to yield significant results. There are too many considerations, and search engines own their algorithms; we don’t control them.
Competent SEO experts predict outcomes based on the industry and search competition level, but never guarantee results. Consider the number of websites that are competing for the keywords you want to go after and their level of SEO competency. The more competent your competitors are, the longer it may take to obtain the ranking positions you want.
Most brands begin to see significant success with SEO within four to 12 months. However, it’s not uncommon for results to take much longer.
7. SEO is magic
Some people think SEO is a magic wand that you wave over your business to make everything well again. But SEO isn’t a quick fix that can save a failing business.
SEO campaigns require proper planning, implementation, and time for results to kick in. If your business is in trouble, you’ll probably need way more than SEO to bounce back.
8. You must manually submit your website to search engines
In the past, new site owners had to submit their websites for indexing, but times have changed. Search engines are more sophisticated and no longer require you to submit your website. They follow links to discover pages, so a simple tweet would get you found.
However, there are still several sites on the web that charge businesses for search engine submission, which is pretty much a scam. Avoid paying anyone for that service.
9. Plagiarized content doesn’t matter
Many webmasters copied and hosted other people’s content as their own in the early days of search technology. But you can completely sabotage your SEO efforts by doing that today. Search engine algorithms can detect copied content, and sites that plagiarize can be algorithmically (review by bots) or manually (review by humans) demoted.
Every search engine uses a different approach to fight spam. Google approaches the issue this way:
- Algorithmic penalties usually tank rankings without notifying the webmaster or site owner.
- Manual penalties reduce rankings and may get your site omitted from search results, but you’ll receive a notification.
So don't expect to rank well if you aren't producing your content.
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10. One website audit is enough because backlinks are everything
No doubt, backlinks are an essential aspect of SEO. However, link building isn’t everything. Every business should perform an SEO audit once every year as a minimum. That's because, in that time, websites typically introduce new plug-ins, tweak themes, re-organize certain pages, etc. and some of these adjustments may affect SEO.
An SEO audit identifies on-page, off-page, user experience, and technical issues that are hindering traffic, including conversions. For example, you may find that several underperforming web pages have poorly written content during an SEO audit. Even the best writers have awful days.
To simplify the process of auditing your website, find the right SEO audit tool or a combination of tools that you’re comfortable using. And create a template that you’ll follow each time you perform an audit. This way, the entire process is streamlined.
11. Backlink quality isn’t that important
Quality backlinks are links from websites that are trusted by consumers and search engines. Some people believe that the quantity of backlinks is more important than quality, but it isn’t true. The quality of one strong backlink can be more valuable than hundreds of other low-quality ones.
Here are some ways to identify high-quality backlinks, though not a limited list.
- The information on the website is good quality and trustworthy.
- The linking page has a decent PA (Page Authority), another metric developed by Moz to evaluate the strength of specific web pages. This indicates that the page has more link equity to pass.
- The domain name has a high DA, which indicates that the website has more authority to pass.
- The website is well maintained and managed, indicating that it may have a bright future.
- The anchor text or words used to link to your site contains some relevant keywords.
- The web page or website linking to yours is topically relevant. For instance, most of your links should come from food-related pages or websites if you sell donuts.
- The link is dofollow. ‘Dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’ are HTML hyperlink attributes used to instruct search engines on how to handle links. Nofollow tells the bot to disregard the backlink, while dofollow does the opposite.
The fastest way to waste marketing resources is to have the wrong notions about SEO. That’s why it’s good to be aware of these SEO myths.