7 SEO Myths Busted
As someone who makes their living through SEO, I think this is just a part of the evolution of search engines. The real culprit of your search engine woes is the SEO myths that are either no longer or never true.
Imagine you’re going on a road trip and you unknowingly picked up an outdated or outright wrong map to help you navigate.
When you didn’t get to the destination you were anticipating, would you blame the map or the car? Any sane person would blame the map because the car only goes where you tell it to go.
Well, the same holds true for SEO. Your beliefs and knowledge about search engine optimization is your map and your SEO work (your website) is the vehicle.
In this article, we are going to bust seven of the biggest myths that relate to SEO so that you have a clear map to success with no detours.
1. SEO Is Magic or B.S.
If you start asking around what an SEO is then you’re going to hears one of three things: “they’re scammers”, “they’re people who know how to manipulate Google”, or “what’s an SEO”.
We are going to ignore the people who fall into that third category and focus on the first two responses. We have to address them separately even though they may seem one and the same.
Let’s talk “scammers,” it’s a shame that although I’m calling this a myth there is a little truth to this but it’s no different to any other profession who has a low barrier of entry.
Here’s why anyone can claim expertise:
Google never publishes it’s algorithms to the public and that means you can’t really test someone’s knowledge accurately against it like you could a mechanic against a manufacturer’s manual.
Another reason we can’t test against Google’s algorithm either is it changes every day. It’s likely changed while writing this article.
So if something is always changing and isn’t published, how can anyone certify themselves or anyone else in it? It’s not possible unless Google is doing the certifying.
When you can’t certify SEO’s then you can get some
At the end of the day, an SEO is no different than an investment banker. You’re going to want to trust the investment banker who’s done the groundwork and seen some things.
Who would you trust more, the investment banker who navigated the tech bubble and housing crisis or someone who navigated through Nutella shortage scare of 2017 and didn’t give any indicators they studied pivotal economic events.
Of course, you’re going to pick the banker who navigated the experience and learned from it over the person who makes no mention of it. Same goes for
In reality, SEO is a process of increasing targeted search traffic by making your website comply with Google’s expectations with search queries.
It’s actually not hard to learn the basics of SEO and content marketing or have an employee in your company learn it to beat out your cross-town rival.
If I were to create a myth 1.5 then I would say it would be you have to be an expert to get your website ranking on Google.
A lot of businesses are in areas where their competition is like a toddler trying to pour milk into a cup, it’s messy and it’s going to need a cleanup. Learning the basics will put you way ahead of your competition
Now, if your SEO doesn’t tell you exactly how they help improve your site’s visibility in search results then you need to run away as fast as you can.
Your “expert” isn’t really one or they’re practicing some shady blackhat methods of SEO that will hurt your website.
A trustworthy SEO will give you a plan of action and will be transparent about everything they do. Next time you get an ambiguous excuse for a lack of results because of Google’s algorithms you know that it’s a myth they’re feeding.
2. It’s All About Keywords
It’s all about your keywords is what you hear when talking SEO with people who don’t fully don’t understand SEO.
There is a lot of buzz around keywords that simply lead you in the wrong direction because it’s either outdated or misguided well-intentioned advice.
You’ve likely heard someone mention keyword density claiming that you need to put your desired keyword on your site so many times so that it’s some percentage of the content.
Imagine someone trying to show you they’re knowledgeable on a topic by constantly repeating a word like they’re trying to summon Beetlejuice.
You’d think that person is nuts. Well, Google and your website visitors are thinking the same thing.
Keyword density used to be a tactic that worked and you could tell it did because a common practice was to repeat your keywords in white text on a white background so that your visitor wouldn’t see it but Google’s crawlers would.
Google since figured out what people were doing and did away with it as part of their algorithm.
You’ll also hear “keyword research is the most important part of SEO.” Although well-intentioned, it’s somewhat true and could use some updating.
To be honest, I hate hearing this because to me it doesn’t make sense.
Think of the last time you did
I want you to take an oath to replace the phrase “keyword research” with “searcher intent” or “customer research”.
Your results are going to go through the roof because if you make this shift in thinking your website’s relevance to your visitors’ expectations will improve a lot.
When your relevance increases then the number of shares your site will get increases and your bounce rate reduces which will increase your rankings.
3. You Need to Submit Your Site
I’m sure you can relate to getting a poorly crafted email along the lines of “we submit your website to search engines to help you Google for
I’m here to tell you that that is a load of shi crap. Do you really think Google can’t find your site unless you submit it to them?
To put things in perspective, Google is in the autonomous vehicle race so I think it’s safe to say that Google is crawling your site and has no problem finding it.
Don’t believe me? Then do this, go to Google and type in the following without the quotations “site:yourURLhere.com”. You’re going to see your site come up as the only result on the page.
If you’re not showing up you’re either a brand new website or you’ve been penalized because you let a hack job manage the SEO of your website.
Although I can’t give you advice on how to fix the shotty work without doing a deep dive, I can help if you’re a brand new website then I can show you how to get indexed quicker.
Just to be clear submitting your site can help new websites but it’s necessary because like Liam Neeson, Google will find you and index you.
Here’s how you get started submitting your site’s URL to Google:
Go to the Google Webmaster Homepage and sign in
Click the “start now” button and either sign in with your Google account or create one
Add your website’s URL and be sure to include https:// (you’re using SSL right?)
From there Google wants you to prove that you own the site by giving you various methods. The simplest way to do it would be to do it through the domain name provider
Once you’re in the dashboard click on Crawl and “Fetch As Google”
Once you’re in the dashboard click on Crawl and “Fetch As Google”
Click request index
Finally prove you’re human, select crawl URL and it’s direct links, and go
Now you’ve given Google the headstart on letting them know your site exists. While you’re here you should submit your sitemap to help Google navigate your site.
4. You Need To Keep Updating Your Site So It’s “Fresh”
Unless you’re a news website or informational website the odds are you don’t need to worry about updating your website frequently.
Odds are you’re a small business who offers services or products. With that said the information surrounding your product or service doesn’t change much.
A more productive (and cost-effective) way to think of this is you need to make keep your website’s content accurate.
That could mean if you write about industry standards you need to ensure it’s accurate and updated when standards change. It also means if your phone number or address changes you need to update your site and other local SEO factors.
Another part of this myth is the belief that you need to change the elements of your site to signal to Google your keeping your site up to date.
This is not only wrong but it could actually hurt your site rankings and conversions. You should never change elements of your site because you “feel like” you have to.
Should only do this is with a clear goal in mind. The most common goal is to improve conversions. The best way to do that is to split test a page and seeing what the results lead to.
5. Traffic is The Only Metric You Need To Worry About
Throw a rock and you’ll hit an SEO who promises to increase your traffic which is great because you want to have more eyes on your business.
The assumption is more traffic means you’ll have more customers and we can all agree more customers is better than fewer customers.
Although the logic seems sound it doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to successful SEO work. What you should be focusing on is not only getting more traffic but getting more of the right traffic.
Let’s say you have two businesses, business A is doing $1,000,000 in revenue and business B is doing $100,000 in revenue.
Business A is making 1% profit and business B is making 10% profit. Which company would you rather own?
You would want to be business B because you’re making the same amount of money while having to make less revenue.
Your website is no different than a business. If you’re getting a ton of traffic but your conversion rate is low then you’re either not creating great content or you’re attracting the wrong people.
There are three main areas you might need to look at: your customer research, assess your converting elements, and lastly your user experience.
Best way to know what to attack first is by making sure you’re looking at the right metrics.
Once you start to track the right metrics you can determine which one of the three buckets is the culprit.
6. It’s All About The Rankings
We’ve all heard the shady sales pitch, “we guarantee #1 spot in Google searches!”
Great, but what are you going to rank for exactly? Do you care to be the number one result when someone searches “how to ride a unicycle” when you own a hair salon?
Unless you’re a circus Salon, you’re probably don’t care to rank for that search. So ranking high alone has zero value on its own.
You want to rank for terms relevant to your business and helpful towards the searchers intent (see myth 2). When you’re helpful and providing rock solid info, your site is going to be shared by the people who discovered you and share it with others who have the same interests.
Now that you’ve tailored your site to your searcher’s intent and start to rank, you notice no one is clicking your listing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the number one spot if no one is clicking your listing.
Your next move is to focus on your meta description. Your meta description is the snippet of text under your listing which searchers use to decide if they are going to visit your site or not.
With a great meta description, you can get more traffic the sites who rank higher than you because your listing signals to searchers that you have what they want.
The best ranking isn’t the number one any more… it’s ranking zero aka having Google show a snippet of your content.
This will make you standout relative to all the other listings and if you’re not the number one result, no problem you’re showing more predominantly than any result for that query.
Neil Patel does a great job of explaining snippets and how to get them.
7. You Can Optimize For RankBrain
RankBrain is Google’s branding for artificial intelligence it uses to help it learn more about content and how to present rankings for better user experience.
If you want more than my completely watered down explanation of RankBrain then head over to Backlinko where Brian Dean does a hell of a job describing it.
The reason you can’t optimize for this is that Google is using machine learning to determine the intent (there’s that word again) of the searcher and then picking the sites that match it the best.
This is why when you search “where to get an Apple” vs. “where to get apples” Google understands the first search is likely someone looking to get a piece of tech and the second search is for a fruit.
It’s why I put emphasis on optimizing for intent and not keywords. Google has gone from looking for keywords in your search to understanding what you’re trying to accomplish.
At the core of every Google algorithm change and innovation is to improve the user experience.
That means there is no clear way to optimize for RankBrain but if keep your user’s intent and experience at the center of your strategy like Google then you’re sure to improve relevant traffic and leads.
Misinformation can lower confidence, harm, and hurt your businesses ability to compete on the internet.
I encourage you to take a look at the information you read today and compare them against your SEO strategy. Find which myths you were operating on and assessing how you can fix them.
Some of the fixes will be easy and others will take a little longer but I promise you will not be disappointed with the results after you put in the work.
Are there any myths I missed or have questions about? Share them in the comments to start the discussion.