There are a range of common SEO myths that are constantly perpetuated throughout the SEO community. Much of this hearsay is formed with little-to-no research or proof that justifies the attention and belief that they receive.
To help put some of these myths to bed, I’ve created a list of the most prolific lies in the industry:
Link building is dead
Link building has been pronounced dead multiple times by a range of seemingly reputable sources over the last couple of years. These proclamations usually come in the wake of widespread penalties issued by recent Google algorithm updates or from operators that are using techniques that are a few years out of date. Link building isn’t dead; it is simply changing.
In 2016, the way to build links is no longer to exploit private blog networks, infest the comment sections on blogs or to create a range of spammy anchor text-filled websites. However, many SEOs are still using these techniques because they are easy and they can show their client that they have produced a large volume of work for the month. In reality, these links could be doing more harm than good. Even if your website does rise quickly to the top of the search results, it won’t be long-lived. It’s not good enough for your link profile to look natural, it needs to be natural.
SEO can be automated
With the current state of Google’s Search Algorithm, automation is no longer an option for your link building efforts. Links that are able to be built by a program will also be easily created by everyone else’s programs as well. This means that there is a lack of uniqueness in these links. As well as this, the locations that these automated links will be built is not going to be anywhere near as high quality as those that are sourced and created manually.
You can be penalised for duplicate content
While you can be held back in the search results if your website has content has a high similarity score to another website, you won’t be penalised for content similarity on your own website. For example, every page of your website will have a header and a footer that will be identical and you won’t receive a penalty for that. In Google’s Webmaster Guidelines it clarifies this common myth by saying that what’s important is that each page has a substantial unique content.
Keyword density is the key to ranking higher
Keyword density is the number of times a specific word appears on a web page as a percentage as compared to the total number of words on the page. For instance, if your keyword is “Shoes” and you mention the word shoes 4 times on a page that contains a total of 200 words, you have a keyword density of 2%.
In previous iterations of Google’s Search Engine Algorithm, keyword density was a factor. However, because SEOs and webmasters started optimising for an exact keyword density (of generally around 4%), Google had to update its algorithm to stop websites from tricking the system.
Today, it is best practice to optimize for a topic instead of just a set of keywords. With Google now implementing a new component to its ranking algorithm called RankBrain, it is getting better than ever at determining a page’s topic and intentions.
Remember: write for humans first and robots second.
Longer content ranks better
Having a good quantity of content can help your page to rank, however, above-all-else the quality is most important. Many people have seen a correlation between lengthy articles and rankings in the search results. However, correlation doesn’t always mean causation. As with keyword density, write for humans first and search engines second. Stretching out your content to 1000 words when it would be a good and quick read in 400 words isn’t a good idea. You might find yourself waffling and writing nothing of importance, and Google can see that when it crawls your page.
Content is king
The saying ‘content is king’ in the context of SEO is a lie made up by marketers who don’t understand SEO. Content is Queen and distribution is King. You can have the best content on the internet, but if it doesn’t get onto the screens of the right users, you might as well have not written it in the first place. Distribution takes a wide variety of forms in digital marketing, even beyond SEO. It’s about determining the purpose of your content and driving the right users to that content.
Having your work done offshore will be cheaper
The most common mistake that people make is to get their SEO done overseas. Despite the seemly attractive pricing of a $10/hr SEO specialist offshore, there are a number of reasons why you should resist and avoid this common pitfall. Aside from frustrating communication, there are a number of undesirable factors that make providers in the Philippines, India or Eastern Europe not just ineffective, but counterproductive.
There have been many occasions where we have commenced work on an SEO campaign where the first month worth of time is consumed by removing a penalty caused by spammy links and other poor-quality practices. So the cost of fixing poor SEO can be more than what you paid originally.
The main problems with offshore practices:
Links built on Russian, Indian or other offshore domains: building on primarily .com.au domains is essential for ranking in Australia.
Links built in private blog networks: when Google cracks down on the network, you will also be penalised.
Lack of concern for onsite SEO: without correctly optimising your website even the best link profile won’t succeed.
Out-dated techniques: offshore providers are notorious for using the popular techniques of 2 or more years ago that have been rendered completely ineffective by modern search engine algorithms.
SEO can be a surprisingly deep and complex topic that is shrouded with mythology (malicious or otherwise) by people who either have a hidden agenda, are out of touch or have formed an unproven hypothesis. If you do learn something new about SEO, make sure that the research has been done to ensure its accuracy before taking it as fact.
About the author
Chris Schimkat is an SEO Specialist from Alpha Digital, a Brisbane and Sydney-based digital agency. He specialises in SEO, AdWords, Display Advertising and Social Media Marketing.