I love the Internet. It has provided all of us with a boon of information. It allows us to access information instantaneously that we couldn’t have accessed at all 20 years ago. It is great at spreading wonderful, free ideas. Unfortunately, the internet is also great at spreading myths, falsehoods, and half-truths.
There are few places where misinformation spreads better than in the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Many of these misconceptions sound good or like they should be correct. But I don’t live in the world of should. For years, I’ve been accountable to my client’s actual ranking results. Telling them that they should be ranking doesn’t fly.
Why is there so much misinformation?
First of all, there are thousands upon thousands of bloggers blogging about SEO that have never actually ranked a website. They are usually regurgitating what they’ve heard and/or what Google wants people to believe.
The vast majority of the articles on the major SEO blogs are a complete waste of time to read. Yes, technically, the idea they’re telling you “improves” the optimization of your site. However, it is typically complete minutia and a relative waste of your time. Yes, I can crawl from Dallas to New York. That will work — assuming I don’t get run over. But, is it a good use of my time and energy?
Secondly, seemingly conflicting ideas can both be true. There are many ways to successfully approach SEO projects. Some businesses have very different opportunities and paths to success. Furthermore, there are often multiple approaches that will work. All of the people I’ve ever met who are truly awesome at SEO do things a bit differently. None of them do things exactly the same. These are some of the best in the world and they differ. And that’s OK.
Thirdly, most of the really bad ideas have a grain of truth to them. You can make a LOT of money playing the lottery every day. That is 100% true. But, that is more likely to drain your funds than boost your business. What are the biggest SEO myths?
Biggest SEO Myths and Half-Truths
1. Content Marketing is SEO
Boy, this one is a doozy. It is spread by some of the biggest names in the SEO industry and follows along the lines of exactly what Google wants everyone to believe: “Build great content and you’ll naturally rank!”
Content Marketing is NOT SEO. Let me say it again, so you take it seriously. Content Marketing is NOT SEO. Content Marketing is…wait for it…Content Marketing! It can help with SEO for sure (the grain of truth), but it is about the most expensive, difficult, and unreliable paths to ranking a website. If Content Marketing is the major part of your plan for SEO, you better be a big company that can hire a whole, expensive team of writers AND do a ton of other forms of marketing to bolster your efforts AND have a team of social media marketers to promote your content OR be prepared for a loooong road.
2. This 37 point (On Page) SEO checklist is going to rank your website
Ever put your site into an automated SEO grader? Those things are terrible and pretty well worthless. I’ve got sites ranking really well that get D’s.
Also, I see many articles with long On Page SEO checklists — h1, h2, img alt, blah, blah, blah.
Minutia. All of it. Yes, technically, it “helps.” I don’t know about you, I’ve got more important things to do than waste my time trying to dig a whole with a tea spoon.
Ever heard of the 80-20 rule or the Pareto Principle? Well, this is more like the 99-1 rule. 99%+ of your results come from these 1% or less of the actions list. 99%+ of your On Page SEO (excluding engagement) comes from URL, Title, and Interlinking. Simple stuff. And most of the lists don’t have URL and Interlinking on them!
Furthermore, these lists usually completely ignore Off Page SEO or Link Building — despite being a huge part of what causes your site to rank. Since the authors of the articles have never actually ranked anything in most cases, they don’t actually know anything about how to do Link Building.
3. SEO is a chaotic world of constant change
The core of Google’s algorithm has changed very little since they came on the scene about 20 years ago.
What?!?! Can’t be! What about all those algorithm changes where people shouted from the rooftops, “SEO is Dead!”
Yes, they’ve added engagement to their ranking analysis (the biggest true change). Yes, Panda and Penguin have torn some SEO strategies to shreds. But, by and large, what causes a website to rank is roughly the same — URL, Title, Interlinking, and Off Page Link Building. This was true 5 years ago. It is true today. And it will be true 5 years from now.
The exact way in which they evaluate some of these things may be tweaked, but Google isn’t going to suddenly stop looking at links or stop using Titles and URLs to evaluate a site’s relevance, quality and trust.
I love it when people drop out because they see chaos due to misunderstanding. That means less competition in a market that has an increasing demand.
Be very skeptical of the many things you hear on the internet about SEO (including this article!).
If you really want to know what works, build a site based upon the techniques and concepts and see if it ranks (it probably won’t if its your 1st time). Or you can find one of the few great people at SEO and get them to tell you the truth…even then, to truly understand SEO, you can’t just read and talk about it. You need to get in the trenches and try to rank.
The people who actually rank are the ones who you should listen to with a little less skepticism. I rank #1 or #2 (depending on where you search from) for “Dallas SEO” — one of the most competitive searches in my industry. You can check and verify this for yourself.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.