SEPARATING SEO FACT FROM FICTION
SEO is an ever-evolving field full of myths and misconceptions that can derail even the best-intentioned strategies. Let’s debunk some of the most dangerous myths about Search Engine Optimization and set the record straight.
MYTH 1: BUY BACKLINKS FOR HIGHER RANKINGS
The idea that more backlinks (inbound links to your website) guarantee a higher ranking is outdated. Quality over quantity is the name of the game in modern SEO. A few high-quality, relevant links from authoritative sites are far more beneficial than a plethora of low-quality links.
For example, it’s more valuable to have a link to your website on a reputable directory of local businesses, than a link on a website filled with clickbait articles that aren’t at all related to what you sell. And if you are seeking out links, look for sites where the people who visit are likely to be interested in your services.
Google’s algorithms are sophisticated and can easily identify and penalize spammy link-building practices. Bulk backlink sellers often sell junk from shady neighborhoods that can get you blacklisted by Google.
SEO TIP: Focus on building genuine connections and creating valuable content that others want to link to.
MYTH 2: KEYWORD STUFFING BOOSTS RANKINGS
Once a common practice, keyword stuffing is now a fast track to getting penalized by search engines. Repeating the same keywords excessively makes your content unreadable to humans and can harm your site’s ranking.
Today, it’s all about context and relevance. Use keywords naturally and focus on creating content that genuinely provides value to your readers. Search engines use natural language algorithms that are smart enough to understand the context and intent behind what you’ve written, so prioritize writing relevant, informative, and fun-to-read content.
And, besides, how useful is a page that ranks well if a human gets to the page and it’s just a bunch of spammy gobbledygook? Even if Google didn’t penalize you for it, that page would be worthless and the reader would likely leave your site unfulfilled and annoyed.
MYTH 3: SEO IS A ONE-TIME TASK
Thinking of Search Engine Optimization as a set-it-and-forget-it task is a dangerous misconception. SEO is an interactive, ongoing process. Search engine algorithms are constantly updating, and your competitors are always improving their sites.
To stay ahead, you need to regularly add and update your content, monitor your site’s performance, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Continuous effort and adaptation are key to maintaining and improving your search engine rankings.
SEO TIP: Focus on creating content on a regular ongoing basis that answers the questions that people are asking Google.
MYTH 4: META TAGS DON’T MATTER ANYMORE
Some say meta tags aren’t important, but they’re wrong. Meta tags, specifically the title and description, still play an important role in SEO. They are the signposts that help Google and other search engines understand what you’ve written about on each page, allowing it to be indexed correctly. A properly indexed page will show up higher in search results for the things your page answers, improving the click-through rate from search results.
While meta tags may not be as important as other factors of SEO, well-crafted title and description tags can improve your visibility and attract more valuable visitors to your site.
MYTH 5: META KEYWORDS ARE CRUCIAL FOR SEO
Years ago, meta keywords (a specific type of meta tag) were used by search engines to understand the content of a webpage. Websites would pack their meta keywords tag with various terms they wanted to rank for. However, this system was widely abused, with sites stuffing irrelevant and excessive keywords into the tag to manipulate rankings.
Recognizing they were being gamed with meta keywords, major search engines like Google and Bing began to ignore them. Today, Google does not use the meta keywords tag as a positive ranking signal at all.
In 2024, the only thing search engines use meta keywords for is as a signal for spam. At best, inputting meta keywords is a wasted effort that could be better spent on more impactful SEO tactics, and at worst, it can get you marked as spam by search engines, harming your site’s credibility.
SEO TIP: Rather than worrying about meta keywords, focus on writing useful content that is useful to humans. Don’t try to game Google, it won’t work.
MYTH 6: SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN’T MATTER FOR SEO
The belief that social media has no impact on Search Engine Optimization is misleading. While social signals (such as likes or shares) aren’t direct ranking factors for search engines, well-maintained social media symbiotically supports your SEO efforts.
Social platforms are excellent for distributing new content, increasing your visibility and traffic. They’re like an online billboard that allows you to share the most recent and most exciting content. Social platforms also help foster brand awareness and can lead to natural link building – more valuable visitors means more organic sharing of your content.
A strong social presence will indirectly boost your SEO performance and should not be overlooked.
MYTH 7: MORE PAGES EQUALS BETTER RANKING
Some believe that simply increasing the number of pages on their site will improve their search rankings. However, if those pages lack useful, unique, quality content, this strategy will backfire.
Search engines prioritize content that provides value and answers the question that the user was asking. The goal of search engines is to connect searches with answers.
SEO TIP: Instead of focusing on quantity of content, concentrate on the quality and its relevance to your audience. A single outstanding piece of content is worth far more than numerous mediocre pages.
MYTH 8: IMAGE OPTIMIZATION DOESN’T MATTER
There few greater tortures than waiting for an image to load. Both humans and Google hate waiting. Big images can significantly slow down your site. Image optimization is a huge missed SEO opportunity.
Images that are sized properly and compressed load faster – especially on mobile. Additionally, properly optimized images can appear in image searches, driving even more traffic to your site. If possible, serve images in a next-gen format like WebP, to boost load time even more.
Once you’ve properly sized your image, Google still needs to know what it’s about. Make sure you name your image something descriptive before you upload it, and fill out the alternative text tag with a brief, relevant description of the image. These extra small steps not only tell search engines what your image is, but also make your site more accessible to people who use screen readers.
SEO TIP: Always compress your images (if the image format allows compression), use descriptive file names, and fill out the alt text.
MYTH 9: SSL (HTTPS) IS OPTIONAL
In the olden days (twenty years ago), HTTPS was new. Most sites used HTTP, but if you needed to protect sensitive information (like a bank), you used HTTPS. Using HTTPS means data passed between your website and users is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (or TLS, formerly SSL).
Nowadays, security is a top priority for search engines. Google has confirmed that HTTPS is a ranking signal, and sites without it are seen as less trustworthy. Not having a secure site harms your rankings and deters users from contacting you if they do visit your site.
SEO TIP: If you want to be trusted online, HTTPS is mandatory. Ensure your site is secure with an SSL certificate—it’s essential for establishing user trust and improving your SEO.
In the ever-changing landscape of Search Engine Optimization, it’s crucial to stay informed and adaptable. By understanding and avoiding these myths, you can build a more effective and sustainable SEO strategy.
Always question the validity of the tactics you come across and focus on proven, ethical practices. If you focus on giving Google what it is looking for rather than trying to play games for a fast win, Google will reward you.
Regularly write high-quality content that answers the questions your visitors are asking, and make your site fast and easy to navigate. Your diligence will pay off in better rankings, more traffic, and ultimately, more success for your business.