SEO Myths Debunked: What Really Matters
- SEO is always changing but amidst it all, Google stays true to its main values.
- One key indicator of SEO success is whether a webpage provides genuine value to readers. This covers the realms of accessibility, security, and device usage.
- Whether you’re working with content, keywords, guest posts, or images, always remember that quality is more important than quantity.
The intricate and powerful art of SEO began in the late 1990s when search engines began cataloguing the web. Since then, websites and SEO have been intimately linked, forging a long and complicated alliance.
Nowadays, most businesses know that search engine visibility could make or break them, making SEO results highly sought after. However, SEO is a difficult and often mysterious concept to business owners and marketers alike. It can be intricate and multifaceted, always changing and posing new challenges to those who seek to master it.
As such, many myths and misconceptions surround peoples’ understanding of SEO. There is so much misinformation online, and so many companies are still adopting strategies based on half-truths or outdated practices.
In this article, we’ll tackle the most common SEO myths. We hope to demystify SEO for you and give you everything you need to know to navigate the world of SEO with confidence. Let’s dive in.
Top 10 SEO Myths Debunked
1. More keywords = higher rankings
In the early days of SEO, keyword stuffing was a common practice. Webmasters would cram as many keywords as possible into their content, hoping to trick search engines into giving them a higher ranking.
For a time, this tactic worked. However, as the internet grew and search engines became more sophisticated, they quickly caught on to this manipulation. Recognising the negative impact it had on user experience, Google changed its algorithms to penalise websites that engaged in keyword stuffing.
This is still the case today, so website owners should focus on quality and context instead of quantity. Using keywords in a natural and strategic way will ensure your content feels organic and provides genuine value to readers.
It’s worth mentioning also that while high-volume keywords can drive traffic, they aren’t always the most effective for conversions. Sometimes, less popular keywords with higher
purchase intent can be more valuable. For instance, a keyword like “buy leather boots online” might have fewer searches than “boots,” but the former indicates a clear intent to purchase.
By focusing on keywords like these, businesses can achieve better conversion rates and build a loyal customer base.
2. SEO is a one-time task
A common misconception among website owners and marketers is that SEO is a one-time task. They believe that once you’ve set up your website with the right keywords, improved its speed, ensured its security, and mapped out a solid internal linking structure, you’re all set.
While these on-page SEO elements are crucial and might require a one-time effort, they represent just a fraction of the SEO-boosting activities you can undertake. Several aspects of SEO demand continuous attention and effort. For instance:
- Content creation is a cornerstone of SEO. Regularly publishing new articles, blogs, or updates keeps your website active and attracts search engine crawlers.
- Backlink building is an ongoing process. It involves networking, outreach, and consistently producing shareable content.
- Keyword research is always needed. As market dynamics change, new keywords can emerge, and old ones can lose their relevance. Regular keyword research ensures you’re targeting the most effective terms.
- Technical SEO is sometimes a one-off. But things like website audits, fixing broken links, and addressing crawl errors need regular checks.
In addition to these essential activities, search engine algorithms undergo frequent updates. What worked a year ago might not be as effective today. Plus, user behaviours and preferences change over time, requiring website owners to respond to these shifts promptly.
Given these factors, it’s clear that SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” endeavour. Regularly updating, monitoring, and optimising your content and strategies is not just beneficial—it’s crucial to maintaining and improving your online visibility.
3. Link building is dead
One of the most debated topics in the SEO community is the relevance of link building. With the rise of spammy link-building tactics, many have come to believe that link-building is dead.
While it’s true that manipulative and low-quality link-building practices can severely harm your site’s reputation and rankings, it’s essential to differentiate between these tactics and genuine link-building efforts.
High-quality, relevant backlinks remain a cornerstone of Google’s ranking algorithm. Why? At its core, a backlink is a vote of confidence from one website to another. When a reputable site links to your content, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.
Google, and other search engines, use these backlinks as endorsements to gauge the authority, relevance, and credibility of your site. The more high-quality links pointing to your website, the more likely it is to rank higher in search results.
Businesses can seek out these valuable backlinks by doing the following:
- Creating high-quality content
- Writing guest posts
- Engaging in relevant communities
- Leveraging testimonials
The key is to focus on quality over quantity and to build links that add genuine value to the internet ecosystem.
4. Guest posting doesn’t work anymore
Speaking of guest posts, there’s a prevalent myth that this strategy has lost its effectiveness in the modern SEO landscape. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Guest posting, when executed correctly, remains a valuable tactic in the digital marketer’s toolkit. It’s not merely about securing a backlink; it’s a strategic move to build relationships, establish authority, and share high-quality content with a larger audience.
To get guest posting right, consider the following tips:
- Target relevant websites and ensure you’re writing for sites that align with your industry or niche.
- Prioritise quality and deliver insightful, valuable content that benefits the host site’s audience.
- Engage with the audience by responding to comments and feedback on your guest post to foster engagement.
- Avoid overly promotional content and instead focus on providing value, not just promoting your brand or product.
Remember, the essence of guest posting lies in mutual growth and collaboration, not just link acquisition.
5. Local SEO doesn’t matter for small businesses
One of the misconceptions that some small business owners hold is that they don’t need to be concerned with Local SEO. The truth is that Local SEO can be extremely beneficial for small businesses, particularly those with a brick-and-mortar presence.
Local SEO allows these businesses to level the playing field, enabling them to compete with larger corporations by specifically targeting customers in their vicinity.
When a user searches for services “near me” or mentions a specific location, businesses optimised for local search are more likely to appear in the results, capturing the attention of potential local customers.
So, what does Local SEO involve? It encompasses a range of strategies including:
- Claiming and optimising Google My Business listings to ensure accurate business information is displayed on Google.
- Gathering and responding to online reviews can influence local search rankings and customer trust.
- Optimising for local keywords, such as including city or neighbourhood names in content and meta tags.
- Building local citations, which are online mentions of a business’s name, address, and phone number on other websites.
- Engaging in local link building by partnering with local organisations or participating in community events.
In essence, for small businesses looking to make an impact in their local community, Local SEO is a highly effective way of grabbing the attention of potential customers.
6. HTTPS is unnecessary
A prevalent myth in the digital realm is that HTTPS is an unnecessary luxury, often stemming from the belief that only websites handling sensitive data, like e‑commerce sites or banking platforms, need this level of security.
However, this perspective is outdated and can be detrimental to both website owners and their visitors.
Google has explicitly confirmed that HTTPS is a ranking factor. This means that websites with HTTPS are given preference over those without, all other factors being equal.
But the benefits of HTTPS extend beyond just SEO. Secure sites not only have the potential to rank better but also offer a safer browsing experience for users by encrypting the data exchanged between the user’s browser and the website, protecting it from eavesdroppers and potential hackers.
So, what exactly is HTTPS? At its core, HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is an extension of HTTP, designed to facilitate secure internet communication. It uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt data, ensuring that any information exchanged remains confidential.
For website owners looking to embrace HTTPS, they should do the following:
- Purchase an SSL certificate because this certificate acts as a public key and allows for the encryption of data.
- Install and configure the SSL certificate on your web server.
- Update your website settings to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS.
- Regularly renew and maintain your SSL certificate to ensure ongoing security.
With our daily use of digital products, data breaches and cyber threats are commonplace. Adopting HTTPS is not just a best practice for SEO but a necessary step towards ensuring our websites are safe and trustworthy.
7. Content length = high quality
For quite some time, there’s been a prevailing notion in the content world: the longer, the better. The idea was that a hefty word count equated to comprehensive, high-quality content. But let’s face it: not every user is gearing up to dive into War and Peace when they’re just looking for a quick answer!
While there’s undeniable value in in-depth, long-form content, especially for complex topics that warrant detailed exploration, it’s a mistake to equate length directly with quality. A 3,000-word article that meanders without clear direction or is filled with fluff can be far less valuable than a concise, well-structured 500-word piece.
Quality isn’t solely determined by word count. It hinges on relevance, clarity, and aligning with user intent. And, of course, we can’t forget the importance of strategically placed keywords. In the end, it’s about delivering value to the reader, whether that’s in a brief summary or a deep dive.
8. Images don’t affect SEO
A surprisingly common oversight among website owners is the indiscriminate use of images. Many simply pluck any visually appealing image and pop it onto their site, giving little thought to the potential SEO implications.
This laissez-faire approach might stem from the idea that the primary focus of SEO is textual content. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Images play a pivotal role in the overall user experience and SEO of a website. When properly optimised, images can drastically improve page load times – another known ranking factor.
A faster-loading site offers a better user experience, reducing bounce rates and increasing the time visitors spend on the site. Additionally, with the rise of visual search, images provide an avenue for visibility in image search results, opening up another channel for organic traffic.
To harness the full potential of images for SEO, consider the following tips:
- Optimise image size because large image files can slow down your website. Before uploading, compress images to reduce their file size without compromising quality.
- Use descriptive file names and alt text. Instead of generic names like “IMG_01.jpg”, use descriptive file names related to the image content. Similarly, always include alt text that describes the image. This not only aids visually impaired users but also provides context to search engines about the image content.
- Choose the right format. Depending on the type of image (photograph, illustration, icon), choose the appropriate format (JPEG, PNG, SVG) that offers the best quality with the least file size.
9. Mobile SEO is secondary
In the early days of the internet, desktops reigned supreme, and mobile devices were just a dot on the digital horizon. While mobile SEO was unimportant then, the tables have turned now.
Today, with the surge in mobile searches, having a mobile-optimised site isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s essential. People are increasingly turning to their phones for everything, from quick queries to online shopping.
Recognising this shift, Google introduced mobile-first indexing, which means the search engine predominantly uses the mobile version of a site’s content for indexing and ranking.
For website owners looking to enhance their mobile SEO, here are a few steps to consider:
- Responsive design ensures your website design adjusts and looks good on screens of all sizes, from desktops to smartphones.
- Optimise page load speed because mobile users often have less patience for slow-loading sites. Compress images, leverage browser caching, and consider using AMP (accelerated mobile pages) to speed things up.
- Simplify navigation on smaller screens because a cluttered menu can be a nightmare for users.
In the current digital landscape, prioritising mobile SEO is not just a strategy; it’s a necessity to remain competitive and relevant.
10.More pages = better SEO
Another common myth that has remained rife over the years is the belief that more web pages equate to better SEO results. The logic seems sound on the surface: more content equals more keywords, which should equal more traffic, right?
Simply having countless web pages doesn’t guarantee better SEO. What truly matters is the quality, relevance, and value of those pages. Search engines prioritise delivering the best
possible content to users, and if your multiple pages are filled with thin or repetitive content, they’re unlikely to rank well.
Consider these two different scenarios:
- A local bakery has a website with only a few pages—Home, Menu, About Us, and Contact. Each page is optimised, and filled with relevant content, appealing images, and clear calls to action. Despite its smaller size, the site could rank exceptionally well for local searches because of its quality and relevance.
- An e‑commerce giant is a massive online retailer with thousands of product pages. While the sheer number of pages provides numerous ranking opportunities, if product descriptions are duplicated, pages load slowly, or user navigation is confusing, many of these pages might struggle to rank well.
The key takeaway? It’s not about the quantity of pages but the quality. Whether your website is a compact, curated collection or a giant digital heavyweight, the focus should always be on delivering value to the user.
The main thing about SEO is that it’s always changing. Google regularly updates its algorithm to weed out unhelpful content or pages that have been manipulated. As long as your site stays true to Google’s values, its SEO should remain afloat.