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SEO Myths: Common Myths About SEO

by | Feb 17, 2024 | SEO

Common SEO Myths

 

I’m going to share something really embarrassing with you. 

When I started my career in SEO, one of my weekly tasks was to upload and optimize blog posts on clients’ WordPress sites. 

In WordPress, you can optimize your posts with different plugins. The one I use the most is called Yoast.

Yoast helps you add page titles, meta descriptions, and the “focus keyword” of your page. 

(Side note: the focus keyword of this page is “SEO Myths”). 

I’d been uploading posts on client websites for months at this point. I felt pretty confident in my ability to optimize the posts. 

One day, a newer assistant asked me about the Yoast plugin. He was wondering what the “focus keyword” meant. 

I said, more or less, “It’s the title of the page. Just copy and paste the title in there.”

Ohhhhh man, HAHA. No. I was wrong. 

The page title and the focus keyword are completely different things. Granted, sometimes the focus keyword and the page title align. 

Like for example, if my focus keyword was “What are the common myths about SEO?” I could name my blog post that as well, and they would, in essence, be the same thing.

But, in general, they are two different things. 

The lesson here? I was WRONG. I was misinformed about a particular aspect of SEO. 

Now when I don’t know something, I research it and then discuss my understanding. Lesson learned, I suppose. 

The thing is, I’m eight years into my digital marketing career. I’ve worked on large enterprise websites, I’ve taught university boot camp classes, and I’ve grown websites to the many thousands – even millions – of visitors. 

I know a thing or two about misinformation and SEO myths. And that’s what we’re going to discuss today. 

What do people commonly misunderstand about SEO, why do they misunderstand it, and what is the context of that myth? I’ll break down each myth and provide context, research, and my experience behind those myths. 

Let’s get into it. 

 

What are SEO Myths and Why Do They Exist?

SEO Myths are extremely common, and I have a few theories as to why they exist. 

First, SEO is a is a discipline with a lot of specialties: editorial SEO, TikTok SEO, local SEO, On-Page SEO, and so on. 

SEO channel distinction is significant because an SEO professional can spend their entire career focusing on one specific area of SEO, never learning the others. Even with years of SEO experience, a person might not know everything there is to know about the subject. 

Second, SEO overlaps with other disciplines, such as UX, copywriting, engineering, product, etc. 

Cross-functional SEO work spreads myths because communication between SEO and non-SEO roles can get convoluted. 

After working together on SEO, these other channels might walk away with a specific understanding (not necessarily a wrong one) but lack the nuance that comes with a broader understanding of SEO. 

Third, there are a lot of “bad” people in SEO. People trying to game the system by buying backlinks, flooding websites with poor content, and “SEO specialists” taking money from clients and producing no results. 

Giving the illusion of SEO performance leaves room for misunderstanding and “myths” to take form. 

That said, let’s chat a bit more about SEO myths.

 

General SEO Myths

 

SEO is Dead

I’m starting with my favorite myth. Mostly because I hear it every single year. “SEO is dead,” they say. Yet, here I am, eight years later, working on websites and growing organic SEO traffic. 

It’s more accurate to say that SEO is changing

Ten years ago, people still paid for backlinks (yeesh, they still do that, don’t they?) and used hidden text to flood the page with keywords. Ten years ago, the search results pages were simple blue links, and now, we have map results, flight results, shopping results, etc. 

Yes, SEO is changing. But it’s not dead. In 2023, Google launched its beta version of Search Generative Experience, or SGE. 

We can expect to see Google use AI throughout its different experiences, even beyond search. With the addition of SGE while browsing and Gemini, search results will truly change in the next decade.

Marketers and founders will have to see Google Search and organic traffic differently and focus on brand results and other marketing channels to help offset the new ways people search online. 

But again, SEO isn’t dead. If anything, it’s simply shuffling the cards and repainting the board. 

 

I don’t need to optimize for my own brand name.

False. You should absolutely optimize for your brand name. I go over this in detail on my brand vs non-brand blog, but in short, you want to optimize for brand searches because you want to be the authority on what is said about you online. 

As you grow in popularity, people will naturally start to ask different questions specifically about your brand, such as how to use your products, what people are saying about you (reviews), and how to buy from you (like how much will working with you or buying your products cost).  

I’ve seen many instances where an “SEO professional” has said not to focus on brand searches. I’ve seen the stance that SEO consultants shouldn’t “claim responsibility” for ranking their clients’ search results. 

But that is an arrogant way to approach your organic search appearance. 

Don’t assume that Google would prefer your brand results to someone else’s blog article, video, or other resource about your product or brand. 

Google will choose what best serves people, and if the brand does a poor job of serving its own customers, Google will give people the “better” result.

 

SEO Difficulty

 

SEO is too hard.

Driving traffic with SEO can be hard at first. Websites starting from scratch will have a hard time ranking for keywords and search terms, which are exceedingly difficult. 

For example, “SEO myths,” the target keyword for this article, is generally pretty easy to rank for. It’s given a difficulty score of 26/100. The odds of this page ranking (and driving traffic) for that search term are relatively good. 

However, if I were to try to rank for “SEO” in general, that might (definitely) be harder for this page to drive traffic. It would take many more pages around “SEO” topics, more backlinks, and more time for this website to be the number one authority on “SEO,” if it ever would be (it won’t be). 

Yes, SEO is hard to learn and understand at times. It’s hard to compete for competitive terms in the same way it’s hard for small brick-and-mortar businesses to compete with big-name stores. 

But, it’s not a lost cause when you develop a strategy within your achievability. 

That said, if your site is driving significant organic traffic, you absolutely want to work with an SEO professional. If you don’t, you risk losing traffic when you make changes to your website.

As time goes on and your website drives more traffic from organic search results, the stakes are higher, and it’s worth ensuring you have the right SEO resource in place to help manage the flow of traffic, content strategy, and technical oversight. 

 

SEO takes too long.

SEO does take a while sometimes. And sometimes it doesn’t. But similar to a 401K, you have to make deposits to see any real gain.

Let’s talk about this myth with a little bit of context. 

If we think about “SEO” and it’s ultimate goal as “driving traffic,” or “driving revenue,” then we miss the opportunity to appreciate SEO for everything it provides in addition to driving traffic. 

For example, I see a lot of great content on the web. Truly, I do. Especially because I know a lot of great writers and great marketers working very hard to create nurturing experiences for their customers. 

But, I don’t always see that content performing on organic search. And that’s okay. Not all traffic has to be about “SEO.”

But when we research our audience with SEO in mind, we try to find patterns that tell us what lots of people are looking for that are related to what we’re trying to help them with. 

For the purposes of this article, there are 260 people who search for “SEO myths,” every month (according to Semrush). But, I was already writing this article as part of my free 5-day learn SEO email series. 

At first, I was writing this piece to serve a need to help people. Now, I’m making sure it follows SEO requirements so I can help those 260 people answer their questions about SEO myths. 

Will this article ever rank for that keyword? It’s highly likely, given the low competition (26/100). But if I repeat this process over and over again, odds are, I will reach some percentage of the population. And not just any population, but relevant people looking for solutions I can provide. 

SEO might “take too long,” only if we see SEO as just a means to an end. But its not. It’s a way for us to make sure that the content and solutions we create reach our current audience and audience looking for answers on Google. 

 

SEO is too competitive.

SEO is definitely competitive. It is an investment like purchasing a brand redesign, updating your website, or ordering business cards. And the good news is that the longer you do SEO well, the better it is for your business.

When you work on your SEO, you have to consider the level of competition you’re working against. 

Here’s what to consider:

  • You have keywords that are within reach. Keywords you know you’re very likely to rank for. They are usually in a “difficulty score” like “easy” or “very likely.”
  • You have keywords that are moderately competitive. You may or may not rank for them. Over time and with consistent publishing of new pages and customer-centric solutions, you’ll improve your odds of driving traffic from those keywords. 
  • You have reach keywords. Keywords that might take you years to rank for, and only after consistency, great architecture, strong brand recognition, etc. These are the keywords that brands aspire to.

We build SEO content strategy with those levels of difficulty in mind. We might write a few articles from each level, knowing that the “reach” keywords are there to a) help our readers and b) set the foundation for long term success.

 

Content SEO Myths

 

Word count is a ranking factor.

Word count is not a ranking factor. Adding more words to your content doesn’t mean it will rank better.

That’s not to say words aren’t important, but a mistake I often see is a stretch to reach a specific number of words per article. 

But that’s bad advice.

You should use only as many words as you need to cover the topic in full. 

If you look at the term “SEO myths,” the suggested optimal word count (according to Frase) is 3,100 words. Considering all the other articles that rank for this keyword, it makes sense to discuss each myth in detail, which, on average, would be about 3,100 words.

If I publish more or fewer words with this article, that doesn’t mean I’ll do worse. I only need to add as many words as will fulfill the headings or “myths” that I know exist. 

I’ve seen pages generate thousands of visits per month with 300 words, where the average was 1,800 words or more. Truly, the word count itself shouldn’t be considered. What should be considered is how well you are addressing a topic, given the expectation readers will have once they land on your page. 

 

I can add more keywords for better rankings. 

Plenty of SEO tools on the market help you understand which words to add to your content. In general, those are great tools because they help you remember which topics relate to your article or page. 

For example, words associated with “SEO myths” include keyword stuffing, ranking factor, and search intent. 

I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve added those keywords and many others throughout this page, but only naturally. 

Adding more keywords (aka keyword stuffing) is an ineffective tactic for getting your posts to rank better and drive more traffic. When you deceptively add more keywords in a way that’s irrelevant to your website, pages, products, or solutions, your content could be confused as “spam,” potentially ruining your ability to generate traffic in the short or long term. 

 

On-Page Myths

 

I don’t need to optimize meta tags.

It’s true that you don’t need to optimize meta keywords, as those are an outdated SEO practice. Google doesn’t weigh meta keywords the way it used to. 

However, you do need to optimize your meta tags, like your robots meta tags, nofollow, sponsored, user-generated content meta tags, and your page titles and meta descriptions. 

Certain tags, like the ones mentioned above, are still considered useful to Google and can help it understand your website and how it should display (or not display) your website to people in their search engine.

 

What Else to Consider

 

Myths about SEO have existed for a long time, mainly because SEO used to be much simpler. Add a few “keywords” here or there, and your website will rank higher in search results. But much has changed. Google is less forgiving of certain mistakes, the competition is higher, and people are smarter about what they should and shouldn’t do to increase their search traffic. 

That said, there are plenty of practitioners who participate in SEO activities that are based on myths and misinformation, such as word count, difficulty, and whether AI is ready to take over the SERPs. Luckily, you can choose to work with an SEO professional with many years of optimizing for organic search traffic results. Socialhart’s SEO services come with years of experience and understanding of what is a myth and what is a fact.

Learn more about SEO services or contact us with your inquiry to help improve your search appearance and generate traffic naturally on Google. 

Written by Crystal Ortiz

Crystal Ortiz is the Founder of Socialhart. She's a Marketing and SEO expert with 8 years of experience in digital marketing. She's worked with local businesses, founders, marketing executives, and global brands across many industries, both in-house and agency-side. She's taught digital marketing programs at several universities, including NC State and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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