Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a crucial part of any digital strategy. But with so many buzzwords, ‘expert’ opinion and guides on the topic, there are naturally many SEO myths out there.
Here are nine SEO myths you might have heard – and why they are wrong.
SEO myth #1: what you spend on PPC affects your organic ranking
It does not. It doesn’t make sense. This is why (straight from the horse’s mouth):
“Search listings are free, and no one can pay for a better ranking, because Google is committed to keeping our search content useful and trustworthy.”
“Google’s first responsibility is to provide Search users with the most relevant possible results. If businesses were able to pay for higher rankings in the search results, users wouldn’t be getting the information they’re looking for.”
Read more on Google’s thoughts on SEO vs PPC.
SEO myth #2: it’s a one-time thing
It would be great if you could pay an SEO magician to wave their magic wand and sort your SEO permanently. But that simply isn’t the case. Like most things in life, it requires continued hard work, adjustments, research and reporting.
Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, so changes and tweaks need to be made on an ongoing basis. Competitors can move in on your rankings, so it’s important to keep improving, if you want to keep that sweet organic traffic. In addition, you need to continually building links to improve your site’s authority. Basically, anyone who tells you that they can sort your SEO on a one-off project basis is not going to (check out this post for more info on how long SEO takes).
SEO myth #3: you need to include your keyword a certain amount of times
One of the most common SEO myths is that there is an optimal level of keyword density required in content. Search engines consider so much more than the number of times a keyword is mentioned – they consider external and internal links, user behaviour, images, semantically related phrases and website folder structure, amongst other things. So don’t get hung up on keyword density – you’ll be wasting your time and you’ll probably jeopardise the quality of your content, too.
SEO myth #4: keywords aren’t a thing anymore
Yeah they obviously are. Though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise as there are a lot of ‘keywords are dead’ type articles (even the guys at Bing have been shouting about intent). But think about it, how can you rank for apples if you only ever write about pears? Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller explained this to Search Engine Land’s news editor Barry Schwartz:
“I didn’t see that but I think, in general, that there’s probably always gonna be a little bit of room for keyword research because you’re kind of providing those words to users. And even if search engines are trying to understand more than just those words, showing specific words to users can make it a little bit easier for them to understand what your pages are about and can sometimes drive a little bit of that conversion process. So I don’t see these things going away completely but I’m sure search engines will get better over time to understand more than just the words on a page.”
Keyword density might not be a thing, but keywords are. But it’s all about balance. If your content is user-friendly and topic-focused, you’re likely to include your keyword (and variations of it) naturally anyway. So, make sure that it’s included, but make sure that it is used in context, too.
SEO myth #5: content doesn’t matter, it’s about design
How you design and structure your website is important when it comes to SEO, more so than ever before in fact – speed and mobile friendliness is paramount to organic search engine success. But it’s no good having everything perfect from a design point of view if you don’t have good quality content to sit alongside it on your site. As mentioned above, it’s all about balance. Unfortunately Google and other engines cannot currently conduct image analysis so still require text to crawl and digest.
SEO myth #6: the mobile version of your site is the same as the desktop version
There are often differences between the mobile resized version of your website and the desktop version. You may not realise the content changes (e.g. headers or ‘Read more’ sections disappear) when the website resizes and the number of internal links change for example.
SEO myth #7: SEO is cheap
It’s cheap. It definitely shouldn’t be. This is a myth perpetuated by old-school spammy SEO agencies that will employ low cost tactics that could see you removed from Google’s index altogether. Why would a company that can help you generate hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of sustainable revenue charge you £30k a year for the privilege? When you need technical SEO expertise, link building experts and PR specialists to help you craft and execute a perfect SEO strategy, you shouldn’t expect them to charge next to nothing. Think about what you’d spend on a CMO – then spend that on an SEO agency.
SEO myth #8: paid search results get the most clicks because they’re at the top of the results page
Latest research shows in Sept 2019, when performing a search on a desktop computer:
- 60.83% clicked on an organic result
- 4.32% clicked on a paid result
- 34.85% didn’t click on anything at all
Latest research shows in Sept 2019, when performing a search on a mobile:
- 39.69% clicked on an organic result
- 4.22% clicked on a paid result
- 56.1% didn’t click on anything at all
Stats assembled by Rand Fishkin from audience intelligence software company SparkToro (you’re welcome for the anchor text Rand!).
SEO myth #9: all links are created equal
When it comes to SEO, there are two types of back links – follow and nofollow. If you’re securing a link to influence your SEO, you want a followed link – this is a link from a reputable source that passes PageRank. A nofollow link is the opposite – in fact, it was introduced to keep SEO spammers at bay. A nofollow link doesn’t pass PageRank. You can identify a nofollow link by the ‘rel=”no follow”’ HTML tag.
This doesn’t mean to say that only followed links are worth securing – any link that increases traffic to your website should be welcomed by all involved. It just won’t do anything for your SEO.
So, there you have it – the most common SEO myths to be aware of. If you’re looking for a B2B SEO agency in London that can provide no-nonsense, SEO advice and guidance, get in touch with our head of SEO, Luke.
This blog was updated in January 2020.