With the field broadening virtually every day, myths and misconceptions run rampant and pickup steam faster than ever. Here are some of my favorites that come to mind that often make me chuckle.
Link building is dead
Some people are beginning to focus their SEO efforts completely around social media, user experience, and content but are now ignore link building, buying into the “link building is dead” narrative. Link building is not dead and is still important in the SEO universe. What has changed is a shift toward quality links from high authority domains more than ever before. What is less important are exact match keyword anchor text, link from sitewide sections of sites, guest post links, and user generated content links such as blog comments and forums. Article and web directory links are dead.
Social media is used as a ranking factor
Since 2007, SEO’s have been trying hard to make themselves seem more important by jumping on the social media bandwagon and claiming that its directly integral to better rankings. While search engines may use social media properties to discover content, using social media as a quality signal is a very problematic thing for search engines to do and, are in fact, not using any social media signals to determine rankings. The way social media can be used in SEO is to help distribute your content so that people can find it, engage with it, and link to it.
You should write individual articles focused on slightly different keyword variations each
Starting in 2011, Google began downgrading websites that write very specific, keyword-focused articles for individual and minute keyword variations. For example, a site that has an article focusing on “buy computer books” and another article on “buy books about computers” used to do very well for both. Google’s Panda updates have worked to solve this issue, forcing people to begin consolidating similar content into single pages in order to both solve and take advantage of this new algorithm. Panda updates are continuous and on-going with the most recent one in May, 2014.
Competitive search term SEO from scratch can be done in a short period of time
Many business owners approach me for advice on how to promote their site. They all know that SEO is a good idea and want a list of things to do. I used to provide this until I realized that, almost universally, they did not like the answers I gave them. The reason is they wanted easy solutions that were not expensive or time-consuming to execute. But the reality is that search engines continuously work to deliver good results to users and tirelessly work to prevent spam from surfacing in their results. It is because of this that SEO is usually not fast, cheap, or easy. Its a long-term approach that will continue to yield reasonable results over time. Think of it like a low-risk 401k plan that you invest in from the time you are 18 to the time you are 65: sometimes you’ll have 5% years and sometimes you’ll have 20% years, but you should not count on or expect 250% years and dont expect to cash out early or risk a penalty.
SEO can be a complete turn-key solution
Many business owners are looking for a 100%, hands-off, turn-key solution; someone to handle all aspects of SEO for them in exchange for a fee. The problem with this expectation is that the state of SEO today calls for elements of SEO to be engrained in your business DNA. Rather than a line item on a checklist of things to hand-off, SEO is an integral part of your business strategy that, for the most part, cannot be handled a la carte. That is why I have witnessed the decline of SEO agency services in the last couple of years. This approach his migrated from a ‘we’ll do it for you’ approach into a ‘we’ll consult on what we think you should do’ approach–and even then, this does not always work well for a variety of reason. For any sort of business to succeed in SEO, its going to take a significant amount of work and investment from key team members who have a vested interest in your business and in intricate knowledge of its workings.