15 Top SEO Myths That Just Won’t Die

The deep dark lore that is SEO is filled with myth and intrigue. Intrepid demons stalk the web looking for tasty victims to ensnare into their cold cavernous pits of marketing magic. Will you be next? Stay tuned…

Ok, Perhaps there is a little bit of left over Halloween spirit here, but there are some serious SEO myths out there that are wasting a lot of everyone’s time and money. Lets look at the top 15 myths that just WON’T Die.

If you like this article, you might be interested in some of our other articles on SEO Optimization For Pre-Launch Startups, What is Social Media ROI, SEO Hacks for Dynamic Websites, and What Should A Developer Know About SEO?.

1. Some SEO is Good so More SEO Must be Better

Now this myth is old. Actually it goes way back to Google’s “florida” update. Even more important than before, over optimization can really hurt a site. For a great video about over optimization and what not to do related to it go take a look at Seomoz.org’s Whiteboard Friday “On-Site Over Optimization” and “Off site Over-Optimization”. Still entertaining and relevant!

2. Putting more than 100 links on a page can lower rather than increase your SEO ranking

People have become pretty paranoid about this one. Taking the 100 link rule to heart can be important if you are optimizing for a large commercial website with really competitive keywords. However, a little checking around the web reveals that many of Google’s top hits are actually sites with more than 100 links per page. The search engines might not be searching past 100, but in many cases it seems that lost of links proves effective- especially if a webpage has a high percentage of ads.

For example, type in the words: “accounting blog” into Google and see what comes back. The top results:

  1. Goldenmarketing.typepad.com: more than 100+ links
  2. Anonymous Accountant, WordPress site
  3. Crunching the numbers: Top 50 Accounting Blogs-Biz.edu: 50+ links
  4. Real life Accounting Blog: >50 links
  5. Online Accountingdegree.org: 50 Accounting Blogs: 50+ links

A Google search for “dog breeds” yielded:

  1. Dogbreedinfo.com: Dog breed info center: 10+ adds w/ outgoing links, many Google ads with outgoing links. 100+ links on homepage
  2. Dog Breed selector: Animal Planet: 100+ links
  3. American Kennel Club: list of Breeds: 50+ links and ads
  4. Justdogbreeds: complete list of dog breeds with photos: 150+ links, lots of ads, most useful for viewer out of this list.
  5. Nextdaypets.com: Dog breeds, breed information and picture: 100+ links, lots of ads, lots of Google ads.

3. Internal Linking Practices Don’t Matter in SEO

Where this myth started is anyone’s guess. Internal linking practices and excellent flat site structure and good hosting are essential for a good user experience and they are essential for excellent web engine crawl and SEO. In addition, well-designed internal links and code make websites fast. Viewers and spiders love fast. Building a large, fast website is an art form. Unlike content, this is something that isn’t easy to manipulate or fake. Putting excellent internal linking practices and speed at the top of an SEO list is a no-brainer.

4. Google said “Blank” about SEO so it must be so

Google absolutely hates SEO. If they could kill the entire SEO industry tomorrow they would and then throw a huge party for all the campus employees. Absolutely baffling is that everyone interested in SEO believes everything Google says about what they are or aren’t using or adding into their “secret” algorithms. On the contrary, probably the things they aren’t broadcasting are the really important bits.

5. SEO Principals can be applied like a Blanket

Also known as: “SEO is easy to learn just follow these practices and rules…” Each website is unique, a website that has been up for 10 years should have a very different SEO strategy than a brand new website. “SEO Masters” are constantly talking in broad strokes: “Use keyword density, don’t use paid links, you can drop PPC if you rank organically, etc.” Applying these broad characterizations to SEO across all types of websites is like trying to feed a baby pizza and French fries while you feed a strapping 18-year old applesauce. Ditching the blanket SEO discussions for informative detailed analysis of what works now for different types of websites at different stages in their development would produce far more useful information about SEO. However, this would force a lot of the “SEO Gurus” to really open their bags of tricks…

6. Facebook Likes and Twitter Tweets, Social Media in General is Critical to SEO

Social Media can be very important for targeting certain age groups and certain demographics but putting it above all else in SEO seems a little short sighted. In some industries Facebook use is almost non-existent. In many others Twitter or Linkedin are far more important. Do your marketing and demographic research before assuming that likes and tweets matter. Moreover, Google and Bing/Yahoo for that matter gain no advantage whatsoever in helping Twitter and especially Facebook thrive. Google and Bing/Yahoo are competitive companies in a competitive industry and Twitter and especially Facebook do have the potential to completely erode the power of search. Social Media outside of Google+ and +1 has been added into the algorithms but will it stay? What a clever way to build an end maze to lead SEO strategists astray.

7. Keyword Stuffing Doesn’t Work

Again blanket percentages applied across all types of websites is just plain weird. Have you ever tried to write about a law case in 1000 words mentioning the words “law” and “case” no more than three times? Well it’s no picnic and it isn’t helpful to users either. Google and Yahoo/Bing have obviously adjusted their algorithms to compensate for reasonable amounts of both “keyword stuffing” and duplicate content. A quick look at any of the top shoe websites dispels this myth. Excess keyword stuffing isn’t going to do you any favors (refer back to #1) but neither is obsessing about the number of times a particular phrase is used in an article or on a page. As a matter of fact it’s very likely that Google judges keywords differently. Certain terms like “ breast cancer” don’t have an alternative and excessive keyword stuffing is natural for that term and many others.

8. Header tag size and style matters in SEO

Using H1 and H2 title tags with keywords do seem to help a site’s SEO. However, the actual size and the style of the tag doesn’t matter for SEO as long as the tag is legible. H1 tags in particular are useful for SEO and there are times when the size and style are better smaller than larger. To confuse things, bold faced text or strong tags may be helpful for SEO when applied to targeted keywords. The gain is minor.

9. Search Engines Don’t crawl Visual Sources so don’t bother with Images

Images and Video can provide a site with a valuable secondary source of marketing and link juice. The spiders can’t crawl photos or videos but they can crawl file names and img alt tags. Make your photos or videos free and useable with full attribution and you may quickly find that your visual media is very valuable. Make sure to title them properly, link them back to your site and apply quotes to the alt img tags.

10. If you have Great SEO you Don’t need PPC

Even sites with fantastic organic placement should still consider using PPC. First, it often puts the site on the first page in multiple spots. This captures a viewer’s attention and increases clickthrough. Secondly, one has to wonder exactly for whom Google Panda was built. Google lives on PPC. Is it any wonder that some large reputable sites that weren’t engaging in PPC dropped like stones when Panda was first released?

11. After the Website is built You can Worry About SEO

Like #3, separating out SEO from website structure and development is rarely efficient. However, many people still stubbornly separate the two. Most websites are some form of online marketing and most online marketing is accessed through the road of search. Building a website without building SEO into it from the very beginning is like erecting a billboard in a farmer’s field in Montana and wondering why it isn’t generating any sales. Google and Yahoo/Bing are the current roads and SEO makes it possible to get your sign next to the highway.

12. Bad Linking and Paid Links will Hurt Your Organic Placement

Incoming links from reputable sites is maybe the best thing you can do for your site’s placement. So it would seem logical that links from spammy horrible sites would be bad juju. Pay for links and the Thriller zombies will come get you! Foolishness. If either of these things were true: 1. Anyone could sabotage your site by launching a spammy linking campaign and 2. There wouldn’t be a lot of websites left on the web.

13. Constantly Update Your SEO Strategies

Ever go to a site that is constantly changing? Updating a website occasionally for SEO and style reasons is a good idea but like many SEO practices tweaking too often can do more harm than good. SEO is a lot like plastic surgery, do too much and your viewers and the spiders will be constantly surprised.

14. WordPress Blogs should be moved for SEO Reasons

Common consensus that is that if your blog is on WordPress.com it isn’t doing your organic placement any favors. However, on many occasions WordPress blogs have grown and then moved expressly to capture more traffic only to find their placement dropped into never-never land.

15. SEO is Dead

Not yet a myth, more of a hopeful rumor, there are voices out there that say SEO is dead and not necessary any longer. Believe this one at your own risk.

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