Debunking The Top 10 Most Common SEO Myths and Assumptions

Posted by Murray Sye

on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 10:16 AM


Would you like some straightforward answers to all this SEO mumbo jumbo?

To put an end to the misunderstanding and misconceptions that you may have?

Today we're going to debunk the top 10 most common SEO myths and assumptions, so you can stop investing any more of your precious time on SEO that simply doesn't matter.

So let's get started. 

Myth #1: Setting up Google Authorship can increase my search visibility and click-through rates. 

In June of 2014, Google removed Google Authorship photos from search engine results pages. While your name and byline would still appear, your beautiful headshot would not. 

Then, in August of 2014, Google struck the final blow to Authorship and completely dismantled the program. All byline info disappeared from Google's search results. For now and into the foreseeable future, Authorship no longer exists

Myth #2: I must submit my site to Google

The idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results (or rank) is nonsense. While a brand new site can submit its URL to Google directly, a search engine like Google can still find your site without you submitting. 

And remember, a submission does not guarantee anything. Crawlers will find your site and index it in due time, so don't worry about this idea of needing to "tell" Google about your site. 

Myth #3: More links are better than more content

Here's a question we often hear, "Which should I invest in, link-building or content generation?" Links are an important part of your website's authority. Too often, when businesses hire someone to do link-building, they focus on the quantity of links rather than their quality – but linking is not a numbers game anymore. You should focus on having relevant and diverse sources that link to relevant pages. 

Myth #4: SEO is all about ranking

While there's a strong correlation between search results placement and click-through rates, ranking is not the supreme end goal that it used to be. Studies of click-through rates and user behavior have show that searchers favor the top search results (dah!) like the top three listings. And with search results now being appended with rich text/snippets, results that appear below the top-three search results are getting much higher click-through rates. 

Even before all of that applied, rankings did not guarantee success. Theoretically, you could rank quite well for a term, get tons of traffic, and not make a dime from it. Now that's not what you want is it? 

Myth #5: Meta descriptions have a huge impact on your rankings

Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that concisely explain the content of webpages. You've seen them before on Google's search engine results pages (SERPs), where they're commonly used as preview snippets. So, it'd make sense that Google's algorithm would take these meta descriptions into account when determining search rankings... right? Well not so much. 

Google announced back in 2009 that meta descriptions and meta keywords have no bearing on search rankings. That's not to say, however, that these descriptions aren't important for SEO. On the contrary: Meta descriptions present a major opportunity to separate yourself from the riff-raff and convince searchers that your page is worth navigating to. 

Having relevant, compelling meta description can be the difference between a searcher who clicks through to your page and one who clicks elsewhere. 

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Myth #6: Keyword optimization is the key to SEO

Until search engines are able to enter our brains and read our thoughts, we'll always need to use written language in order to make search queries. We need to use keywords to communicate.

That being said, it's important to realize that Google is no longer trying to match the keywords you type into its search engine to the keywords of a web page. Instead, it's trying to understand the intent behind the keywords you type so it can match that intent to relevant, high-quality content

The bottom line: search engines of the future aren't going to punish folks for underusing keywords or failing to have an expertly crafted, keyword-optimized page title... but they will continue to punish folks for overusing keywords (so caution). 

Myth #7: The H1 is the most important on-page element

Think of the content structure on your webpage as an outline. It's tiered approach to presenting information to users and search engines. What title tag your headline is wrapped in has little to no influence on your overall SEO – that title tag (whether it's an H1, H2, H3, etc.) is only used for styling purposes. 

The H1 is part of your CSS (custom style sheet) that a designer puts together to reference what font styling and size will be applied to a particular piece of content. This used to be more important, but search engines are smarter these days, and unfortunately, people spammed this to death. 

So, it really doesn't matter what header tag you use, as long as you present your most important concepts upfront and closer to the top of the page. Remember, you're optimizing your page for users first and foremost, which means that you want to tell them ASAP what your page is about through a clear headline. 

Myth #8: My homepage needs a lot of content

Have you ever come across a homepage littered with copy? Or, on the opposite spectrum, a homepage with barely any content at all? Think of your homepage as the gateway to your business. Visualize it! This is your chance to make a great first impression and convey what you're all about.

For most marketers, however, there is a need for a bit more content and context than that. Your homepage content should be long enough to clarify who you are, what you do, your value proposition and what visitors should do next. These visitors should leave satisfied, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, and most certainly not confused.

Myth #9: The more pages I have the better

Logically, you would think that the larger the footprint of your website, the better you would rank – it's simply not true. 

First, not everything you publish gets indexed (and rightfully so). Second, sometimes, pages get indexed, but don't remain in the index. And third, just because you have pages indexed doesn't mean they will drive qualified traffic and leads. 

Unfortunately, those who strive to have lots of pages on their website, also tend to overlook the quality of that content – and realistically, it's difficult to strive for both. The aim should be to publish what is most relevant. Have your content be at its best

Myth #10: SEO and inbound marketing don't mix

Au contraire, inbound marketing and SEO are inexorably linked. If you think of the former as a giant wheel, you can think of the latter as a spoke on that wheel. 

Inbound is a holistic philosophy that focuses on efficiently turning strangers into people who want to  do business with you. This encompasses a wide array of tactics and best practices, including content creation, conversion optimization, and leveraging social media channels, among other facets. 

SEO, in comparison, is a specific marketing tactic that focuses on improving a business's visibility – and traffic from search engine results. Clearly, SEO can help you immensely with your inbound marketing. When we think about the four stages of the inbound methodology – Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight – SEO is especially relevant when it comes to that first stage: attracting the right people to your site.


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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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