If you work in SEO, you know how ignorant many people are about current search engine algorithms and marketing strategies. Unfortunately, the SEO industry is home to quite a few very popular (and very incorrect) myths that just refuse to die.
One of the quickest ways to lose credibility with a savvy client or boss is to display your adherence to an SEO myth that has essentially been disproven. Don’t want to get caught espousing a popular SEO myth? Good: then read through these 7 SEO myths and start eliminating them from your list of beliefs about the world of search engine optimization.
Myth #1: It’s all about your PageRank.
Granted, Google’s PageRank system is part of their raking algorithms. But it’s just one factor (among hundreds) Google uses in order to generate its search results for any one particular search phrase – which means it’s not exactly a predictor of your site’s success for any given search. Plus, the PageRank value you see in your toolbar isn’t even the real PageRank value!
Myth #2: Meta keywords might be old, but they’ll still help.
This one finally needs to be squashed, because meta keywords have been so overused by spammers and bad SEO providers that they’re literally not even part of the equation anymore. Google has said this is no uncertain terms.
Myth #3: H1 tags must include all your keywords.
Okay, I’ll admit: optimizing H1 tags is more important than optimizing Meta keywords…but not by much. (SEOmoz’s studies have shown only a small correlation between H1 keyword usage and rankings.) It’s good to include a page’s keywords in the H1 tag, but it’s even more important that you write a compelling H1 headline that will encourage your users to stay on your site and read the rest of the page.
Myth #4: You need to submit your site to the search engines to be noticed.
False. Just be sure you have link(s) pointing to you from other sites and Google will come to you. Bing will also do just a fine job indexing your site without you submitting it.
Myth #5: Search Engine Optimization is all about what’s on your web page.
Sure, SEO on your page is important – your title, your page content, your links – they should all be optimized. And the quality of your content is a crucial factor. But the “on-page” factors are just the start of SEO – it’s backlinks (and increasingly, social and quality signals) that are the biggest factors in how most websites ranks.
Myth #6: What you see on the search results page is what mattered to the search engines.
Just because Google decides to highlight a word or show a chunk of text in the SERPs doesn’t mean that it was a ranking factor. Sure, there’s some overlap here – for example, page titles do matter – but don’t think that by running a simple search query you know everything there is to know about what goes into the results.
Myth #7: You should strive to hit the perfect keyword density.
This went out of style years ago – and for good reason. Google’s relevance algorithms are far more complex and trying to reach set keyword density levels usually just leads to keyword stuffing. My rule of thumb is: Write for users, ensure your exact match keyword phrase appears at least 2 times on the page (more for longer pages), and use natural variations of your keyword phrase a few times.