Myths are usually harmless, but unfortunately, we can’t say the same for most SEO myths. When you take them as marketing advice, it leads to wasted time and money. So let’s bust these SEO myths and get you focused on the things that truly matter!
#1. SEO is dead
The first (and most dangerous) myth is that SEO is dead. Journalists like to write that many things are dead. For example, “YouTube is dead,” or “Facebook is dead,” “Bitcoin is dead,” and “romance is dead.” These kinds of headlines often lead to pieces that are nothing more than clickbait. The truth is, SEO is alive and well. So why do people keep clanging the same gong?
Well, the main argument is that Google is answering more and more queries right in the search results. For example, if you search for “cm to metre,” Google provides a calculator in the results so you don’t have to even visit a page. In fact, 90% of searches for this query don’t result in a click to paid or organic positions. But this doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. You can still get clicks from this keyword and Google doesn’t give definitive answers in the search results for every keyword anyway. Not even close. So as long as search engines exist and have users, SEO isn’t going anywhere!
#2. Google only ranks “fresh” content
Does Google rank fresh content? Absolutely. But Google also ranks old content that hasn’t been updated in years! Freshness is a query-dependent ranking factor. Meaning, fresh content matters for some search queries, but not so much for others. For example, this page on the human heart has had almost the exact same content since 2013. And if you look at the page’s traffic trend, it’s continually gained search traffic to this date. Well, that’s because a query like “picture of the human heart” isn’t dependent on freshness, since nothing has really changed.
Now, a topic like “top google searches” is something that changes over time. So how can you tell if a query relies on freshness? The quickest and easiest way is to look at the top 10 ranking results. If you see that all of the pages have the current year in the title, there’s a high chance that freshness plays a role in ranking. This is rather oversimplified, so let us know if you want an article on republishing content! The bottom line: Google doesn’t only rank fresh content.
#3 Duplicate content will get you penalised
The next myth is that duplicate content will get you penalised. Duplicate content is exact or near-duplicate content that appears on the web in more than one place. But there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. It’d be impossible to track this properly since many pages are syndicated, scraped, and can even be created without you knowing it, like on category or archive pages. In fact, Google has said on numerous occasions that they don’t have a duplicate content penalty.
But that doesn’t mean duplicate content is good for your site. It can actually lead to undesirable results like backlink dilution, wasted crawl budget, or syndicated content ranking ahead of you. To find duplicate content on your site, the most effective way to do so is using tools like a duplicate content checker or SEO tool.
#4. SEO is the “set it and forget it” job
The next myth is that SEO is a “set it and forget it” job. Yes, SEO can lead to free, passive, and consistent traffic. But that doesn’t mean you rank your pages and then call it a day. SEO is like going to the gym. It’s ok to miss a day or two, but you have to go consistently to see and maintain results. If you ignore all SEO efforts after you’re ranking high, you’ll likely lose backlinks while your competitors are building them. Your content will get stale and before you know it, you’ll see a slow and steady decline in search traffic.
#5. Social shares help you rank higher
It’s reasonable to believe that the more your content gets shared on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, the higher those pages will rank. After all, if tons of people are sharing something, it must be valuable, right? Maybe, but Google’s John Mueller has said that social signals don’t directly impact rankings. While the word “directly” is up for interpretation, it makes sense that they wouldn’t use shares or likes as ranking signals. It would mean that anyone can buy thousands of social signals for a few bucks.
But if social signals aren’t a ranking factor, then why do some studies show a correlation between social shares and rankings? Well, correlation doesn’t mean causation. Social shares lead to more exposure. And that often leads to more backlinks, which we know are a ranking factor! And pages that rank well in Google get more search traffic, and assuming it’s a shareable piece, will continue to get shared on social media.
#6. PPC Ads won’t help you rank higher
The next SEO myth is that PPC Advertising won’t help you rank higher in search. Paying for ads doesn’t directly influence rankings, true. But PPC can indirectly help your pages get more backlinks because of increased exposure, just like social shares!
#7. SEO is about ranking #1 in Google
The last myth we need to bust is that SEO is always about ranking #1. We all want top Google rankings. But there’s a point where boosting your position for a single keyword may not be worth the time and effort. In fact, the top-ranking page only gets the most search traffic 49% of the time. And the reason for this is because pages can get traffic from tons of relevant keywords, not just one.
For example, if we look at the top 10 pages for the query, “high protein diet,” you’ll see that the top page gets around 11,000 monthly search visits from the US. But if you look at a couple of the other results, you’ll see they get significantly more search traffic. Now, if you look at the number of keywords these pages rank for in comparison to the top page, it all makes sense. They’re ranking for hundreds and even thousands of more keywords
The lesson to take away from this is to focus on total traffic potential as opposed to a first-place ranking for a single keyword. And there are obviously a lot more SEO myths that I didn’t cover, like “backlinks are dead,” and “long-tail keywords are easier to rank for.” So if you want us to bust more SEO myths, be sure to let us know!