Common Misconceptions About SEO That Just Won’t Die

SEO has evolved a lot during the past years at a very rapid pace. With search engine algorithms being constantly updated and new benchmarks of what’s considered relevant and what not changing year after year, a number of myths and misconceptions waddle around people’s minds and just won’t go away.

Here is a list of SEO misconceptions that are either outdated or straight up wrong, and some of them might not only mislead, but actually hurt your rankings instead of helping climb the SEO ladder.

Meta tags and descriptions are important for search engines

Meta tags were important once. By saying once I mean around 2008. The Meta tags existed to provide information to search engines about a certain page – how often was it updated, what the page is about, who created the page, which keywords the page represents, etc. – but since 2009 it was heavily abused by long lists of keyword stuffing.

Starting from 2009, all the major search engines tweaked their algorithms so that they no longer paid attention to Meta tags. Using Meta tags today does you no good, but can do a lot of harm instead, like giving information to your competitors about your SEO strategy for instance.

Meta descriptions don’t have much influence on the search engine results either, but they are still a part of the search results. Writing a compelling Meta description can help you generate more website traffic, so consider investing some time into this.

If you don’t use enough keywords, your content will not be found online

This is one of the most problematic misconceptions. Search engines still value keywords in your text, but only if they don’t interfere with the actual content and don’t disturb user experience. There are a lot of other things important for SEO apart from keywords like social media presence, social proof, influence, content quality, the amount of visuals used, etc.

Search engines are all about providing the best possible user experience to people and the amount of keywords you put in your content is among the last things they care about.

There are a hundred other ways that search engine bots can understand what your content is about like title, image alt texts and actual content. So if you are thinking about what is the best keyword density to use for your 700 word long blog post, you can save yourself the trouble. Just use the keyword phrase (it doesn’t even have to be the exact phrase, all variations are fine) whenever it fits the context and be done with it.

Focusing on high search volume keywords will help achieve success

A lot of people think that all they need is to be found on the first page of Google with a number of keywords and they will be in a good shape. But the thing is that those keywords must be relevant to your business. If they are not, you might generate high number of website visits, but you will get close to zero conversions. More traffic doesn’t always equal more cash.

Focusing on long-tail keywords with low to medium search volumes that are very relevant to your business however, is another thing. Yes you will get a lot less traffic with those, but conversions rates will be a lot higher, because those people will actually be a part of your target group.

Having a good amount of links will boost your rankings

Links are still an important part of SEO, but not every link counts. Think of it like this: A link to your website is like a client recommending your services to his friend, but if he has no credibility among his friends, why would you want to be recommended by him in the first place?

Only links from high authority websites matter and should be considered by businesses for healthy SEO link building. In fact, links from low authority or “bad websites” can potentially harm your rankings. It has become a fairly common practice for competitors to create bad quality content and provide links to your website, just to drag you down on Google.

Better to have 1 good quality link, than 10 medium quality ones. It will take a lot of time to build a relationship with a high authority website before you can ask them to place a link to your site, but it’s absolutely worth it.

I hope that this was enough information to clear your thoughts around those topics. SEO is a very rapidly evolving space and there is a good chance that all of these facts will get outdated in a year or two, but as for now, you can be safe from those myths.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Gee Ranasinha

    “Meta tags” aren’t important? I think you mean meta KEYWORD tags aren’t important.

    Meta tags such as page title, h1, image alt continue to have a strong influence on ranking. That’s before getting into Open Graph data, microformats, or schema.org markup. All these take the form of metatags in a page.

    • Charles Dearing

      Hi Gee, page title, h1 and image alt are important but these are not meta tags. Check what google considers meta tags https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/79812?hl=en

      • Gee Ranasinha

        Charles since you like page links, how about this one: https://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.fr/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html

        Here’s a direct quote from that page:
        Q: Does this mean that Google ignores all meta tags?
        A: No, Google does support several other meta tags. This meta tags page documents more info on several meta tags that we do use. For example, we do sometimes use the “description” meta tag as the text for our search results snippets, as this screenshot shows:

        Summary: Google says they use meta tag information, while your article says that they don’t. I know who I’m going to believe.

        You don’t consider ‘title’, ‘h1’ etc. are meta tags, while I – as well as everyone here who left a comment – disagrees. We can talk semantics all we want. The fact of the matter is that your article gives the reader the impression that meta tags, generically, are not important. This is clearly untrue.

        Instead of trying to score points, why not just edit the article?

  • Michelle Tackabery

    Gee is right to correct you about meta tags, because content marketers must know the difference between meta tags and meta keywords. Meta keywords are not part of algos anymore. But I also disagree with you about meta descriptions. If you write a succinct meta description within the index’s pixel limits, the index will create a SERP that contains your meta description. This is a huge marketing and branding opportunity that should not be overlooked. Also, without a meta description you are leaving it up to the search engine bot to decide what your page is about.

    Ranking depends upon content quality; bot programs can’t make subjective decisions, and so how the content in meta tags relates to the page content is crucial. Some content marketers neglect meta tag information until after the content is written–but they should always come first. They put your focus squarely on the reason the page should exist in the first place.

  • Mark

    What Gee said.

  • Hadas Spektor

    What Gee said.
    In addition – the section “IF YOU DON’T USE ENOUGH KEYWORDS, YOUR CONTENT WILL NOT BE FOUND ONLINE”, leads to the wrong conclusion regarding keywords in posts – instead of stuffing a blog post with keywords (ones relevant to the business of course) so that you reach a good keyword density, blog writers need to have the keywords they want to rank for in mind BEFORE they start writing the post – these relevant keyword NEED to be the ones who drives the subjects you write about and the content you then produce otherwise search engines will never rank you for terms you want to be found for.

    • Charles Dearing

      Thanks for your comment Hadas you are absolutely right however you should read again what I wrote:
      “Search engines still value keywords in your text, but only if they don’t interfere with the actual content and don’t disturb user experience.”

      • Hadas Spektor

        Thanks for replying Charles.
        I never said you got it wrong 🙂
        But this sentence could also lead readers to the conclusion that if the keywords do interfere with content and/or disturb the user experience then you should leave them out while what I said clarifies that keywords shouldn’t interfere because they are the basis of the content, they are the idea that drove the writing and so are integral part of the story.