Before becoming an SEO specialist, I remember getting so excited for Christmas every year because that’s when Santa Claus would come to visit. I also remember the disappointment I felt upon learning that the jolly guy from the North Pole was nothing more than a myth.
When I was first starting out in search engine optimization, I felt that similar feeling whenever I thought a certain technique would help one of my clients, and eventually find out that it would have no effect or even worse, hurt their site. To avoid disappointment (and potential traffic loss) this holiday season and beyond, check out these common SEO myths that should be avoided.
Myth: Search Engine Optimization is Driven By Keywords
This is a big one because keywords are the most visible thing to searchers. Let’s use Christmas as an example. Someone wants to find cheap Christmas decorations, so they type that into the search engine and they get the results shown in the photo above.
Reader’s Digest and Collections Etc. are on the top of the results page, but that doesn’t mean that they are what the searcher was originally looking for. This simply means that Google sees these sites as the most important or the most relevant for that specific keyword term. As I said in my last blog about SEO tips, it takes more than just keywords to get to the top of an organic search result page. This is especially true if you stuff keywords into every sentence, making your content look like spam.
I have had clients in the past that had template content through their site that riddled certain keyword phrases onto the site to the point where it did not read naturally. I had to dive in headfirst and make the content unique to achieve SEO value.
Myth: SEO is All About Meta Tags
One of the most common SEO tips that most people hear about is making sure their meta tags contain the keywords that they want to rank for. It’s true that they are important for search engine optimization, but what you may not know is that there are approximately 40 different meta tags!
Worry not. As an SEO specialist, I can assure you that only a couple of them are essential for your site. The title tag and meta description tag are both essential since they are not only visible to web-crawling spiders, but they are also visible the user when searching. In addition, if you want to control spider access on your site, you should make sure that the ‘meta robots tag’ is accurate.
Myth: Any Link Going to My Site is Good for SEO
This SEO myth is relevant because we’ve learned how important linking is to helping your site gain traction and visibility in organic search. However, you should know that Google frowns upon links that aren’t seen as ‘natural.’ This means that the links should be pointing to your site over time and come from relevant sites that hopefully have a high Page Rank.
For instance, a former client hired a contractor who created microsites that pointed tons of links back to their site. Unfortunately, with all of Google’s updates combined with the fact that the links came no-name microsites, these links become irrelevant and actually brought their site’s rank down in organic search. I used Webmaster Tools and disavow all of these suspect links to tell Google that these links should not count towards the value of the site.
What are some other SEO myths that you’ve heard, and what tips would you give to debunk them? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!