7 of the Most Popular Myths about Search Engine Optimization Debunked

Often tricky and sometimes completely unnecessary, search engine optimization (SEO) can be misunderstood in a number of ways. The following are common SEO myths and how they impact your website:

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Unless you have established your website and brand in a way that brings in more business or traffic than you can handle, you need to continually invest time on SEO maintenance. Consistent maintenance will keep your site from losing valuable organic search traffic due to evolving search engine algorithms. In addition, it reduces the likelihood of link degradation, also known as link rot, which occurs from broken hypertext links and keeps the content you publish relevant, increasing the potential for web pages to rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP).

In order to gain better and more quality traffic, you should never strive to rank first for a single keyword. This “magic keyword” is too general and often makes your pages fall short of meeting the needs of those searching for specific content. Instead, you should focus on creating solid content about specific topics, thus generating long-tail keywords organically and increasing page visibility.

Search engines employ algorithms to find quality content to generate SERPs. This means your page, along with billions of others, is analyzed to determine if it fits a particular user’s search. Unfortunately, Google and other search engines still look to you to integrate technical clues to demonstrate the value of your content. Technical clues, such as keywords, help crawlers and algorithms decipher a web page topic and its ability to meet the needs of people searching the web. Think about how a search engine works when incorporating clues. A search engine mimics human behavior to find content and uses human-generated signals to crawl and rank results. Human-generated signals refer to links and engagement metrics.

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Google Answers offers rich answers, also known as knowledge boxes that display answers to search queries directly on a SERP. While this can reduce the need to click on a link because the answers are viewable immediately, you should not forgo SEO altogether. Knowledge boxes often contain linked attributions, which makes web pages for which information is sourced accessible to online users. At times, the answers given are truncated and followed by ellipses, a series of dots denoting that more details are available if a person clicks on a link. Furthermore, a MozCast survey indicates that less than 5 percent of Google searches offer an answer box. The evidence supports the continuous need for SEO strategies to increase SERP rankings.

Search engines may not use social media metrics to determine search rankings, but this does not mean active participation and visibility on platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, will not increase traffic to your site. In fact, sharing content on social media boosts awareness about the information you are publishing. Social media engages your followers, who may potentially share your link with their own followers. If your content gains the attention of notable influencers who decide to share it, your site and social media pages will likely receive an influx of new visitors that you can leverage to further promote your brand. For example, Oprah Winfrey mentioned T-Fal ActiFry in her favorite things list in 2013. She followed it up with a post on Instagram that garnered an estimated 29,000 likes, as well as numerous re-tweets, shares, and pins. T-Fal ActiFry’s link was attached to all social media activity. Though this form of engagement falls into the category of secondary effects, it still has the power to boost SEO.

In February 2015, John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, recommended that the public not focus on link building due to potential SEO risks. Since the statement generalized the relationship between SEO and link building, the public was led to believe that all link building has a negative impact on a site. Rather, the statement was likely referring to manipulative forms of link building, such as artificial links created by automated software in an attempt to influence search results. Used properly, link building remains a valuable tool. Anchor text signals and white-hat link building that involve acquiring backlinks from other sites are positives forms of link building. Among the heavier weighted ranking factors by Google has to do with page-level link, domain-level, and link authority features.

SEO tactics can be misconstrued as tricks if you manipulate strategies and get penalized or believe that adding more keywords to a title tag alone will increase traffic. However, SEO goes beyond a few simple tricks and aims to enhance the overall browsing experience by boosting content organization. Optimizing social sharing standards, developing content that reverse engineers’ user needs, and establishing better website performance are among the key SEO strategies. Furthermore, your goal is to structure data that eliminates confusion by search engines in order to make your content more discoverable. This eases web page navigation by both people and search engine crawlers. 

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