We’ve all heard SEO myths over the years—like SEO is dead or it guarantees your position on page one of search results. Truthfully, it can be challenging to debunk these myths about SEO—short for search engine optimization—because there are many perspectives and individual experiences that push these claims to the surface.
The good news is, we can look to facts to reveal which claims about SEO are valid and which ones no longer need our attention.
Let’s look at some of the SEO myths that, despite how much is written about them, are still just myths.
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SEO Myths: Totally Debunked
1. You’ll see results right away
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about SEO that we hear from clients. They are looking for a way to increase visibility for their websites quickly, and somehow they hear SEO is the answer. The truth is, it is a way to increase visibility, but it typically won’t happen fast. We frequently remind clients that search engine optimization is a long game and that the majority of pages don’t get to the top 10 results within a year.
If you are looking for a way to get more immediate results on search engines, you may want to read this guide on PPC vs SEO.
2. Keywords, title tags, and meta descriptions don’t matter.
Another big SEO myth that seems to make the rounds is keywords, title tags, and meta descriptions are irrelevant. Again, this is a myth that deserves debunking because there is significant value in these elements, even if they do not influence the ranking of your pages.
Why are these three elements important for SEO? Keywords matter because they keep your content focused on the topic and, without keywords, there probably wasn’t any keyword research either—which means there is no way to know which search queries people are using on search engines. If you don’t target specific keywords with your content, then you could write high-quality content no one will ever see.
Title tags and meta descriptions remain important for two reasons:
- They tell search engines what your pages are about
- They tell users what your pages are about and give you a chance to “sell” your pages using keywords, search intent, and calls to action.
So while the title tag and meta description may not be a ranking factor, they do affect your clickthrough rates, and clickthrough rates do affect SEO rankings.
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3. Backlinks are a thing of the past.
If you search for backlinks, you will no doubt come across several articles that either agree or disagree that backlinks are essential for SEO. The truth is, backlinks do affect your rankings in search engines. Depending on the quality of the site links are coming from, they can either impact you in a positive way or a negative one.
Here’s a handy infographic to help you determine the quality of a link:
4. Longer content is the only way to rank higher.
There have been many articles written on the benefits of long format copy, mainly that it boosts your SEO performance. While some of these articles prove it through studies and tests, it is mostly based on anecdotal evidence rather than hard facts.
The truth about this SEO myth is there are plenty of pages with little written content that are sitting on page one of search results. Earning a high ranking depends on more than your content, and there are many other factors that determine the performance of a page.
5. It’s what’s on the page that counts.
Our final SEO myth concerns the content you see on a website page, including the images, videos, text, links, and so forth. It’s true that what you see on the actual page does matter, but what’s happening off the page is even more powerful. This means any actions that are taking place on third-party websites can have a greater influence on your page rankings than the work you’re doing on your pages.
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