5 SEO Myths That Make Your Business Look Bad

SEO is an industry with a fast pace—thanks to the ever-evolving sophistication of search algorithms, the continuous emergence of new online technologies, and frequent changes in demographic trends, SEO rarely stays the same for long. Adept SEO practitioners can identify and predict these changes, altering their own approaches and evolving with the times. Unfortunately, many old practices tend to stick around, perpetuated as myths among new and former optimizers alike.

The Consequences of Myths

Some of these myths are innocuous—for example, even if you believe that your social share count correlates directly with your search rank (this isn’t exactly true), increasing your social media presence will still help you out in the long run. However, some of these myths can damage your reputation, both in the eyes of users and in the eyes of search engines. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Title tags are everything

Title tags are important, but they aren’t the only factor for your page’s rank. Trying to stuff unnatural wording and phrases into a title tag might seem like a way to “fool” a search engine into ranking you higher, but think about it—even if you end up ranking, your title tag will be off-putting to potential visitors. Instead, opt for a simple, succinct title tag that describes your page as is, such as Folding Knives for Sale, Free Online Guitar Lessons, or Turbo Tax Coupon Codes.

2. The more keywords you include, the better

This myth perpetuates because first-generation search engines based their search results almost entirely on keyword prevalence. This isn’t the case anymore; Google uses a semantic evaluation algorithm to uncover a user’s intent and then match that intent with sites accordingly. Attempting to place more keywords than would naturally appear is so prevalent these days it has a name—keyword stuffing—and engaging in it can actually earn you a ranking penalty. Plus, your content will sound foreign and contrived to new visitors, hurting your brand’s reputation.

3. The more links you have, the better

This is another myth that continues thanks to early-age search engines. External links are an important indicator of a site’s authority, but that doesn’t mean more is better—in fact, one high-quality link is worth more than dozens of low-quality links. Having lots of links pointing to you from the same sources, or from low-quality sources, will stifle your domain’s ranking growth, and perhaps more importantly, make you seem less authoritative in the eyes of your users.

4. You can buy your way to the top

There’s no shortage of companies out there looking to “sell” top spots on Google. They’ll offer links, reviews, or even social media followers in direct exchange for cash. Beware of these offers, as they’re mostly scams. Google rewards sites with naturally occurring links, reviews, and connections—if it detects you’ve “schemed” your way into getting them (including the explicitly banned strategy of buying links), you’ll be hit with a penalty. Plus, if your users find out your reviews are contrived, they may never trust you again.

5. It’s all about being number one

Yes, getting to the top rank for a certain keyword phrase or query is a good way to gain more visibility and traffic, but if that’s all you focus on, your campaign’s going to be lopsided. Focus on building relationships, improving user experience, offering great content, and becoming a trusted resource—if you do this, the ranks will come naturally in time, and when you do get traffic, you won’t have to worry about what they think of your brand. Pay attention to the metrics, but don’t get consumed by them.

Avoid adopting these myths, and if any of them has influenced your current SEO strategies, get rid of them. The nice thing about SEO is that because it’s always changing, there’s always time to improve your strategy or recover from past mistakes. Identify the weak points of your campaign and start compensating for them now—even under the most egregious situations, it should only take a few months for you to fully recover.

About Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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