Wondering How to Tell if What You Are Reading Falls under SEO Myths, or Advice to Follow?
There’s tons of advice and information on SEO out there. Some of it is helpful, but some of it might actually end up hurting your overall performance and ranking on search engines. The challenge is being able to tell good information and advice from the SEO myths (aka bad information and advice).
Here’s the issue: search engines are constantly changing, so it’s impossible to understand them beyond a shadow of a doubt. Therefore, most of what SEO is and SEO practices can be seen as trial & error. Learning more and more about SEO can often make it harder to put new SEO claims and advice to the test. This leaves room for problems and misconceptions.
These SEO Myths and Misconceptions Can Usually Be Demystified by Asking Ourselves the Following Questions:
- Does this SEO change benefit the user (aka searcher) in any way?
- Is this change in SEO measurable? (Or, how exactly would Google qualify this change, or measure its impact?)
If either of these answers turns out to be a “no”, then *ding ding ding* we’ve got an SEO myth!
As we all know, search engines’ #1 priority is to deliver the best possible results to the searchers’ queries. So, it comes as no surprise that all ranking factors are ultimately directed towards providing high-quality and relevant results in the SERP.
Secondly, when debunking myths, it is important to always ask the question “is this even measurable?” – if not, read no further. While it is true that Google’s algorithm is highly complex, no search engine is omnipotent. Beware of wild myths – stick with the facts.
Now, let’s take a look at a couple examples.
Myth 1: Google Sandbox
The “Google Sandbox” is a metaphor that originated in 2004 to explain why most new websites often had poor rankings in the SERP. It refers to an (alleged) filter used to prevent new sites from ranking in the search engine’s top results.
Long story short, SEOs noticed that new sites took a while to start ranking well and believed they had to wait this period out before getting results. Think of it as a trial period – even if you’d done everything right, your website still wouldn’t reach decent rankings until this initial period ends.
However, here’s the catch: Google has for years said that there is no such thing as the Google Sandbox.
Yet, some SEOs are confident in its existence, and might even provide you with some of their own professional anecdotes which could both support and detract from the actual existence of a sandbox.
SEO Fact: important ranking factors like Domain Authority, Keyword Ranking and others that help Google understand and rank your site take time to develop.
SEO Myth: there is no explicit Google Sandbox. This is purely an outdated metaphor and is not a real filter applied by Google.
Myth 2: Long-Form Content = Top Rankings
It is true that long-form content can improve search engine rankings. However, this is not always the case. Long-form content should not be your default if it does not make sense for your audience. There are many different factors that contribute to creating content that is classified as high-quality. The most important one is the value transmitted to the reader.
In other words, your content marketing strategy is only as valuable as your target audience thinks it is. For instance, while some might find shorter and more concise content to be more valuable, others prefer longer and more detailed texts.
SEO Fact: when determining what kind of content to create and how long your content should be, ask yourself: “how does this content page perform when compared to other pages in the SERP?”
SEO Myth: longer content automatically results in higher rankings.
It’s always important to remember that if all your top competitors are currently ranking with 1400 words, writing a 4000 word post likely won’t be worth your time.
Myth 3: PPC Advertising Helps Ranking
This is a pretty common misconception. Though not entirely untrue, it is important to understand what you’re really asking.
If the question is: does Google favour websites that spend money on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in the organic search results? The answer is no.
However, if the answer is: does getting more relevant and high converting traffic to your website help your SEO Ranking? The answer is yes. And PPC advertising, when done right can help you achieve this.
SEO Fact: more traffic, higher conversions and low bounce rates help you achieve higher Rankings on Google.
SEO Myth: Google’s algorithm for ranking in organic search results and the algorithm used for PPC advertising are completely separate from each other. Running a paid search campaign may have positive results, but won’t automatically boost your ranking.
Myth 4: Keyword Research Is Not Necessary
This is a dangerous myth. Keyword research is 100% necessary. Keyword research, in fact, should play a critical role in your content marketing strategy and your website’s content overall.
However, it is important to stay clear of over-optimization.
Over-optimization is also called keyword stuffing, or using an excessive amount of keywords in your text. This inevitably detracts from the overall quality and readability of the content. Remember: the goal is not to achieve top rankings for specific keywords – but to get better results for your website overall.
SEO Fact: good content starts with keyword research. Finding and implementing the right keywords into your text makes all the difference for your website’s performance (here we teach you how).
SEO Myth: all keywords are created equally. Research is not needed as long as you have a lot of them.
Myth 5: Domain Age Is a Ranking Factor
This myth is caused by the common misunderstanding that correlation = causation.
I’ll explain. Here are two points which have caused SEOs to believe that domain age might in fact be a ranking factor:
- Most well-established sites have older domain names. So by following a reversed logic, an old domain should mean a site is well-established.
- Spammers tend to register and drop domains quickly. So, the logic would be that statistically more spamming sites would usually have newly registered domains.
However, Google itself has debunked this myth multiple times.
Here’s the truth: older websites simply had more time to optimize themselves and perform better in Google’s eyes.
One clear example of this can be observed in terms of backlinks – while an older site has had more time to gather a high number of high-quality links to its pages, a new site can hardly compete with that.
SEO Fact: a well established site with quality backlinks and optimized on-page SEO and technical SEO will rank higher in Google SERPs
SEO Myth: just having an old website is enough to rank high.
As we can see, some SEO myths can be based on untested wisdom, small facts blown out of proportion, correlation being confused by causation – and the list goes on.
While reading blogs and learning from experienced SEOs can definitely be a valuable part of your learning path, it is important to do it with discretion. After all, the web is a very dynamic platform.
We advise that you keep these SEO myths in mind for the next times you come across statements you do not know for certain are true. Try and test advice whenever possible before implementing measures across many pages in your website.
And last but not least: try to stay as up to date as possible with Google’s changes in ranking factors. By doing so, you’ll have (at least some of the information) straight from the source.