Debunking some common SEO myths

There’s a lot of confusion about what should and shouldn’t be done to improve a blog or site’s SEO. For any good piece of advice, it’s likely that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of web pages that will advise something slightly different, drastically different, or even the complete opposite.

For a blogger, entrepreneur or small business owner, it can be difficult to know who to trust. The use of some very prominent services (ones you are likely to encounter if you’re looking to build incoming links as part of your SEO campaign), for example, is actively discouraged by Google because they do not adhere to what is considered “good and fair practice“.

The Internet is infested with all manner of dubious practices and practitioners, all of whom purport to be “genuinely effective“. It wouldn’t make sense, financially, for most of these businesses to advertise the truth, which is that using their services will often damage your site’s authority, credibility, reputation and PageRank – leading to a loss in traffic and revenue.

To help you avoid some of the more common SEO and marketing pitfalls, here’s a list of busted myths about SEO and Internet marketing:

Myth 1: Buying back-links will boost SEO
Incoming links are an important factor in ranking your pages and determining how high up the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) they appear.

Many people purchase incoming links from services that offer links from hundreds or thousands of sites for a fee. Don’t! Having a large number of low quality links is actually damaging for your site’s reputation, and will lower your competitiveness. In effect, you are paying a service to damage your SEO!

Back-links solution
Create high quality content that people want to read. This will lead to back-links that grow organically – and these links will improve your SEO.

Myth 2: First page keyword results are all important
Many people spend a lot of time and money desperately trying to get their pages to appear at the top of the search engine results for only a handful of keywords. Often these keywords have a lot of competition and it can be time-consuming and expensive to get there.

While it is important to feature as high up results as possible, did you know that 70% of search traffic comes from long tail searches. In other words, everyone is competing fiercely over 30% of the traffic because they all want the same keywords.

Keyword solution
Write lots of useful, topical and relevant content. This will not only help you compete for specific keywords, but will also dramatically increase your traffic through a wide range of long-tail keywords and key-phrases.

Myth 3: Use SEO keywords as often as possible
While it is important to make sure that your primary SEO keywords appear in your content regularly, it is actually detrimental to overdo it. If Google gets the “sense” that you are performing what’s known as “keyword stuffing“, you may be penalised.

Instead, keep your writing firmly targeted at human readers. It should be clear and concise and only use keywords where it is appropriate. Essentially, what you really want is for people to link back to your articles and pages using your desired SEO keywords in the text of those links. Furthermore, Google knows that if people do this organically, you will get a range of slightly differing text links that all relate to the same topic.

Keyword solution
Keep creating on-topic, useful content that people will want to recommend, discuss or refer back to. This will help you to build up a network of organic incoming SEO keyword targeted links.

4. Google will penalise you for duplicate content
Almost every popular article written is duplicated on various other people’s sites. Other bloggers see content they like and they copy it to their site as their own (often they don’t even attribute that content to the original author). The truth of the matter is:

It is not possible to prevent original, high quality content from being duplicated.

Google is aware of this problem and it does its best to determine who the original source is. It is highly unlikely that you will be penalised because your articles and content are reproduced many times over.

Duplicate content solution
Make sure people are aware that they may not reproduce your content without attribution. This establishes a back-link to your site and the search engine’s pick up on this.

You can also ensure that you link back to important related articles and resources on your own site within the article content itself. Often bloggers who copy your content will leave these links in.

Myth 5: META tags are no longer important
Due to rampant abuse of meta tags by early SEO types, the search engines began downplaying their importance and eventually stopped using them within their ranking algorithms entirely. This led to the misconception that they were no longer useful.

However, the opposite is true. They are extremely important because they are often returned as part of search engine results – in particular, the META description tag.

META tag Solution
Always make sure you have at least the META keywords and description tags filled out. Don’t stuff in unnecessary keywords, and keep the description short and accurate, and above all easy for humans to understand.

More…
There are plenty more myths that need to be debunked, and I’ll revisit and update this page as time goes by. Please don’t be shy to share your insights or ask questions and comment on this.

If you are interested in learning more about SEO, check out this article on how to create super effective SEO power pages.

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