Tim Guga is a entrepreneur and the founder of capiston.
SEO is continually evolving, so freshness matters for many SEO-related queries. SEO myths tend to keep content marketers and bloggers from improving their search traffic and website rankings. Learn more about the outdated SEO myths
Have you ever come across a blog or video that confidently proclaims the end of SEO is nigh?
Given the oversaturation of SEO-related content popping up all over the place, it’s no surprise that this industry’s misinformation is rife.
There are probably thousands of SEO myths circulating out there, but a few have stood the test of time and simply will not relent.
In this blog, I’ve busted five outdated SEO myths that won’t go away.
1. SEO is Dead
For just about as long as search engines have existed, there have been those who’ve anticipated the end of search engine optimization.
Every year new articles and videos will confidently tell us that X is dead, or Y is no longer worth your time or money.
While there can be no doubt that the process of SEO is becoming harder by the day, that’s not to say that it doesn’t have a crucial role to play when an organization is looking to grow, a startup is looking to flourish, or even when someone is looking to start a blog.
Some marketing pundits argue that paid search, rich snippets, People Also Ask, and Google Packs have diluted the importance of reaching the top of the SERPs.
While this is the case to some extent, does it make occupying the top step of the Google search results any less valuable?
Back in 2019, a widely cited study by Backlinko showed that the first position in Google’s organic rankings enjoyed a 31.7% share of all the clicks for a particular search term.
Image from Backlinko
Compare that with the clickthrough rate (CTR) of the website that sits at number ten on page one and, as you’ll see, they see a dropoff of over 90% with only a 3.1% share of the clicks.
How about those ranking on page two then?
Well, if your site is struggling to make its mark at the top table, then, unfortunately, you’ll be sharing the spoils of the less than 1% of searchers who actually bother to click through to page two.
A similar data study from Advanced Web Ranking at the start of 2020 showed that CTR for the website at the top of the tree will now typically receive an increased 36.06% of the clicks, while the last result at number ten would only take 1.04%.
This tells a story in its own right – how can you possibly afford not to be ranking at the sharp end for your key search terms?
When you consider that 90.63% of all the content that gets created receives no traffic from Google – do you think you can rank sites without SEO?
2. SEO is a Quick Fix
Now we’ve established that SEO is alive and well in 2020, we can move on to a myth that has given professional marketers a headache since the dawn of the internet age.
Like anything good in life, SEO takes time.
Sure, you might be able to leverage some quick wins, but patience is the name of the game here. How long it takes for your site to reap the rewards of your SEO efforts is a matter of debate, but you’ll get nowhere overnight.
And sure, in SEO, domain age can be an important factor when looking to rank well.
That being said, there’s no reason that you need to hit GoDaddy for hours on end looking to find a domain registered twenty years ago.
The fact of the matter is the quality of the content, and the kind of backlinks you acquire off the back of this (more on this later) is really what makes the difference.
Pre-owned domains can fetch huge sums as they change hands from person-to-person; however, that’s generally due to the backlink profile and the brand’s reputation that held that domain previously, rather than how old it is.
However, as Google’s John Meuller confirmed back in 2016, Google can tell the difference between links that were meant for the website that held the domain previously. This means buying a pricey domain to gain quick results using these backlinks isn’t a guarantee of anything anymore.
Assuming you’ve created nice looking pages with excellent content and Google indexes the website, from there, it’s just a matter of time before you start to see some traction.
But, whether you’re doing SEO on your website, or someone else’s, this question of ‘how long?’ will come up sooner rather than later.
To gain some semblance of an answer to this, Ahrefs recently analyzed data from over two million random keywords and their top ten SERP rank to find out how long it might take for new content to gain traction in the SERPs.
The research shows that the average page in the top ten is over two years old, and the average number one result is almost three years old.
Image from aHrefs
Compare that with pages that aren’t yet twelve months old, and we start to see a strong correlation between the age of the page and the ranking in the search.
On average, only 5.7% of pages were able to rank in the top ten less than a year after they were published.
This evidence tells us that while it isn’t necessary to pay for an expensive domain, SEO is very much a long game, with no easy fixes.
3. SEO is a One and Done Solution
When it comes to SEO, you have two options:
- Hire an outside agency or a talented in-house marketer.
- Learn the whys and wherefores of search marketing and get stuck in.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll notice a marked improvement in how effective your website is.
However, anyone that tells you that your digital presence only needs to be optimized for search just once isn’t telling you the facts.
If your site has never been optimized before, a thorough technical and content audit will uncover some opportunities for quick and lasting wins, sure.
But for SEO to be truly effective, it must be viewed as an ever-evolving process, which needs to be regularly assessed to ensure it is working as effectively as possible.
It’s also the case that a website must be able to keep abreast of all the algorithmic changes that Google releases each year.
Of course, most of these minor but significant “core updates” do happen quite frequently too, and they do have the ability to alter your rankings significantly.
A great example of this is the decline in rankings that befouled sites that were heavily reliant on Private Blog Networks (PBNs) for their links and, therefore, their position in the SERPs.
Until only a few years ago, PBNs were a super effective and easy to implement way of manufacturing backlinks and trying to manipulate Google’s algorithms. But in 2014, Google hit back hard, and therefore, any site relying on PBNs was severely punished.
This shows us why it’s important to keep on top of the SEO curve since the very techniques that reap huge rewards today could be the very ones that trip you up tomorrow.
If your business depends on search rankings for success, you must continue to see it as an ongoing investment.
One and done simply won’t cut it.
4. Keyword Density is Vital for Successful SEO
Keyword density is one of the oldest myths in the SEO playbook, and it just will not go away.
The concept of keyword density is precisely what led to the phenomenon of keyword stuffing, in which keywords were stuffed into content, whether they made sense or not.
Keyword stuffing was an absolute slam dunk for rankings back in the day, but it soon led to unnatural content that neither made sense nor offered value.
Image from ClickZ
Keyword stuffing is now a specific violation of Google’s Search Quality Guidelines – so if you’re engaging in the practices similar to that in the image above, you’re just asking for trouble.
Although keyword density has been widely discredited as a valuable metric, there are plenty that still use it as a means to inform the way they go about creating content.
Having said that, while keyword density may be a pretty old-hat way of creating content, it doesn’t mean that keyword frequency and placement don’t have a role in the modern landscape of search engine optimization.
Google utilizes NLP and LSI (potentially) keywords to match the user’s intent behind the search query to improve search results.
In fact, Google’s BERT update takes its name from NLP technology – which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – this is how we know for sure that Google is using NLP to improve search results.
But does a liberal sprinkling of LSI keywords help to boost your rankings too? Are LSI keywords the new keyword density when creating content in 2020?
Well, the answer to this is tricky; some claim to have had great results by utilizing them, whereas some debate whether they even exist at all.
Google’s John Mueller stepped in on Twitter, with what should be the final say on the matter, but the debate will undoubtedly continue:
5. Link Building is Dead
Ask any top SEO for their opinion on the most important ranking signals for Google in 2020, and no doubt backlinks will be right up there, as this graphic from SparkToro will confirm:
In SparkToro’s opinion survey, featuring over 1,500 SEOs, conducted at the back end of last year, top quality backlinks came in second only behind the “relevance of overall page content" as the most crucial ranking factor.
Then, it would seem that link building is alive and kicking, although these days low quality, irrelevant links just won’t cut the mustard.
As we’ve already covered, not all backlinks are created equal, and any link building campaign that places quantity over quality will do absolutely no good. Some types of backlinks, such as dodgy citation links and those from proven PBNs, can have disastrous effects on your web rankings if you’re slapped with a penalty.
Google will wag their colossal finger at any attempt to manipulate search algorithms using artificial methods that make an effort to push low-quality.
One of the best ways to build strong backlink profiles is to create first-class content that other sites are naturally inclined to link to – whether that’s for your website or guest posting on another top-quality one.
That said, creating link-quality content is not an easy thing to do, and as we already know, over 90% of all content on the web is never seen by anyone:
Image from Ahrefs
Building links through considerate outreach to promote and share your content can reap the rewards, not only in terms of SEO but by also raising awareness of your brand.
Otherwise, if people can’t find your content, how can they read it, it’s a bit like screaming into a pillow – no one can hear you.
Also, consider utilizing:
● Email marketing
● Social media
● Facebook ads
● LinkedIn ads
Although link building remains crucial in 2020, it’s also never been harder to obtain those high-quality backlinks that will genuinely make a difference.
As we’ve touched upon, guest posting is one of the best ways to earn backlinks to help build your credibility.
Fair warning though, the folks that operate these websites are under absolutely no illusion of how valuable their asset, and therefore any backlink they grant you, is.
SEO is a complex beast – there's no question about it. The industry has grown alongside the internet, which means it’s a niche worth over $80 billion worldwide.
It’s no surprise then that many inconsistencies and myths have arisen in an industry that is both complex and continuing to grow exponentially every year.
All you can do is ensure that you’re keeping abreast of any changes; that way, you can continue to grow your business and remain profitable online.
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