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10 greatest SEO myths (you should forget about)

24 September 2023
9 min.
Max Cyrek
Max Cyrek
Article updated at: 14 February 2024
10 greatest SEO myths (you should forget about)

We face them every day. They come into being abruptly and they are being quickly remembered. Some of them may have been true but this changed with Google’s algorithm update. We are revealing and explaining 10 SEO myths that we, as an agency, come across most often.

1. AdWords adverts have a positive impact on SEO

Neither active AdWords campaigns nor their deactivation have effect on SEO results. They do, however, influence the traffic to the website and they influence the company’s image, therefore we can often come across the opinion that AdWords and SEO are strongly connected.

AdWords are not an alternative to SEO
AdWords are not an alternative to SEO

It is certain that the effects of wrong optimization, so the decrease in organic traffic, influence intensification of PPC activities. A good example is Google Penalty imposed on, or mostly for using low quality paid links exchange or structure problem. Some of the affected companies quickly reacted by activating AdWords campaigns to make up for the lost traffic and keep the clients. Not all of them succeeded to recover.

We have also come across the opinion that websites with active AdSense advertisements receive more traffic from Google because the giant from Mountain View makes money on these ads. Unfortunately, that is a myth too.

AdWords campaigns do not influence website’s rank in organic search results and they cannot replace SEO. What brings best results is the synergy of paid PPC campaigns and SEO.

2. Using sitemap.xml will enhance your ranking

A page’s map is a list of subpages which together build the web service. Thanks to that, Google can see the web service’s structure which accelerates indexing of the website. Every time you add a new page, the generator will update the sitemap and, as a consequence, new articles will be noticed by Google sooner. However, using sitemap.xml does not influence the rank directly, it only allows quick and efficient indexing of the page.

website’s map allows Google to crawl websites with poor structure
website’s map allows Google to crawl websites with poor structure

Many SEO experts will probably dislike me for saying that a sitemap should be redundant in well-designed websites – a good structure allows full indexing of the website and quick arriving at new subpages without the necessity of using a “road sign” that sitemap.xml really is.

So how to create a website with good structure? Consider keywords – ideally, for every phrase a different subpage should be created. It is worth to use simple links (e.g. /10-seo-myths instead of /id223uk489976) and create lists, take care of readability of the code and design the homepage adequately. Thanks to these, the website will have a clear structure and Google will easily crawl it.

In order to refute the myth of the sitemap, let’s imagine that the map is static, and it does not update itself when new content is added. Will Goggles not be able to index new subpages anymore?

3. The bigger site, the better

Deliberate creation of a large number of subpages with bad quality content is pointless. By doing this, we can easily provoke a situation when the content will be of little value for the user. This is so called Thin Content – pages with worthless or very poor content. A good example of such landing pages are subpages generated by filtering in online stores. The script of many online shops does not allow to put content or to adjust meta data there.

artificial generation of subpages is nothing else but spamming
artificial generation of subpages is nothing else but spamming

It is true, however, that many quality pages that will be linked externally and internally and have interesting content will work to your advantage. The content has to be good enough to give the user the information they need and to help them.

One of our tasks during websites optimization is to limit the number of subpages to the ones that are valuable from the point of view of SEO. We design the site’s structure in a way that will show Google crawler only what we really want to keep in the search engine’s index without using meta tags, noindex, nofollow or blocking the access to robots.txt.

Many SEO experts also negate the use of tags. If you want to use them, you must select them carefully. Using too many tags with similar meaning will likely decrease the website’s ranking, so it certainly will not help you.

a cloud of tags detrimental to SEO
a cloud of tags detrimental to SEO

Using tags like “cool” or “work” will not bring us more traffic and visibility. If you use tags, do it reasonably and base it on the number of queries:

keyword research

In this case it is best to tag “tan tank top” and complete it with content optimized for this keyword. But you can do it only if there is no such a category in the website’s structure. Otherwise, the tag and the category will eliminate each other.

If you want to find out more about what Matt Cutts said about Thin Content, watch the video below:

4. Linking does not work anymore

Internal linking? It works great, it helps the user to move around on the website and it allows to set the hierarchy on the website. Internal linking can be applied for example as a link embedded in the content, as a section with related articles or as previous/next post

External linking? It works wonders if you can do it really well. One poor link can do more bad than good. It is better to have one link from an authority website than 10 links from low quality web services. It is worth investing in quality links, for instance as guest post, press notes, interviews in industry portals or less obvious ways, such as sponsoring of organizations that will place your company’s linked logo on their website. Linking is still an important element of SEO; scoring high on competitive keywords without it is basically impossible. Nevertheless, we need to stress here that founding a SEO strategy on links from comments on blogs is not a solution.

5. Content is the king

This is a myth that we face every day. Quality content has concrete value for the user, it increases brand recognition and it gives it status of an expert. Content that is adjusted to target group increases the brand’s popularity and the trust put in it, which then translates into brand queries and the number of visits from direct channel. It also increases the chances of the content being referred to in other media, often linked to your website. It means that good content can generate higher conversion rate, especially if the website is well linked.

Can you remember the SEO prayer?

Unfortunately, even when combined with excellent content, it does not work.

create good content, but do not limit yourself to it
create good content, but do not limit yourself to it

Without links, even best content may simply not reach the target. Good SEO is the synergy of all activities – onsite and offsite.

Speaking of content, in the stone age of SEO people believed (partly correctly) that keywords should appear in the text on the website in a correct proportion, for example 3 key phrases for every 1000 digits (including spaces). Yes, it used to be important and… it worked. In the year 2018 the situation is very different. Thanks to RankBrain’s algorithm, Google sees content in a different way. Content is the key word – an article about positioning a drum in a washing machine where phrases such as “plumber”, “kitchen appliances” and “washing machine repairs” will never beat an article on positioning a website that will treat on SEO, meta descriptions and SEO strategy in Google search results.

You should also remember that intents of outwitting Google by using hidden text, cloaking, hidden images optimized with the alt attribute, or content written in 4px font do not work to your advantage. On the opposite, they can cost you a penalty.

6. Mobile version of the website is just an addition

Mobile-first is working, and Google even provided special tool. The tool can test loading speed on mobiles and compare it to other websites from the same industry. The tool is available here.

Changes in algorithms are designed to serve the users who increasingly browse the internet on their smartphones. According to a Gemius report in October 2018, users browsed the web on their mobile devices more often than on computers.

raport gemius

Small or overlapping buttons, the lack of some elements or long loading time can discourage users from browsing the website, which in turn will cause it fall in Google search results. So, if your website does not have a mobile version, you should change it because, according to forecasts, mobile devices will be more and more common. Otherwise you will lose many potential users as a result of website’s low ranking on mobile devices.

7. Migration = a traffic fall

A migration, when it is well done, will not result in a fall although one needs to have patience. The myth about falls can be related to errors commonly committed during the migration process. The most common mistakes include:

  • the programmer leaving behind noindex or nofollow tag and/or blockage in robots.txt
  • lack of 301 redirections of the old URL structure to the new one, which results in 404 error
  • lack of migration of meta title and the content
  • errors 500 stemming from delivering old URL parameters to website’s new engine
  • – infinite website – by programmer’s mistake, dynamically indexed subpages are being generated, for instance:

a good migration plan will help you avoid mistakes
a good migration plan will help you avoid mistakes

Before migration you definitely should:

  • make a full crawl of the website with a tool like ScreamingFrog or another crawler
  • save the present structure of URLs
  • save the present configuration of meta data and the settings of canonical tags
  • save the content

Immediately after migration you need to:

  • check the correctness of URL addresses. If their structures are different, it is necessary to redirect the pages from the old structure to their equivalents in the new one. Once finished with redirecting, check in Screaming Frog (using the list mode) whether any address has been omitted.
  • crawl the new service and make sure that there are no links to 404 pages or that there are no 5** errors
  • take care of completing the missing content

8. SEO does not work, AdWords campaigns are better

AdWords Campaigns are a perfect supplement for SEO. Nevertheless, we need to keep in mind that CTR in sponsored links is no more than 15% in really well optimized campaigns, so 15 out of 100 users will click on an advert. What happens with the rest of the users? The move on to organic search results. A huge advantage of AdWords is the possibility of rapid verification of whether our selected key phrases are bringing us the expected results (conversion). This information is a priceless source of information and we can really help us with keywords selection and all optimisation process. Paid campaigns are often applied in order to verify which keywords bring conversion and base the SEO strategy on them.

seo is dead
SEO doesn’t work? Couldn’t be more wrong

Thanks to its immediate effects, AdWords is often the most important source of traffic at the beginning of a SEO campaign. But as it begins to bring benefits, the proportions change. Many big web services attract their traffic mainly from organic search results. Below, you can see an estimation of the traffic for done by SimilarWeb.

Estimation of traffic for done by SimilarWeb
estimation of traffic for done by SimilarWeb

It is only an estimation and a part of the traffic comes from brand queries, but it still confirms the huge effect of organic traffic upon the total number of users on the website.

Anyone who claims that SEO does not work, simply does not understand what SEO really is.

9. Yoast SEO instead of an agency

This plug-in is used even by SEO experts. Its biggest advantage is its simple configuration that even amateurs understand. Yoast SEO checks the number of keywords in the text, helps control meta title and makes internal optimization easier. But still, the plug-in itself is not enough, because Yoast’s green lights to not mean that optimization has been done. Yoast is not good at the Polish language and its synonyms, so if we don’t supplement it with expert’s work, the results will be poor. Using Yoast for SEO just is not optimisation yet.

The results of Yoast SEO plug-in’s analysis
The results of Yoast SEO plug-in’s analysis

Unfortunately, many people still believe that contracting an agency or a SEO specialist is an unnecessary expenditure. They think that if they have Yoast SEO they can optimise the website by themselves, but will the plug in verify whether there is another subpage with identical title being optimised? Or will it check the trends in the given market niche and will warn you that such and such setting is not a good solution?

10. I have achieved some results so now I can stop investing in SEO

Optimisation is a continuous and, truly, never-ending process. It results from the changes in Google algorithms and your competitors’ actions, among other things. These continuous activities, however, bring measurable results

Once you achieve what you have planned it is worth thinking the strategy over and setting new goals, which, in effect, will drive more traffic and bring more conversion.

Moreover, once a website has been indexed, the traffic can be coming from so-called long tail. The invested work and time are paying as the website’s ranking goes up, which means it is strong and authoritative. Time is crucial here, because some changes introduced in the website bring results only after some time. It is connected to the frequency with which Google visits the website. You need to remember that sole presence of a Googlebot on your website will not enhance its rank immediately. It often happens that, after a correction of a doubled product description, the rank rises not on the same day as re-indexing of the website, but after a few days or even weeks.

Even the best experts need time to bring realistic effects, so if anyone offers you immediate results, beware and remember that in SEO the rule “who doesn’t take a step forward takes two steps back” is very true

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