The Ultimate List of SEO Myths Debunked

Join any SEO discussion group, and you’ll get fierce debates on possibly any issues. There has never been a discipline as vast and yet, uncertain as SEO. Sometimes, it is hard to differentiate SEO myths from facts.

Most of the articles and thoughts propagated by leading SEO experts are based on analysis. None outside Google are privy to how its search algorithm really works.

Google may occasionally tweet about what matters in SEO ranking, but those are still tiny pieces of confirmation compared to the vast algorithm driving the search.

Even if SEO agencies run analyses thousands of websites in case studies, there is still a margin of error in the results.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising to have SEO experts arguing on certain topics, or the rise of urban SEO myths that are blindly followed.

An SEO strategy that may work a year ago could be nothing but a myth in today’s practice. What’s important is to be objective and find out if there are truths in such practices.

It’s foolish to adopt a particular SEO practice, just because others in the community are harping about it.

For example, you still get certain marketers promoting the merits of building links from PBN. While it may work well to rank pages in the past, it is now a ticket for a Google penalty in today’s SEO.

Here’s a list of SEO myths that are still making their rounds today. Find out if you’re still implementing these outdated or make-belief practices in your SEO campaign.

SEO Myths Debunked – Truth Revealed

Google Sandbox

Myth

Many SEO experts believe in the existence of ‘Google Sandbox’, a mechanism that suppressed new websites from ranking on the search engine.

According to this belief, new sites are automatically placed in the Sandbox for 6 months before being evaluated and ranked like other websites.

Truth

‘Google Sandbox’ is nothing but a myth as Garry Illyes explicitly deny it in one of his tweets.

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John Muller again confirmed it in 2019.

 

What is commonly believed as the Google Sandbox, is, in fact, the effect of the search algorithm’s effort in trying to rank a brand new site.

A new website naturally lacks in content, backlinks, social signals. Thus, it also lacks authority and trustworthiness.

Unless building a global brand like Amazon, it takes a while before the site establishes authority on Google. With that said, it is still possible to rank high with a new site, provided you’re targeting a very low competitive keyword.

PPC advertising helps ranks

Myth

Occasionally, you’ll get views like this from the SEO community.

 

Google is the largest search engine in the world. However, the bulk of its revenue comes from advertisement.

Therefore, there are accusations that Google is rewarding sites that run ads on Google better positions in the organic results.

Truth

The truth behind the allegation is that ranking on Google’s search result has nothing to do with paying for Google ads.

Although ads and organic results appear on the same listing, both operate on different algorithms.

Google makes it very clear that this is just a baseless myth with this statement:

 

Domain age as a ranking factor

Myth

So, the idea is that if you buy a domain, hold it for a few years, start building content around it, and it’ll suddenly outrank your competitors.

The idea of domain age as a ranking factor is fiercely debated amongst SEO marketers.

Just like the Sandbox theory (which is proven to be false), there are arguments that an older domain will outperform a brand new domain in the ranking.

This argument is backed by the fact that most pages that rank for high difficulty keywords belong to sites that have been established for years.

Truth

Again, this is a pure myth that’s based on misunderstanding how Google evaluates domain. Matt Cutts explained in this video that it’s pointless to purchase aged domains just for the sake of ranking higher.

Rather than the domain age, various signals like backlinks, mentions and content determine if your site can rank on Google.

Coincidentally, most authority sites which have been around for quite some time, have accumulated a large amount of those signals over time.

Hence, it gives the misleading impression that aged domains rank better.

Google cares about Domain Authority

Myth

Often, you’ll come across the term Domain Authority or DA in SEO strategies. There will be articles suggesting that a site needs to have high DA to rank higher on Google.

And when you see high DA sites dominating the search result, it’s only natural to assume that Google considers DA in its algorithm.

 

Truth

Google never has and is not using DA as a ranking factor. DA is a metric created by Moz as an indicator of the authoritativeness of a website. DA is based on content, backlinks and other factors of a domain.

PageRank is an algorithm used by Google to determine the importance of a webpage by evaluating backlinks pointing to the URL.

PageRank was introduced in 1996. Google confirmed that PageRank is still being used, but its prominence may have been reduced. It is now part of hundreds of other ranking signals.

 

What’s being confused with DA is the PageRank toolbar metric, which grades a webpage from 0-10. The toolbar metric was removed in 2016 as it’s no longer deemed relevant and at times confusing as a single metric.

So, Google doesn’t use DA in its algorithm. However, DA is still vital for SEO professionals. It is used as a predictive metric in determining how webpages would fare in Google search result.

Links are all you need to rank

Myth

True or false? 

Links are the ultimate ranking factor for SEO. After all, top results often have hundreds or thousands of backlinks built to them.

 

Therefore, the trick to improve Google ranking is to build as many links as possible to your site.

Truth

Links, particularly backlinks, remain one of the major ranking signals for Google. Backlinks indicate the importance of web pages and help Google in ranking them on search results.

While links are essential, an aimless strategy is detrimental to your SEO effort.

Ranking by merely building tons of backlinks may work prior to the Penguin update, but it’s no longer a viable strategy in today’s SEO.

Not all links are created equal. Some links, particularly those that are against Google’s policy, could do more harm than good for a website.

For example, buying links for the sake of gaming Google’s search algorithm is a strict no-no. So is participating in link-exchange schemes.

Link-building requires a proper strategy as Google is quick to pick on unnatural links and dish out penalties to the website.

A good link building campaign is one that uses White Hat SEO techniques and focuses on acquiring links from authoritative and relevant sites.

It also involves diversifying the types of links. While ‘do-follow’ links pass more SEO value, solely focusing on a particular type may be deemed unnatural by Google.

Therefore, your link outreach effort should also involve getting links in forums, Web 2.0 sites, blog comments and social media.

Keyword density matters

Myth

Some SEOs emphasised for the target keyword to be repeated several times in the content. Be it 2% or 4%; they believe that having a particular number of keywords in the text helps in SEO ranking.

The principle is further supported by tools like Yoast SEO plugin, which checks the number of times the keyword, or in recent revisions, keyphrase in the content.

 

If you don’t get the required amount of keyphrase in the content, it will be highlighted as a problem. Therefore, it must be true that keyword density matters in SEO.

Truth

There was once where keyword density does indeed matter for SEO. That was before 2011 when Google rolled out the Panda update.

Back then, repeating a number of the same keyword in the content could boost SEO ranking. The results are sometimes filled with low-quality pages, with keywords stuffed senselessly all over.

Since then, Google has evolved way beyond relying on keyword density in its algorithm. In 2014, John Muller mentioned that keyword density is something that you don’t want to focus on.

Need proof?

Here’s an article that rank on the first page for ‘get rid of bed bugs’.

 

Guess what the keyword density of the article is?

It’s 0%.

Google has gotten pretty intelligence in making sense of the content without relying on repetitive keywords.

If you’re overly focused on getting the keyword to appear ‘x’ number of times in the content, you risk keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is precisely the opposite of what Google wants in an article. So, forget about keyword density and write naturally.

Create the best possible article that meets the search intent of a particular keyword. That’s a better way to improve your content’s ranking on Google.

Do what the big brands do

Myth

If you follow the big brands in the market, you’ll eventually get to the top of Google search. After all, those leading brands ought to be doing right in terms of SEO. Else, how could they be dominating the ranking with ease?

Truth

The fact is, most of the bring brands do have a degree of visibility on search, regardless of their SEO strategy.

A leading brand may have implemented a failed strategy, and yet, it still gets considerable organic traffic. If you replicate the same strategy on a new website, it’s going to have the opposite result.

It seems unfair, but big brands have high authority within their own industry. The brands are recognisable globally, and that itself is a ranking factor.

Brand authority is something that new businesses or websites don’t have. So, it isn’t surprising if you find it impossible to break into highly-competitive keywords even if you’re using the same strategies by the more prominent brands.

Smaller websites need to be smarter in their SEO goals. This means spending more time identifying less competitive keywords, build content around them and generate backlinks to grow the site’s authority.

It takes time before your site gains considerable authority where you can compete on level ground with the bigger brands.

You only need to do SEO once

Myth 

Some business owners are attracted by one-off SEO packages with promises of scaling the heights of Google search page after a series of ‘fine-tuning’.

Truth

It’s a mistake to believe that you can permanently be on top of the search results after a one-time SEO optimisation.

SEO just doesn’t work that way.

Even if you’ve engaged an experienced consultant, and do indeed get results, there is no guarantee that it will be permanent.

SEO is a pretty dynamic and volatile discipline. Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithms, with a few major upgrades in-between.

An update could be happening right under your nose as you’re reading this. As Google attempts to ‘perfect’ its search algorithm, websites experience volatile movement in the ranking.

Therefore, what works for your site at this moment may be obsolete in a matter of months. If you’re banking for that one-off SEO optimisation, you’ll be disappointed in the long run.

Furthermore, new content is added or updated Cyprus Phone Number List daily. If you’re leaving your site as it is, Google may consider your content to be outdated and promote others above yours.

And it has been that way ever since 2011.

 

So, SEO isn’t a one-off magic bullet. Instead, it is an adaptive process where the site is continuously optimized with relevant best practices.

I need to use exact match keywords in my content

Myth

There are still practices where webmasters include exact keywords in content, assuming that it helps with Google ranking.

Does it still work in today’s SEO?

Truth 

Exact keywords matching was once a determining factor in boosting Google rank. However, it has been ages since it is a major ranking factor.

Google has evolved beyond the need for an exact keyword to determine the context of an article. In other words, you don’t need exact match keywords to rank at all.

Here’s a piece of content that ranks for ‘how to change Instagram icon’ and at the coveted #1 spot.

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