SEO Mythbusting: Common Misconceptions on the Road to the First Page of Google
Have you heard the big news? Google has launched the “SEO Mythbusting” video series on their Webmaster YouTube channel. It’s great that Google is striving to educate the SEO community. I’ve decided to put together a brief list of the most common SEO misconceptions everyone in the industry should be aware of.
They’ve already explained in the video description that “SEO can be a bit of a black box” and that it’s not always easy for web developers and SEOs to work together.
Precisely because of that, Martin Splitt from Google’s Webmaster Trends Team will talk to professionals from the developer and SEO community in order to identify the most common mistakes made and answer frequently asked questions.
So, let’s dive in.
Myth #1: Google Penalizes Duplicate Content
Duplicate content refers to the same or similar content that appears on the internet more than once. Now, when reading about website optimization, chances are you will hear that Google penalizes duplicate content.
That’s not true. The duplicate content penalty doesn’t even exist.
Google emphasizes that they understand that most of the duplicate content is not deceptive, providing examples of store items linked via multiple URLs or printer-only versions of website pages. If you’re struggling with some of these issues, you should use canonicals, internal linking, and sitemaps to tell Google what your preferred URLs are. Still, if neither of your duplicate pages is blocked with the noindex meta tag, Google will choose one of those pages to index.
Sure, Google’s aim is to identify when the duplicate content is created to manipulate rankings. In these rare cases, such websites will either rank lower or they will be entirely removed from Google’s index.
Myth #2: A Link in Blog Comments Counts as an Inbound Link
The way we build links has changed over the past few years. We’ve moved from the traditional link building to link earning. In other words, you need to provide value to online users and inspire reputable people in your industry to link back to you. Quality inbound links indicate the credibility and relevance of your website.
Links in the comments section simply don’t fit in here.
Moreover, most authoritative blogs use rel=’nofollow’ in their comments section to prevent spam. Just like their mere name suggests, nofollow links tell search engine crawlers not to follow any of the links posted in the comments.
Still, doesn’t mean you should avoid posting comments on relevant blogs in your niche.
First, providing valuable insights, stats, and tips there is a great way to get yourself noticed by a blogger. They will already be familiar with your name when you decide to send them your guest article idea.
Second, posting a link to your site strategically may help you increase organic traffic. Sure, this doesn’t mean spamming blogs with links to your homepage or product pages. Instead, if your blog post answers someone’s question or is related to what a blogger is writing about, you can cite your piece and provide a link to it so people can read it.
Remember, leaving comments on blogs should never be your primary link building strategy. Back in 2013, Matt Cutts explained that spamming with blog comments tells Google that there are no real, credible resources linking to you. In this case, the search engine will start observing your links as a manipulative link scheme.
Myth #3: SEO is a Joke and Anyone Can Do It
It’s interesting how many people think this way. How many times have you heard someone saying something like “We hired a guy to do SEO for us a week ago and we still don’t see results” or “I did SEO once?”
First, you need to know that SEO is not something that delivers overnight results. There is no magic keyword you can add to your site and appear on the first page on Google. SEO a long-term strategy. High rankings, greater traffic, and more conversions are a result of weeks or even months of planning, testing, analyzing, and reporting.
Second, SEO depends on the professionals you hire. You have multiple options to choose from.
You could hire an in-house SEO team. Many employers believe that, since SEO requires some sort of technical knowledge, their IT team can do it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You’ll need to hire an entire team of SEO professionals – a project manager, on-site SEOs, off-site SEOs, technical SEOs, copywriters, and a content marketing strategist – and equip them with the right tools. No wonder the cost of building an in-house marketing team exceeds $68,000.
That is why many businesses, irrespective of their size, choose to hire a digital marketing company to handle their SEO strategy. You just need to choose a professional agency that has the tools, experience, and staff needed to help you achieve the right results. Most importantly, a professional SEO agency should be fully transparent and provide clear and comprehensive weekly or monthly reports. This will not only help you achieve the desired results faster, but also save you money on employee recruiting, hiring, training, and onboarding.
Myth #4: HTTPS Is not that Important
You’ve probably noticed that some sites begin with http://, while others use https://. Why is this so? HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is an extension of the traditional Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
Why is this extra “s” in their name so important for technical SEO?
Well, HTTPS is powered by the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology that ensures that the communication between a user’s browser and your servers is encrypted. Therefore, if a hacker intercepts a user’s data, they won’t be able to use it.
Google understands the importance of SSL and its goal is to inspire sites to switch to it as soon as possible. Back in 2014, they announced that they will use HTTPS as a minor ranking signal, meaning that having HTTP in your website domain can ruin your rankings. Moreover, sites using HTTPS are labeled as “Secure” and have a green padlock. From 2018, sites using HTTP are labeled as “Not Secure” in Google’s Chrome browser.
Apart from rankings, HTTP can also impact people’s perceptions of your brand and, consequently, hurt your lead generation efforts and conversion rates. Seeing that your site is labeled as untrustworthy, many of your visitors will decide to leave it fast, without providing any information.
Myth #5: Meta Descriptions are a Ranking Factor
A while ago, the former head of Google’s Web Spam, Matt Cutts, confirmed that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Namely, apart from your page’s title, meta descriptions are the first thing searchers will see in the SERPs. It informs them about the purpose of your page and the type of content they will find there. Most importantly, any powerful meta description will also include a catchy call to action that will inspire a visitor to click and learn more about you.
This is an important way to increase your click-through rate and drive more relevant traffic to your site. That’s why you shouldn’t focus on packing your meta descriptions with keywords. Instead, make sure they’re informative, intriguing, and that they bring value to a searcher. Include keywords only when they fit in naturally.
These examples prove one thing – there are many things you know about SEO that aren’t true. By avoiding them, you will both make your campaigns more efficient and stop wasting money on tactics that don’t work.
Above all, remember that SEO is not all about keywords and backlinks. Every aspect of your strategy, from off-site optimization to resolving technical issues, contributes to your brand image and impacts how people will perceive it.
What SEO myths tick you off most? Let’s debunk them together!