Top 3 Search Engine Optimization Myths and Half-Truths

Search Engine Optimization has many myths that have spread like wildfire throughout the internet.  These myths are propagated by bloggers who often have never actually ranked a website.  They are just regurgitating what they heard and what sounds right, but what has little to no basis in what it really takes to rank a website well in Google for valuable search phrases.

Google enjoys many of these myths.  They even help spread some of them because they want to make it as hard as possible to manipulate their search results.

I’ve spent many years basing my SEO on what actually works in my testing.  I don’t do SEO that should work based upon misguided ideas.  I’m accountable to clients who pay me big money to provide real ranking results and not excuses.  If I based my SEO heavily on the following myths, then I would have been out of business many moons ago!

SEO Myth 1: Content Marketing is SEO

online content context marketing

This has got to be the biggest one that is accepted by many in the SEO community – especially new or inexperienced SEO bloggers.

Content Marketing is …wait for it…content marketing!  Content marketing is not SEO.  Yes, it can help with SEO, but it is nowhere near the entirety of a complete and balanced SEO plan as many make it out to be.

Basically, the idea is, “build great content and great websites will naturally link to you and then Google will reward you!”  Google loves people to believe this.  It doesn’t help that it is partially true.  You can get rankings boost by people sharing our great content.  However, if this is anywhere near your sole SEO focus, then 19 times out of 20 you will be sorely disappointed.  Many have tried this path for years and gotten nothing.  They had great content and it didn’t get shared and linked to.

Building great content can be a part of your plan, but it is not even required.  I’ve ranked many websites that I wouldn’t classify as having anywhere near “great” content.  Content is actually pretty low on my list of ranking factors.  Yes, you want your visitors to respond positively to your content, but you don’t need it to be shared heavily to rank.  Nor should you expect it to be shared.

SEO Myth 2: Duplicate Content is Terrible for SEO

seo content writing

This myth also hides behind a partial truth – the Panda algorithm does look for duplicate content and Google doesn’t want to rank the same content for the same search phrase.

However, duplicate content is a natural part of the internet and is very acceptable in many circumstances.  Understanding the acceptable cases can be helpful in ranking your website.

If you’re trying to rank for a local search, like “Dallas SEO” or “Dallas DUI Lawyer,” then duplicate content can be just fine.  There’s an exception in Google’s algorithms for local searches and duplicate content.

Furthermore, you can copy other people’s content and use it on your own site with complete safety if you reference their site with a link back to the original source.  This is very natural.

Even without referencing the original content with a link, you can still be fine.  Thousands of news outlets publish the same exact content and they are not penalized.

SEO Myth 3: Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO are meaningful terms

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Very few like to talk about the truth behind Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO because if you say anything publicly other than “all I do is White Hat SEO is all I do” then people may think that you’re this evil person that does unethical things.

The truth is that the best in the world at SEO completely ignore the common Black/White distinctions.  If someone talks a lot about doing only pure White Hat SEO, then they likely are inexperienced and are only relying on very basic SEO techniques.

First of all, the definitions of Black/White Hats are vague and mean different things to different people.  Technically, any SEO you do is Black Hat according to Google.  If you do anything other than build great content and let people link to it naturally, you’re breaking their terms of service.

Secondly, defining SEO activities on a 0/1 scale of Black/White simply doesn’t make sense.  Many sets of SEO actions are very complex and don’t really fall anywhere in the vicinity of what anyone would consider Black or White.  All the best I know of would likely say they do “no hat SEO.”

Thirdly, doing what many to consider to be White Hat doesn’t guarantee you will rank and won’t get a penalty.

Asking whether someone does Black Hat or White Hat SEO is, simply put, a poor question that reveals your own ignorance of what it really takes to rank a website in Google for a long period of time.

A better distinction is spammy vs non-spammy.  I stay completely away from spam.  Spam can still work, but Google has gotten much better at identifying and penalizing it.


Top 3 Search Engine Optimization Myths and Half-Truths - conclusion

Be aware of the aforementioned myths when trying to rank your own websites.  They can send you or your business off on the wrong track for years – wasting many thousands of marketing dollars.

This article is written by The Dallas SEO Geek, the author of SEO Myths and Half-Truths.

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Article Published by Souvik

SouvikWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 15+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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7 thoughts on “Top 3 Search Engine Optimization Myths and Half-Truths

  1. I totally agree with your opinion on the topic about black/white hat SEO. As long as your system works, I don’t care what you do. The result counts!

  2. Many agencies these days are selling irrelevant services labeling them as Search Engine Optimization and, as you mentioned earlier, companies spend tons of money before realizing that they were scammed! In my opinion, every business owner needs to educate himself when considering to work with SEO specialists, so they have a better idea identifying scammers.

  3. This article is just great. I was honestly reading it with a smile on my face. It describes extremely well probably some of the biggest myths when it comes to SEO. Especially, the first and third myth are on point. People are selling SEO services, and they include content creation as if it has something to do with SEO, but buyers are not experts in optimization, so they believe them. Great content is vital for a website, but it’s not part of the optimization in my opinion. Also, anything that is not PPC is pretty much “black hat SEO” for Google, so all the white knights can keep yumming about it… Good job on the article.

  4. I disagree with you on the importance of content. Great content is what will get your traffic to convert. It shows your prospects that you care about them and that you would like to offer them useful or fun information. It’s quid pro quo kind of thing: you offer them something, so they feel obliged to offer something in return.

  5. Another myth that some people still believe for some stupid reason is that responsive design doesn’t matter, when it is one of the most important ranking factors nowadays due to the steadily increasing percentage of people using mostly their mobile devices for web browsing and searches.

    • Yes, Dimitris, responsive design is one of the ranking factors but for mobile search results only and not for desktops search results. And Yes, more than 65% searches comes from mobile devices, but I would not put my focus on responsive design so much because it is in every theme right now, but rather put your focus on a speed of your mobile version.