SEO Myths: The seven most frequent mistakes
Meta tags are out, keywords are useless, likes perform SEO miracles, … and finally, SEO is dead. Hardly any term from the World Wide Web gives rise to as many myths as SEO. This is no surprise since almost everyone who works on the Internet is in some way involved in search engine optimization. So is there any truth in the SEO myths? Seven mistakes are very persistent.
Myth 1: Meta tags are useless
In the good old days, SEO was quite simple. One simply filled the meta tag keywords with exactly the search terms for which one wanted to rank at Google (and at that time also at Yahoo). And that worked to a certain extent. However, search engines pay hardly any attention to meta keywords today, because this tag made SEO child’s play. And that is why meta tags are frequently referred to as having no beneficial use.
But that is not the whole truth. It does not apply to at least two other tags:
- The meta tag title and
- the meta tag description.
Google uses the contents of these meta tags for the snippets. These are the heading and the short description of the page content on Google’s result list. If you try hard, you have a good chance of getting more clicks, which in turn are SEO-relevant. Because the snippet is the first impression the website makes on most users.
Myth 2: Keywords are not important
This is another rumor one hears again and again: Google does not rely on the keywords anymore. This conclusion is often the result of an error: It is indeed true that the keywords in the meta tag of the same name have hardly any SEO effect. However, this does not apply to the text of a website, i.e. the distribution of keywords, synonyms and terms from the thematically-related environment.
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If these keywords are well distributed in headings, paragraphs, lists and spreadsheets, Google algorithms will reward them. Because a machine must use these keywords if it is expected to grasp the meaning of a text. Too many keywords are of course suspicious. Google treats them as spam and dramatic ranking losses are the consequence.
Myth 3: I do not need SEO – I have a CMS
Do content management systems automatically create search engine optimized websites? No, unfortunately they do not. The results of WordPress, Typo3 and co. are readable for search engines. But meta tags in particular often reveal shortcomings. A factory version of CMS is often not enough to ensure success with Google.
When working with content management systems one should therefore pay attention to SEO plugins. It should also be noted that too many superfluous functions and design elements have a negative effect on the loading time. If in doubt, you may want to analyze the source code with the eyes of an HTML expert.
Myth 4: Once optimized – always optimized
Page optimized – done? Unfortunately not. It is not enough to make a one-time adaptation to the requirements of the search engines because SEO is a dynamic process. Sustainable success can only be achieved on the web if the developments of the Google algorithm are constantly monitored.
Here is a small, far from comprehensive overview of the Google updates of recent years:
- Penguin (2012): New classification of over-optimized pages.
- Hummingbird (2013): Improved recognition of the connection between words in a search query.
- Mobile friendly (2015): Mobile suitability becomes an official ranking factor.
- Fred (2017): Ranking losses for thin content, one-sided monetization of websites, and sites with limited user friendliness.
- Core (2018/2019): Updates with unclear concrete goals. Google is increasingly relying on self-learning algorithms for the evaluation of websites.
Google is reluctant to lay its cards on the table when it comes to the evaluation basis of algorithm updates. And this is precisely where SEO comes in. Often, a thorough analysis of the site concerned is needed to reveal which ideas are behind the renewal.
Myth 5: The more backlinks, the better
Being able to have more links point to your own website will also put you in the lead with Google. This myth persists – and is propagated above all by dubious SEO service providers. They earn a lot of money by buying links as an alleged miracle cure for Google ranking. This may have worked in the primeval times of the web. Today, however, it is not only the number, but above all the quality of incoming links that determines the positions on Google.
Certainly, Google has laid the foundation for its worldwide success with the PageRank calculation based on links. Links to one’s own website are still a sign of quality and trust. But only if the linking itself is relevant and appears to be “honest”. Anyone who goes overboard with link purchases quickly ends up in Google’s spam cellar: At the bottom of the result pages.
Myth 6: Likes are SEO-relevant
Today, nothing works without social media in online marketing. If you are not present in the social networks, you are not present on the market. For a long time the SEO scene has been discussing whether Google uses social signals (e.g. the number of likes) as a criterion for its result lists. Three convincing arguments refute this myth:
- Google has no access to many Facebook data.
- Google cannot rely on the quality of these social signals.
- Finally, Google itself has repeatedly denied that it includes likes and dislikes in its rating.
By the way: This myth is mainly based on a confusion between causality and correlation. One thing is clear: A popular site naturally has more likes than an unpopular website. Popularity again has many effects that are undoubtedly SEO-relevant. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is no causal connection between likes and the ranking position on Google – there is only a statistical connection.
Myth 7: SEO is dead
Forget SEO – SEO is dead. This can be heard from time to time, over and over again. But without much resonance. And rightly so. Because as long as there are search engines, there will also be SEO. The rumor that SEO is dead is probably one of the oldest myths on the Internet. By the way, this rumor was also spread at a time when search engine optimization was in its infancy.
A single argument is enough to refute this myth: The most popular homepage on the Internet is and remains Google. For decades, the layout of this page has remained spartanic – the “Google” lettering and a search field. The user enters a term, and in the majority of cases will select an organic hit on the first page. In order to be successful on the Internet one must strive to be as high as possible on this important list. And that’s exactly what SEO is.
Summary on SEO Myths
The same applies to SEO: There’s life in the old dog yet! SEO is just as important today as it was 10 or 20 years ago. But if you don’t keep up to date with SEO, you quickly lose good ranking positions. And this also means recognizing mistakes as such.