10 SEO Myths that Make You Look Stupid

Frog looking stupid into the camera.

One of the most popular ways to teach people about search engine optimization seems to be to point out what’s wrong about it.

There are plenty of “SEO myths” posts out there and they get shared a lot.

I usually attempt to share truths not myths. In this case I decided to remix a popular “SEO myths” post. That’s demand and supply. You want myths? You can get myths.

While I think that there are bigger myths out there that negate the whole discipline of search engine optimization I nonetheless will ignore the most ridiculous cliches.

When you think “SEO is dead” or “content is king” this is the wrong article for you. I have covered that nonsense many times already in separate articles.

In this article I focus on the myths that some low level SEO practitioners spread to this day. No matter how wrong they are these misconceptions never seem to disappear completely.

I’ll be honest with you. Spreading these myths makes you look stupid. Using these techniques even more. I even feel embarrassed to still have to debunk them.


1. “Your top ten search engine ranking can be guaranteed.”
Some SEO firms will advertise a “guarantee” to have you listed in the top ten rankings of Google. No one other than the search engines themselves can guarantee any ranking. Don’t believe it.

Trust their results for other clients and make your decision from actual client successes, not empty promises and guarantees.

Google states in its Search Console Help: “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.”

What can be guaranteed though is that when a top 10 or #1 ranking is achieved the payment or rather bonus payment is due.

Then it’s so called “performance based payment“. Payment based on rankings is not recommended though, as rankings themselves do not guarantee sales or overall profits.


2. “My in-house marketer/web designer/programmer can do the SEO cheaper.”
Most search engine optimization professionals can get higher rankings faster because SEO is complex, often technical and has a steep learning curve.

SEO companies sometimes place a whole team at your disposal, including content writers, web developers and link builders. Otherwise you need a generalist who can do it all.

Unless you have a room full of marketing staff dedicated to SEO it is hard to keep up. Even a whole in-house team may struggle because SEO is not just marketing.

It’s optimization and popularization. It requires both technical and social skills. Most people are either geeky or popular.


3. “Just create great content and they will come”
Search engine optimization is probably the best way to get people to view your site. People are searching for the exact products and services which you offer and optimize for.

People are looking for you, not the other way around! Keep in mind you must be using the right keywords though. Random content “for Google” doesn’t help. It rather backfires.

The job of your SEO is to help you choose the both lucrative and doable keywords right from the start. Too broad terms or clickbait headlines like “you won’t believe this” are not findable.

Content by itself without covering the appropriate topics and mentioning terms that are in demand won’t work. It must be very comprehensive by now to be able to compete at all.

Additionally there is so much content out there that nobody will be able to see it without search engine optimization. after an initial phase of social media sharing at best.


4. “You need to submit to social bookmarking sites”
This one is so wrong I don’t even know where to begin! First off: there are no more social bookmarking sites.

They almost ceased to exist. Even the site that invented social bookmarking – Delicious/del.icio.us – got scrapped by now.

Other sites considered “social bookmarking” by those who spread this myth – like Reddit or StumbleUpon – never were about bookmarking in the first place.

Back in 2006 I fell myself for that stupid misconception. I “bookmarked” my sites on Reddit and got banned right away.

Reddit is a social news community. Posting self-promotional off-topic material there is a surefire way to fail.

The same applies to StumbleUpon. It had a filter installed around 2007 that filtered all self-submissions. They got zero views.

“Submitting to social bookmarking sites” does not work in the desired way people do it for link building.

It is like entering an office building with dozens of conference rooms and instead of speaking at your conference entering all the others and shouting your message.

Build an audience instead. Most social sites are about networking these days. Become friends with members of the community.


5. “Simply inserting keywords in the keyword meta tag will help list your site for that keyword”
Most major search engines do not use the meta keywords tag as a ranking factor. When they do it’s probably a negative one!

In case the keyword is not also in the copy of the same page you get penalized for keyword stuffing.

At best the meta keyword tag is used by directories or social bookmarking tools when adding your site to the bookmarks there.

The only really important meta tag is the description as it is displayed in the search results by Google.

You rather need to optimize the meta description tag for people who use search engines and will see it in the actual results.


6. “The more times you repeat the keyword on the page, the higher it will rank”
The so called “keyword density” does not matter as a major ranking factor outside the requirement that the actual keyword is present on the page in the way of natural language.

Depending on where on the page and how the keyword is displayed the ranking can be positively or negatively affected. A keyword density that is too high will get you penalized.

These days we don’t think too much in keywords anymore. It’s about topics you cover and how the relevant words are connected. When you write about the sky make sure to mention

  • blue
  • clouds
  • sun

and rain as well. Simply repeating the same word over and over is rather stupid. It’s not 1997 anymore.


7. “Hidden links or text can get your page ranked higher”
Keyword stuffing and hidden links in the page can get your site penalized or banned if detected. It is considered spamming by search engines.

Most people think it’s not worth the risk. Google states in it’s Webmaster Guidelines: “Avoid hidden text or hidden links.”

Yet to this day I talk to people who say things like “I optimized already a bit by placing invisible keywords”. Should I laugh or cry?


8. “You don’t need to update your site to keep your rankings”
You need routine maintenance (removing outdated material, fixing broken links etc.) and improving your content quality regularly.

By updating you are signaling the bots and crawlers to come back and re-crawl your site for changes to their listings. The algorithms also rate you again.

To maintain high rankings, you need to keep at it and tweak the pages for better results if necessary. Also content freshness is one of the more important ranking factors.

When neglected, your pages could easily slip out of the top rankings as new competing sites get indexed and optimized.


9. “You can achieve higher rankings on a keyword without changing the content of your site”
After Google introduced the Google bombing filter getting a higher ranking solely based on links pointing to your site does not work anymore as already mentioned at 6).

In case you want to steadily improve your rankings, you must make changes to your site that help the search engines to spider it.

Steady results are dependent on your willingness to optimize and tweak the code and content of your pages.

A simple thing like fixing broken links can contribute to elevating your listings. It’s one of the most overlooked search engine tweaks.


10. “Google PageRank is the single most important ranking factor for your site on Google”
While PageRank was never the only factor in ranking sites, it was in the early days of Google the most important one.

Google added more and more ranking factors to their overall algorithm while devaluing PageRank over the years. It was too easy to game.

Nowadays Google’s ranking algorithm is based on more than 200 so called “signals”PageRank is just one of them. It’s important but won’t suffice.


Do you know other frequently encountered SEO myths? Tell me! I might add them during the next update!

Updated: September 13th, 2018.

Updated: November 20th, 2017. Changed #4 to “submit to social bookmarking sites”. Republished.

Updated: November 3rd, 2017. Clarified and elaborated on some points. Improved readability.

Added teaser image. Added “just create great content” myth. Removed outdated links. Added links to Pole Position Marketing, Backlinko, SEMrush.