SEO is probably the most debated topic in digital marketing. While the industry continues to evolve, certain notions and bad habits seem to stick around. Maintaining such beliefs can greatly cost your business while leaving you scratching your head wondering where you went wrong. Here are the 10 biggest myths you might still believe:

1. There is a SINGLE Magic Bullet

Great SEO should be thought of as a relationship. No single tactic, trick, tip, or hack will guarantee long-term success. While certain things are of greater importance than others, there is no magic bullet. If your website is riddled with shallow unhelpful content, having the fastest website in the world won’t help much.

There are over 200 different ranking factors and 10,000 signals a search engine like Google uses to determine ranking. Going after all of them is usually just as bad as going after one of them. Instead, maintaining a balance of the most impactful and relevant things (and doing them well) will usually take you 95% of the way.

2. I Will Be Penalized for Duplicate Content

Never in the history of SEO has such a penalty existed. If you take a moment to think about how much similar, reused, cut up, and recycled content exists out there you will quickly understand how pointless such a task would be for Google. However, not being penalized for duplicate content is not the same as being rewarded for it. While copy/pasting content from another website will not harm your SEO, Google will simply not show your result for the same query.

3. Goods Ads Will Help Organic Ranking

Not only do these two things have nothing to do with one another, they are also treated as two separate entities by Google. Google manages to stay a billion dollar company by providing users the most relevant content while generating as much as they can from advertisers. Allowing an advertiser with terrible content who organically ranks on page 84 to buy his way onto page one is not good for business in the long term. Repeating such a thing at scale would, ultimately, lead to Google losing tons of market share.

4. I Know My Product & Don’t Need to Do Keyword Research

Having such a mindset leads to a misunderstanding of user intent and is a trap many fall into. For example: If you are selling toothpaste, you may want to rank for terms like clean teeth and brushing. However, it is very possible to completely miss long tail terms such as “avoiding tooth decay” and potentially dozens of other related queries that slipped your mind. Making such mistakes can leave your brand hidden to many potential customers.

5. I Have to Stuff My Keywords like a Thanksgiving Turkey

In the old days of SEO, blackhat marketers would often shove the same keyword in the footer of a page hundreds of times in an effort to game the system. Yet Google has gotten a lot smarter since then. Today, its algorithms prioritize useful and natural human language over keyword stuffing. Of course you should have your targeted keyword multiple times throughout your article, but overdoing it will just lead to higher bounce rates from irritated readers.

6. Getting the Backlink is Enough

High quality links from legitimate, non-spam websites, are still very important for great SEO. Having a giant trusted websites link back to you can make a huge difference in traffic. While just the backlink alone will provide value, it is not enough. You must ensure that whatever page is linking back to you has similar keywords to your page to show relevancy to Google.

7. I Have to Submit My Site to Search Engines

While true in the past, today the process is automated when a website is created. There are times when you should submit links such as when you are updating content or when you see that an inbound link is not showing. However, these instances are quite rate and I have never seen them not get resolved on their own.

8. Meta Descriptions Don’t Matter

The meta tag is a small blurb under the title that allows for you to describe your page in the search results. Meta tags have not been a technical ranking factor since 2009 and today Google will automatically generate a meta description for you. However, if that auto generated description does not appeal to the person searching, they may simply not think your site is relevant. Thus, while not a technical ranking factor, a well crafted meta description is definitely a display factor to consider for SEO.

9. Social is a Waste of Time for SEO

While posting aggressively on social media will not do much for you in terms of backlinks, this is a factor that Google definitely takes into consideration. Furthermore, since popular social media websites have insanely high authority, they will appear in the top results for anyone searching for your company (usually before any competitors or other websites). This grants you more real estate and takes attention away from potential competitors that may rank next to you.

10. They Do it, I Need to Do it Too!

We like to believe that because a company is big and successful that they are doing everything right, but often times this isn’t the case. They may be big and successful, but before blatantly ripping off something they do ask yourself the following questions.

a) Is this an A/B test they are running? 
b) Does this actually make sense for my business?
c) Do I have access to their analytics to see if this is working for them?

Companies run tests all the time. Some work, other don’t. Do not abandon your strategy just because someone bigger than you is doing something. Instead, find what works for your visitors and run controlled experiments to optimize your way to success.

If you have any questions or need help with your SEO, shoot me a message.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +386,297 people.

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