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The world of search engine optimisation (SEO) is filled with mythology and misinformation.

Because it is an entirely online industry, it has one of the most active web communities. This includes forums, blogs and online debate but also endless badly-written articles, misleading guides and just plain lies.

Now, there have been a number of lists and articles written about the most prevalent untruths circling the web. I want to explore the myths which annoy me the most, namely - the ones which make my work harder because new clients believe them to be fact.

The Most Annoying SEO Myth: Optimisation is Underhand

Some clients are delighted to pay for SEO, commit to a long-term plan and listen to all the advice their agency offers them. Despite this, they still think that what they are doing is trying to trick the search engines into ranking them well.

It is very frustrating – like meeting a runner who thinks that exercising, eating well and training is somehow an underhand way of winning a race.

The search engines want quality, relevant, interesting copy in websites which are easily navigable and accessible. Giving them what they want is not tricking them!

Second Most Annoying SEO Myth: SEO is Influenced by PPC

There are two versions of this myth. One is that a website will not rank well organically unless it is shelling out for a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. The other is that paid ads somehow detract from organic SEO, leading to position being damaged.

I can sort of see how these rumours and beliefs arise. I suppose it makes some sense to think that a major search engine may want to help its paying customers in other ways.

However, a search engine's success comes down to one thing: can it offer searchers relevant results? If it can't, it will cease to be competitive and go the way of all obsolete services.

That means whether or not a site is paying for adverts or not should not influence the organic results.

Third Most Annoying SEO Myth: Once Gained, Easily Maintained

The purpose of SEO is not to boost a website's ranking and then relax. SEO is not a short-term piece of work which needs to be achieved and then not thought about again.

I think this misunderstanding comes from a lack of online awareness among some companies.

They pay out for a website and then do no further work on it. They add some copy to their pages and do not update them. They want to commit a specified amount of time and money to SEO, and then stop.

SEO is an ongoing commitment and, although spending money building solid foundations can mean you pay less in the long term, you can't finish it anymore than you can finish your ongoing marketing strategy.

Fourth Most Annoying SEO Myth: Sites Must Be Submitted to Engines

It's prevalent as a myth because it used to be true but this has to be the most widely-believed falsehood of the whole industry.

It may not hurt to submit your pages to the smaller portals which have less indexing ability than, say, Google.

However, any SEO firm which plans to charge you a small fortune for this sort of service should be viewed with suspicion!

Fifth Most Annoying SEO Myth: One Tactic, Done Enough, Works

This belief can really get in the way of a decent optimisation campaign. Some people have read one article expounding the benefits of one aspect of SEO and now don't believe anything else will work.

I do not blame my clients for this, they have taken the time to read about the subject before committing but have unfortunately read something biased or just covering one subject.

However, since that article was their first experience of SEO, it can be extremely difficult to make them understand the value of various other tactics.

Kevin Gibbons is Director of Search at SEOptimise

Kevin Gibbons

Published 24 November, 2008 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

Comments (24)

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DeeJay

I can agre with you. Those five myths are really annoying.
Good article!

about 8 years ago

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Timberbush

I agree with all these points - except the first one.

Having worked for a major SEO company - I know for a fact that there is a side of SEO that does involve a lot of underhand type tactics to boost rankings.

They may not be black hat - but let's say there's a lot of internet pollution going on - ie flooding the next with useless articles that no one will ever read, on crap article sites that no one ever reads, purley to get a link to a client's site. Or link directories - useless for humans - and exist purely for search engines.

IMO - that's not good for the net - and the sonner Google improves its algorthym to ignore that type of link building the better.

I know that's just one side of SEO - and most of the rest of it is all legit and good for the net - but underhand type practices are still a major part of most of the big SEO agencies strategy.

about 8 years ago

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DonSchindler

I really liked your article and I will totally use the analogy of the runner in a race. I think the problem is more that the SEO/SEM industry tends to talk in our terminology and not theirs.

Thanks again for the article.

about 8 years ago

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John S. Britsios

Kevin, congratulations and thanks a lot for this excellent read! I was wondering if I had in mind any case you did not mention, but I could not come up with one. Also I would also like to add here that your copywriting is outstanding.

I will spread the word... :)

about 8 years ago

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Matt Inertia

Yeah. The misconceptions can be a right pain. We need to educate clients and i think that education is one of the key elements of a good SEO. It also results in a much more cooperative client and an easier life!

Some people would rather keep that knowledge close to their chest for fear of the client using it themselves and withdrawing from the services. As if theyre gonna learn it all in a few meetings and phone calls!

Just to add another hilarious myth that one web design client came out with... when asked if he wanted the SEO service he replied "nah, ill just get the lads in the office to click on the site when they go home every evening."

If only click throughs were that heavy a ranking factor!!

about 8 years ago

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laura

Spot on. It's also incredibly annoying when a clever manager announces to the room that all copywriters need to do is stuff the content with keywords. As if we're apes with laptops. Engagement. Relationships. That's what writing is all about.
I feel better now.
Thanks for the post.

about 8 years ago

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Luke

Yes you're right, clap clap, take a bow. But do we really need to keep reading lists of the top SEO myths?

about 8 years ago

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Jeff

This is the dumbest thing I've seen this year!

Contrived comments...not from me!

Cheers,

Jeff

about 8 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

I'd say that PPC can influence SEO. For example if you can use PPC to drive traffic that you wouldn't get via SEO and those users then link to your site having visited.

Ashley Friedlein
CEO
E-consultancy.com

about 8 years ago

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Robert

Agreed...

However even here you have left some gray area. For one PPC... you neither proved to disproved it. You simply stated why it shouldn't affect. But to counter that... many things should work one way when they do indeed not. While Matt Cutts has continually said that it won't affect your SERP. Surely a new website will benefit, not only from the traffic, but surely it also gets a quality rating (as all PPC clients must do before their ads run)? This will happen regardless, but could this speed up this process? Who really knows?

Some SEO is underhanded, but for the majority it's giving the search engines what they want.

about 8 years ago

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JeffMHoward

One I see a lot of the time is that people think there is no lag time between changing their site and SERPs. The turn around measurability of changes is just very slow. It takes time. No way around that. Small business, thinks this most often.

about 8 years ago

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seobro

I use to be number one in organic search for a certain keyword. I was spending thousands a month on PPC for that keyword. Due to poor sales I decided to drop that PPC for that keyword since I was already position one in organic. Within a week I drop in organic to position 15, by the end of the month I was not in the top 100 search results. Perhaps, it was coincidence. BUT my title was the keyword and my domain name was the keyword.

about 8 years ago

Ian Tester

Ian Tester, Senior Product Manager at brightsolid online publishing

I'd have to go with Jeff. It's lame and lazy - I haven't heard any of these for years.

These things may be myths but only for people who have never heard of SEO or can't be bothered to do a hour's research. If the audience of e-consultancy contains too many of those, I'd be surprised.

Kill the sales pitch, give us some real info.

about 8 years ago

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Singapore SEO Consultant

Great article. You should join Discovery Channel's MythBusters. :D

almost 8 years ago

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gualan

There is only one thing that all people should know about SEO - "SEO for site like the wheels for the car..."

almost 8 years ago

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Andrew

one thing that my company comes accross very often is that the clients who want to see their website on the first page within x months with a guarantee. It is hard to explain to business owners that natural optimization takes time and you cannot pressure search engines into ranking you well fast, if you try something like that i can be viewed as manipulation and site can get banned forever, which the one thing you would like to avoid at all cost.

over 7 years ago

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Michael Harrington

I lked your article.People who are using SEO should come to know what are thier misconception about certain topics.But Kevin I would like to know that what is your opinion about Web Analytics.

over 7 years ago

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Lee Norwich

SEO is Influenced by PPC - this one really suprises me, I have heard a few people say this, however even Google themselves deny that paying for Adwords affects organic SEO results.

Sites Must Be Submitted to Engines - something that used to work back in the 1990's!


over 7 years ago

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Irene Lynch

However even here you have left some gray area. For one PPC... you neither proved to disproved it. You simply stated why it shouldn't affect. But to counter that... many things should work one way when they do indeed not. While Matt Cutts has continually said that it won't affect your SERP. Surely a new website will benefit, not only from the traffic, but surely it also gets a quality rating (as all PPC clients must do before their ads run)? This will happen regardless, but could this speed up this process? Who really knows?

Irene Lynch

We are <a href="http://www.webcada.com/">singapore web design</a> company providing end to end solutions to companies in Singapore.

about 6 years ago

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Neal

The search engine submission is my favourite! I know big SEO companies in UK that still do this and charge people for submission!! There is no need. Google, Bing and Yahoo will find you if your site is interesting and full of relevant content! They might even award you for not submitting your site.

There is no point whatsoever in submitting to search engines as there are only 3 worth doing. Submitting to directories is different, as that is good for link building.

about 6 years ago

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Web design Singapore

I really liked your article and I will totally use the analogy of the runner in a race.

over 5 years ago

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Steven

Great info on Myth on SEO. Some even says,
- SEO will not apply to websites on flash. As it can't crawl the meta tags.
- Some says there is no such thing as guaranteed seo. But is possibel.

Why are they setting limitation to themselves?

almost 5 years ago

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Web Design Singapore

Hope that every seo's can explain this well on their every client

over 3 years ago

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Chandra G, Director at dotspiders.com

Great resource on SEO, Very valuable information Thanks a lot..

over 3 years ago

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