I apologise for lumping all SEOs together in the headline, some are good and some are still bad, but as the layman or 'content person' knows, there are a lot of opinions out there.

If you came via the blog homepage, the header image on this post showed Jupiter, Mercury and Io from Roman myth. 

Myth is a word that crops up a fair bit in SEO, such is the knowledge of the 'inner workings' of the Google 'algorithm'.

Here are three of the oft-debated opinions that are still out there.

Myth One? 302 redirects do not pass link equity

I wrote a guide to doing just enough SEO for content managers. In it I recommend changing all 302 temporary redirects to 301 permanent redirects because, on the advice of a number of agencies I've spoken to in the past, I understood 302s did not pass link equity to the new page.

Just Google the matter and you'll find many people saying the same, including Matt Cutts himself (Google webmaster).

It would therefore make sense to change these 302s, many of which are incorrectly used anyway when a redirect in fact remains in place permanently.

However, it seems there are dissenting voices out there about these redirects. Some have shown that 302 redirects pass link equity, just not as much as 301s.

And then recently I read this post by Barry Schwartz summing up a Google Hangout with John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, who said the following.

When we recognize [a 302] is actually more like a permanent redirect and 302 is something that you may have accidentally set up, then we do treat that as a 301. We say, instead of indexing the redirected URL we index the redirection target.

Of course, remember that a redirect might not be necessary anyway. Many people archive web pages and redirect to similar content, rather than providing a more obvious explanation for the page's removal to the user. 

For example, changing a page to state an offer has now ended is preferable to simply redirecting this page to another category or even redirecting to an archived offers page.

302 sign

Myth Two? Social signals matter

Some strenuously say they do, others strenuously say they don't. Both camps tend to point out the same thing though, there's merely a correlation between social signals and ranking.

Relevancy and popularity are two sides of the same coin. A post that is shared a lot has increased reach and therefore garners more backlinks.

Back in 2013, many were convinced that Hummingbird was going to begin to take account of social signals.

Some suggested +1s had an impact on Google ranking and others (such as Moz) conducted studies that showed otherwise. Just check out the number of articles we devoted to the debate.

One thing is for sure, the argument became moot in 2015 when Twitter once again partnered with Google to give the search engine access to the 'firehose' of tweets.

Now, you can see Twitter activity in real-time in the Google SERPs.

Check out my screenshot below when searching for 'Star Wars', there's a tweet listed that was posted '6 secs ago'.

This is a direct imperative from search for companies to improve their Twitter presence and is one factor that may eventually make this social-search correlation become a regression (showing causation).

star wars google search

Myth Three? Content is king

Of our three myths, this is the one where consensus perhaps reigns (no pun intended).

Content is king: a mantra of content marketing agencies. The intention is to convey the importance of creating a digital strategy with the user in mind, where content for content's sake is a waste of time.

However, this mantra may persuade the naive to think that SEO will largely take care of itself.

To contradict another cliche, SEO is definitely not dead. 

Ben Davis

Published 22 October, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (8)

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Andy Headington

Andy Headington, CEO at Adido Limited

Wow, you are quite brave to put #2 in there. Of all 'myths' in the last few years, I'd say that this is probably the most contentious. For me, I think it'd be naive for Google to ignore social signals - they offer up a great amount of information about the validity of content. Sure, there are a lot of pieces that great shared loads which are just fluff, but great evergreen pieces tend to have lots of good shares (and links) which I would use as a good signal of quality. Perhaps that's another reason for the Twitter tie up?

One you could've added was the use of Analytics data as another SEO signal. Again, I can see good reasons for using this data (which they own BTW) but I've not seen much evidence to support my and others theory.

over 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

Hi Andy. Thanks for commenting and a great 4th point there on analytics.

May I point out that I never actually state that these are myths. I merely point to the debate (note the cowardly question mark in 'Myth 2?')

I've never been brave in my life ;)

over 2 years ago

Andy Headington

Andy Headington, CEO at Adido Limited

Sorry, yes, that's my oversight - I've yet to caffinate myself... Great post BTW

over 2 years ago

Chris Ebbs

Chris Ebbs, Head of SEO at Quba

Hi Ben,
Nice post. I'd be careful not to assume that access the the Twitter firehose means big G are indexing everything (or will be anytine soon). It's a volume and logistics thing and without being able to indexing everything they can't use social signals because their data is incomplete. I'll be uploading a post today where I'll stick my neck out on this one for ya!

over 2 years ago

Chris Ebbs

Chris Ebbs, Head of SEO at Quba

Hi Ben,
Nice post. I'd be careful not to assume that access the the Twitter firehose means big G are indexing everything (or will be anytine soon). It's a volume and logistics thing and without being able to indexing everything they can't use social signals because their data is incomplete. I'll be uploading a post today where I'll stick my neck out on this one for ya!

over 2 years ago

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John Davies, Campaign Manager at Royal London

Hi Ben,

Nice post. Good to see the 301/302 myth discussed although I feel its something that SEO people will continue to disagree on.

Twitter comments are intersting and I expect them to start to influence the way that SEO marketers behave.

over 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

Thanks, Chris. I look forward to it, be sure to come back and post a link.

over 2 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

On point 2 - recent Moz/Buzzsumo research seemed to show that on the whole there is no correlation whatsoever between social sharing and linking. They looked at 1 million pieces of content and found 75pc of it got no shares and no links. Content that did get shared didn't necessarily gain links. The content categories that showed the highest correlation between sharing and linking were "opinion-forming journalism and research-backed content".

Given that most people are agreed that Google *does* lay great store by quality links, then this suggests that as most socially shared content doesn't get any links at all (and even highly amplified content rarely gets that many links), then even if Google did treat social sharing as a signal, most content wouldn't benefit from it SEO-wise in any case.

https://moz.com/blog/content-shares-and-links-insights-from-analyzing-1-million-articles

over 2 years ago

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