116 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2016: The Complete List
Last Update – September 21th, 2016
A quick note:
Rand Fishkin was kind enough to tweet my original article before I rebranded my website and moved to FortuneLords.com. I just want to add that I didn’t say that subdomains are better than subfolders.
My finding is that it doesn’t matter if you use a subdomain or subfolder if you start fresh website or blog. But you should not move your established website on a subdomain. This will hurt your organic ranking temporary or even for a long time.
You probably know at least several SEO myths.
For the last 10 years, these myths and misconceptions become so many, causing confusion among programmers, webmasters, designers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and digital marketers.
Pretty much millions of people.
Here are the biggest myths, which are holding you back from your SEO success!
1. Exact match domains rank higher: EMDs may rank well in Google organic results for a while but they are a symbol of low-quality websites and usually don’t hold the rankings for too long. They are usually backed by spam link building.
2. Starting a website on an expired domain is better: Many dropped, or expiring domains are heavily spammed and may be permanently banned from Google index. Always check MajesticSEO historical index and the snapshots on Web Archive. Further, more these domains were abused for SEO for too long and for a piece of mind start fresh with a new domain.
3. Domain Age is Important: Small and new websites outrank older ones when their content is better, and they get quality backlinks. For example, a brand new blog generated 17,584 visitors in one day and is ranking for competitive keywords. You can see how their traffic exploded for last few months.
4. Regional Domains provide huge SEO advantage: This study shows us that Google prioritizes quality information over local content. At least, this appears to be Google’s philosophy.
5. Domain registration length help with SEO: This is one of the oldest SEO myths. Registration length does not increase Google search engine rankings.
6. Google penalties don’t transfer with 301 redirects: If you move your penalized website to a new domain, Google may also pass along the penalty even without redirecting the URLs.
7. Using 301 redirects for SEO still works: It was working a few years ago. Right now 301 redirects from old domains you buy only for 301 redirect don’t help much and even can hurt your rankings.
8. Moving a site to a new domain name has a negative impact on the site’s search engine rankings: There will be no long-term negative impact on a website’s rankings in the Google search results when you move the website according to Google’s instructions. Only follow the detailed documentation in the Webmaster Tools Help Center when moving a site to a new domain name.
9. Keyword-rich domain names boost search rankings: Small businesses, which just starting out and have no experience with SEO often think that will help them to rank locally. Google’s John Mueller busted this myth in a post on the Webmaster Central Help Forum.
10. Hosting Location is important: It doesn’t matter where you are hosting your website. Try to get your top 10 competitors I.Ps from here and check their location on Google Maps. Still, it is better to host your website in the country you are targeting for example United States.
12. SEO hosting is still an option for private blog networks: Many people still use this tactic for short-term SEO results. Simply said SEO hosting leaves huge footprints and is easy to detect from Google. The result is your penalty on its way.
13. On-page SEO Optimization is Not Important: It is important as part of your online marketing strategy. On-page optimization is the base from where you start to build up.
14. On-page SEO is All You Need: Although it is important it is just basic optimization, which should be a part of every website and will not improve your Google rankings alone.
15. Too Many Dofollow Outbound Links Can Hurt Rankings: Actually if your outbound links are relevant this will help you. High ranking pages usually link out to relevant resources and don’t bother to use nofollow tag.
16. A few broken links won’t hurt: Having too many broken links on your page may be a sign of a neglected or abandoned site. The Google Rater Guidelines Document uses broken links to determine homepage’s quality.
17. Quantity of Indexed Pages Helps You Rank Higher: In the past, it was a commonly held belief that a higher number of total indexed pages helped rank a site higher in search. The truth is larger websites don’t automatically rank higher on Google.
18. Schema Markup is a Ranking Factor: It help search engines to better understand your content. It could improve CTR rates but is doesn’t influence directly on your rankings.
19. H1 tags are a crucial element for SEO: Searchmetrics research shows little correlation between H1 tags and rankings. Still, you should write good H1 headings, but do it primarily for usability and accessibility, not so much for SEO.
20. Meta tags will boost your rankings: Google announced back in 2009 that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) have no bearing on search rankings. Meta descriptions present a major opportunity for compelling message, which may improve your click through rate.
21. It’s good practice to include a meta robots tag specifying index, follow: It’s totally unnecessary. The engines all assume they are allowed to index and follow unless you specify otherwise.
22. An XML Sitemap Will Boost Your Rankings: It only helps search engines to better understand your content. According to Google, it will not improve your rankings
23. Google Penalizes For Invalid HTML: Since there are a huge number of websites with less than perfect HTML code Google does not penalize sites that have broken or invalid HTML and does not use validated HTML code as a ranking signal.
24. You should end your URLs in .html: This was never a factor.
25. Including your targeted term in the anchor text of internal links will help: Testing done by MOZ, found that is not true.
26. Linking out (such as to Google.com) helps rankings: This doesn’t help at all. It is the other way around, you need to get quality backlinks.
27. Google does not read CSS files: Googlebot can read CSS files. Read the update on their webmaster blog.
28. Internal links don’t matter for SEO: If your site has bad internal navigation this may affect your user experience (time on site/browsed pages) and results in lower rankings.
29. You should finish your site before starting to worry about SEO: You can start your on-page SEO optimization at the same time you create your website. Google will crawl your website as soon as it is live.
30. Keywords in HTML comment tags and title attributes of IMG and A HREF tags help for SEO: After many test with and without them I didn’t see any ranking benefits at all.
31. Content marketing is all I need: It sure is the most important part but without promotion and influencers outreach to help you to amplify your voice even the best piece of content may remain unknown.
32. Great Content Always Ranks Well: Writing good content helps, but relevant backlinks and user experience are required as well. Great content paired with authority backlinks, on the other hand, is a recipe for success.
33. Your content should be long/short: According to representative John Mueller, Google doesn’t count words on a page to determine ranking. In a comment thread, he cited the fact that Google also searches 140-character Twitter posts. Sometimes a short article will still generate a lot of shares or comments, which does affect placement. The key is to make sure your SEO copywriting content is unique and compelling.
34. If you have duplicate content, you will be penalized: Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.
35. You should update your content XX times a month: Strive for quality, not quantity. Look at your competitors and define your strategy.
36. Link location in content doesn’t matter: First link in the article usually has the highest weight. Try to move your most important links in the beginning of your content.
37. My Homepage Needs a Lot of Content: Your homepage content should be long enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located (if you’re local), your value proposition, and what visitors should do next. These visitors should leave satisfied not confused.
38. Content quantity over quality: Google easily detects content farms which produce content only for the sake of it. When there is not enough good user statistics such as visit, time on sites, social activity this is a signal the content is probably not so great. Linchpin SEO discovered that reading level was one factor that separated quality sites from content mills.
39. Infographics are gone: While link power from infographics directories is decreasing there is a new way to use infographics for effective link building and it is called Guestographics. There are 2 million blog posts published today. You need to stand out providing real value for your visitors.
40. Higher Keyword Density Is Better: Stuffing your keyword across your copy will get you nowhere. It will only disturb your visitors.
41. My business doesn’t need a blog: Every business needs a blog because you need relevant text content and backlinks in order to rank long-term on Google organic search results. There are news and innovations in every industry. A blog will help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche.
42. Videos Are All You Need: While some sites can do very well only with video, you need to consider that there are some limitations to the audience you can reach. Be sure to back it up with non-video content as well. For best results use a combination of text and visual content. Don’t forget Google bot need to feed with text content.
43. A/B testing can hurt your rankings: If A/B testing was so bad, do you think Google would offer A/B testing solutions? Just look under the Content Experiments section within Google Analytics. It is their version of A/B testing.
45. Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site will boost your rankings significantly: In August of 2014, Google announced that they started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms, which means if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result. For now, however, HTTPS remains a “lightweight” signal,affecting fewer than 1% of global queries (according to Google).
46. Googlebot doesn’t read CSS: Google scans CSS for spam tactics like hidden divs.
47. Link Building is Dead: Links still have many years left in them. Backlinks will remain one of the most important factors correlated to high Google rankings.
48. Links Are Out; Citations Are In: This is not true. Co-citations are just a good addition to your link building.
49. Links Quantity is Better Than Link Quality: Several years back this was real, now 1 backlink from a relevant and authoritative website is stronger than 1000 shady backlinks.
51. Paying for links will get your site penalized: Yes, certain paid links can give your site a black mark but there is always a way to acquire quality paid link without to risk a Google penalty.
52. All Backlinks Are Equal: The best backlinks relevant to your industry and comes from established and authoritative websites, which are well known in your niche.
53. Nofollow Links Will Hurt You Rankings: They won’t unless you are spamming at a huge scale. It is completely natural to have a certain percentage of nofollow links.
54. Nofollow Links Have No Value: They are crucial to your backlink profile. If Google sees that you have zero nofollow links, this will raise a red flag that you’re only building links and not earning them naturally. Nofollow links have value (they always had), and they aren’t something you should be ignoring any longer. Learn more about The Hidden Power of Nofollow Links.
55. Anchor Text is Dead: Despite many sources claim anchor text power is weakening it is still important. Look at top websites for your keyword and dig into their link profile on Ahrefs or SEO Spyglass. Learn the best practices.
56. Guest Posting is Dead: Low quality and spammy guest posting is gone but if you emphasize on quality it remains one of the most effective link building methods.
57. Reciprocal Links Still Work: They are long gone. You even risk a penalty if you acquire them on a huge scale. Read more on Searchengineland.
58. Sitewide backlinks are Not Dangerous: Sitewide backlinks can cause a lot of troubles. Avoid exact match anchor backlinks coming from hundreds to thousands sitewide pages.
59. Building Links is Dangerous: With all Google updates, people start to fear even thinking of building backlinks. There are safe tactics such as content marketing+ influencer outreach, quality guest blogs, product/service in return for review and many more.
60. High link velocity will hurt your search engine ranking: There is no exact number of threshold about how many links you can make for a certain period.
61. Blog Comments, Forum signatures are bad and can hurt your rankings: This is not possible if they come from authority websites with strict moderation for spam.
62. Google don’t follow “nofollow links”: Nofollow attribute main purpose was to retain authority and PageRank. Google still crawl the links, but Matt Cutts said they don’t include them in their overall graph. However, nofollow links provide some SEO value and have hidden power.
63. No backlink no SEO value: Co-Citations are website’s mentions without a hyperlink. Google looks at co-citations as a brand signal.
64. All Paid Directory Links are Bad: Not all directory listings are bad. If the website has strict moderation and is authoritative with real traffic, you can consider listing your website. Directory listing in local directories usually boosts your local rankings.
65. The ranking is All That Matters: Rankings are an important element in SEO, but the real measures of success are conversions and sales. The success of an SEO campaign cannot be judged only by rankings. Some keywords convert better than others and bring more revenue. Rand Fishkin coined the term “keyword search intent” a while ago, and Brian Dean created a nice guide how to determine a keyword’s commercial intent.
66. Google Rankings are the same globally: Google search results are localized. They are a bit different depending on your location. This trend is ongoing as Google’s strategy is to personalize its services.
67. You Need to Rank #1: Ideally, you want to rank number one. Sometimes the resource you need to climb from #2-3 spot are tremendous, and it is not worth it to push further for a particular keyword. You may concentrate your efforts on related long-tail keywords, which provide higher ROI.
68. Ranking for large volume keywords is better. This is usually a beginner’s mistake to start to optimize for keywords with insane searches per month. People use long-tail keywords, which convert better. You can learn more about keyword research from Nick Eubanks.
69. Getting your website on Google’s 1st page is good enough: A higher position on top 10 results will deliver more clicks and traffic. The difference in click-through rates between Google’s 1st and 10th result on the 1st page is tremendous.
70. Bolded keywords in the search listing affect rankings: Their purpose is better user experience.
71. Social Media Signals Impact Directly Search Rakings: Social signals are a necessary part of your digital marketing strategy.
They correlate with high organic rankings but are not a complete marketing strategy. Test this myth yourself and compare social signals count for every page in your top 10 search results at Buzzsumo.com.
72. Social Signals Create Backlinks: Social signals created by actively participating on social media have a significant impact on where you’ll rank in Google especially for local search but social signals are not equal to backlinks. They have a very short lifespan and to help you with organic rankings they need to flow continuously. After numerous tests, we conducted when you stop getting social signals your rankings usually drops if there is not any other SEO activity.
73. Google Plus is not important for SEO: Google Plus is growing rapidly. Your posts will show higher for people that have you in their circle. Google often places Google+ Local results above the “normal” organic SERPs in local search.
74. New sites do not rank well because of the “Google sandbox”: New sites can be indexed within minutes, and even could rank well in a matter of weeks after the launch.
75. Once you become #1 your job is done: Your competition doesn’t sleep. You should constantly work on your SEO performance or soon or later another website will outrank you.
76. Website Speed is Not Crucial: Actually site speed is one of the important ranking factors. Learn how website speed impacts search rankings.
77. SEO is not a usability issue: User experience has a huge impact on your organic rankings. Great UX leads to high CTR, time on site and browsed pages, which result into better Google rankings.
78. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your rankings: High bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing if you are attracting the right audience and giving them exactly what they are looking for.
79. I don’t need a mobile version of my website: Do you know mobile internet usage exceeds desktop for the first time in history in 2014. Matt Cutts predicted Google mobile queries may Surpass PC very soon.
80. Black Hat SEO Does Not Work: It depends on what “work” means. A lot of black hat tactics will get you higher in the search rankings on a short-term. For last years Google put an ended many black hat tactics and discouraged people who want easy results.
81. Google crushed private blog networks completely: The truth is there are cases when PBNs still work. But after all updates it is harder, risky and very expensive to use them for SEO. Even people such as Spencer Haws who was one of the biggest advocates for PBNs stopped using them.
82. Using automated SEO tools is always black hat or spam: SEO optimization requires working with huge amounts of data and automation tools are often a must to stay ahead of your competition.
83. You can rank easily with spam: There are people who promote black hat techniques but the results don’t last and it is not worth it in a long term. Furthermore, you risk a Google penalty, which will terminate all the time and resources you put into work.
85. All cloaking is bad and risky: If your intentions are honorable, then you have nothing to fear.
86. There are one click software solutions: A few years back it was possible to rank easily with automation software. Now it is impossible.
87. Negative SEO doesn’t exist: It could even destroy your business so monitor your website’s statistics.
88. Google Crushed Spam: Google’s deal with hard spam better than ever but there is still room for improvements. The next challenge is to handle more sophisticated tactics.
89. Disavow Tool doesn’t Work: DT could save tons of time instead of removing links by hand. It may remove a manual or algorithmic penalty especially if you react in a timely manner. I was able to recover many of my clients with its help. For best results, you also need Link Detox.
90. Disavowing All Your Links Will Fix Your Problem: Disavow Tool is not a silver bullet. If you already have a penalty message in your Google Webmaster Tools, you will also need to fill reconsideration request after you clean your link profile.
91. Google penalizes sites that use the noscript tag: John Mueller said that there is no “penalty” for using the tag and that Google ignores it in Google Webmaster Hangout (about 49 minutes in the video)
92. Paying For Google AdWords = Higher Organic Rankings: This is pure nonsense. Google’s distinguished engineer Matt Cutts denied this myth in the next video. Perform an experiment yourself. Load your top organic competitors on Similarweb.com and check if they spend money on AdWords in the display advertising panel.
93. Adsense Helps/is Bad for Your Rankings. Adsense banners don’t help for SEO and will not hurt your rankings unless you have too many ads on your page.
94. Google spies on webmasters using Google Analytics: Google do not use your analytics to spy on you. On the other hand, competitors may find how many website you own from your unique GA ID, which could be found in your website’s source code.
95. Google Authorship Helps SEO: Google terminated the program completely on August of 2014 and it no longer exist.
96. Google Updates are a few times a year: Actually they are ongoing. So don’t look at updates like seasonal thing. Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times.
97. Toolbar PageRank is the same as actual PageRank: Actual PageRank is updated constantly, while toolbar PageRank changes 1-2 times per year.
98. PageRank shows how important Google thinks your site is: According to Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, Google are “probably not going to be updating it going forward”. Page rank was a great way to help SEOs to abuse Google algorithm buying domains with high PR. Now the toolbar PR is not regularly updated and is not a reliable metric.
99. One SEO technique will work for every website/keyword: Every SEO strategy should be created according to the industry specifics. Because what works for one website may not be the best solution for another.
100. SEO Is All You Need: While SEO is extremely important, it’s only one part of the puzzle that will get traffic to your site. You need to provide outstanding user experience and unique value.
101. SEO is something I can hand off to IT: There seems to be a perception that SEO requires some technical expertise, and since it is technical, IT can just do the work. While there is a technical component to SEO, it requires way more than just technical knowledge. Think twice before handing an entire project to IT or a web designer.
102. There are SEO “Gurus”: There are NO SEO “Gurus”. Everyone who self-proclaim himself as a “Guru” is only looking for opportunity to rob newbies who just starting out in the business.
103. There are SEO Secrets: This myth is similar to the previous one. You can reverse engineering your competitors tactics. There are no secrets just people who are looking for shortcuts to success.
104. SEO is Dead: Organic search drives 51% of traffic to websites worldwide. It is alive and kicking.
105. SEO companies can get guaranteed results: No company can guarantee 100% they can rank you for specific keyword. There are more than 200 ranking factors, which determine your organic position. There is no universal formula for success and such companies should be avoided.
106. SEO is an Instant Solution: Unfortunately, SEO will not fix your search engine visibility issues by next week. Fast results only come from a PPC (pay per click) programs, which will provide instant traffic.
107. SEO Takes Way Too Much Time: With right keyword research and SEO strategy you can get first results in 4-12 weeks.
108. SEO is about manipulating organic results: Google become smarter and significantly limit this options. Manipulation techniques don’t provide long term results.
109. SEO is too Expensive: It actually become more and more expensive last years with all Google updates, which favour quality backlinks and content. It doesn’t necessarily cost and arm and a leg. Do a research and ask several SEO agencies and compare their services and prices.
110. My business is really small, SEO isn’t worth it: If you have a small business local SEO is the best cost effective marketing solution. According to Forbes investing in organic SEO is more important now than ever before.
113. I must submit my site to Google: The oldest SEO myth. The idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results (or rank) is nonsense. Google now usually visit your new blog or post minutes to hours after it is published.
114. SEO and inbound marketing don’t mix: SEO is marketing channel, which can be part of your traditional marketing strategy.
115. We have an inside person at Google: This is the pitch con artists use to hook people, which have no idea about online marketing. Google is one of the largest corporations in the world with thousands of employees.
116. If You Build it, They Will Come: Build an amazing website with exceptional content and watch the traffic roll on in. The truth is without promotion nobody will actually come.