Written by Sam Yadegar on May 14 , 2020

“SEO is like a resume: you polish it so you have your best foot forward.” – Matt Cutts

Here you’ll find:

  • Why guarantees don’t exist
  • The most common SEO myths
  • Why more isn’t always better
  • Ways SEO is like a muscle

When it comes to digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is on the front lines. And for good reason: every good marketing manager knows SEO is a key part of your overall program and initiatives. 

But with all we know about SEO myths, misunderstandings still abound. Let’s debunk a few of them to get a good idea of what SEO is — and what it isn’t.  

HawkSEM: seo myths blog

The moment you stop your SEO tactics, everything you’ve achieved so far starts evaporating. (Image via Unsplash)

Myth #1: SEO guarantees top search engine rankings

Truth: While search engine optimization tactics can help you get to the first search engine results page (SERP), guarantees simply don’t exist. SEO is only one part of the SEM strategy. Without other components like pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, it’s hard to achieve tip-top results.

SEO is an ongoing process, which may take months to show any significant results. Even then, you may not get on top of the first SERP. However, with the right approach and a well-thought-out strategy, it’s possible to achieve high rankings.

Myth #2: Once you achieve desired results, SEO is complete

Truth: The SEO process is ongoing. The moment you stop your tactics, everything you’ve achieved so far starts evaporating.

SEO is like a muscle. As long as you keep at it consistently, it stays strong. Once you stop flexing it, the muscle mass begins losing strength — often faster than it was gained.

New SEO trends and updates appear almost every month. Without following them and adjusting your efforts accordingly, it’s impossible to maintain high rankings.

Myth #3: SEO is a cheating tactic

Truth: One of the most pervasive SEO myths is that search engine optimization is just a way to cheat Google so your website ends up on the first SERP. The fact is that there are certain “quick-win” tactics that people will use to try to leapfrog into higher results. These methods are referred to as black hat SEO, and their efficiency is quickly approaching zero.

Highly advanced Google algorithms can now identify black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing, poor content, broken links, and much more, rendering them nearly obsolete. What’s worse, employing these tricks may get your site penalized or have your pages disappear from results altogether. Basically, it’s not worth the risk. 

After all, search engine optimization is about making your website highly valuable to your audience and leveraging ethical, white hat tactics. These include targeting a human audience, publishing images with alt tags, and following other suggested search engine guidelines.

Myth #4: SEO is cheap

Truth: Achieving top-notch results with little investment of budget or time is nearly impossible in most niches. SEO isn’t an exception. Search engine optimization requires continuous investment. Any solutions offering a high-impact return at a low price point (whether that means dollars or effort) are likely short-lived, ineffective, and often against guidelines.

As we mentioned, it can take time to see significant results with SEO. But by investing the time and money it takes to ensure your site is optimized, your content is high-quality, and your website as a whole can be viewed as trustworthy, you’ll be poised to see results that will be worth it.

HawkSEM: seo myths article

Remember the muscle comparison: It’s impossible to get a huge bicep after two workouts, no matter how long and rigorous they are. (Image via Unsplash)

Myth #5: It takes forever to see SEO results

Truth: Speaking of time, the time it takes for SEO to start working depends on how you begin. If you already have a well-designed website, high-quality content, and a smart backlink strategy, the effect may become visible in a few weeks.

Some tactics that help you see fast results include using low competition keywords and optimizing metadata.

If you’re starting from scratch, that’s fine! Just manage expectations and don’t fall for the SEO myth of expecting results to be immediate. Remember the muscle comparison: It’s impossible to get a huge bicep after two workouts, no matter how long and rigorous they are.

Myth #6: SEO is all about keyword search  

Truth: Some people believe that SEO boils down to doing a high-quality keyword search and sticking these keywords into the content on their websites.

While keywords and content are the pillars of SEO, they’re hardly the only components of the strategy. Search engine optimization works with website speed and design, backlinks, mobile-first indexing, social media, security, and much more.

Myth #7: Buying links boosts your ranking

Truth: Buying links is a black hat SEO technique, which is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you buy links, they may boost your rankings for a while. But eventually, the search engine will catch on and slap your website with a penalty.  

Recovering from such a punishment may take months. It will also hurt your entire marketing strategy.

It’s worth noting that several legal ways to “buy” links exist. For example, paying a website for posting your content (guest post) with a link inside is perfectly within regulations. But keep in mind that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a respectable website that will post poor content, so you need to keep the quality high whether the content is on your site or another.

Myth #8: The more backlinks you have, the better

Truth: With backlinks, ignore SEO myths that say that quantity matters more than quality. Google focuses on the authority of the page that links to your website. Links from well-respected websites are much more powerful than links from no-name or spammy sources. The backlink should, of course, also be relevant to the content you’re posting.

SEO experts can devise strategies for garnering high-quality backlinks. While getting them might take time, one high-quality backlink can be more powerful than its 50 low-quality counterparts. 

Myth #9: High-volume keywords are all you need for achieving high rankings

Truth: Sure, high-volume keywords are appealing to you… and everyone else in your industry. That’s why the competition for them is fierce. If you focus solely on these keywords, you’re more likely to get frustrated and have difficulty rising through the ranks.

Using high-volume keywords is an essential part of your SEO strategy, but it’s hardly the only one. Low competition and long-tail keywords could bring you impressive results as well, so try focusing on those. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

hawksem blog: seo myths

Know how to spot SEO myths and misinformation so you know you’re on the right track. (Image via Unsplash)

Myth #10: Long content ranks better

Truth: Long content ranks better only if it’s valuable. If you can write a 500-word article full of high-quality information and include keywords organically, go for it. Google doesn’t check for the length of your content — it checks for relevancy and value.

Aiming for a higher word count could lead to adding fluff and making your articles downright boring, leading to a higher bounce rate. Sure, longer content has more room for internal links and keywords, but at the end of the day, it’s about how valuable the content is, regardless of the length.

Pro tip: Though there’s no magic SEO word count you want to hit, it’s worth noting that you want to steer clear from thin content. This type of content is defined as “content that has little or no value to the user,” according to Yoast. They add that Google considers low-quality affiliate pages and those very little or no content as thin content pages.

The takeaway

Search engine optimization is a complex marketing strategy. To understand how it works, you need to be able to see through the common myths. If you’re trying to implement SEO tactics on your own, you want to be careful with the information you use as guidelines so you know you’re on the right track.

Many SEO myths stem from the lack of knowledge about the latest updates. Staying on top of the current SEO trends and exploring Google algorithms can help achieve the results you seek.

Need help creating a top-notch myth-free SEO strategy? Let’s chat.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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