We've been providing SEO and SEM services for a long time and the best advise I can give you today is to be careful what you read and what you believe. Also, before you try, do or even respond to anything look at the date of the blog post or article you are about to digest. So, let's begin.
Grab a cup of coffee (or RedBull, my personal fav) and let me guide you through the maze of SEO mysteries.
1. Paid Links are OK
With the recent updates to Google's algorithm, if you pay for links - you have a really good chance of being penalized for those links. Contrary to popular belief, Google can tell the difference between a Paid and Natural (un-paid) link.
Take action now: If you have these links, remove them or no-follow them asap. If you're thinking about paying for links - don't.
2. My website will rank higher if I get a high PR (Page Rank)
In short, no - you won't. There are thousands of examples out there of low page rank websites that have high rankings in Google. The fact is, Google Page Rank is really an out of date KPI (key performance indicator).
Instead of trying to improve your PageRank score – concentrate on the quality of the links you are receiving.
Take action now: Focus on your link building strategy and use Page Rank as a sort of guide to how well you're doing, but whatever you do - don't put effort into Page Rank, it will be wasted.
3. The More Links I Have, The Better
Nope. This one is just like Page Rank. Quality beats quantity every time. Think about it, if it was just about the amount of links - Google's results would be littered with sites connected to link farms that point everyone to viagra. It's more about "WHERE" you're links come from, not how "MANY" you have.
Take Action Now: Re-focus your efforts on high-quality links. If you're a web design firm, stop putting a link to your site on the bottom of all your customers sites, it's not helping. Unless they actually fit into your category. For example, if you built a site for a marketing firm, that's a great link. If you built a site for a dog washing business - just let it go.
4. I Must Perfectly Optimize My Meta Data / Meta Tags
Oh Yes. I love this one. What brain damage this is. Look, stop wasting your time. Google doesn't read it anymore.
Does it hurt? No. It won't hurt you to have it in place so it's OK to pay attention to it. But if you have poor rankings it's not because you need to "optimize your meta data". That's a load of crap.
Take Action Now: Remove all the wasted code and get Google what it wants to see as quickly as you can. If you're going to use Meta Data (and we do) - make sure it's for the searcher - not for Google.
5. I Need to Focus on the Perfect Keyword Density Scope of Blah, Blah Percent
Love this one! Look, Google is more concerned with your content. In fact, if you print out a web page and hand it someone and ask them "What keyword do you think I am optimizing for in this page?" - they shouldn't be able to tell you. Stuffing your page with keywords isn't SEO, that's black-hat.
This practice used to be very popular. Heck, we used to do it. But, not anymore.
If you are naturally writing about a certain subject, product or service then your targeted terms will naturally be included (which will add this important relevance to your page).
Take Action Now: Just write for your audience and create unique, high quality content. If you don't have a professional copywriter, get one. [Shameless plug here - we love www.contentandblog.com).
6. Paid Search (Google AdWords) Influences My Rankings
No, it's not a conspiracy. Google is not giving favors to paying customers. This isn't Spy vs. Spy. Regardless of what you have read or what your friend “in the know” has said; There is no connection at all between AdWords and Organic listings. One does not have any influence over the other.
Take Action Now: Don't believe the hype. Focus on quality PPC and quality SEO. Google AdWords and Search Optimization go hand in hand when putting together a professional marketing campaign so you should employ both in your strategy.
7. “NoFollow” Links Are Useless
Basically, this command tells the SE's not to search this area and this line of thinking couldn't be more wrong. If you don't have any "no-follow" commands it looks un-natural.
Take Action Now: Make sure you're using the "no-follow" tags in your website. Help the Search Engines out and point them in the right direction.
8. I Should Try And Rank For Misspellings
Ok, Ok… Yes. We admit to doing this ourselves. And, from time to time we still do if it's terms like "Hooka" (which is spelled Hookah" - for all your tobacco lovers out there). But, since you have to use content to optimize for terms - do you really want misspellings on your page? No. This tactic works better for PPC than SEO.
Take Action Now: Simply don't worry about it. Understand that algorithms have become a lot smarter than you think and they with see, point out and even recommend proper spellings to the searcher.
9. Usability Isn't Important for SEO
Google is clever enough to see whether or not your website's code and design incorporates usability. Which means usability is HUGE! Google can tell whether or not you're website is genuine. Just focus on your audience and your users and Google will focus on you.
Take Action Now: Create a site that is for the visitors not the search engines.
10. Top SEO's Can Guarantee 1st Page Rankings
This is a great example of poor salesmanship. It's no where near true. No one can guarantee anything when it comes to Search Engines, no one. Run from this trickery as fast as you can or you'll risk having your website's URL banned forever. Google doesn't like the black-hat stuff that these types of companies use and you will be punished.
Google is Google. They don't give anyone special treatment. And, the guy that emails you from Google saying that your competitors are beating you and that they want to help you - here's a tip - They Aren't From Google.
Take Action Now: Make sure you educate your stakeholders and/or clients properly. SEO is a "LONG-TERM" project. There are no quick fixes. If you want increased leads right now - use Paid Search.
11. SEO is DEAD or DIYING
Hmmm. I too must admit that with last round of changes I too thought SEO was on it's way out. But, unlike a lot of bloggers out there - I didn't jump on the band wagon until I researched this topic for myself. SEO is evolving and it's getting both easier and harder at the same time. It's no longer a technical skill performed by computer wizards behind closed doors. It's about content, relevance, social signals and more.
Today SEO looks more like Content Marketing than it ever has. SEO is here to stay, it's just different. THink about it. Without relevant information - how will the Search Engines know what to serve up to the searcher. So yes, SEO still has a special place in our hearts and it always will.
Take Action Now: Realize that SEO is changing, rapidly. Get the facts and connect with those who are in the know.
12. The SEO Quick Fix
There isn't one. This one comes from the business owner who wants leads now and for whatever reason refuses to employ Paid Search (Google AdWords). We have done SEO before and seen results quickly, in days sometimes. But, this is not the norm. We must educate those around us, here's who we do it:
SEO is a branding event, that turns into a Lead Generation tool.
PPC is a lead generation event, that can turn into a Branding tool.
That's It! Now you know the truth...
Wow. That was something wasn't it. I truly hope this was helpful for you. We've been providing SEO for a long-time and the number one response that I get from an SEO Proposal is "This sounds crazy, you mean I may not get results for 6-12 months?" - and my answer is "Yes. SEO is a long term strategy and take time to develop and fully mature. That is, if you want the results to last."