75 SEO Myths De-Mythtified

“The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a so-called “fearsome critter”) described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant’s tail (and often hind legs).” (Wikipedia)

Any SEO professional will tell you that much of their time, even most of their time, is spent in education. Educating the client on expectations. Explaining why things that were relevant two or three years ago aren’t relevant any more. Explaining why automatic or “easy” SEO solutions are more trouble than they’re worth.

You’d think in an industry that’s nigh 15 years old, that some of the myths would have been fully busted at this point. I mean, for the love of Pete, people still ask about the Meta Keywords tag (which was actually never used by Google). Sadly though, the list of SEO myths just seems to get bigger. So here’s my list of 75 SEO myths de-mythtified.

Myths 01. – 72.

You didn’t think I was going to write all of these myself did you?

A couple of years ago, Search Engine Land published a two-part series on SEO myths, titled 36 SEO Myths That Won’t Die, But Need To and 36 More SEO Myths That Won’t Die, But Need To. Make sure you have a few grains of salt handy as you read through, some of my favourites include: #6 – Meta tags will boost your rankings (here’s a hint, they won’t); #35 – Hyphenated domain names are best for SEO (they are on search engines like Duck Duck Go and Bing, but Google recently started looking more closely at EMDs, even flagging some of the more hyphenated “my-product-or-service-in-my-city.com”s.); and #41 – First you get your site launched, then you add all the SEO goodness (I’ve reconciled that this is the way things will always be, that SEO isn’t part of the development process and it won’t ever be because the clients can’t “see” it, so it’s a budget item that won’t get included).

Myth 73. The title tag is limited t0 70 characters.

I see a ton of tools telling me that the title tag has to be 70 or fewer characters. Truthfully, it doesn’t, as pointed out by SeoMofo, “In the till trill little litter fill! | Is it illicitly lil’ lilli! | If I fill ill jill I’ll frill thrill!” contains a whopping 107 characters (all shown in the Google snippet) where “WE WILL WIN WWW WARS WHILE THE WORLD WIDE WEB WARRIORS WEAR WHITE WIGS” is cut off after only 54. The lesson here is that title tags are based on pixel width, not character limits. Still, if you don’t have a ruler handy, it’s best to keep things short.

Myth 74. You can do SEO yourself.

This is a tricky one, and I deal with it all the time. I’m loathe to tell the owner of a mom-and-pop or SMB that they can’t do their own SEO, since they definitely can. But things like authorship markup, page speed considerations and schema add some pretty crazy levels of complexity to an SEO campaign that most SMBs aren’t ready to tackle without some help.

This begs the question, is the answer in hiring a professional SEO firm? Well, not likely for most. SEOmoz  did a survey gathering data on the salaries of SEO professionals (infographic). Project fees start at around $1,000 while the average SEO’s rates start at $75/hour. Jenny Halasz had some great insights over on Search Engine Land where she asks the question, “Have Keywords Stopped Being A Proxy To The Customer?

That being said, I still think the short answer is “No.” You can get away with not knowing what gZip compression and canonicalization are and still have a site that ranks. A regular schedule of content creation is still at the core of every SEO strategy, and it’s what I’d counsel for any business that needs to DIY because of budgetary constraints.

Myth 75. Reciprocal links don’t work.

The myth of reciprocal linking, trading links, has been pretty much debunked. Unfortunately, this prevents people from trading links at all, which I think is entirely ridiculous.

If you and I have a business relationship and it makes sense to link to each other, then we definitely should. Google is all about the spirit of things, doing things earnestly, so the question should never be “Does this violate Google’s guidelines?” or “Will this increase my search engine rankings?” but, “Does this thing that I’m doing provide real and meaningful value to the visitors of my site?”

How about you? Have any industry myths you’d like to share? I’d sure like to hear them, share them in the comments here!

Sean Enns

Sean Enns is a marketing professional who started in marketing and sales in 1997. In 2004, he began his career in search engine optimization and corporate communications.

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