SEO has been around for so many years that it should be easy to figure out what you should and shouldn’t do, right?
I wish that were the case!
The thing about SEO is that it’s constantly evolving. Not only does that mean a lot of the old information is inaccurate, but it also means there are a lot of misconceptions out there as anyone can create a blog and write about SEO, even if they are not experts.
Here are 7 lies about SEO that you probably believe:
Lie #1: It’s good to let authority sites republish your content
Typically, when an authority site that’s bigger than yours republishes your content, it is a good thing. You get a link back, and you generate traffic and maybe even sales.
The issue with having your content republished is that it creates duplicate content. Even if that authority site links back to you, search engines like Google will rank the authority site above yours. What’s even worse is that you can potentially get hit by a Panda penalty.
Just look at the KISSmetrics blog. We got hit by a Panda penalty for this.
As you can see from the graph above, we saw a 29% drop in traffic because we let authority sites republish our content.
Nonetheless, this is still a great tactic to leverage if you can get authority sites to follow one rule. They need to use a canonical tag that points back to your URL. This is the only way to ensure you don’t get penalized for duplicate content.
Lie #2: Bad links will hurt your rankings
When Google released its disavow tool, a lot of marketers went overboard. They felt every bad link was going to hurt their rankings. To some extent they were right: bad links can indeed hurt your rankings, but it happens in rare circumstances.
What Google is trying to do is stop the manipulation of its algorithm through link building.
A lot of the low quality links that point back to your website will be from low-quality aggregator sites. You can try to stop some of these sites by using services like Cloudflare, but don’t get paranoid and start disavowing every link you are not fond of.
The bigger your site, the more junk sites will naturally link to you. In general, you shouldn’t encourage these links, but there isn’t much you can do. Of course, you can disavow each link, but it is rare that these aggregator sites will get you penalized.
Just look at Quick Sprout. I have over 144,000 backlinks from 10,000 unique domains. Out of those links, 581 are coming from low-quality aggregator sites. In the seven-year history of Quick Sprout, it’s never gotten penalized for it.
Instead of worrying about these low quality links, focus your time on creating a good product/service and writing exceptional content. While you are at it, don’t buy links with the intent of manipulating rankings.
Lie #3: The more pages of content you have, the better
Content marketing isn’t a good fit for everyone. For example, let’s say you run a hedge fund. The way you make money is by getting people to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in your fund and taking a percentage of the profits.
The issue with blogging or creating tons of pages of content about what you do is that it is a very dry and boring topic. That means very few people are going to share the content on the social web and/or link back to you.
Before you add pages of content to your site, think about whether people will actually want to share and link to those web pages. No matter how good your content is, if you add pages that people don’t link to or share, you typically won’t see an increase in search traffic. It can actually hurt your traffic.
One of the first websites I ever created was Advice Monkey. Not only did I pop up a blog that no one read, but I also added over 1,000 pages of content. The quality of the content was pretty good, but very few people linked to the articles. In the end, my search traffic decreased. Once I removed the content, my search traffic started to climb again slowly.
Lie #4: You shouldn’t buy links
Sure, search engines don’t want you to buy links because this tactic can manipulate rankings, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy them.
Links are a great way to drive revenue to your business. For example, we bought over $10,000 worth of links and ads from CSS galleries to Crazy Egg before we launched. This resulted in an increase in monthly recurring income of over $2,000. To this date, some of those customers are still with us, which means our link-buying approach was profitable.
How do you buy links without ticking off the search engines? You nofollow the links. This way, you are telling the search engines not to count the links with no damage to your SEO, but you can still gain traffic and revenue.
Lie #5: The higher your bounce rate, the lower your rankings
The one thing I know better than anything else is analytics. I’ve co-founded two analytic companies, and I’ve helped hundreds of companies grow their businesses through analysis.
A lot of marketers claim that the higher your bounce rate is, the lower your rankings will be. For this reason, you need to reduce your bounce rate, right?
Having a lower bounce rate is typically a good thing, but it doesn’t mean you will have higher rankings. In my experience working with various sites, such as TechCrunch, Gawker Media, Amazon, and Microsoft, I saw no correlation between bounce rates and rankings.
Granted, this could be because a lot of the businesses I’ve worked with are large, but even with the small ones, I didn’t notice a huge difference in search traffic as bounce rates changed.
Lie #6: 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.
Sure, you may be creating duplicate content temporarily, but the potential increases in conversions make up for it. Plus, out of all the A/B tests I’ve run, I’ve never seen my traffic drop.
Just look at the homepage of my personal site. As you can see from the image below, there is very little content on the page. And I have a ton of duplicate versions of it.
I continually A/B test it and do so with all of my other businesses as well. I can tell you with 100% confidence that I have never seen a dip in rankings due to testing.
If you are worried, you can always noindex the variation to prevent duplicate content.
Lie #7: Your best content should be published on your own site
How much traffic does your website generate? My guess is not as much as Forbes or Huffington Post. So, what’s going to happen when you post an amazing piece of content on your own site?
Your traffic may double…if you’re lucky. But chances are it won’t.
You could be better off posting your content on other people’s blogs/sites.
Content is king, but if you place it on someone else’s site, not only may you see more traffic, but you may also see more revenue. Plus, you’ll also be generating authoritative links, which will help your rankings over time.
If you have a small blog that generates 10,000 or 20,000 visitors a month, you may be better off publishing your best work on blogs that generate over a million visitors a month.
Just because you read something, don’t expect it to be true. Heck, just because I publish something on Quick Sprout doesn’t mean you should assume I’m always right. I’ve been proven wrong many times, which is fine.
Always try to understand why certain things work the way they do, especially in SEO and marketing. Things are constantly evolving, and you need to stay current on new developments if you want to dominate the search results.
What other lies about SEO have you heard?