As an online marketing agency, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of our core skills. We wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t understand how search engines work, and what it takes to reach the top of Google (and Bing) rankings. But this isn’t to say that we know everything there is to know about SEO.
The fact is, almost no one knows exactly how Google and Bing decide to rank search results. The basics are well understood, but once you get past those, there’s a lot of room for debate. In the chaos of this debate, two common types of SEO myths are born:
- Myths that assume Google/Bing are lying about something
- Myths that assign way too much value to any one issue
Here’s how you identify and debunk these myths.
Myth #1 – Google/Bing Say ‘X’, But They Don’t Really Mean It
The first type of myth assumes that Google and Bing are spreading disinformation. The basic claim is that the official webmaster guidelines published by both Google and Bing:
In fact, quite a few people believe that Google and Bing are trying to deceive webmasters to keep the real “SEO secrets” safe.
This is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, Google and Bing are publicly traded companies who could face severe sanctions for publishing false information (duh). Second, most of the advice offered by Google and Bing is recognized as industry best practice. You won’t find anything in the official advice from Google or Bing that isn’t also published in the Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO, the KissMetrics Ecommerce SEO guide, the QuickSprout SEO guide, etc.
If, for example, an SEO “expert” says that Google is penalizing sites which have a META keywords tag – and Google’s official guidance is that they ignore the keywords tag – you’ve identified an SEO myth.
Basically, beware any SEO advice or tip that conflicts with official advice from the search engines themselves.
Myth #2 – There’s One SEO Issue That’s Killing Your Site
Another common type of SEO myth goes something like this:
- Your site isn’t ranking as well as it should
- There’s one specific issue that’s causing all your problems
- Once this issue is fixed, the site will rank great!
Typically, this “we just gotta fix one problem and you’re golden” myth is offered as part of a sales presentation. While this can sometimes be true – some websites do have a single, crippling problem that’s holding the site back – it’s far more likely that the site has multiple problems.
Generally speaking, sites that aren’t ranking the way they should have a lot of different problems. Crawling and indexing issues, content quality problems, backlink profile problems, engagement problems, etc. If a website used to be on page 1 for a specific search term – and now it’s on page 3 – the solution isn’t as simple as doing one thing.
How To Make Your Own SEO BS Detector
If you want to sort SEO fact from fiction, you just need to follow this simple process:
- Is there official evidence to support whatever SEO advice you’re getting? When an SEO expert tells you something that sounds unbelievable, ask for evidence. If the advice is valid, it should be easy to provide an article from a 3rd party supporting it.
- Does the SEO advice you’re getting sound too good to be true? SEO is a grind. While there are some easy wins to be had, most of the time it’s going to take a lot of work to make a site rank better.
- Get a second opinion. If you’re looking for SEO advice, most companies (including ours) will give you free advice as part of the initial consultation. If the advice you’re getting is sound, another SEO expert will probably echo it.
While the number of companies trading in bad SEO advice is much smaller now than it was a couple of years ago, it’s still a problem. If your auto parts website isn’t ranking the way you’d like – and your current SEO advisor is triggering your BS meter – contact us.