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Common SEO Misconceptions

There are loads of misunderstandings and misconceptions out there in the world of SEO. Google’s definitely partly to blame for this, I mean they don’t exactly tell you what’s what do they?

However more recently Google’s been a lot more transparent with its activity. They regularly host Webmaster Hangouts, Hold Speaking engagements at Conferences or drop some knowledge bombs on Twitter.

1 – Google Penalises Duplicate Content

Look, duplicate content won’t cause a penalty if you have a genuine reason to share it. Google will not penalise a site for having duplicate content. HOWEVER, it will de-index and give you a manual action if you have nothing but thin and duplicated content.

Google understands duplicate content is natural but they’re going to try and do their best to ensure SERPs doesn’t show users the same content. Over the next month or so we’re going to be presenting some more in depth articles on Canonicals, Internal linking, Duplicate Content and more.

2 – Quality Updates Result in Algorithmic Penalties

Core quality updates are not penalties. If you’ve seen a dramatic traffic loss after an algorithm update, I totally understand if you think you’ve been smacked with a penalty but the truth is you’ve not! The bad news is this traffic you’ve lost is gone.

The core quality updates that came out this year weren’t focussed on penalising sites, they simply gave more weight to sites that previously underperformed.  If your content provided more depth, more quality and was more aligned with the user intent of that search query, then you would rank much higher than you would have pre-algorithm updates. Off the back of this, lots of sites saw a negative decrease in rankings for their long tail keywords.

3 –  New Sites get Filtered into Google’s Sandbox

Another big misconception is the Google Sandbox. It’s a common thought that Google will put new websites into the Sandbox. This means they treat these sites differently in an effort to reduce spammy sites from ranking too quickly.
Google’s John Mueller said in a webmaster hangout that there was no such filter being applied to new websites. John did say there could be a set of algorithms that attempt to understand how a new website fits in with other websites that are trying to rank for the same queries.  

Do we take everything Google says to be true? Who knows… I’ll leave this one open for discussion.

4 -Paid Search Helps Bolster Organic Results

I hear this one quite a lot! So, there’s a theory that if you invest money into PPC (search engine advertising) that it will send good signals to Google and improve your organic SEO Rankings. This is a gigantic myth though!

5 -Content is KING!

Uhm.. not quite! There’s plenty of articles out there that give far too much weight to good content. Yeah good content is a necessity these days if your competing in a competitive vertical but…it certainly isn’t the only thing you need to do.

I had a client who had to make a business case to their superiors on the benefit of doing a link building campaign. We had already spent 8 months on this campaign and we started it just at the start of the core quality updates. At the start of the campaign the pages content was on par with everyone else in that vertical. The problem was when the core quality updates came out it became immediately clear these pages needed a revamp, but with such a large client a page refresh isn’t possible over night.

It’s easy to see how the CQU affected the pages, so every page saw a huge decrease.

Anyways there was another set of pages that were scheduled in for a content revamp and a new design before the ones I was currently working on. These pages saw a crazy spike in traffic once the new design was implemented but their backlink profile was non existent.

The set of pages I worked on saw a decrease in traffic over the course of the 8 months. Now, if you took a look at the campaign at face value you would immediately think the results were terrible. HOWEVER, content and links go hand in hand. Without good content your links won’t give you much value. Lots of longtail keywords will probably rank without links but your core keywords won’t rank with just content.

The point of this is – Content and Links go hand in hand.

This campaign was pretty interesting, there’s a lot more to talk about and a lot to learn from it. So perhaps that will be an article in itself later on.

6) Because Big Brands Do It, It Must Be Good!

Big Brands get away with murder sometimes. Look, if you take anything away from this article, don’t copy big brands. I have seen some terrible advice given from a really high level, so don’t mindlessly copy! You can for sure analyse what they did and do some testing to see if it will work for you.

7) Crawl Budget isn’t an issue

Okay so, “Crawl budget” essential refers to multiple things. Google only has so much processing power available and can’t crawl every single page on the web at once. If your website has less than 200,000 pages you do not need to worry about crawl budget. It’s mainly an issue for large enterprise sites.

So there you have it…my top list of common SEO conceptions.  What do you think?  Did I miss anything vital?  Make sure to comment on the post below if you have any other common misconceptions!



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