5 Common Misunderstandings That Can Sabotage Your SEO

Shane Hall


September 11, 2018 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

Overcome these common misunderstandings that sabotage your SEO strategy

SEO (search engine optimization) can be an intriguing, exciting, and rewarding addition to your online content marketing. For many businesses, it cannot be ignored. The ability to draw in your ideal customers based on what they’re looking for is what makes the difference between visibility and obscurity. However, some misinformation and outdated advice related to SEO exists, and implementing strategies around these misunderstandings will start off your campaign incorrectly. Explore the following SEO fallacies and discover the important truths you need to know.

More Keywords Are Better

Image via Flickr by davedehetre

The idea that packing keywords into your content will get you more attention is decade-old wisdom from a time when SEO was newer and less refined. Until the late 2000s, Google’s algorithms were not as intelligent. They would assume that simply because a website happened to have many instances of a keyword a user searched for, the website was a worthwhile result. In reality, this approach allowed low-quality websites to game the system, stuffing keywords where they didn’t belong and writing unnatural sentences that didn’t appear professional or legitimate.

These days, after continual improvements to the crawlers that index and rank domains, shady tactics are not merely ineffective but punishable with reduced rankings. The key to getting your webpage seen is finding the right SEO keywords, specializing toward them, and mentioning them naturally throughout a piece of high-quality, valuable content. In turn, creating a trustworthy website that cares about its visitors will encourage more backlinks from other trusted websites and organically increase your traffic.

Paid Traffic Will Increase Organic Traffic

For some reason, marketers who have difficulty drawing in organic traffic tell themselves that by focusing their energy and funds on paid online advertising, they’ll receive more organic traffic. However, paid traffic is the opposite of organic traffic. If you don’t build an infrastructure of interesting content and engagement, none of the visitors who reach you through ads will see a reason to stick around and share your content with others. You will have to continually buy hits to your webpages without building any organic momentum through fans and followers.

Think about why paid traffic costs money in the first place: It is a direct, almost guaranteed source of visitors to a webpage. Organic traffic is not guaranteed. If organic traffic was attainable solely as a side effect of buying traffic, every marketer would swarm the market for paid traffic and outbid each other.

Still, nothing is wrong with wanting more organic traffic. You can make your paid advertising help you in that regard, just not as a happy coincidence without any extra work. As the name implies, organic traffic must be grown and nourished through effort and smart choices. Use at least some of your advertising to draw traffic onto your content pages. Build a natural, organic relationship with your audience, such as with a subscription to your newsletter.

You Can Pay for Links

Backlinks to your webpages are a crucial source of visits, but paying low-quality websites that promise to link to you is not a good idea. These types of sites now have a very poor trust rating with Google, something that’s unlikely to ever change.

Even if you get many links and visitors through this method, your domain will be stained through associations with these sites and suffer lower rankings in result pages. The same truth applies to linking schemes that don’t involve money, such as link farms or reciprocal link exchange deals. These sites also tend not to have reliable visitors who will subscribe or interact with them very much.

Instead of using cheap tactics, search for influencers and sites that would have a legitimate reason to show off your business, products, or services to their visitors and link back to you. Bloggers who review products are a great starting point. Request a review and offer a free product or trial run of a service, and allow them to link to a page you’d like to receive visits if they feel like doing so. These types of authentic connections are what Google values. They are what real people will use to judge your business favorably.

Bigger Sites Can Do Whatever They Want

The misunderstanding that larger websites can ignore the rules is as wrong as the other fallacies here, but the thinking is understandable. In some cases, low-quality websites built up their rankings using shady tactics while they were still viable. Many of these websites were punished for not adapting today, but some of your higher-ranking competitors may still employ such behavior. The key is not to stoop to their level. Google’s algorithm only continues to grow more advanced.

No website is too big to avoid a penalty for generally negative SEO practices. Even JCPenney, one of the largest retail companies in the world, suffered by trusting its SEO activities to a company that used spammy links, leading to overall low rankings across its websites in 2011.

Content Doesn’t Matter

If you think you can get good search rankings on your website without producing content, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. The individual reputation of webpages — and the domains that carry them — is largely based upon the average interested visitor’s impression. Google’s brilliant algorithm can merely scan your website and guess, to a high rate of accuracy, whether the content is original and valuable to someone who searched the relevant keywords.

The secret is the analysis of bounce rate and speed. If you make content that sends many people rolling their eyes and backing out within a few seconds, your ratings will drop. You’ll need to create at least a small repertoire of valuable, evergreen content that gradually draws in interested visitors and keeps them for a while, without making them feel cheated or exploited. Avoid using thin content, such as a large number of repetitive pages that use similar content.

SEO is still a complicated and slightly ethereal mix of art and science, challenging even the best marketers and businesses. If you have fallen under the spell of any of these misunderstandings, don’t feel discouraged. Modern SEO is best broken down into two basic tasks: to put up a digital signpost that attracts visitors and keep them satisfied enough to stay on your website and interact with you. Contact CopyPress if you’d like some assistance with your content marketing and SEO performance.

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Shane Hall

CopyPress writer

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