SEO Myths That Need to Die

You don’t need SEO if your developers/designers did their job. – WRONG!

This myth is more common outside of the SEO industry than in, but it doesn’t make it any more correct. I frequently see this argument in discussions where money and affordable SEO are involved, but it still makes me weep bitter tears.

The myth is based on a misunderstanding of what search engine optimization really is; it’s not just a technical restructuring so Google can find your stuff. It does not end there.

Ok, so it’s based on a small portion of truth—if you design and code your site in a way that Google can crawl it, you’re probably going to get search traffic—it’s not the end of SEO. If you drop promotion, marketing, keyword research, link building and social media as soon as your site is live, you’re going to find yourself with a stunning lack of visitors.

I’ve consulted on sites that have had several years of content on their blog and painfully low organic traffic numbers. Why? They weren’t using the words that brought them readers. They were using the right words for their topic, but they weren’t the words potential readers were typing into the little search box.

Good design and code are essential to good SEO, but it does not stop there.

You don’t need SEO if you create great content. – WRONG!

The wretched, hideous offspring of the previous myth and an overzealous content marketer. If your content is so incredibly viral that it takes off and becomes sentient all on its own, then you’re probably Julian Smith. And there’s only one Julian Smith.

I’ve talked about this myth before, but it still hangs around in the corners of minds that don’t want to invest time or money in SEO. The bottom line—and really, the only thing needed to put this myth to bed—is that you are going to lose to companies that create great content and do SEO as well.

The most pernicious part of this myth is how it tricks otherwise intelligent marketers into cutting corners; sure, your infographic is amazing, but how much more amazing would it be with the right social button placement? Optimized embed codes? Follow-ups? Influencer targeting? If you aren’t thinking about this, you can be sure your competition is.

If you have the same content in two places on your site, Google will penalize you. – WRONG!

Ah, the popular “duplicate content” penalty. This does not exist. Let me explain.

Google will not penalize you if it finds the same content on two pages. Given how poorly a lot of modern CMS’s handle dynamically created pages, user states and five thousand other things, it would be inane for Google to penalize a site for a problem that only a technically savvy SEO would know how to solve.

I agree that duplicate content is a problem, but not because Google will penalize you.

If you have two pages on your site that have exact copies of the same content, they are going to be targeting the same keyword phrases. Googlebot sees both pages and says “Hm… these both seem to be talking about the same thing… well, might as well pick one.” and throws one of them in its index and ignores the other one.

What happens next? Any external links, internal links, social signals or usage signals pointing to the page that Googlebot ignored do absolutely nothing for you. You’re competing against yourself; you’re trying to rank two pages for the same terms. One will win, and the other will do you no good at all, and whatever link building or organic linking that happened to that page will dissipate in a puff of saddening smoke.

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