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5 SEO misconceptions that are hard to disbelieve

We have been successfully launching rockets into space for over 50 years. Yet we can’t stop the spread of misinformation on the internet. Even in marketing, there are things that are often quoted (even by us), that qualify as misinformation – little nuggets that we use to guide our online strategies because we all thought the same thing.

Maybe it was once true.

Maybe it was never true.

Maybe it is true… but not quite in the way you think.

Despite the fact that SEO has become more data-driven than ever before, there are lots of silly beliefs that still persist.

So, let’s debunk a few of them.

Here’s a quick roundup of the five biggest SEO misconceptions we’ve seen spouted in the last year.

How many do you recognise?

Misconception #1: Social Signals Impact Ranking

The impact of social signals on SEO has been a hot topic for at least the last 10 years. Probably since the first businesses started to find success on the platforms.

It is logical that the more followers you have, and the more traffic that you can drive to your website from your social media pages, the better your search rankings will be. Right?

Wrong. This is one of the biggest SEO misconceptions that is out there. This is despite John Mueller going on the record way back in 2015 saying that social signals don’t directly impact your rank.

There are three main reasons for this. Followers can be bought. Likes and comments are vanity metrics. And content that is easy to share will be shared.

So, when does social media impact your brand’s visibility in the search engines?


  • Individual posts or pieces of content show up in search results on their own because they rank for your brand name or keywords organically.
  • Google recognizes that a piece of content on Twitter or Pinterest is relevant to search results and includes it in the index.

Misconception #2: SEO Is Dead

From Steve Ballmer’s prediction that the iPhone would be a failure to the New York Times column that claimed laptops would never gain any popularity, there have been a lot of terrible predictions made over the years.

One of those has been that SEO was dead and websites shouldn’t pay any heed.


The misconception that SEO is dead has been around since the early 2010s, mostly stirred up by internet agitators looking to establish a new angle on the insanity within the industry at the time.

And if you do remember the state of the SEO Wild West back then, you will understand why some people believed it couldn’t possibly last.

Okay, so they were half right.

SEO is not dead, but…

  • The SEO content gold rush is long over. Content mills – which exist for the sole purpose of churning out as much content as possible regardless of quality – are playing a losing game.
  • Producing SEO-focused content is an outdated strategy. Articles written for search engine crawlers and stuffed with keywords won’t win you any points anymore. And thanks to Google crawl updates In fact, it’ll hurt you.)

SEO will be dead when not only Google is dead, and the 1.2 trillion searches per year that go with it, but also any type of search engine is dead.

Misconception #3: Duplicate Content Negatively Affects Your Rank

In 2011, Google introduced the Panda search update to clean up all of the low-quality, thin content that had choked up the SERPs.

It signalled the beginning of the end of the SEO content gold rush and the beginning of a new era — one dominated by expert content put out by authoritative authors and trustworthy sources.

Sounds great, right?

However, at some point during all of this, misinformation about what quality means to Google began to circulate. And the SEO myth that we must never, ever post duplicate content on our sites or we’d get penalized was born.

But it’s not true.

According to Google’s John Mueller, it’s normal for sites to have a certain level of duplicate content. When multiple pages containing the (mostly) same information return from a site, Google simply doesn’t show them.

Users will see this instead:

Screenshot of a duplicate content warning from Google Search
If you have ever seen this, it is what happens when pages have duplicate content.

That can be a bad thing in terms of your content not landing in front of eyeballs, but only if those omitted results are meant to be unique.

If you need a unique result, you must have unique content. Otherwise, don’t sweat it if those landing pages all look similar or you’ve got a few blog posts covering the same topic.

The same content in different formats is also treated in this way.

SEO Misconception #4: Content Is King

Since Bill Gates coined the phrase in 1996, we’ve latched onto the idea that content is king because it’s what drives visibility online. Just ask any of the numerous influencers and digital behemoths that have spouted the phrase over the last 20-plus years.

Yes, having great content matters.

Yes, serving up awesome content wins eyeballs and conversions.

You must create the best possible content that you can. But saying that content is king is about as accurate as a business saying that its store signage is the most important thing in its entire strategy.

It’s important, but it’s missing the point.

In the 2020s, content isn’t king.

Your audience is king, and your content needs to serve them.

SEO Misconception #5: Keyword Research Doesn’t Matter

What’s the point of optimizing for one keyword when you’ll rank organically for hundreds?

We get that question a lot.

Sure, the emphasis in SEO has shifted from the over-use of keywords. Escaped from keyword stuffing and weird, SEO-laden headlines. We have moved away from shoving words into sentences or sentences into paragraphs just to get our keyword density anymore.

But if you think keyword research doesn’t matter anymore, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Keyword research helps you in three key ways:

  • Understand what your users are actually typing into Google. You can optimise for all the keywords you want. But if they aren’t what your audience is searching, you won’t appear.
  • Determine whether the keywords you’re using are appropriate for the search intent. Google pays attention to people using keywords incorrectly and penalizes them accordingly.
  • Identify low-competition opportunities to rank well and in the path of your audience. Why compete for valuable short-tail keywords when you can snap up the long-tail keywords your competitors have missed?Some long tail keywords are very competitive because success is lucrative.
Long tail keyword search on google
Pro-tip: Most of Google’s predictive suggestions are long-tail keywords.

Stop Believing these SEO Misconceptions and Build a Great Brand

From the superstition about keyword density, to the misinformation about the true role of content. There are a lot of SEO misconceptions out there.

Given the way that the area has evolved, some of these SEO misconceptions used to be true but aren’t any longer. Then there are others which were never true but just sounded good, so they were believed and, more importantly, shared.

Succeeding at SEO isn’t about buying into popular conspiracy theories or myths you’ve heard through the grapevine. It’s not about jumping on fad advice.

It’s about building on a foundation of awesome content and thoughtful keywords that serves the needs of your audience.

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