5 Dangerous Misconceptions About SEO

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of the newest member of the Return On Now family, John Nettles. John recently joined us to provide copywriting and white paper authoring services. In this post, he covers off five shortsighted stigmas about SEO that should be eliminated from your vocabulary.


The recent Google Penguin update has generated considerable confusion, causing some businesses to make ill-informed decisions regarding SEO.

The good news is that popular misconceptions regarding SEO can be reasonably and objectivity refuted. Like any marketing tool, SEO isn’t a fit for every organization. But it is a critical component of the marketing mix, and should certainly not be evaluated based off of bunk info.

Decision makers should be aware of the following five misconceptions regarding SEO:

SEO is dead

There is an abundance of Internet articles with this 3-word sensationalized title. It may seem as if the anti-SEO constituency is mainstream, when really the authors are just trying to get your attention. Real discussions about the death of SEO are rare.

There are many reasons to prove SEO is alive and well, but to save time, I’ll just reference a quote from Google Software Engineer Matt Cutts: “Our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white-hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive web spam tactics.”

Apparently Google doesn’t think that SEO is dead.

SEO is not as effective as it used to be

It is true that some SEO methods have lost their effectiveness. Spamming and keyword stuffing don’t work well anymore. And no longer will websites be able to zip to a top-three ranking within a matter of months for any keyword they choose to pursue.

But the definition of SEO is dynamic, and how a site ranks on Google is still very much in the hands of the Webmaster. The SEO that uses tedious and unreliable practices, such as link tricks and keyword stuffing, is gone. New SEO practices focus on creating value and engaging audiences, not gaming the system. In fact, many websites that were hurt by the update have recovered using adapted strategies.

Any SEO incurs spam penalties

Some rumors exist that the Google updates are hyper-sensitive to “tampering”, and will penalize any site that tries to boost rankings.

A major source of this misinformation originated from poor comprehension of a Google Patent called Ranking Documents, which contains language explaining the how websites fluctuate on ranking before settling to a target location.

From reading the official patent, one can see that it in no way stats that Google intends to penalize optimization. Instead, it describes how the method used to detect spam based on the manner is which pages changed. Legitimate and useful site improvements are very unlikely to result in lowered rankings.

SEO is too risky

Many businesses have made an emotional decision that SEO is playing with fire, or that it has simply become ineffective. Others are convinced that SEO experts are still struggling with the new algorithm.

To be sure, SEO is only a risk when it violates the clearly stated Google Webmaster Guidelines or breaks the Google Terms of Service. SEO is great when it follows the Google guide to Search Optimization, and when it helps website visitors draw value from your site.

Great content is all you need to boost ranking

While it’s true that valuable content is very important for site rankings, search engines still need to have this value demonstrated to them.

Google decides a website’s quality mainly by analyzing how many sources are mentioning the content, how popular these sources are, and the methods through which the material is being discussed.

Many SEO ins-and-outs are involved in this process, such as link profile analysis, crawl map pathing, and website monitoring strategies. As well, it is important to make sure that a website is not inadvertently breaking one of Google’s guidelines, which could cause severe penalties.

There is a lot of noise and interference out there regarding SEO, but the truth is that it is a safe bet for the right organizations. Those businesses that have stepped away from SEO needlessly will grow to regret their decision once it becomes obvious that they were misinformed.