3 SEO Myths Busted

Caitlin Lemon
5 min readMay 2, 2022

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You can have the best business in the world, but if nobody knows about it, it doesn’t matter. Yes, you can put up flyers and post on social media, but in our increasingly digital age, there’s another powerful way to get the word out about your business: SEO.

By investing in SEO, you can boost your online authority, generate more leads, and increase sales. If you search for SEO online, there’s a flood of information with supposed tips to help you rank on the first page of Google.

If you’re not careful, some commonly peddled myths can keep you from getting traffic to your business or get penalized by search engines. Here’s what you need to know before you get started:

What is SEO, and why does it matter?

First, what is SEO? SEO, or search engine optimization, is how your website ranks on Google based on its content.

Google crawls and indexes webpages, and how helpful your content is in answering a search query determines where your website ranks in search results.

There are many types of SEO, including on-page SEO, technical SEO, and local SEO. Each type has its own unique factors in determining where your website ends up in Google search results.

This may sound a little overwhelming if you’re new to running a business. But the most important thing you need to know is that SEO is crucial in getting your business discovered in internet searches and getting people to click on your website.

How Google’s Hummingbird Update Changed Everything

In 2013 Google introduced its Hummingbird update, which changed the game for SEO.

Without dating myself too much, it used to be that if you searched “restaurants in New York City,” you used to get a bunch of loosely related search results. You’d get results that contained any of these words, not necessarily what you’re looking for.

It was frustrating, and it also meant that some people tried to push up their rankings by doing things such as adding the word “restaurant” several times throughout the page. Which, needless to say, wasn’t helpful for the person searching.

Hummingbird changed all of that by shifting focus to your search intent. Instead of matching your query to anything that contained the words you entered into the search bar, Google’s algorithm started to focus on web pages that fit your intent.

For example, instead of bringing results of how to open a restaurant, it would show you restaurants near your Manhattan studio. The goal of the Hummingbird update was to provide you, the searcher, with more relevant results.

How Do I Know What Keywords to Choose?

To find keywords that make the most sense for your business, you should conduct keyword research. Thankfully, tools like the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool and Moz Keyword Explorer make it easy to find relevant keywords, their popularity, and difficulty to rank.

If you’re looking for free tools, try Google autocomplete or Answer the Public.

Common SEO Myths Hurting Your Business

Many myths or outdated tactics regarding SEO are still circulating online. Here are some of the most common ones to avoid (plus what to do instead).

Myth Number One: You Should Target Short-tail Keywords

If you run a cupcake bakery or you’re a freelance writer, you may think that keywords like “cupcakes,” “cupcake bakery,” or “freelance writer” are obvious choices. However, it’s unlikely that these words will drive traffic to your site or get it to rank in search results.

For starters, these words are too general. Remember Google’s Hummingbird update? It’s impossible to discern the person’s intent. You can’t tell if they’re looking to order cupcakes for an event or searching for gluten-free cupcake recipes. Am I looking to hire a freelance writer? or am I trying to learn how to launch my freelancing career?

Another problem is that because of the reasons above; this keyword is going to be highly competitive, making it too difficult to rank. Instead, you want to focus on medium or long-tail keywords (more specific words or phrases that show higher levels of intent).

For example, instead of “freelance writer,” try going after keywords like “Freelance Travel Writer” or “Seattle Freelance Writer.” If you’re a cupcake shop, you could try phrases like “Gluten-free cupcakes” or “Las Vegas Cupcake shop.”

Myth Number Two: You Need to Focus on Writing for Search Engines

Obviously, you want to rank higher in Google to drive more customers to your business. But trying to write “cupcakes” 15 times on your homepage isn’t the way to do it.

This is what “black hat” (unethical) SEO is. It’s keyword stuffing, where people game the system to boost their rankings.

Here’s an example:

Photo by Karen Cas Alinas

Not very helpful, is it? The person who wrote this isn’t focused on the searcher at all. They’re focused on writing for search engines and manipulating search rankings. The resulting text doesn’t even make sense.

Like Santa Claus, Google knows when you’ve been naughty. They will penalize your business when they catch you (it’s no longer a question of “if.”).

Instead, focus on writing for people. Remember the Hummingbird update? Google prioritizes content that’s helpful and answers people’s search queries. By focusing on creating relevant content for your audience, you’ll also be writing to rank in search.

Myth Number Three: You Should Create Content for Your Clients

Another common mistake marketers and entrepreneurs make is writing solely for their intended clients. They believe that if they focus on the catering and food truck space, they should focus on writing 3,000-word blog posts with those people in mind. This is the wrong approach.

According to Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko (recently acquired by Semrush), while you should still create content for your clients, you also need to focus on creating content for your “linkreators.”

This advice may seem counterintuitive, especially for those of us who took numerous SEO courses telling us to create content for our audiences, and everything will fall into place.

However, the fact is that the cupcake shop on wheels won’t link to your blog post on “How to Ge the Most Out of Facebook Ads.” Why? Because the content you’re writing doesn’t have anything to do with desserts or catering. Enter the people who will share those posts: your linkreators.

What are linkreators? Brian Dean defines linkreators as “the people who have the power to share and link to your content.” These are usually people in your field (i.e., in my case, other people in the digital marketing or freelance writing space). These are the people who will link to your content and boost your website’s rank in search results.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to identify your linkreators and drive more online traffic to your business, I highly recommend checking out the free, Content-Led SEO Course with Brian Dean.

Start Driving More Traffic to Your Business

Search engine optimization is one of the most powerful tools to boost traffic to your website. However, common SEO myths and misconceptions keep brands from getting the search engine rankings they seek. Make a plan to implement more long-tail keywords, incorporate content for linkreators, and focus on writing for those who actually link to your website: people.

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