Biggest SEO Myths Debunked - What You Should Do Instead

Feb 15, 2022

Table of Contents

Why do SEO myths exist
Dangers of following outdated SEO advice
Common SEO myths and what to do instead
SEO is a one-time thing
SEO is dead
All that matters is “fresh” content
You will get penalized for duplicate content
Keyword research is no longer useful
Submitting a sitemap will increase rankings
PPC advertising has an influence on SEO rankings
Guest blogging is dead

With the large amounts of information, tips, and tactics on pretty much every conceivable topic available on the web it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information. 

SEO is no exception to this statement. 

In this article, you will learn which SEO myths to completely avoid if you want to improve your search engine rankings. We also give some tips on what you should do instead of following these common SEO myths. 

But first, let’s explore why myths exist in the SEO industry.

Why Do SEO Myths Exist

Nowadays, it’s very easy and quick to build a website with a blog where almost anyone can share their opinions and thoughts.

Because of the low barrier to entry, even the most inexperienced marketer can publish his or her opinions and strategies in the form of a blog post. This leads to a sea of misinformation about strategies on how to improve your SEO and increase rankings.

Not only that, but Google’s own employees are also regularly featured in SEO publications such as Search Engine Journal or Search Engine Watch. 

John Mueller Featured

Obviously they can’t give an in-depth breakdown of Google’s search ranking signals so their advice is often very vague and open to interpretation.

This leads to “newbie” SEOs and bloggers publishing their own misinterpreted version of what was mentioned by these Google employees and engineers. 

Like a pebble that’s thrown into a dam, ripples of bad and incorrect information on SEO are sent throughout the web. 

Another reason why SEO myths exist is because of the ever-changing nature of SEO. Because of this, a lot of the information on SEO is outdated and irrelevant. 

Now that you know why SEO myths exist, we’ll briefly discuss the dangers of following these outdated SEO myths. 

Dangers of Following Incorrect SEO Advice

Following these incorrect SEO myths and strategies can be fatal to your website’s search rankings, additionally, you’ll be spending a lot of time, money, and work on things that will never improve your search rankings. 

For instance, if you still believe that you only need to submit a sitemap to Google and just wait for the traffic to come pouring in, then you’ll be deeply disappointed. 

You’ll be wasting a whole heap of time if you think you only need to submit a site to Google to increase your search rankings and traffic.

Another example of this is when you believe that all you need to do is optimize your on-page SEO to get more traffic and higher rankings. You’ll be spending your time needlessly tweaking your site instead of focusing on other more important elements of SEO such as link-building.

Common SEO Myths and What to Do Instead

Now that you know why SEO myths exist and the dangers of following bad SEO advice, let’s debunk some of the most common search engine optimization myths that you might still be wondering about.

SEO is a One-time Thing

SEO is not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. If you want to see SEO success then you’ve got to constantly be working on improving your SEO standing.

Much like a scientist, you should regularly monitor, test and analyze your SEO, performance and rankings as time progresses. 

As we mentioned earlier, SEO is an ever-evolving industry. 

Search Engine Land notes that Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times a year. For this reason, SEO should never be thought of as a one-time thing.

SEO professionals and marketers need to create weekly or monthly reports on search engine metrics. They also need to conduct a quarterly SEO audit to determine what activities they should be busy with, which tactics to implement and what to change to improve SEO efforts. 

SEO is Dead

Let’s get facts straight, SEO is not dead. In fact, the industry is poised to grow. 

So then why do some people and publishers say that SEO is dead?

Firstly, some bloggers publish this type of content for the sensation. 

By creating a sensation-seeking headline that goes something like “SEO is Dead: Why You Should Stop Wasting Time Optimizing for Search”, writers and bloggers can get more clicks and traffic to their websites. 

Another reason why some might think that SEO is dead is because Google is chewing up the results by answering questions and providing information in the search results. 

For instance, if you search for “what is the statue of liberty made of”, you’ll notice that Google answers the search query without users needing to click on a search result.

Google chewing up search results

Of course, this leads to a decrease in clicks for this specific keyword, but that doesn’t mean SEO is dead. In any case, Google only provides answers for some keywords and search phrases. 

You’ll notice that it’s actually quite hard to find queries that Google answers directly without adding a link to the website with the information on.

Because of the rise of so many other forms of digital advertising media, it’s easy to believe that SEO is dead. 

Take for example the rapid rise of TikTok, it’s easy for business owners to think that they should drop their SEO strategy and focus on building a community on TikTok. 

And that is true, businesses need to have a strategy to build communities on the latest platforms. 

But let’s not forget that SEO is a form of inbound marketing. The leads and traffic you get from SEO are more targeted and often lead to higher conversion rates than almost any social media campaign does.  

So here’s why SEO is not dead. 

Think for a moment, if you’re searching for something to buy online or you’ve got a problem that needs to be solved, something like how to change a flat tire. 

Where do you go to find what you’re looking for? 99% of the time, you’ll probably counsel your favorite search engine to find your answer.

how to change a tire google search

Additionally, according to GlobeNewsWire, “The global search engine optimization services market is expected to grow from $46. 66 billion in 2020 to $50. 45 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8. 1%.

All of the top-ranking search results are there because of effective SEO at work. The facts are that as long as people are using search engines to find information on the web, then SEO isn’t dead.

Don’t believe the lazy bloggers and journalists who claim that SEO is dead just so that they can increase clicks by creating sensational headlines. Instead, focus on improving your site’s traffic with clever SEO strategies and tactics. If you invest the time and effort into your site’s SEO, you’ll be able to see the rewards of your hard work pay off in due time. 

All That Matters is “Fresh” Content

“Fresh” content refers to content that has been recently published or updated. The myth goes something like “Google will only rank fresh content”. 

This is not quite true. Yes, Google likes to see that you create and publish new content on a regular basis. 

But “freshness” as a ranking factor depends on the nature of the search query. 

For example, if you’re looking for the winner of the latest Formula 1 Championship, then the freshness of the content matters and will be considered by Google.

Freshness of content

But, if the search query is not “time-dependent” or the topic doesn’t change much, then freshness isn’t necessarily a ranking factor.

For instance, if you’re searching for “how to polish shoes”, then freshness won’t have an impact on the quality of the content since the process of polishing shoes doesn’t regularly change.

Freshness not relevant

Instead of constantly creating new content on the same topic just so that Google thinks it's “fresh”, think about the nature of the topic. Will the quality of the content be impacted by its “freshness”?

And if you’re unsure, just update already existing content so that it can still be considered new and fresh.

You Will Get Penalized for Duplicate Content

There’s this myth that keeps popping up that Google will give your site a penalty if it comes across any duplicate content. Duplicate content refers to content that is very similar or exactly the same as the content that can be found on another page or domain.

This myth is simply not the truth. 

According to Susan Moskwa, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, “There's no such thing as a duplicate content penalty."At least, not in the way most people mean when they say that.

So no, there’s no duplicate content penalty.

With that being said, duplicate content can still have a negative impact on your SEO in the following ways:

  • If you’ve got multiple web pages having the same or similar content on them, then other website owners won’t know which URL to link to. This can cause confusion and have a negative impact on the number of backlinks you receive. 
  • Duplicate content can “bloat” your website, preventing unique content and important pages from being indexed. This is because duplicate content will unnecessarily use up the Google crawl budget for your site. 

Instead of worrying about the duplicate content penalty (which is an SEO myth), rather spend time implementing 301 redirects and adding canonical tags to content that is very similar. This will remove the negative impact that duplicate content can have on your SEO.

Keyword Research is No Longer Useful

Most beginner SEOs might be thinking that if a single page ranks for and gets traffic from hundreds of keywords, then keyword research must be dead. 

keyword research

This logic is absolutely flawed. 

Keyword research helps content creators to find the best content opportunities with high traffic and low competition. By doing keyword research, you’ll be able to find keyword variations that you can add to your content. 

keyword variations

Submitting a Sitemap Will Increase Rankings

There’s another SEO myth that if you submit a sitemap of your website you’ll increase search rankings. 

Now, this isn’t entirely false, but it’s not the complete truth either. 

If you want Google to have the ability to index your web pages and show your links in the SERPs, then yes, you need to submit a sitemap. But this doesn’t automatically lead to increased rankings. 

Submitting a sitemap to Google merely opens the possibility to increased rankings, you’ve still got to optimize your website, produce stellar content and build links if you want to improve search rankings.

PPC Advertising Has an Influence on SEO Rankings

Another SEO myth that needs debunking is the belief that PPC advertising has a direct influence on your SEO.

This is simply not the truth. 

If businesses were able to use PPC marketing to pay their way to the top of the search engine results page, then that would defeat Google’s main mission - which is to reward websites that answer search queries with higher organic rankings.

Google clearly states that PPC has no effect on organic search results and traffic from SEO:


Instead, SEOs and marketers should use both PPC and SEO as part of their overall Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy. 

By combining SEO and PPC, webmasters will be able to gain the quick results that PPC offers with the long-term cost efficiency of SEO. 

Guest Blogging is Dead

Back in 2014, Matt Cutts declared that guest blogging is dead. 

Here we are, almost 8 years later and guest blogging is more alive than ever, being used by marketers to build links and increase brand awareness.

Granted, there are some ways to go about guest blogging that would be regarded as spam. And I don’t think that Matt was talking about all kinds of guest blogging, he was just referring to a certain type of guest blogging.

He was referring to low-quality guest blogging sites that exist for the sole purpose of publishing content from other writers for a paid fee. 

On the flip side, high-quality guest blogging consists of collaborating with well-known, high-quality domains and publishers in your industry. This still remains a very effective way of building links and generating online awareness.


This list of SEO myths probably doesn’t cover all of the false opinions and misconceptions about SEO that are being spread all over the web. These are merely the most common ones that we’ve come across. 

By not falling for these SEO myths, you’ll be on your way to better search rankings and increased organic traffic.

Tim Hill
Tim's background is in digital marketing working for both large and small digital agencies and diverse client types. He has a passion for tech, software and staying up to date on the latest search engine news.
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