35 SEO Mistakes & Myths : Stories Your Grandma Should Never Have Told You About SEO

SEO mistakes and myths have become a rising trend with all the pseudo-intellectuals of the internet marketing era . This post is not only intended to let you evaluate if you are commiting those SEO crimes but also as a heads up to those ‘experts’ who have been following their grandma obediently . Well then this post might turn out to be an ugly realization to them, for the rest of you who have been enjoying my posts regularly, have fun as always !

So why the grandma in the picture ?

Because these are not the kind of people who dont know about SEO, in fact these are people who know about SEO, but the old and the, now irrelevant, umm…how do I put this delicately..WRONG version! and are still following those misconceptions which may have been a hit in the age when their grandma was an SEO expert (and hot, if that applies). So lets get started, with all due respect to all the grandmas I may hurt in the process ….

SEO Is Free

SEO Myths and mistakes

SEO Myths And Mistakes To Avoid

This is the biggest misconception people carry. It may seem free if you neglect the time liability! A major part of SEO is taken by keyword research and link building, in fact far more time than actually making the post and publishing it! So if you think that ‘time is money’, is a false implication, then yes, SEO is free (but are you sure your SEO guy feels the same way? I don’t know…)

SEO Is A One Time Magic Wand

I get a lot of questions from people asking me to ‘tell’ them what SEO tips are and how to do ‘SEO’ for their blog. Well, first of all , SEO is no black magic, so we cannot ‘perform’ something on a blog called SEO and get magical traffic. SEO gives best fruits when done as a habit . A habit of using keywords in the major places , a habit of marketing it properly and a habit of having PATIENCE ! It is not a product, it is, in fact an ongoing process .

Alexa Rank will influence your SERPs

Alexa is a separate web entity established with no affiliation to google what so ever. In fact we can call them competitors in the real sense in global statistic counting and web metrics. Why would a big entity follow its competitions metrics? On a different note, traffic comes first, then there is an improvement in Alexa, not the other way round and your search engine rankings have nothing to do with your alexa score.

Subscribe to Google RSS for SEO Secrets

You would not believe the number of RSS subscribers Google has, presuming we are counting only the ones who are waiting there in a hope that some day Google will magically reveal its algorithm which they can catch and become SEO masters. Well bad news for them! That is not going to happen !

  • Official Google blog or Matt Cutt’s blog for that matter, like any other blog, is written for the sake of sharing insights by the authors.
  • Those are not exactly SEO blueprints that will get you oodles of traffic in any way .
  • So if you are still waiting for that magical post when Google tells you their ranking secrets and algorithm, I won’t stop you , just please let me know when that happens…

Google Is The Only Search Engine

  • Google may be a good search engine, in fact the best! but in no way is it the only one! and neither is it the only source of traffic to any blog.
  • Don’t make your blog marketing, ‘Google centric’ .
  • Because they keep changing their algorithm and someday even your marketing methods might be tagged with a red flag like the recent panda update and you may lose a major source of traffic .
  • Make your marketing and traffic generation well distributed and that will make you less dependent on the search engines and save you from their frequent algorithm ‘improvements’ .

SEO Firms Are SEO Experts & Results Are Guaranteed

There are a lot of new firms out there which claim to be ‘BIG’ SEO companies, not to mention they are themselves struggling to reach even the 100 k alexa mark and to get a non-zero PR and are struggling to rank for their own keywords. They may even resort to PPC and paid links to get an instant boost but that is their trade secret which I must not reveal …OPSS !
Choose your reference wisely, is the source imparting research based content? Do they have their own results and flowcharts to flaunt from their own experiments with various viral blog marketing strategies? Then they might be worth spending time on .

SERPs Is Permanent

If you think that your url will stay on the current SERPs forever then think again ! There are 14 billion sites on the internet and all of them are struggling to take the podium that you are resting on now. So , if you are feeling lazy about building those extra links then , be ready for a rude shock in the SERPs .

Keyword Stuffing Is Onpage SEO

I think many people are following the 4 % keyword density rule after knowing that Google made keyword stuffing blackhat ! It is not that simple . Search engines aer advanced creatures and there are many ways in which the relevancy of the page is determined and this 4% rule will not make your page Onpage seo loaded in any way, if you neglect the other obvious relevancy signs.

More Links Means Better SEO

Unfortunately a variant of the above myth is true, but not the exact phrase! SEO is still , and will always be a numbers game BUT more number of authentic links will get you the ranking you deserve and not just a lot of random links.

Every link-back is a back-link

Good tongue twister but this the biggest reason why people lose out on PR and SERPs both and remain clueless forever ! Just getting a link from a guest post , or an article directory or any other good PR source is not enough . Google needs to index those links for them to be counted as backlinks . The next myth will make it clear .

Backlinks Don’t Need backlinks

Getting a link from a high PR source is not good enough , you need to build backlinks for your backlinks for it to get indexed and this will also pass on good PR juice and natural trust link profile to your backlinking efforts . Its no use getting a backlink if it is not being of any advantage to you is it ? But ironically common sense will always be uncommon ….

A premium theme/plugin Will Make Your Onpage SEO Skyrocket

  • This is the biggest scam of the internet era ! While a good framework will make your pages SEO friendly but that is no magic !
  • Search engines work on a concept called LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) which helps them ‘decide’ what a page is about at the time of indexing .
  • It is upto you , how you feed the BOT when it arrives to index your content .
  • A good framework will save your time by doing the basic things itself but that is not the Alfa and Omega of SEO .
  • If you can feed proper html to the bot when it indexes your content then you can outrank any framework or CMS for that matter .
  • The only people who will disagree with this will be the salesmen (as I call them) who make a living out of affiliate sales from these resources .

More Money Spent Means Better SEO

More money spent does not necessarily mean good service ! There are a lot of the above mentioned ‘BIG’ SEO firms who are feeding their families from ripped off and not to mention ,unsatisfied clients ! Choose your firm wisely !

Make 1000 longtail, short (crap) posts and you will lead the market

I see that smirk on your face ! You are thinking of your competitor who is getting 100 times more traffic than you by making many short posts isnt he ? Well here is some good news , these type of posts may get traffic but these are people who are ‘fooled’ into believing that the search result is a credible source just because Google has listed it as a search result !

So even if they get thousands of visits from such tactics , how many of them , do you think will actually take action ? Like becoming a fan on social networking sites and signing up for email lists and making affiliate purchases ?What use is the traffic if it is, well…..useless ! That helps in no way for someone of that kind of reputation to become an authority and no one buys anything , not even an idea , leave aside affiliate sales !

That reflects in their bounce rate ! So dont worry about your competitor getting more traffic , if the recent panda update does not deter them then their monthly dues will !

Google Sandbox

Google caffeine Update 2009

Google Caffeine Update

This is the biggest myth doing the rounds ! Please someone show me a legitimate source claiming that the sandbox exists! Yes , google does remove sites from their index if they are caught for blackhat but that is not the sandbox penalty. It is just a normal cleanup drive for pages that were wrongly indexed and ranked due to their 2009 caffeine update! So those pages did not deserve the postiton that is why they are removed . So the page did not deserve to be there in the first place , so nothing to be sad about ! Sandbox was dropped in the year 2005 itself.

What SEO Plan worked for your Friend will work for you

There is a good reason why you dont use your neighbours clothes ! I see people borrowing SEO strategy blueprints from their ‘friends’ and make an obvious mess out of themselves !

  • Every site has different requirements and must have a tailor made SEO action plan or blueprint and one size does not fit all !
  • What keyword rank a person reached with 100 links would even be possible for your keyword for just 10 links or it may even need 500 !
  • Always have a good tailor made SEO action plan by knowing your competition and target audience otherwise you will become , what the blogosphere calls ‘just another blog’ !

PR Indicates SERP’s

  • PR has got nothing to do with how well your post ranks !
  • PR will at the most increase your crawl rate and reduce index time.
  • Your SERP rankings depends on relevancy and 200 other metrics.

You Can Force Feed Meta data To The Google Bot

While there is a Meta Data field in your theme or CMS does not mean the bot will pick up that exact version that you feed it .

  • Based on LSI , it will pick up the most relevant keywords and phrases and use it as a description in the search results.
  • So if you are trying to trick search engines into believing that they must rank you for that shiny keyword with oodles of monthly traffic while your post is hardly anything to be called content then its of no use .

Getting A Link from A Spammy site is the end of your blogging career!

This is the worst one someone can pull on you ! There are even two sides to the debate . There are people who argue that getting a backlink from a bad neighbour will get you a penalty and then there are people who argue that – If that was true then , your competition would make many crappy sites and link to you and get you penalized , so it has to be wrong !
Well , both of them are particlly correct !

  • The thumb rule is , if you have a bunch of good authorative links and then some one does blackhat spam on you then it wont affect you since Google already made it clear that they understand that a web master can’t control who links to them .
  • BUT if you have yourself engaged in getting bad links and your competitor adds more links to it then you are in big trouble .
  • In all normal cases , if you have a bunch of good backlinks then you are virtually imune from these attacks .

Linking to good neighbors increases authority!

  • There is no direct relation to this hypothesis that linking to a high PR site will benefit your SERP in any way .
  • It may give an additional resource for your readers to relish and it may get you noticed by the site owner and link back to you in his future posts ,but its a matter of luck and chance not SEO .

Internal Linking Is Always Good

Half knowledge is harmful and same applies to SEO . While Google has been very vocal about internal links with relavant anchor texts will help you rank higher , how people misinterpret it is by linking all posts to all posts ! That is like competing with themselves .

If you feel that a post is really related to the topic that you are writing then only link to it and that will increase your relavancy score for both the posts . If you tend to force yourself to link all posts to all posts then it is a PR drain to all your posts and none of them will rank in a bid to compete with each other !

Getting Nofollow links Is Useless

It may not directly affect your SERPs and PR as much as a dofollow link of the same PR does but even nofollow links from high trust sources will give you a higher trust rank to your domain and can also result in referral traffic if placed wisely . So dont undermine the nofollow tag !

Adding nofollow to external links will save your PR drain

Google has changed the way they treat the nofollow tag and while they may not pass link juice to a nofollow link but they will still drain it from your link . So its a loss even if you make it nofollow . This goes with googles logic – If its not worth linking to then why link to it even with a nofollow ? and it is right ! So choose your links wisely.This is how the new Nofollow behaves

nofollow and PR drain 2009 update

New Nofollow Treatment Diagram

As you can see , that even if the nofollow tag is added to the first three links , the PR is still drained but not credited to the destination site .

SEO Is A ‘don’t try this at home’ act

You will see a lot of posts that try to scare you by using all sorts of srace tactics about how an SEO campaign gone wrong can drown your business and why you should hire them to make sure they ‘professionally’ lift your business to the stars! Scam! SEO is no rocket science and you can make your blog or site SEO friendly by following a few steps from good blog sources on your own, and by using them in your daily blogging journey .

Content Is The Only King

Yes this is the most ruminated cliche in the blogosphere yet very few of them follow it ! Anyway, that is not our point .

  • Assuming that you have churned out excellent content , is that enough to get you where you want to be ? Absolutely NOT ! Without proper marketing , even a good post can be buried in your archive .
  • So have a good blog marketing plan ready to make sure your post gets the love that it really deserves .

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

This phrase is partially true and was the golden rule in grandmas era for a simple reason – there were less sites and negligible competition as compared to the current scenario . Good content and viral promotions and link baits occassionally need the ‘viral snowball’ effect to give you that extra push and that takes the extra effort that grandma did not have to take in her days !

Panda Update will hurt your incoming link juice from youe WEB 2 pages

It will infact benefit you ! This might sound spiritual but bear with me – all traffic on the internet remains constant and it only keeps flowing from one site to other !

  • So if a big player loses ranks and traffic does not mean that you having a smaller blog which is going in the drain for sure , your squidoo lens marketing will still aid you !
  • On the contrary , their loss is your gain and I will explain how to bank in on the traffic that the content farms have lost in my next post .
  • You might want to subscribe to our RSS feeds to stay tuned .

Paid Links Will Always Hurt SEO

They will ….if they look paid! What does that mean ?

Say you have purchased a link from a site for a month’s payment. Then for some reason, you don’t pay the site and they remove your link, then it looks like obvious paid link to the search engines. So, always try to get thematic editorial links (hint: write guest posts) which are permanent, rather than buying blogroll links .

Blog Commenting Is Link Building

This trend started late with the ‘I am a proud dofollow blog’ revolution , and people ended up writing literally thousands of posts on how to hit gold using comment links and all sort of crap ! Instead of clarifying my point here I would like to ask a simple question – Have you heard about Search Engines indexing feature called “Random Surfer Model” ? If not then here it is – According to this algorithm , a link is valued more based on the position on the page it comes from .

While this is not how they directly put it , they wanted to evaluate how a real user behaves and clicks on another link on the page to land on another page . So , they used a combination of two algorithms namely the RSM and the intentional surfer model . Which made them value a link like a real human would prefer to visit it . Like an higher placed editoral link is always good value than that of a permanent site wide footer link which is easy to trace and rarely gets any human love !

Now imagine where your link building stands when the actual link that you are getting comes from a page with lots of links already and placed so low on the page ? Assuming that the page even has a PR of 10 for your convenience , and there are 50 comments on the post, do the simple math , 10/50 . Bad decimal right ? Now to break your sugar dream , we had just assumed that the site will be PR 10 and there will be limited comments (50) which is unfortunately too good to be true . Some food for thought there ?

If you dont submit a sitemap to Google then your site will never show up in the Search results

Google bots are the most advanced thing that happened to the internet and believe me more so because of Google’s 2009 Caffeine update ! They want to index your content and not penalize you for not having submitted a sitemap . That helps for sites with higher number of categories and does help in increasing crawl rate but fortunately the reverse is not true . If there are incoming links to your page then it will be crawled and indexed .

PPC Ads Will Affect Your SERPs

There are again two sides to the debate , there are people who think buying adspace will increase their SERPs and others think the exact opposite ! Well , both of them are not correct in this case . Because the organic search results are never affected by what PPC a blog uses .

Frequent updates means better SERPs and PR

Not at all ! atleast not directly !

  • Yes you will get more traffic from the logic that since you have move posts indexed there are more chances of getting SE traffic but apart from that there is no direct correlation to post frequency and rankings .
  • That would be true only from a crawl rate point of view .

High crawl rate means good SERPs

Again , crawl rate and index time does not have anything to do with your ranking . Usability and relavancy are one of the top most things that must concern you , leave the crawling to the bots.

Good SERP Means Good Traffic Always

  • Depends on what you rank for and the search trends in that time phrase .
  • If you are a leader in SERPs for a non competitive term then that means no gold mine !
  • If your SEO strategist claims to have ranked you for a long tail keyword then please give him a piece of your mind.

Valid XHTML Helps In SERP

This a popular misconception raised by theme developers and the least harmful of the lot , so I have listed it as the last one of grandmas stories . Because valid xhtml has nothing to do with SEO directly other than a sense of satisfaction that your theme has a valid code !

Are you committing any of these mistakes ? are you a victim of any of the above mentioned myth ? Please let me know and if you think your friends are committing any of these then also let them know !

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About Rohan

Rohan Pawale is a professional internet marketer by day and an ace programmer by night and runs the show around here and an array of his client's business sites that he manages. (Damn! writing an introduction of yourself in the third person feels so corny, isn't it?)


  1. This is one of them posts I wish I’d framed a long time ago.! I wish I could have shown this to some of my clients when I started working with them. So much of what good SEO is properly level setting expectations with your clients. I’ve talked to clients where they fired their SEO, when, in fact, they did a great job! They just made promises they couldn’t keep. Bummer. Anyway I LOVE this list

    Great article.
    Alex Vasquez,

  2. Kevin says:

    Good article but ease up on the exclamation marks, please!!!

  3. I wish every website owner coming to us for SEO services reads this and then approaches us .

    It will save us so much time that we spend in explaining all the points mentioned above.

    As first and foremost we explain ‘What Is SEO’ to the client so that all the myths that he has about SEO are washed away from his mind and we can start working on the project having the same wavelength.

    An excellent post indeed.

    • Yes indeed it will , I figured out the same thing while explaining people about SEO , they seemed to have certain assumptions about SEO which were infact wrong and this trend is seen very frequently , that is why I drafted this post to refer them to a comprehensive list of data they must be aware of and that will save time for the client and the SEO .

      Glad that many people , other than me are benefiting from this attempt !

  4. Grindcore says:

    Some advices are good but some aren’t. Link pyramids still work. Blog commenting spam still works. Panda farmer update is not a game changer I call it BS.

  5. Wow, this is a looooong post, I wonder how many words are in this post. You have mentioned around 35 myths which have been circulating from a long time in the SEO industry. I think some of the commenters here rightly said that this should eb showed to our clients before we start any SEO projects. Awesome post Rohan

    • Yes indeed , this will help clients and also save time for the SEO and will help them in having realistic expectations from their SEO strategist ! I regularly get people get queries from clients asking ‘I want to rank for [Insert favorite keyword] next weekend, how much will it cost ? ‘

      I hope this post clears all those doubts .

  6. Francis Grogan says:

    Brilliant info and helped clear up some of my misconceptions. Thanks for taking the time to write and post this.

  7. suraj says:

    Great read, yes I saw many bloggers tell their readers that good Alexa can increase your keyword ranking in Google, which is totally wrong.
    I think I must read this post again, very big and informative post, unable to fit in my brain :)

  8. Amelia says:

    Good post, but some of these ‘myths’ do work… At least in my experience. I’m not going to go on about being an ‘old timer SEO’ because I’m not: I’ve been doing SEO for only around 6 years, so not really that long at all. It changes every year (which holds my interest!) and good SEOs need to keep up with it. I think the basics to ensuring long term success is to make sure your website or blog has the best possible content it can, engage in your online community, and make sure you are the ‘hub’. This is why it’s difficult. There are no ‘quick fixes’ only solid facts. Google wants to reward good sites, if you can make sure your good site is easy for them to crawl, easy for them to index and above all easy for the human user to navigate around, you’ll find you get good results… Just make sure you reward your visitors with the content they want or need.

    • 6 years is a good time to be doing SEO . I agree with your ideas of creating a community because that is what sells and makes money to the clients site but this post was intended to be only about SEO myths , I will cover Social Media in my subsequent posts .

      Thanks for dropping by ! :)

  9. pramod says:

    very intelligent writeup. full of knowledge on seo. a real must read for bloggers.

  10. WOW. You packed this full of a lot of debunked myths that still confused us. This really helps to refocus the efforts. I am really impressed with how much you share and the depth of your knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

  11. shashank chinchli says:

    Awesome eye opener post bro !!!
    Great to see such a great post you have written for the newbies;)
    thanks !

  12. Rakesh Narang says:

    This is one of the most informative article about Google SEO I have read till date. Nice work man! seriously and i don’t mind reading so many !!!!! (exclamation marks). :D

  13. Vivek Parmar says:

    Great tips and a nice write. Useful for beginners as they go blind when it comes to seo

  14. Sreejesh says:

    Highly information rich post on SEO, nice list of SEO tips. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Amol Mhetre says:

    Great explanation here. this tip really helpful for all users especially, newbies.

  16. Barry Gardner says:

    Hi there, that was a fantastic read, thoughly enjoyable, informative, level headed and
    direct. You obviously know what you are talking about. cheers

  17. Deepanshu says:

    Hi Rohan. nice points man.cleared up lota my confusions but still have some questions in my head (as i m new to this)
    As we know sites with duplicate content are hit following new panda update….so u mean i shud noindex all tags and archive and all category pages because i m having that content as a post so it doesnt make a point to index category and tag pages as it will create duplicate content issues although they are only showing exercept not full…correct me plz if i m wrong

    Secondly, shud i dofollow the tags and category pages because ofcourse google wont be indexing the tag and category pages but it will atleast folow the links in the category and tag pages so following these pages will mean link juice to the individual posts which we r trying to rank for ?

    Plz correct me if i m wrong..i think this nofollow dollow index noindex can ruin a blog :-(

    If u dont mind can u share what do u use for ur blog ..i mean what do u noindex and nofollow….

    Lastly again thanks for this wonderful and detailed post clearing the myths..i had been making a lot of these mistakes..now i m trying to rectify them :lol:

    • No I don’t mean to ask you to noindex everything since the page is accessible through multiple URLs , the search engines are aware of how blogs work . The best and the most mandatory thing to do is to make use of the canonical tag which will notify the search engines the URL which you want them to credit with .

      Here is my article on Canonical URLs and SEO , this will surely help

      But yes some precise work is required as far as working with the nofollow and noindex attributes for the tags and category pages . I will get back to this one in my next article with a detailed take on all of them .

  18. Deepanshu says:

    yeah i read ur canonical url article and checked my blog and found that http mysite[dot]com takes me to www[dot]mysite[dot]com (my host did it for me when i asked them long time back, looks like its a 301 redirect only :roll:)so i guess there is no canonical url prob …..also all my posts are accessible via one url only ..i checked them in category and tag and the strcuture is like .com/postname/ and not category/postname or tag/postname or something so can i say i dont have a canonical url issue ?
    PS – i will wait for ur next article regarding nofollow noindex very eagerly……thanks ;-)

    • The canonical issue is like keeping a house safe from burglars . You can close all windows but you can never be sure until you take a precise action to close the main door .

      People realize after months of blogging that they are not getting traffic because of canonical issue just because they missed out one loophole to plug while designing the blog . Content gets duplicated from the most unexpected of the places which becomes a pain later .

      The only best way to be sure that your blog is safe from canonical issues is to proactively take a voluntary action to make the single post pages canonical by using a rel=canonical attribute or from the .htaccess file as explained in the canonical tutorial .

  19. custom logo design says:

    Very much informative from every aspect. blogging is the best way for link building ultimately. i think as far as user friendly website is concerned website loading time is also a serious matter nowadays because half of the users run away during loading the page.
    i just wanna clear one thing that if someone have all the with nofollow tags will it improve ranking and PR. Plz

  20. Olawale Daniel says:

    This post covers the area where bloggers need to avoid very well in order to get ranked well and to make their website performs better. Thanks for sharing this :)

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