Former Google employee talks about common SEO myths

The Western edition of Search Engine Land published an article by Caspar Szymanski (a former Google employee and now an SEO expert) in which he exposes common myths about search engine optimization.

The list of myths collected by Szymanski looks like this:

SEO is a game on equal terms.

Theoretically, this is so: all sites have the same chance of getting a place in the search results. However, in reality, the competition here cannot be equal: as in any other field, all offers are different. In SEO, different sites give search engines different signals, which means they are ranked differently. Moreover, according to Szymanski, Google does provide a “honeymoon” for young sites: a short period of time during which the site occupies very high positions, without having relevant SEO signals. If webmasters of the site improve the site during this time, then there is a good chance of further success in the competitive requests of their subject. The provision of such “benefits” from Google is already a game on an equal footing.

SEO is a one-time investment.

Investing in SEO, like any other, over time ceases to have an effect if you do not support them. Practices are becoming obsolete, so SEO should be permanent, especially in profitable niches. You need to track the emergence of new factors and improve the site.

SEO is backlinks.

Links are important because most search engines cannot find and crawl new content without them. For Google, backlinks are also a ranking factor, but contrary to popular belief, they can harm the site’s position. In particular, we are talking about the Google Penguin algorithm, which tracks sites related to low-quality sites. Backlinks should be well-deserved and high-quality, and for those sites that violate these rules, there is a Disavow tool.

SEO is user signals.

User signals are an important factor in ranking; the whole Google business model is based on user loyalty. However, Google does not share the data it uses, even with trusted resources such as the Google Search Console. The only confirmed indicators of user behavior on the site are impressions in GSC and CTR. But this is a small part of the overall picture of SEO, and a unique selling proposition plays a much more important role.

Google hates my site.

Google’s personal hostility is a frequent but irrational reason for the low ranking of the site. And this position is easily refuted with the help of SEO-audit, which will identify technical, content and other problems. Even manual actions can be undone after a request for review.

Ads on Google Ads affect ranking.

Organic search is completely independent of contextual advertising. Regardless of the budget of the Ads campaign, this will not be a ranking factor.

Keywords are the key to success.

Previously, search engines tracked the density of keywords on a page to check its relevance to the query. Now keywords do not have such value in terms of SEO, including those that are used in URLs.

SEO is “freshness.”

Google loves “fresh” content only in cases where the factor of novelty is important to the user. For example, for news sites, the “freshness” of content is a competitive advantage in ranking. However, changing the publication date will not convince Google that this is new content.

Social signals are a ranking factor.

Comments, likes, shares, reposts, links from social networks do not affect the ranking of the site in the search results. Google does not take these factors into account because the data is fragmented and unreliable. However, working in social networks is an integral part of brand promotion, which affects factors important for SEO: brand recognition and CTR. Google does not admit it, but nevertheless he prefers popular sites.

SEO is magic.

Due to the complexity of search engine optimization, it sometimes seems that SEO is an art and science that is hard to explain and understand. Yes, huge amounts of data are used in SEO, but even they can be broken down into small and manageable blocks of information and key performance indicators.

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