The Myths of SEO

Saying “I know SEO” is disingenuous. The only people who “know SEO” are the engineers who write the ever-changing search engine algorithms that determine which sites have “good SEO” and which sites don’t. Yet, we have so many self-proclaimed SEO experts offering their services. How did we get to this point?

In the past, it was clear how to game the system when it came to search engines – throw your keywords into HTML header tags and your site would appear in more searches. Better search engines wised up to this tactic, and began to check the content on the pages, which resulted in long paragraphs of unrelated words either at the bottom of the page in visible text, in text that matched the background color of the page, or placed in the HTML but moved far outside of the viewport.

As search engines employed new strategies, it was discovered that links to the site improved rankings in search results, and you would encounter spammy links appearing in forums and discussion boards.

There was a move from search engines to start checking for good content that wasn’t scraped or copied from other sites, that was structured and placed in semantic HTML. Search engines began to render sites, so content from Javascript and asynchronous calls were taken into account.

In meetings recently, I have heard the following:

  • “Responsive design will reduce our SEO score”
  • “A SPA will reduce our SEO score”
  • “Async content will reduce our SEO score”

It’s 2018. Google is brilliant. There is a reason why their search results bring up relevant content. They check the content of sites, no matter how they are served. Google specifically states that they wait up to 20 seconds for the content to load. They make no mention about responsive design, SPA, or any modern practice being detrimental to the site’s SEO rating. These kinds of comments hurt the service and limit possibilities.

  • “These are the clothes you should wear otherwise God is going to be angry at you”
  • “This is the hairstyle you need otherwise God is going to be angry at you”

How can we compete against an “SEO expert”? They have “expert” in their title. They have been telling people all the mysteries of the SEO world for years. Any changes to the site are not immediately reflected, so we just have to trust them as though they are phone psychics making predictions for the next year. If the site didn’t go up in the SEO ranking, it’s not their fault.

The pessimistic realism of engineers is typically overlooked in favor of someone who has been employed as a fortune teller, so we can get our petty revenge by pushing for answers about basic KPIs.

  • “In search results, how much will our visibility increase and for which keywords?”
  • “How long will it take before we see the desired results? What are the milestones?”
  • “How many more clients will we reach?”
  • “How much of the improvement will come from good content and how much will come from your proposals?”

Always push for improvements that make sense for your service. Having an “SEO expert” weigh in is good, but unless they have actual proof in regards to how sites are crawled and indexed, they are either putting together information from outdated sources, making up information, or simply regurgitating information that the search engines provide as recommendations. These can negatively affect your goals in creating good websites.

Further reading:
Steps to a Google-friendly site
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide

One thought on “The Myths of SEO

  1. You could probably turn this into a nice, ranting weekly report.

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