1. Misunderstanding # 1: Social signals affect ranking
  2. Misconception # 2: SEO is dead
  3. Misconception # 3: Duplicate content negatively affects your rank
  4. Misunderstanding # 4: content is king
  5. Misconception # 5: Keyword research doesn’t matter
  6. Stop believing in SEO misconceptions and focus on building a great brand

It’s 2021 and we can successfully launch a rocket, but we can’t stop the spread of misinformation on the internet.

Even in marketing, there are things we’ve heard (and maybe even repeated) that are considered misinformation – nuggets we took as gold to guide our SEO strategies because everyone thought the same.

Maybe it was true once.

Maybe it was never true.

Maybe it is is true … but not in the way you think.

And despite the fact that SEO has become a more data-driven field than ever before, many stupid beliefs remain.

Let’s debunk some of these.

Here’s a quick recap of the five biggest SEO misconceptions I’ve seen over the past year and why they just aren’t true.


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Do you recognize which ones?

Misunderstanding # 1: Social signals affect ranking

Whether or not social signals influence search engine optimization has been a hot topic for at least ten years.

It makes sense that the more followers you have and the more traffic you redirect to your website from social media, the better your search rankings are.


John Mueller is on the record back in 2015 and says social signals don’t directly affect your rank.

This is because followers can be bought. Likes and comments are vanity metrics. Content that is easy to share is shared.

When does social media affect your brand’s visibility in search engines?


  • Individual posts or content will be shown individually in the search as they rank organically for your brand name or your keywords.
  • Google recognizes that content on Twitter or Pinterest is relevant to search results and includes it in the index.

Misconception # 2: SEO is dead

Many bad predictions have been made over the years from Steve Ballmer’s prediction that the iPhone would fall on a claim published by the New York Times that laptops would never gain popularity.


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One of them was that SEO was a fad and websites shouldn’t be considered.


The idea that SEO is dead has been around since the early 2010s, mostly picked up by internet agitators trying to reinterpret much of the madness in the industry at the time.

And if you remember the Wild West that SEO was back then, you may understand why some people believed it couldn’t possibly last.

You were half right.

SEO isn’t dead, but …

  • The gold rush for SEO content is long over. Content mills – which are solely used to produce as much content as possible regardless of the quality – are playing a losing game.
  • Producing SEO focused content is an outdated strategy. Articles written for search engine crawlers and filled with keywords will no longer earn you points. (In fact, it will hurt you.)

But SEO will be dead when Google is dead, and the 6 billion searches that go on every day say it isn’t.

6.5 billion searches per day in March 2021. In March 2020, the number of daily Google searches was about half as high.

Misconception # 3: Duplicate content negatively affects your rank

In 2011, Google started rolling out the Panda update to clean up any low-quality, thin content that was clogging the SERPs.

It signaled the end of the SEO content gold rush and the dawn of a new era – an era dominated by expert content published by authoritative writers and trusted sources.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

At some point, however, misinformation began to circulate about what quality means to Google. One of those SEO myths was that we should never publish duplicate content on our websites or we would be punished.

Not true.

According to Google’s John Mueller, it’s normal for websites to have a certain amount of duplicate content. When multiple pages come back from a website with (mostly) the same information, Google simply won’t display them.

Instead, users see this:

Search notification of missed results.Have you ever seen anything? This happens when pages have duplicate content.

This can be a bad thing if your content doesn’t land in front of eyeballs, but only if you want those omitted results to be unique.


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If you need a clear result, you must have clear content. Otherwise, if these landing pages all look similar, or if you have a few blog posts on the same topic, you shouldn’t break a sweat.

Misunderstanding # 4: content is king

Ever since Bill Gates coined the term in 1996, we’ve settled on the idea that content is king because it drives visibility on the Internet.

Yes, great content is important.

Yes, providing great content wins eyeballs and conversions.

You need to create the best possible content that you can. Saying that content is king is about as specific as a company that says their store signage is most important in their overall strategy.

It is important, but the point is missing.

In the 2020s, content isn’t king.

Your audience is king and your content must serve them.

Misconception # 5: Keyword research doesn’t matter

What’s the point of optimizing for a keyword when you rank organic for hundreds?


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I have this question very often.

Sure, the focus in search engine optimization has shifted from keyword stuffing and weird, SEO-laden headlines. We no longer slide words into sentences or sentences into paragraphs just to maintain our keyword density.

However, if you think keyword research no longer matters, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Keyword research will help you:

  • Understand what your users are actually typing into Google. You can optimize for any keywords you want. However, if these do not match the target groups, they will not be included in the search.
  • Determine whether the keywords you are using are appropriate for the search intent. Google sees people misuse keywords and penalizes them accordingly.
  • Identify low-competitive opportunities to position yourself well and on your audience’s path. Why compete for valuable short-tail keywords when you can pull up long-tail keywords that your competitors have missed?

Look for predictive suggestions.Pro tip: Most of Google’s predictive suggestions are long-tail keywords.

Stop believing in SEO misconceptions and focus on building a great brand

From superstitions to keyword density to ideas about the true role of content, there are a lot of SEO misconceptions out there.


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Some of them used to be true but are no longer true given the development of the field. Some of them were never That’s right – they just sounded good, so we believed them.

Succeeding in SEO doesn’t mean indulging in popular conspiracy theories or myths you’ve heard through the grapevine. It’s not about jumping on fads.

It’s about building a great brand based on great content and thoughtful keywords.

Now that you are empowered by the truth, go ahead and create the value that users are seeking.

More resources:

Photo credit

All screenshots by the author, March 2021