I just started bootstrapping my own SEO agency here in Birmingham, Alabama last year. If you’ve ever done the same, you probably know just how hard it is to get clients early on. You don’t have case studies and testimonials to prove your ability, so you end up working hard just to close a few deals. That had me out networking a lot. Conversations turned to SEO, and before long I was hit with a million bad ideas and misconceptions by prospective clients. That’s what this post is all about. These are just a few of the SEO myths that are still floating around in 2017.

SEO Myth #1 – Getting tons of backlinks instantly is a good idea

We all know backlinks help raise our authority in the SERP. But as SEO’s, we also know spammy backlinks are a no-no. I picked up a local client who bought into some sort of linking scheme several years ago with other sites from his industry. He has a page on his site with about 100 links to other sites around the country in his industry and they all link to him. None of these links are setup with appropriate anchor text. In fact, there’s no content on these pages except for links! It’s pretty obvious when you have a page with 100 follow links and no content. What’s worse, many of his peers from around the country have bought into bad SEO practices, and their toxic scores are marginal at best. We’re having to clean up his link profile and build quality links over time. Then there’s the prospects that I’ve ran into who still think it’s okay to go on Fiverr and buy 100,000 links at a time. Yes, there are people out there who still think that’s okay to do in 2017.

SEO Myth #2 – Clicking on my own site a lot helps SEO

I know this one is slightly humorous to anyone with even a basic background in SEO. But there are people who don’t know SEO at all out there, and they have some wild misconceptions about Google ranking. I’m in a BNI group here in town, and I did my featured presentation a few weeks back. At the end of my speech, I asked if anyone had questions. One of the hands that went up asked me, “is it good to click on my site a bunch”? Apparently, he was clicking on the link from google, hitting back, and clicking again when he was bored at the office. He thought he was helping his SEO! I had to explain bounce rates to the group, and I think he was a little upset (but appreciative) to learn that his efforts were slightly harmful.

SEO Myth #3 – Hidden Text

I have a client that works in a highly regulated industry. As such, he is constantly worried about the content we put out on his site. It’s understandable, but this concern led him to consider some really bad SEO ideas. When we first met to discuss strategy, he suggested we copy and paste keywords over and over and hide them as white text against the white background of his homepage. No, he was not joking, and yes, this conversation took place in 2016! It just goes to show you that we have a lot of work to do in the realm of client education. A friend had suggested this to him just a few months ago. Someone who supposedly knew a thing or two about SEO…

SEO Myth #4 – Keyword Stuffing

Sure, this category sort of goes along with hidden text. But I ran into a different prospect that thought this was still a good idea in 2017. This time, we were discussing price and it became apparent very quick that we were not a great fit based on both price and expectations. This client wanted instant results (from keyword stuffing) and he only had a few hundred dollars to spend on marketing for the whole year. That whole experience was me learning my lesson on client screening! I tried my best to explain the penalty risks and bad ethics associated with adding “plumber Birmingham” to the footer 1,000 times, but I think it might have been a desperation thing more than anything. When business is down, people seems to be willing to try anything to turn it around. But keyword stuffing isn’t the right way to get instant business, and I recommended Pay Per Click through a cheaper for him provider instead.

SEO Myth #5 – Spun, duplicate and Low-Quality Content

Business owners are busy people! They don’t want to sit down and cram out 2,000 words for a blog post each week. It’s understandable, but those same clients are usually the ones unwilling to add content writing to an SEO package. So, what can you do? The fact is, there’s no easy way around writing quality content for on-page SEO. Clients try to suggest duplicating pages or getting cheap content just to rank a page, but that’s completely counterproductive. Even if Google doesn’t throw you a penalty, do you really want visitors seeing poor sentence structure and misspelled words on your website? Spun content is just too risky and poor-quality content makes your business look bad. There might be a place somewhere in your tiered link-building strategy for content written by someone with English as a 2nd language, but keep it off your main site! Focus on content that speaks directly to your target audience. Your SEO specialist can rank your site and still not get you any conversions if your content makes you look bad to site visitors.

Those are my horror stories from the trenches while I was trying to get off the ground last year. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of at least five other misconceptions that people still hold onto when it comes to SEO. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.


Author Bio:

Blake Akers is an entrepreneur and founder of Webology SEO, a Birmingham, AL digital marketing consultancy. Blake’s background is in IT with most of his early career spent in the U.S. Air Force. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.