It’s the end of 2014! Yippie! It’s the time of all sorts of end-of-the-year lists, most of which are things like the “best books of 2014,” or the “top movies of 2014,” etc. etc. Even Google is out with its “search trends” video, showcasing the most popular searches of 2014.
But how about something a bit different? What were / are some of the myths of 2014? Some might be transitory… or some might be long-term. But here are some of my suggestions for “myths” of 2014 (or perhaps perpetual myths) in the area of search engine optimization –
- SEO Can’t Be Done. This, of course, is the #1 myth perpetuated by Google… that really you should just “create content for users” and not worry about SEO. That’s a false dichotomy: YES, you should create content for users, but YES you have to “optimize” this content so that Google can easily understand your keyword targets, and YES you have to “build links” (something inherently “artificial”) to get it to the top of Google.
- Links are All that Matter. This “myth” got pretty much destroyed in 2013, and 2014, via the Penguin Update. Previously… all you had to do was create a bunch of fake blogs, or work with a “blog network,” and create optimized links… PRESTO: top of Google. Penguin has ended this easy way to the top. Links still matter, however.
- Link Building is Dead. The Google propaganda machine has been in overdrive: do everything “naturally” – natural content, natural links, natural reviews on G+. Yeah, sure. Do nothing and see how many reviews or links you’ll get; write naturally, and tell me how that works out for you. You STILL have to build links, you just have to do it smarter… more “naturally” – sort of like Splenda to Sugar. Very, very similar… but still something that is, by nature, artificial. If you don’t pro-actively do this, it won’t work.
- Just Listen to Matt Cutts. One of the more curious trends in 2014 was that Matt Cutts “went on sabbatical” and Dwayne Forrester of Google was laid off. So it’s anyone’s guess if either of these guys really matter, any more… or if it every made much sense to take what they say at face value. Pay attention to them, yes… but take it all with a grain of salt. And you can ignore the personal blog posts by Matt Cutts (nice, but irrelevant to the industry) and many of Dwayne Forrester’s rants… which are often just the party line.
- Hummingbird and Semantic Search. Wow. This one really flopped out. Both were meant for Google to “pre-see” what people wanted, and give it back to them. It may be working at the search level, but it really hasn’t changed SEO in any meaningful way. Write like people talk, or think, or search – yes. But keywords are still the anchors.
- Keyword Don’t Matter. See #5. The blogosphere was full of this dribble, usually written by people who a) do not understand SEO, and/or b) make their money as pure content writers and because they don’t understand SEO, would love to get you to believe that you can just write for people. No, you can’t. And zillions of blog articles that just regurgitate Google propaganda doesn’t make it true. Keywords are still the anchor of SEO.
- Easy Tricks No Longer Work. Sorry, Virginia. Many easy tricks still work: among them – keyword density. Write (overly) keyword dense sentences in natural syntax. Now, don’t overdo this… but don’t underdo it, either. Links are another “easy” trick that still works; among them private blog networks (Shhhhhh. Don’t tell Google).
- Press Release SEO Doesn’t Work. After all the major press release services added “NOFOLLOW” attributes to links, many assumed press releases no longer have a useful SEO function. Wow, that one was totally wrong. Well-constructed SEO-friendly press releases remain part of the SEO toolbook. You just have to know how.
- Google+ Is Dead. Well, many assumed Google+ was dead on arrival, and admittedly it just isn’t succeeeding in any substantial way. That said, reviews on Google+ local remain a huge factor in SEO success, and frequent posting by a business also seems to help (some). So Google+ remains important, even as there are many signs that Google is giving up on it.
- SEO is Always Changing. SEO does change, but it changes more like basketball. When I was a kid there were no three-point shots; now there are. So some rules changed, but the fundamentals of the game have not.
What are your thoughts about SEO and 2014? What “myths” did you see busted? What “misconceptions” do you see out there?