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SEO Myths

If you browse a number of SEO agencies' websites you will notice some common sales pitches based on their expertise in the SEO field.
We have decided to debunk some of the myths perpetuated by SEO companies.

Why do they do this? Many SEO agencies are simpy sales machines - more interested in boosting their own sales than providing effective SEO services to their clients.
These agencies give SEO a bad reputation, because they often provide poor service, charge high rates, and take advantage of the lack of knowledge about SEO and how Google functions.

Since Google doesn't reveal exactly what they're doing with the algorithm and how SEO works, it is difficult to prove otherwise.

Myth no.1 - We are the best (#1) SEO company

Best SEO This is absurd, and simply not possible. There are thousands upon thousands of people and companies doing SEO all over the world. How can one agency claim to be the best? There is no Olympic games for SEO.
Let's put it another way: who is the best programmer in the world; the best scientist; the best doctor; the best athlete; the best singer?

The absurdity is evident.
Using this line of argument actually says more about the people who use it, than speaking to their abilities. The USA even had a president who claimed to be the best - and turned out to be the worst.

In South Africa there are upwards of 20 SEO agencies who claim to be the best. And that is a conservative figure.

When everyone claims to be the best, it is safe to say no one is actually the best. What is best is to avoid SEO companies who claim to be the best.

It requires a certain degree of arrogance and dishonesty to publish online that you're the best at something, when you're manifestly not. Especially when the very notion is false.
SEO and Digital Marketing agencies who use this sales tactic should probably be avoided.

Myth no.2 - We are a Google accredited Partner

This is very popular, it pops up on SEO agency websites everywhere. We even found a SEO agency website where they use a number of icons relating to Digital Marketing services, claiming they had accreditation for all these facets of Digital Marketing, but following a link to their so-called accreditation revealed a Google partner accreditation.

So what is a Google Partner - it basically means you have an adwords account, you are paying Google to advertise on their platform. Along with millions of other people all over the world. Not much of an achievement. SEO agencies use this to impress their potential clients by implying they have some status within Google, that they are working with Google, or that they may be privy to information not known by others. Not so
. Paying Google for adwords doesn't mean you know anything about SEO, millions of people do this.

How to be a Google Partner:

How to be a Google partner

That's all there is to it.

There is only one Digital Marketing accreditation issued by Google, and it is not a Google Partner accreditation.

Contact us if you would like proof of our Google Digital Marketing accreditation.

Myth no.3 - We Guarantee you #1 Ranking on Google

This is another favourite sales pitch. We found an advert on adwords that read - "We guarantee you no.1 ranking on Google" etc etc. When we visited their website the Guarantee changed to - "We Guarantee you no.1 ranking for 10% of your keywords!".
Suddenly, 90% of the guarantee has disappeared, and which keywords specifically, are being referred to? This is unethical advertising.

There are no guarantees when it comes to Google - the algorithm is changing on a daily basis, apparently there are more than 2000 minor changes made to the Google algorithms every year. Yes, there are actually a number of algorithms working together to deliver search results - not just one. In addition, every few years a major change is implemented - which usually targets unethical (black hat) SEO practices.

So, it is possible to rank no.1 on Google for specific keywords - we have done it often, but that can change overnight. The object is to keep high rankings with the changing algorithm - using white hat SEO practices.
If your ranking comes by black hat SEO, then Google will penalise your website at some point.
SEO companies who make guarantees should be avoided, the only guarantee they are making is that they will charge you - probably more than their services are worth.

Myth no.4 - Voted the #1 SEO Agency in South Africa

This is often employed in Google adwords copy, or in the title of webpages for SEO agencies. Perhaps the thinking is that people are easily misled.

When clicking through to the website in question, one finds that there is no reference to who actually voted them the best SEO agency - surely that should appear quite prominently - if it is a real claim.

Furthermore, to be voted the best would require an independent organisation that has a panel of experts, who are SEO specialists, and have conducted extensive research into the sector of business they are voting on. Let us know if there is such an organisation operating in South Africa.
There actually is one website we found where the SEO agency was voted as one of the best (not the best, and it was limited to the USA), and they provided a reference of the organisation that gave them the award as well as the year in which it was awarded (and it was actually legitimate), but they are based in the USA.

Myth no.5 - Domain names affect SEO ranking

In the past Google did give preference to domains with names specific to their area of business, and keywords in the domain name were a ranking factor. However times have changed, and that no longer applies.

There are still some good practices which ought to be observed for domain names though:
1) Shorter domain names are preferable to longer ones - not necessarily for SEO purposes but users prefer typing in shorter domain names.
2) Avoid using special characters in your domain name as much as possible, such as dashes, hyphens and so forth. Rather opt for text only domain names.
3) It is preferable to have a domain name extension reflecting where you do business - such as for South Africa. This gives users on Google an idea of where you are located - if they are looking for search results related to South Africa, you will have a better chance of being visited than if you had a .com extension.
4) Some domain name extensions such as .biz have acquired a poor reputation, and should be avoided. Before booking a domain name, check which extensions are not desirable if you are looking for something unique or different. While these domain name extensions may not be penalised by Google, you may lose potential visitors who don't trust those extensions.

Myth no.6 - Registering your website with Google will negatively affect your rankings.

This one is espoused by a "reputable" SEO agency in Johannesurg, South Africa. This is touted as a means to identifying SEO agencies who have a poor understanding of SEO, and therefore will presumably provide poor SEO services.

The sales pitch goes more or less like this:
"Ask your SEO agency if they will register your website with Google, if they say yes then you should not use them, as this will have a negative effect on your SEO and rankings. Therefore, rather give us your business, since they are harming your SEO from the beginning. Basically, they don't understand SEO."

This is simply not true, the purpose of Google is to provide search results, they want to find websites to include in their search engine. There are various ways to do this, and one of these ways is simply to upload a file into your root directory and direct Google to verify it. That Google will penalise you for using their own service is somewhat absurd.

Furthermore, if your website is not brand new, chances are that Google has already found you but your results are simply not showing up in the top search pages.
Search engines are always sending out bots to crawl the web and discover new websites and content. If there is any link to your website, chances are you have already been found.

Pursuant to this, a search on Google on this specific topic did not yield any results relating to how Google would penalise a website for registering with them.

How to find your website on Google:

type in - / or - site:

and if you are on Google you will see your pages appear in the results.
If not, then Google has not found your website.

Myth no.7 - SEO is incredibly complex, difficult and mysterious.

The lack of knowledge around SEO, and Google's deliberate silence on the matter has created the conditions for this myth to develop.

SEO is not as mysterious as many agencies would have you believe, it actually has a lot to do with common sense, good content and good coding practices.

SEO is simply about delivering the most relevant search results to end users.

The aim is to use best SEO practices on a website so that it will show up in the top search results - if it is worthy of ranking in the top positions.

If it is not worthy of top rankings, then the purpose would be to make improvements to the point where it will achieve those rankings.

Myth no.8 - Enormous graphics are good website design.

Many problems with websites and the internet have originated with Website editors - which make it easy to create websites without knowing about actual web development.

Remember flash websites, yes they can do anything - except be indexed by search engines. Which means, that if you have a flash website - Google sees absolutely nothing, zero content.
How about the infamous landing pages that were once so ubiquitous - huge graphics with a "click to enter" button or animating flash button. Well, they also disappeared - and for good reason. They don't add real value to a website, and are actually detrimental to your SEO.

Huge graphics may seem attractive but they present problems for SEO.
Firstly, they often load slowly, and take the place of written content.
This is how Google sees pictures: while one may think a huge graphic covering your entire frontpage looks great, All google sees is an image (it doesn't read the content of the image), very little or no copy, and it probably loads really slowly as well.

Secondly, website design has never been a ranking factor on any search engine, neither is the quality of images. However, huge images that take ages to load are a ranking factor, in a negative way.

Thirdly, animations slow down your website loading speed considerably, and can't be indexed by search engines.

All this will have a negative impact on your SEO, so if your website has been developed by a Website Designer who prefers large graphics and animations over content, you could probably derive a lot of benefit from having it looked at by a SEO expert who is familiar with hand coding.

Myth no.9 - You can do SEO without knowing any coding.

Yes, it is possible to do some basic SEO without knowing coding, or knowing how to write copy, or structure and develop a website. It is also possible to climb a mountain without any safety equipment. But it's probably not a great idea.

Would you leave your car in the hands of someone who reckons they could do the job on the fly, or an actual expert, a qualified mechanic?
How much more important is your website, your business and source of income..

Myth no.10 - All you need is a SEO plugin.

SEO plugins will never replace the human mind, a plugin will simply generate some generic code that is more or less going to get you rankings, but not very good ones.

In addition, there is much more to SEO than simpy adding a bit of code here and there, it is a matter of structure, content, presentation, coding, links, site speed and numerous other factors. Over 200 factors in fact, and not all are weighted equally.

Myth no.11 - Backlinks are hugely important for SEO.

Many SEO agencies still use link development as a sales tactic, as though it will have a massive impact on your website ranking. And is essential to your SEO strategy.
Some SEO consultants specialise in only creating backlinks.

There was a time when Google placed a lot of emphasis on backlinks (off-page SEO), until people started abusing the algorithm through large numbers of irrelevant backlinks simply to obtain higher search rankings.

As a result, Google has been continually downgrading the importance of backlinks for SEO, and checking if the backlinks are actually relevant to your content - otherwise you will actually be penalised for spammy backlinks.
Backlinking has become recognised as a black hat SEO technique, so it should be treated with caution.
Never buy backlinks - it will do more harm then good.

Backlinks are good however if they can bring you more visitors, being a means to increase your website traffic, and meaningful visitors at that.
Rather use backlinks to increase your traffic through other channels, than aiming to improve your SEO directly. In that way you will have a positive effect on your SEO, and improve website traffic.

To actually have a noticeable effect on your search rankings, it is far better to concentrate on on-page SEO. On-page SEO accounts for at least 60% of your SEO score, this includes content, updates and technical SEO (coding). It is the biggest factor for ranking on search engines.

Contact Us

Contact us for best practice (white hat) SEO services.

Algorhythm SEO Services is an online SEO company based in Johannesburg.
We provide SEO services throughout South Africa - including Sandton, Rivonia, Fourways, Northcliff, Randburg, Centurion, Midrand, Pretoria, Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and elsewhere.

International SEO for World wide Companies.

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