SEO can be tough.

It is much harder than it looks to acquire the top ranking position in Google. However, with the right mindset, tools, and techniques, you can increase your search engine traffic.

But in order to do that, you will have to stop believing some of the common SEO myths. These myths deviate you from the right track and make it more difficult for you to achieve better search engine results.

As you must know, SEO has changed quite a bit over the past few years. With the introduction of new algorithm updates like Google Panda, Google Penguin, and Google Hummingbird, the techniques are no longer the same as they used to be in the early 2000s.

The approaches and the methods of keyword optimization, building backlinks, and content creation have all been changed. So, in this post, we take a look at some of the common SEO myths that you should no longer follow in 2015.

So, without further ado, let’s see what those myths are:

1. XML Sitemaps Boost Search Engine Rankings

As you must have guessed, no, they don’t.

Given said that it is important to have XML sitemaps as they help you create better and more crawlable websites. Whenever you publish a new blog post, XML sitemap generators send the updated versions of your website to major search engines, making it more crawlable and SEO-friendly.

But XML sitemap generators do not directly affect your website’s search engine rankings.

In a nutshell, you should install an XML sitemap generator on your website. It will help Google identify your website and index more of your web pages. But having an XML sitemap generator does not improve the ranking of your indexed pages. That is just a myth. In order to increase the search engine rankings, you should be focusing on other aspects — which leads to our next point.

2. You Can Get Ranked for Shorter Blog Posts

There was a time when publishing a 300-word blog post would help you rank on Google’s 1st page. That time is long gone now.

Theoretically speaking, you can still rank for a 300-word blog post, but that does not happen very often. This is because there are so many web pages on the web that Google finds it difficult to filter, identify, and showcase the top 10 pages on its first page. This is why Google tends to focus on lengthy, in-depth, and more comprehensive blog posts. Let me give you an example.

SerpIQ did a research by using 20,000 different keywords. They analyzed the blog posts that were ranked on the Google’s 1st page for those 20,000 keywords. Here is what they found.

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The average content length of the top 10 results was at least 2,000 words. In other words, none of the indexed pages that were ranked on Google’s 1st page had less than 2,000 words in it.

This proves that getting ranked with the help of shorter blog posts is much, much difficult. Instead, you should be focusing on the quality and depth of the content — that makes it easier for you to get ranked higher on the search engines.

3. Backlink Relevance Isn’t an Issue

If you believe this myth, you could not be more wrong.

It is true that backlink relevancy wasn’t this big of an issue a few years back, but now that has been changed. As a matter of fact, in the words of a former member of Google’s webspam team:

“Relevancy is the new PR.”

And if you don’t stop believing this myth, you are going to get your website penalized by the Google Penguin update.

Following is a chart that shows Microsite Masters’ research. It indicates that websites with irrelevant links were penalized the most. On the other hand, as you can see, websites with 100% relevant links weren’t penalized at all.

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So, the bottom line is that you should only generate backlinks from websites that belong to the same niche as yours.

For instance, if your blog is about “mobile marketing”, there is no point in generating a backlink from a “cat-related website”. It does not matter how high-quality that backlink is, it will get you penalized in the long run.

4. Top-Level Domains Improve Search Engine Rankings

It has nothing to do with the extension of your domain name. Instead, it is all about the quality your website is offering to its target audience.

Some SEOs (wrongly) assume that the top-level domains improve search engine rankings. This misconception has led to many established and stable businesses to change their domain names and to shift to the more traditional .com extension.

The .com and .net extensions are the most popular ones. If you have yet to buy a domain name, my suggestion would be to go after them. But if you already have an established website with a different extension, there is nothing to worry about.

It all comes down to the quality of your website’s content. If it is serving its target audience well, you will acquire the top search engine positions — even with unconventional extensions.

Here is an example that proves this point.

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As you can see,, with a very unconventional domain name, is ranked at #4 for a competitive keyword “create a newspaper online”.

The bottom line is that if your website is good, serves its audience well, and is relevant to their needs, it will rank high in the SERPs.

5. Keyword Optimization is Dead

It will never be dead. Period!

The process of keyword optimization has changed a bit — that is true. But Google still needs something to identify what your web page is all about. It takes the keywords you use as the foremost indicator.

The rumor (or myth) started with the introduction of the Google Hummingbird update. Unlike the Google Panda and Google Penguin update, the Google Hummingbird wasn’t just an update. But according to Matt Cutts, it was a “total revamp of the search algorithm.”

Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, has suggested that instead of providing unique content, you should be more focused on providing unique value. This is how keyword optimization should be in the future. And that’s how you can rank on Google’s 1st page. Furthermore, you should also leverage the intelligence that the Hummingbird update has instilled in Google the search engine.

For instance, after the Hummingbird update, you are no longer confined to using a certain set of keywords. Instead, you can leverage the searcher’s intent and use those keywords which indicate that particular content. And you will still get ranked on Google’s 1st page, even if you haven’t used the exact keywords.

But does it mean that keyword optimization is dead? Again, NO. It isn’t dead. It has changed just a bit. Now, after the Hummingbird update, the focus is on the user intent, instead of a specific structure of a certain keyword.

But as you can’t pinpoint the intent of the searcher without the keywords, they are still necessary. As a matter of fact, it is much easier now to optimize keywords, as they are more natural after the Hummingbird update.

Apart from that, you should also focus on LSI and long-tail keywords if you really want to increase your search engine traffic. Here is a link to our guide to integrating long-tail keywords in your blog posts.

Final Words

SEO is a dynamic world. With every new algorithm update, it will keep changing and evolving. So stay tuned to our blog for tips, tricks, and news, and keep a close eye to how things are shaping up.

In the meanwhile, stop believing these SEO myths and start optimizing your website for search engines in the right way. Provide unique value, create in-depth content, and focus on backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites.