Bad advice on the internet comes in all different flavors. Whether it’s entering the dating scene, parenting your kids or managing your hard-earned money, there’s no shortage of advice. Some is good, some is tolerable and some is downright awful.

We’ve all come to accept the fact that the internet can be a dark, mysterious place filled with half truths, conspiracies and lies. Yet for some reason, we tend to take some pieces of advice at face value. It’s the, “If it’s online, it must be true” mentality.

One topic that has some gosh-awful advice is search engine optimization, or SEO. There are many misconceptions floating around the internet in regards to SEO, so we can understand that some of this bad advice is really just misinformation. Because Google is fairly quiet about their algorithms, it leaves a lot of people to speculate about which ranking signals are important and why.

Also, there is a lot of opinion out there from so-called SEO experts. They give you the lowdown on what worked for them, even though it could have been completely coincidental. There’s no proof that what they did to boost their rankings is what you should do.

In this post, we wanted to address some of the worst SEO advice we’ve heard so that you can make sure you’re not currently following it. You can thank us later. Or just give us a call. An experienced agency with a successful track record is the only cure for bad advice, especially if you’ve already applied it to your website. Not only will you need a fresh perspective but also some damage control.

Alright. Let’s get started. Some of the worst advice we’ve found on the internet. And go!

“Create great content (and lots of it!)!”

The whole “content is king” mentality has been taken a little too literally. While it’s certainly crucial to put excellent content out there, it’s not an end-all solution. If you only focus on content and not the other pieces of the puzzle, you’re probably going to be left frustrated and unimpressed. That’s when the blog entries slow down and the content comes to a halt. And then you become a bitter marketer who trolls the forums.

The thing is, your content isn’t going to travel very far if you don’t have a vibrant community to share it with. You can spend hours creating the perfect content that follows all the rules in the playbook, but it won’t reach the potential it could if you had a strong community. So while content is super important, building an engaged community around your content is actually more important.

Additionally, great content needs a supporting website. There are many instances where mediocre content ranks above higher quality content because it comes from an optimized website with a higher domain authority. Make sure that you have these details worked out before you put that much faith into your content.

“We can get you ranked in the #1 spot in a week.”

Oh wow. This one always makes our ears hurt. Even with improved algorithms, there are still too many SEO companies out there that claim they can “guarantee” placement in the search results. And we understand the temptation for the customer. When one agency is telling you that it will take months to see results and that first page rankings can’t be guaranteed, and then another agency is promising you that and a caffe mocha latte with whipped cream on top, it’s hard to know who’s ripping you off.

Unfortunately, front page placement can’t be guaranteed. Why? Because no one can control what the search engines do. They are a third party, and it’s already clear that Google doesn’t share the inner workings of its algorithms. So if an agency is trying to get you to sign on the premises that they’ll guarantee your placement, run.

Still not sure what to think? Google strongly warns against hiring irresponsible SEO companies and acknowledges that they can do damage to your site and reputation.

“Build a bunch of separate sites to rank better and get more traffic.”

We can all agree that there is a lot of bad information out there, but this has to be one of the worst. Some less-than-ethical SEO companies continue to do this for their clients, building a handful of duplicate sites that don’t 301 to their main one. These sites are all separate and contain “unique” content, but it’s all the same stuff written in a different way.

There’s no reason to have any more than your one site, unless you have a dedicated mobile and desktop version of your site. Otherwise, creating separate sites to rank better and get more traffic is not the road you want to go down. Unfortunately, some SEOs still recommend it, and some companies still do it.

“Increase the number of links if you want to rank well.”

There was a time when your website’s placement was largely dependent on the amount of links pointing to your website. Because of this, many marketers spent their time getting links to point to their website regardless of whether the links were from reputable sources or not. Google shifted their focus from quantity to quality since this point in time, but unfortunately, not everyone has changed their thinking. Many SEOs are still under the impression that backlinks are the key to success.

It’s also important to point out that there IS a difference between unnatural links and low quality links. It’s actually normal to have low quality links pointing back to your site. You can get these links removed using the disavow tool. Unnatural links, on the other hand, are manipulative or deceptive links, such as those that are bought. You will be penalized for buying links or participating in a link scheme, as this is against Webmaster Guidelines.

“If your rankings are good, you’re succeeding at SEO.”

Ranking reports have become the Holy Grail for some SEO companies. They will proudly show off their ranking reports with their clients’ names and niches blurred out. “That company knows what they’re doing,” you think to yourself. “Why else would they be putting their rankings on display?”

The reality is that ranking reports are pretty much useless. Most of the terms that the client websites are ranking for aren’t ones that will bring in buyers. Instead, they are ranking for brand terms such as the business name or naked URL. Plus, just because a website is ranking well for a particular keyword doesn’t mean that they are generating money off of it. And isn’t this what you want from your keywords?

We’re in an era where too many people think that they should run campaigns just for the heck of it, or that any traffic is good traffic. Projects launched purely for visibility are just too risky these days. You need campaigns that will bring you conversions and exposure within your targeted audience.

Summing it Up

Bad advice online comes with the territory. Anyone can produce content these days, and not everyone has relevant, up-to-date information that they’re referencing. When it comes to search engine optimization, the best approach is to hire a trustworthy agency that has a strong track record and a team of educated, experienced SEOs. They may not be able to promise you those #1 rankings overnight, but that’s okay. Remember what your parents taught you: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.