The Worst SEO Advice We’ve Ever Heard
We’ve been around the SEO block for a while and heard some of the worst SEO advice you can imagine! Whether you’re here for a laugh or want to know whether a dodgy SEO expert has played you on Fiverr, you’re in the right place.
Were it not destroyed and lost to time, we could’ve filled the Great Library with just a fraction of the worst SEO advice we’ve heard during our time as an agency. Whether from so-called gurus or SEO experts, the amount of contradiction and misinformation is staggering.
While we poke fun, an accompanying eye twitch reminds SEOs that giving accurate SEO advice is difficult. As a result, we often hear something like, ‘who’s advice can I actually trust?’ or ‘how do I know which advice I can follow?’
There are different schools of thought on many topics and techniques within SEO, but the following five pieces of advice are universally agreed upon as absolute rubbish.
Number 1: ‘The higher the word count, the better’
We’re beginning with a bit of a doozy. While this has a basis in best practice, and generally speaking, most web pages are much too thin to be effectively crawled; you don’t want to be creating content for the sake of word count.
Search engines like Google are moving toward a more user-focused approach to their algorithms, which means the simpler, easier and more effective your content is to consume for users, the better. User experience is more than just page speed!
However, as previously mentioned, word count is an important piece of SEO best practice that is often neglected. A commonly accepted minimum word count for a website page to be effectively crawled by search engines is 600 words.
Do: Write purposeful, helpful, quality content that will benefit your users and aim for at least 600+ words.
Don’t: Write long, boring content that no one will want to read just to attempt high search engine rankings.
Number 2: ‘Alt text should always contain the keyword’
This is not quite keyword stuffing, but we’re getting a bit spicier here!
Alt text is, by in large, one of the most misunderstood aspects of on-page SEO. While it is often overlooked, the most heinously bad advice we’ve heard about alt text is that it should always and sometimes only contain the keyword you want the related page to rank for.
Not only is this false, but it’s also harmful to people with visual disabilities. Alt text should always be used to describe the image to someone who cannot see it. If the description can be related semantically to the optimised keyword – which is often the case – then fantastic. If not, the priority needs to be on those internet users who require the image to be described to them.
Say you’re a pet grooming business and have a lovely picture of a dog on your website page. The alt text should be ‘cute dog being brushed in grooming salon’, not ‘best pet grooming business in London’.
For more information on making your SEO accessible for deaf and disabled hearing, try these 30+ tips from search engine land.
Do: Write alt text that accurately describes an image.
Don’t: Force a keyword into alt text or only write the keyword as the alt text of an image.
Number 3: ‘Never delete website content’
Woah, boy, this one is wild!
Deleting website content is a proven SEO tactic that can positively affect your entire website. It’s been a proven concept for a long time.
When someone says, ‘don’t ever delete website content’, they mean ‘reevaluate your underperforming content and optimise it again or remove it’.
Old content is a gold mine for SEO; it legitimises your website and shows search engines that you haven’t just blasted out a piece of content for no reason but that you’re actively trying to improve your website for users and search engines.
Do: Remove content that is detrimental to your overall SEO or website performance, or consider re-optimising your old content to benefit your website.
Don’t: Keep website content hindering your SEO and cannot be re-optimised.
Number 4: ‘Toxic backlinks will definitely negatively impact your SEO’
Nope, it’s just not true; removing toxic backlinks will not definitely positively impact your search engine rankings.
In fact, Google has no concept of ‘toxic backlinks’.
We don’t have a concept of toxic domains. It’s fine to use tools to work on your site, but you should understand what the tool does, interpret the output, and not just blindly follow along.
— 🦇 johnmu: cats are not people 🦇 (@JohnMu) September 2, 2020
Here’s what Google has to say regarding backlinks:
‘Google works very hard to make sure that actions on third-party sites do not negatively affect a website. In some circumstances, incoming links can affect Google’s opinion of a page or site….First and foremost, we recommend that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible.’
So while backlinks are not a ranking factor, they do contribute to the overall health and reputation of your website in the eyes of search engines like Google.
Struggling to wrap your head around disavow links, toxic backlinks, and link building? We’ve got a blog post that might interest you; How To Remove Toxic Backlinks With Disavow Lists.
Do: Manually review backlinks and disavow them, especially if you or your client has ever paid for backlinks or gained backlinks inorganically. Be careful with the number of backlinks you disavow at one time.
Don’t: Think that disavowing backlinks will directly affect where you appear in search rankings and results and get too worked up about your toxicity scores.
Number 5: ‘AI is the future of SEO-based content strategy”
John Mueller, give me strength! This one is one of the worst offenders.
We don’t want to sound like technophobes, but we cannot advise anyone serious about their SEO and online performance to use fully AI-written content.
Search engines like Google are cracking down on AI-generated content and are beginning to actively penalise spammy content specifically aimed to rank highly and provide 0 benefits to the user.
While we completely agree that AI will play a strong role in the future of copywriting and, as a result, content-based SEO strategy, we don’t see a future where fully AI-written content beats good old human-made content.
Do: Use AI to enhance aspects of your content strategy, like generating headlines, titles or meta descriptions.
Don’t: Use fully AI-written content in your SEO content strategy; it will negatively impact your SEO.
Dealing with Bad SEO Advice
We get it; it’s hard to find a reliable source of information, and seeing so much differing advice when starting out in SEO is especially daunting. The best way to tackle misinformation is to be cautious and read from more than one source.
The best advice we can give you against bad SEO advice is to be vigilant, use some common sense and try your best to source information from trusted sources. Trust your judgment; if it sounds questionable, do some more research and make a judgement call.
SEO takes time, so you mustn’t let some so-called SEO expert ruin your hard work with a piece of terrible SEO advice.
If you feel you’re in a bit of a pickle, ROAR has a team of SEO specialists on the front lines of the SEO world who can act as some much-needed air support for you and your business. Check out our SEO management services or enquire with us!