Over the past several years, a number of misconceptions have emerged about how the search engines operate. For the beginner SEO, this causes confusion about what’s required to perform effectively. In this section, we’ll explain the real story behind the myths.

1. SEO is about ranking #1 

Many “SEO ninjas” promise to land your business at the #1 ranking spot for just $100, but even if they manage to deliver their promises, SEO is not just about the ranking, especially when focusing on the goal of reaching the top spot.

Your SEO strategy should aim to increase traffic, engagement and eventually conversions and this cannot be achieved by merely focusing on the site’s position in SERPs.

It’s true that being on the first page of SERPs can lead to an increase of traffic to your page, but the goal is not to simply gain the #1 spot.

For example, featured snippets, the summary of an answer to a user’s query that is displayed on top of Google search results, can lead to an increase of traffic of up to 20-30%, but 70% of them do not come from the first organic result. Thus, it’s the optimisation of the content, the usefulness and the relevance that may lead to additional traffic and make your SERP position more effective.

2. Google will figure it out

No. No they friggin’ won’t.

The temptation of many website owners and developers is to throw as many URLs as possible—sometimes millions—at Google’s crawlers and pray that their mysterious algorithms will magically deliver these pages to valuable users. Alternatively, even sites with a handful of pages expect search engines to do all the heavy lifting.

Google is smart, but not magic.

What’s forgotten in this equation is that Google and other search engines strive to mimic human behavior in evaluating content (and no human wants to sort through a million near-duplicate pages) and use human generated signals (such as links and engagement metrics) to crawl and rank results.

Every page delivered in search results should be unique, valuable, and more often than not contain technical clues to help search engines sort them from the billions of possible pages on the web. Without these qualities, search marketing is a game of chance that almost always loses.

3. Don’t worry about SEO just create good content

I came across a tweet mentioning that quality content can beat any SEO optimization, and that’s how this myth came up.

It’s true that the quality of your content is important, but if you don’t optimize it (or promote it), how will you reach a wider audience?

SEO is about helping search engines discover your (quality) content, which means that you are increasing the chances of being praised for the work you’re proud of.

Content is king, but it’s not always enough to provide the necessary traffic and visibility.

4. Meta Tags

Once upon a time, meta tags (in particular, the meta keywords tag) were an important part of the SEO process. You would include the keywords you wanted your site to rank for, and when users typed in those terms, your page could come up in a query. This process was quickly spammed to death, and was eventually dropped by all the major engines as an important ranking signal.

Other tags, in particular the title tag and meta description tag(covered previously in this guide), are crucial for quality SEO. Additionally, the meta robots tag is an important tool for controlling crawler access. So, while understanding the functions of meta tags is important, they’re no longer the central focus of SEO.

5. To page 1 of Google for $99 ?

I know that everyone reading this article has received constant email pitches and phone calls about “1st Page Google Ranking for just $99.” There is a lot of B.S. in the SEO industry. There is no “quick solution” to get onto the first page of Google.

I’ve helped many businesses recover from Google algorithm penalties because they signed up with some oversees company for $99, and this “company” built spammy backlinks to their site, resulting in a Google penalty. (You can read a prior article on “what your business needs to avoid the wrath of Google.”)

If you are really interested in improving your SEO, a strategy needs to be formulated. An expert will need to identify the services or products that drive the most revenue for your business so he can deploy an SEO strategy based on your actual business model. Keyword research is involved, as is onsite SEO optimization.

If anyone guarantees you page 1 ranking on Google within a three-month time-span, run for the hills.