10 SEO Myths That Won’t Go Away Debunked By Google Engineers

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It is generally known that when a myth has been established it is hard to get rid off. Since 2013 we have posted nearly 50 debunked SEO myths starting in December 2013, May 2014, September 2014, September 2015, January 2016 and June 2016. Today we are adding 10 new SEO myths, all debunked by Google’s Gary Illyes and John Mueller.

Myth 1: Google Treats 404 Error Codes As A Low-Quality Site Ranking Factor

A 404 or Not Found error message is an HTTP response code that is returned by a web server to web browsers and search engines when the requested page does not exist. Consequently, the requested page will not be crawled and indexed by the search engines.

Some SEO’s believe that 404 and 410 status codes can be interpreted by the search engines as a low-quality site signal that effects rankings negatively. Google search analyst John Mueller debunked this myth in a tweet:

404 error status

10 SEO Myths Debunked

Myth 2: Short Articles Or Blog Posts Will Trigger A Low-Quality Site Signal 

At the 34:00 time mark in this YouTube video, John Mueller demystifies another myth. An SEO practitioner asked whether articles and blog posts with short content length would be penalized by the Google algorithm, which would consequently lead to lower rankings in the search results. Mueller explained that there is no minimum word count for articles and blog posts and that Google’s algorithms reward websites that provide content that’s unique, high quality, and compelling to users.

Myth 3: Google Algorithms Favor WordPress Websites

An SEO practitioner believes Google’s algorithms favors websites powered by the WordPress content management system. Google’s John Mueller debunked this myth and replied that Google’s algorithms do not explicitly check for and favor any particular CMS.

Wordpress CMS

Myth 4: Google Is Penalizing Sites That Don’t Link To Other Websites

There is a strong believe among many SEO practitioners that Google penalizes websites that don’t link out to other sites. Obviously not linking to other websites defeats the purpose of the web. Google search analyst John Mueller demystified this myth by saying that such penalty does not exist at the 11:15 time mark in this YouTube video.

Myth 5: Disabling The Browser Back Button Positively Impacts The Search Rankings Of A Website

Some SEO’s believe that bounce backs (users who access page and then immediately return) are used by Google as a ranking signal that negatively influences rankings in the SERP’s. To avoid any bounce backs some SEO’s disable the browser back button. The truth is that currently bounce backs are not used by Google as a ranking signal and therefore don’t influence search rankings. John Mueller says, at the 11:55 time mark in this YouTube video, that from a search perspective bounce backs are a mood point.

Myth 6: 301 And 302 Redirects Are Causing The Loss Of Page Rank Value

Some search engine optimization practitioners believe that 301 and 302 page redirects result in the loss of PageRank value during the redirection from one domain name to another. This was the case a number of years ago, according to Google engineer Gary Illyes. Today, a 301, 302 or any other type of 30x redirect does not lead to any PageRank loss.

Myth 7: Crawling Websites More Frequently Using Google Search Console Tools Affects Rankings 

Google’s John Mueller debunked, via Twitter, the myth that requesting to re-crawl a website using Google’s Fetch and Render tool, may negatively impact rankings in the SERP’s. Mueller said that having your site crawled more frequently does not change rankings. Here is the tweet:

Frequent crawling and search ranking

 Myth 8: Linking Out To High Authority Websites Boosts Rankings In The SERP’s

Some webmasters and SEO practitioners believe that linking out to high authority websites will boost the rankings of their sites in the Google SERP’s. Google search analyst John Mueller confirms that there is no SEO benefit to this practice.

Linking Out

Myth 9: There Is A Ranking Benefit When Using Industry-Specific Top Level Domains

A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of the domain name located to the right of the dot. The most common TLDs are .com, .net, and .org. Some others are .biz, .info, and .ws. Some SEO practitioners believe that there is a ranking bonus for using specific top-level domains. Google engineer Gary Illyes confirmed that there is no ranking benefit when, for example, the top-level domain .lawyer is used for a lawyer website.

Myth 10: Rich Snippets Are A Site Quality Signal That Result In Higher Rankings

Some SEO practitioners believe that Google has determined that a site is of high quality when it generates rich snippets in the search results and that this leads to higher rankings. But Google Search analyst John Mueller explains in this YouTube video at the 9:42 time mark that this is not necessarily true. It means that a site has passed the benchmark of quality to show rich snippets in the Google search results. But just because rich snippets show up doesn’t mean that the site meets the standards of quality for other algorithms that take quality signals as input.