Is your knowledge of SEO up-to-date? Over the past weeks, Google’s Matt Cutts and Bing’s Duane Forrester have busted some of today’s most common SEO myths that might be keeping you from making your optimization strategies as effective as they should be.

Duane Forrester and Matt Cuts: SEO Mythbusters

In total, Cutts and Forrester busted 14 myths. Let me summarize some of the most important ones in this post.

Buying Ads Will Help with Rankings

Many people mistakenly believe that buying ads can help you improve your rankings, but both Cutts and Forrester say they don’t. “No amount of ad buying will get you organically ranked higher,” Forrester says. “The instant [an] engine starts determining ranking based on ads bought is the instant it loses credibility.”

Cutts remarks that this is one of the “biggest” SEO myths, and that there’s also “an opposing conspiracy theory” that says not buying ads will improve a site’s rankings. He jokingly says, “We sort of feel like we should get those two conspiracy camps together and let them fight it all out, and whoever emerges from one room can just debunk that one conspiracy theory.” He also goes on to say that Google does not build their algorithms to force people to buy ads,

Black Hat Tricks are Still Effective for Ranking #1

Personally, I can’t even believe this myth is still around. Cutts points out that there are still different black hat forums and webmaster discussion boards that “get kind of into a ‘group think'” and decide which questionable tactic to exploit next. He encourages webmasters to start thinking for themselves instead of paying attention to these black hat practitioners. “It’s almost like fads,” Cutts comments. “And if you think about it, if someone had a foolproof way to make money online, you know, they would probably use that way to make money rather than packaging it up in an ebook and selling it to people, or packaging it up in a tool and selling it to people.”

Links/Video/Social are All You Need

Relying on just one digital marketing strategy or medium is never a good idea. Forrester uses a metaphor that everyone can understand to explain his stance on this topic: food. “There was a time when ranking a website was like making consommé,” he says. “You wanted one thing – clear broth. At that time, you could focus on a single tactic and it would boost rankings. Today it’s more like trying to make the world’s best seafood chowder. Success depends on a complex mix of ingredients, freshness and timing. One ingredient alone won’t bring success, and yet without that one ingredient, you don’t have a chowder.”

Usability is Different from SEO

Website usability and SEO are different disciplines, but they’re becoming more similar and intertwined. He likens them to a pair of sneakers: “Investing in SEO and not investing in usability is like tying one sneaker and going for a run. Yeah, you’ll be OK, but wouldn’t it be a better experience with both shoes tied?”

You can read Duane Forrester’s full article on the official Bing blog, and hear the rest of Matt Cutts’ mythbusting session in this Google Webmaster Help video.

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Clayton Wood

Clayton is the Marketing Director of and managing partner of numerous successful online brands offering white label SEO and other online marketing services.