In the modern world, SEO is crucial to a website’s success, but there are many myths surrounding SEO practices and these can be a major hindrance to an SEO campaign’s success — despite good intentions, if you fall into one of these common pitfalls you may be penalised by search engines, with your rank in results falling and fewer visitors finding your website as a result.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of many of these common mistakes and SEO myths — avoid doing these things at all costs!

Common mistakes

  • Spamming your website — this might seem like a tempting idea, but search engines will penalise your website and downrank it if you are caught engaging in spamming. If you want to get the word out, create social media accounts for your website or business, or pay a small amount of money to place simple advertisements on, for example, reddit.
  • Overusing your chosen keywords — again, a tempting idea perhaps, but overusing keywords is a surefire way to draw Google’s wrath. Keep to a keyword density of between 2 to 5%.
  • Paying for backlinks — generating backlinks from reputable, quality sources is an important part of SEO, as Google used the anchor text (the ‘linkified’ text you click to follow a link) in its ranking algorithm, to determine the relevance of your site to the keywords used in the link. However, paying for webmasters to link to your website is a bad idea; if Google catch wind of this, you risk having your site downranked. Instead, focus on good ways to accumulate backlinks, such as asking customers to place links on their website.
  • Using unoriginal content — write your own original content! If you use others’ inappropriately, search engines will take note and your site’s ranking will suffer as a result.
  • Using ‘blackhat’ methods in general — this could be spamming (see above), deceptive redirects, inappropriately described links, and so on. While these methods may work in the short term, they never go unnoticed; Google is watching and has levied more penalties for deceptive SEO practices in 2018 than in any other year!


  • The results of SEO will be seen overnight — not so, unfortunately. The positive effects of good SEO practices may take quite some time to become apparent, so don’t expect to wake up to the #1 spot in Google!
  • PageRank is important — nope. Sorry. It’s not 2008. In 2018, PageRank is barely relevant at all. It is still used by Google as a core algorithm, but PageRank ranking is barely reflected in actual search results, now. In 2007, Google revealed they use over 200 “signals” to determine a page’s search ranking. Plus, Toolbar PageRank simply doesn’t exist anymore (even the Google Toolbar is discontinued for every browser except IE!).
  • You can “do SEO” a single time and expect permanent results — SEO is a permanent set of “good behaviours” and practices that you must implement continuously. Think about it like a diet; if you want to see permanent results, don’t “go on a diet” and return to regular eating, but instead consider a diet to be a lifestyle change.
  • Link building doesn’t matter in 2024 — this one is almost not even worth commenting on. It’s that wrong. Link building is as important in 2024 as it was in 2015 or 2003! Building good quality links from reputable, authoritative and relevant sources is incredibly important. It’s invaluable as part of a good SEO strategy.
  • Google will punish you because Google considers SEO to be trickery — again, this is very wrong. On the contrary, Google themselves promote good SEO practices and have many guides, how-to videos and articles available on Search Engine Optimisation. They want to see effective, positive SEO that helps quality results rise to the top!
  • Hidden links will improve your SEO — Google’s Webmaster Guidelines explicitly state this is not the case: “Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Write good content and you won’t need to “do” any SEO — SEO always matters. Merely creating good content does not ensure people will find it. Effective SEO practices will help people find your content and thus grow your audience.