SEO basics: SEO fact or fiction?

SEO has a somewhat questionable reputation. Why is that? At Yoast, we advise you to make an awesome website. Our SEO advice always comes down to: make sure to outrank the competition by being the best result. We actually collaborate with Google in the development of our plugin. So, why does SEO have a questionable reputation? And what about all those ‘supposed’ SEO tricks that’ll get you instant rankings? In this post, I’ll take a look at what’s an SEO fact and what’s SEO fiction!

The origin of this reputation

A lifetime ago, when Google’s algorithm wasn’t that good, you could trick your way into the search results. Putting down keywords in white (so nobody would see, but Google would crawl it) was an effective strategy back then. As was buying bulks of links from questionable sites. As Google evolved, these kinds of dirty SEO tricks started to backfire. If you’re wondering whether certain tactics of old school or blackhat SEO still pay off, just think about the following questions: does it give the user a better experience on your site? Does your website become a better result? If you can answer these questions with yes, then it’s probably a good SEO strategy. Anything that feels like a trick though, probably won’t be a good SEO strategy in the long run. So, let’s look at some SEO statements and find out if they’re fact or fiction!

SEO fact or fiction?

Fact or fiction 1: Content is King

Content is a very important aspect of any SEO strategy. After all, Google crawls texts and determines the ranking of your site on the quality of your texts. High-quality content also leads to lower bounce rates and more social media attention.

SEO fact: Content is King

Fact or fiction 2: Get as many links as possible

While backlinks are definitely important for your SEO strategy, you should be rather selective in which kinds of backlinks you’d want to attract to your website. To start, you shouldn’t buy large amounts of links. Nor should you exchange links. Don’t use any automated programs to get links. And don’t do guest blogging with very thin and off-topic content. Don’t go for links that are unrelated to the topic of your website. Or links from sites that have no real content. You shouldn’t have links from spammy sites whose only purpose is to advertise for gambling, viagra and porn (unless your website is about gambling, viagra and porn). In a nutshell: you should never pay for links.

If you choose to go overboard on link building, you’ll risk a penguin penalty and lose your rankings in Google. If you want to learn more about link building strategies and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! 

SEO fiction: Get as many links as possible

Fact or fiction 3: Keyword density should be sky high

Some people try to put as many keywords in their texts as possible. They hope that Google will notice the amount of keywords they’re using and therefore will rank the text highest in the search results. However, their text will become unreadable. So they shouldn’t do that! It’ll definitely backfire. Never write content that’s created for the search engines. Always write content with a real audience in mind. Invest in high-quality content, that’ll generate long-term stable traffic to your website.

SEO fiction: keyword density should be sky high

Fact or fiction 4: You don’t need high-end technical skills to do SEO

Technical SEO definitely is an important element of an SEO strategy. And it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit of code (it could even be great fun). However, if you’re using WordPress and our Yoast SEO plugin, your technical SEO is pretty much covered. Our plugin is designed to take care of all the technical aspects of your SEO strategy.

SEO fact: You don’t need high-end technical skills to do SEO

Fact or fiction 5: SEO is all tricks

At Yoast, we propose an SEO strategy we refer to as holistic SEO. You should develop a long-term SEO strategy focusing on all aspects of website optimization in order to be the best result. You should write awesome content, do great PR and social, make sure your website is properly secured and create a superb User Experience. And of course, your website should have technical excellence and an awesome site structure. That’s no trick. That’s just a whole lot of hard work.

SEO fiction: SEO is all tricks


The final SEO fiction actually says it all. SEO is not all tricks. Not at all. SEO, in our view, is a long-term strategy, focusing on getting and keeping those high rankings in the search engines. It is a lot of work, but it will definitely pay off in the long run!

Read more: Holistic SEO »

Coming up next!

7 Responses to SEO basics: SEO fact or fiction?

  1. Michael Lauritzen
    Michael Lauritzen  • 7 years ago

    Awasome articel. Love it.

  2. Tulisan Blogger Indonesia by Febriyan Lukito
    Tulisan Blogger Indonesia by Febriyan Lukito  • 7 years ago

    I really fall in love with SEO now. I love reading and learning about it through all articles related to.
    About links… I love the idea that links are not that much important but it is still recommended to have a quality and relevant backlinks.
    There is one thing I want to ask though, regarding trend SEO 2017, I read many predicts Mobile SEO will took place more than desktop.
    If I used a mobile friendly theme and my mobile site is same as desktops, how should I do SEO for my mobile? Is Yoast able to help me about this?

  3. Sergio | Posicionamiento Web
    Sergio | Posicionamiento Web  • 7 years ago

    Hello everybody! Thank you very much Marieke! This information is very good for us, because sometimes we belive too much in a tipical bloguers of seo. Your article is good good because is done with a big valour and experience. I will like make you a cuestion. Are the backlinks from youtube good ? I mean in the coments. Thank you very much and all the best. I will read you the next!

  4. Steven Chayer
    Steven Chayer  • 7 years ago

    I love how Yoast Pro empowers me to craft an excellent site and sleep well at night knowing that my site is optimized in every way. I do not have time to learn all there is to know about SEO (though I have learned a lot) but Yoast does all of the heavy lifting for us.

  5. Mike Hardaker
    Mike Hardaker  • 7 years ago

    I love what you all do. However I do see this train changing quickly.. Google does not seem to care about what I put in the meta description as they find other words, phrases and combos that will enhance their user experience while on

    We really aren’t working on meta descriptions anymore, instead leaving them blank and letting big G aka god do the rest. Worst case it pulls from the first few lines of text which will in best cases always have the keyword and info about the article listed there.

    Its a tough pill to swallow that of out 2,000 pages we have spent hundreds of hours creating custom meta descriptions to see Google use something completely different..

    My 0.02

  6. Eric Lindesvärd
    Eric Lindesvärd  • 7 years ago

    Thank you! I’m a lot into schema microdata at the moment, and have done som successful implementation of both JSON-LD and html markups for different values and properties. I would like your opinion on this:

    I want to rank a page (not domain page) for a certain search term which consists of two words. First word is a jobtitle and second term is my local area. I do quite well, but I wanted to try to do better. So I worked on my content, and then I came up with an idea. The search term sound a bit like a name, something I actually can call myself when working. A persona, if you like.

    What I did was that I started to use this name (the two-words search term) as my WordPress nickname, and choosed to use my nickname as author for posts and pages. It’s relevant and not really a dirty trick, but at the same time I have a ranking purpose in mind.

    What’s your opinion on this?

    • Dave Loodts
      Dave Loodts  • 7 years ago

      About fiction 2, reality-wise it’s still a fact IMO. The described situation will be more then welcome for the whole SEO-world but Google is not yet there at all. A client of mine works -a small local firm of 2 employees- together (without any of my agreement) with a ‘SEO’ blackhat agency, in one month they’ve got 1447 incoming links (recorded in search console !) and ranking on top keywords in their business. The links are all coming from crappy automated ghost sites. That situation started 14 months ago and still working.