The world of SEO has changed tremendously since the term was first coined in the mid-90s. Back in those heady, frontier days all a webmaster had to do was submit the page URL to various search engines (remember Magellan?) and spiders would crawl the page, indexing information. Done and done.

Soon, however, site owners realized that indexing and site ranking provided rich business benefits and opportunities, opening the floodgates for both white hat and black hat SEO practices. In the intervening 20 years, websites, search engines algorithms, and content have changed dramatically, becoming more and more sophisticated with each passing year.

Old habits die hard, though, so read on to learn more about the Top SEO Myths to shake off in 2016.

I Must Let Google Know About My New Website

It’s quaint, really, the notion that you need to tell Google anything. After all, how many times each day do you “Google” answers to pressing questions? We all know that Google is all-knowing these days. Rest assured, if you have a new site, Google will find it. It may take some time, but it will be found. In fact, you should be more concerned with the content you don’t want search engines to find such as internal searches and directories. Be strategic about the pages you want engines to find so that your core content gets the most attention.

Crawlers like pages created for users, not for search engines, so be mindful of your audience when developing your site and writing your content. Be good, be honest! Crawlers are a little like Santa Claus: they know when you’ve been naughty or nice. Ask yourself: does this content help my buyers? Is it meaningful? Would I include this if search engines weren’t a part of the equation?

Establishing Google Authorship Will Increase Visibility

Let us save you a ton of time on this one. Google Authorship markup is no longer supported. It does not exist. Instead, devote your energies to structured data markup. It’s a standardized way to annotate your content so crawlers and algorithms understand it and index it more effectively so that it appears more prominently in search results.

More, More, More: Links Are Golden

Much has been made of the value of external sites hyperlinking your site, and while it’s important, it’s not the end-all, be-all of SEO. Content is the key to both inbound marketing and SEO success. Think of it this way: if links are gold, then user-focused content is platinum.

It’s true, both link building and content creation have similar goals which include driving traffic to your site, increasing lead conversion, building your brand, creating relationships and increasing online visibility.

There’s a certain amount of “if you build it, they will come” to creating a well-ranked, trusted website. Developing strong, well-written and user-focused copy is the first step to a successful inbound marketing campaign and a strong SEO approach. If your content is flawed, thin and unreadable, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll gain the high-quality links you crave. Quality content takes time, but pays off in strong, authoritative links.

If you have the budget, hire a writer! Professional content writers focus on your brand and can help elevate your business to the lauded “thought leader” position. If your content is relevant, diverse and strong, the links will follow. In fact, according to Ron Medlin, CMO of 98toGo in a report recently released by HubSpot, “With the release of the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird algorithm updates, Google has done everything but slap us in the face to wake us up to the fact that SEOs can no longer game the system. While linkbuilding done correctly is still valuable, creating extraordinary content has become non-negotiable.”  

This, dear readers, is just the start. Stay tuned for Shaking Off SEO Myths, Part 2.