SEO has evolved dramatically over the years; the landscape is hugely different now, where things like mobile indexing, voice search, Google Penguin being part of the algorithm, local search and updates like Hummingbird and ‘Fred’ and are the focus for SEOs. There’s always some dramatic statement being flung around, clickbait and scare-mongering. Over the years I’ve had clients tell me all sorts of misguided ‘alternative facts’. In today’s blog, I’m sharing just some of my favourites from over the years, along with some myth-busting facts, making sure that you don’t waste your time and instead focus on the facts, first and foremost.
“SEO is a scam/dark art/flim-flam”
SEO has been labelled many different things over the years, but, these combined, are possibly the biggest myths out there. I believe this is one that has most likely come from those who are impatient (really, you thought it would take two weeks!), have struggled to reap any benefits of a SEO campaign and those who have genuinely been ripped off by dodgy SEO companies guaranteeing ranks and mountains of gold.
Of course, I hear you say, you work in SEO and therefore would say this. But, it’s not a scam, nor dark art, nor “flim-flam”. SEO is a genuine digital marketing discipline. A discipline that takes time effort and one that is growing year on year. For those that think SEO is dead (I am not getting into this again), I urge you to read this.
“Google is out to get you”
I have come across so many businesses that claim Google is intentionally unfair to them and they are simply in it for themselves. Well hey, believe it or not, Google is a business, and yes one of their goals is to make money (is that not your goal?). But, this doesn’t mean they’re constantly trying to trick you. Google have amassed their search engine market share by being the place that users go to for quality results. Quality results mean, quality content, positive reputation, sound technical website foundation, authority in your industry and an optimum user experience.
Also don't be these guys:
Content is everything
There is no doubt that quality content is important and possibly the most powerful way to gain traction in search engines, but it is not the only way. Other ways to gain traction in the search engines include:
- Word of mouth, this can be via genuine reviews, social mentions
- Offline advertising that gets awareness, attention and naturally attracts links, video and blog content
- Viral products and services
- Community building and engagement through social
- High quality backlinks
Get me to number 1; your sanity depends on it
Possibly the toughest myth to deal with especially as most people with this mindset will determine the success or failure of a campaign by rankings alone. Keyword rankings at most are an indicator of the health of your campaign, but that is it. Using rankings as a success factor is counter intuitive when things like, personalised, local (Google uses your IP, past search history and so forth to determine what results are relevant) and semantic search (interpreting the meaning behind a search query) exist.
User experience (UX) is hokum
Let's go back to Google's main aim here; Google wants to provide high-quality results to it users so that ultimately users keep coming back to them and using their search engine for all their queries. If you have not guessed it already, that means you need to pay attention to UX too, put simply UX is about focusing on the visitor from the moment they see your site in Google results. That can range from, making sure your logo is prominent, your site is responsive to the device they view it on, using header tags to indicate users are in the right place, clean and clear navigation, calls to action, pagespeed and much more. Pay attention to metrics like bounce rate, session duration and page views per visit (but remember that these need to be considered alongside other elements - i.e. a decrease in the number of pages viewed per visit may actually be thanks to an improved UX - we never said it was easy).
More backlinks means better performance in the SERPs
Yes, backlinks are great and still an important ranking factor, but quality must play priority here. Links from 1000s of forum posts, link directories will be painful when Google drops your site like an anchor. Concentrate on getting links from high-quality websites in your industry, and you will never see that anchor, make sure you vary the type of links you sources from citations to brand mentions.
Been there, done it, and we don't need to do it again
Wrong! SEO is a continual process and requires serious effort, there's no such thing as permanent results, and you will most likely see your search traffic dwindle over time. There are several reasons why this happens:
- Your competitors are continuously working on their own presence
- Over time your content will become invalid
- The power of your backlinks will slowly decay (also known as link rot)
- Search engine algorithms are always changing
I have to include, 'keyword', 'keyword', 'keyword', 'keyword', 'keyword'
An oldie but a goodie, keyword density is long dead. Stuffing your pages with keywords is a clear signal to Google of low-quality content and can hurt your performance. Instead, concentrate on writing content for your target audience, include related themes, answer questions and ultimately satisfy your users needs.
These are just a small sample of the many SEO objections we have come across. Yet, we’ll continue to see many more to come. Despite businesses seeing the proof in the pudding when spending time on SEO and, on the flipside, falling victim to not investing in SEO, it’s an area of the marketing mix that is all too often overlooked.
If you’re struggling with your website performance, then why not give us a shout? Our team can conduct a technical audit and identify opportunities for you to be more competitive and effective.