Search engine optimization, or SEO, has been around for years, but not everyone understands how it works or why it’s important. At its most basic, SEO is the process of tailoring web content to be easily found and identified by search engines like Google.
Despite its proven track record of success and its vital role in website performance, there are still plenty of individuals and businesses out there that challenge its effectiveness. Here are four of the most common myths about SEO.
SEO professionals must often deal with the idea that SEO no longer works. This assumption generally comes from critics citing the various zoo animal updates Google has released over the years, such as Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, etc. With each of these updates, the algorithm for determining search rankings has changed. This leads some to believe that all the parameters surrounding SEO are entirely unknown, and therefore it would be a waste to even attempt to optimize a site.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, we know search engines need signifiers to tell them when to place a site in front of a user, and SEO experts have a great deal of insight and data that reveals what those signifiers are. As long as we know some of the critical pieces of the top search engine’s algorithm, SEO will stay alive and keep improving website rankings. The fact is, the primary SEO methods used ten years ago are no longer in use. It’s not as simple as keyword stuffing and inserting exact match anchor text links anymore. The good news is that SEO experts know what they are using now.
“I have a beautiful site, lots of amazing images, and it’s all on one page because ‘Parallax.’” These are the kinds of pushback that SEO professionals face on a regular basis. While it may be true that your site looks beautiful and allows a user to access all the information on one page, that doesn’t mean search engines are going to rank it highly. You also have to take into account things like user experience, navigation, keyword density, relevancy, amounts of content, and much, much more.
Think of it like this: Let’s say you have a basic understanding of chemistry, but we asked you to look up something very specific, like the reaction between two chemicals. If we handed you a college-level chemistry text book with no table of contents, no chapter titles, no appendix, and no index — you’d be lost, right? Webpages work in a very similar way. Search engines are getting smarter every day, and they’re now able to determine how easy it is for a user to find the information they’re going to be looking for. By not focusing on site architecture and content through an SEO viewpoint, you may be losing ranks before your site even launches.
If anyone comes to you and guarantees you the #1 position, walk away. There are hundreds of ranking factors, and changes are being made constantly by the major search engines. Plus, they have no obligation to share their ranking methods with anyone. The few details they release are a generous offering because their livelihoods are at play. For those reasons and many more, it’s impossible for an SEO expert to guarantee a #1 ranking.
The only guarantee in SEO is that it’s an ever-changing landscape and that on-page SEO, when done correctly, will help position your site for better rankings than if you left your website rankings entirely up to the search algorithms. Promises of perfect performance or top positions should always be seen as a giant red flag.
If search engines were making changes to their indexes instantly and demonstrating the rank changes from SEO edits, testing methodologies and theories would be much easier. The reality is, results are not instant. SEO is a long-term investment. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Results take time because search engines have massive databases with indexes containing billions of webpages to analyze and place.
We always recommend a mixed-media marketing strategy to ensure market exposure at any stage, and one great combination with SEO is paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC). PPC relies heavily on relevancy, and by combining SEO with a paid search campaign, you will be able to generate more clicks for your dollar. Diversifying your digital marketing strategy in this manner ensures you’re not placing all your eggs in one basket.