John’s top 10 SEO myths
There are more SEO myths than there are Greek. Partly caused by the cryptic way in which Google and other search engines share information on how they rank pages, but not helped by Chinese whispers, scare mongers and snake oil salesmen. The myths I’m going to address today are the ones that I have heard a lot from small business owners themselves.
Myth #1: “SEO is something that IT can do”
This is possibly my favourite myth, as I get the reverse of it. Those who work in IT spend their time managing systems, whether that be complex servers or the installation of a networked printer, but none of the jobs they do teach them anything about SEO.
Anyone who does your SEO needs to be well versed in technical elements such as code, content management systems and the ability to handle data, and make decisions from that data. They also need to understand the wider marketing mix and your business as a whole in order to do SEO well.
Myth #2: “I’m such a small business Google won’t know, never mind care”
When I come across this, the attitude is mostly adopted as ‘ignorance is bliss’ – until you get penalised, or your rankings suffer with no clear reason. It can be easy to think that Google specifically targets larger sites, bigger businesses and sites that spam – but their algorithm does not have the capacity to discriminate.
Don’t try to cheat Google, and don’t allow your SEO suppliers to do it either. Remember that it is you who will be picking up the tab when Google catches up with you, and you have to undo all that has been done.
Myth #3: “Keywords are what SEO is all about”
Because your website shows based on the words typed into Google, it’s easy to think that the keywords are what matters, and in the olden days of the internet that was true. Nowadays search engines have increasingly robust capabilities to understand the popularity of a piece of content, the relevance to the searcher and the overall user-friendliness of the site. In fact, there are so many SEO factors to consider, that it fits into at least another two blog posts, online and offline.
Myth #4: “Build it and they will come”
The majority of businesses need a website these days, there’s no two ways about it, however building the website is just the first step in a continuous process of marketing. New domains in particular take a long time to build traffic for and that has to start with pro-active forms of marketing like social and email, rather than simply waiting to be found.
A new website should be the beginning and not the end. When you build your website, make sure you clearly brief it, taking SEO into consideration, user-experience and the future of the business, as well as all the functionality you require as a business. Alongside this, plan strategic marketing activities and get yourself out there in front of your potential customers.
Myth #5: “SEO equals instant results”
If anyone ever tells you that they can improve your organic results overnight, or even in a month, approach with extreme caution. Seeing results using organic methods can take 3 to 6 months, and a constant revisiting of your strategy is required for the sake of continuous improvement and to get and keep you ahead of your competitors, as well as any change in products/target markets etc.
Myth #6: “It’s all about traffic”
As an SEO, if your sole metric was traffic, it would be very easy for me to fudge the results and pay someone out in China or India very cheaply to make it appear like your site had had lots of visits. Don’t lose sight. Remember it is about who is visiting your website, not how many!
Myth #7: “SEO is dead”
I hear this all the time, and not just about SEO. E-marketing is dead, Social Media is dead, heck I’ve even heard that marketing is dead. Of course, none of that is true. I see the impact that marketing has every day. There are plenty of bloggers out there competing for traffic, which is why these sensationalist headlines are generated.
In truth, SEO is alive and well, and it’s changing and growing all the time. What does this mean for us? We’ve got to change with it, follow the landscape and always work to optimise for the future. That means no dirty tricks, just keep it clean and keep it relevant. As contextual and conversational search improves, the relevance of traffic to our website will improve massively.
Myth #8: “Google are bad”
It’s a common complaint from SEOs, marketing departments and business owners that Google’s constant changing of the game makes it impossible to know. One thing I do know is that the search element of Google is not bad, you need to remember it isn’t built for businesses, it is built for users. They are pushing us to be better, for our websites to be user friendly and contain engaging content – if anything we should thank them for this! They are motivating you to continuously improve.
Myth #9: “If my site ranks well organically, then my business will do well”
This myth is a massive oversight and potentially damaging. SEO is there to drive traffic to your website, but that’s just like getting them in to your store. You’ve got them to your website, which is great. Now will they be able to easily follow your site to find what they want? Does your website make them trust you? Do you provide them with the right information to help them make a decision?
Myth #10: “My website will be optimised when it’s built”
When you get a website built, SEO is the last thing the developers are thinking about. They’ve got concerns about the build and the design but SEO is regularly forgotten unless you clearly state it in the brief (which we highly recommend!). Just make sure you hold them to it!
So if you’ve never touched the SEO since your site was built, now would be a great time to take a look or better yet, get us to look as part of our free marketing review.