Most businesses recognize the need for SEO in their overall inbound marketing strategy, but many lack deep insight into this incredibly complex and dynamic field. Did you know, for example, that Google uses over 200 factors to determine where you rank in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)? Google, and all of the other search engines, are continually evolving their algorithms, which means that many things that were once true for SEO no longer work – or can even have a negative impact on your SEO.
Here are a few of the biggest myths that we’ve seen:
Myth #1: More Inbound Links Are Always Better
While it is true that search algorithms do consider inbound links, the focus is more on quality than quantity. In the past, having lots of inbound links did help boost search ranking, resulting in a number of link schemes popping up. While this issue was addressed in Google’s Penguin update back in 2012, some people are under the impression that it still works. The reality is that inbound links from low-quality sources can (and often do) hurt your page rank.
Today, search engines place a higher value on inbound links from quality sites that are relevant to your product or service. If you sell golf balls, for example, one link from a popular site that reviews golf equipment is more valuable than a random link in a sidebar or footnote of a site about an unrelated topic.
Myth #2: Just Creating Content is Enough to Boost SEO
Simply pumping out mediocre content onto your site is not going to have the impact to your SEO that you may hope for. While consistently posting content is important, what is really going to boost your SEO is high quality content. This means that you need to create content that is seen, read, and shared. It also means that you need to have a thorough understanding of your buyer personas and create content that is relevant and highly engaging to them. Finally, you need to differentiate your content from your competitors if you hope to keep it alive in a sea of digital media noise.
Myth #3: SEO is a “Set It and Forget It” Enterprise
Nearly all businesses will see a decline in organic search traffic without regular maintenance from a search engine marketing specialist. This is because SEO relies on publishing fresh content, updating existing content, and keeping pace with evolving search engine algorithms, in addition to focused off-page strategies designed to build high quality inbound links. There is no autopilot when it comes to SEO; you need someone who can monitor it on a regular basis.
Myth #4: You Need a High-Ranking Keyword
There is a misconception that all you need to do is rank well for some commonly used keywords and you site will be flooded with leads/sales. The reality is that the more general the keyword, the less likely someone is ready to convert. This is because people use general keywords when they are early in the buying cycle, then get more specific the closer they are to making a purchase. Don’t spend a great deal of time, money, and effort trying to rank for these popular, everyday keywords. Instead, focus your efforts on ranking for highly relevant long-tail keywords.
Myth #5: You Don’t Need an SEO Specialist
An effective SEO strategy is an ongoing process; once-and-done doesn’t work in today’s competitive environment. Some companies take shortcuts such as assigning SEO to content creators or web managers, but this is a short-sighted approach because you really do need dedicated expertise to do SEO right and beat your competition.
Outsourcing SEO to an outside agency makes good financial sense for many companies. In the past, agencies used black-hat techniques that gave the industry a bad rap, but today’s firms know that search engines penalize sites using such practices and use proven, ethical SEO techniques the search engines accept.