6 Common Search Myths Debunked
With the world of SEO moving as quickly as it is, it can be hard, as a business, to keep up with the ever-changing algorithmic tide. Since the inception of the internet, the world of SEO has been through so much that, inevitably, myths and misunderstandings have become rife.
What will follow are 6 of the most common misconceptions in the search industry and the reasons why they are so very wrong indeed:
SEO Is A Scam
This myth is a kick in the gut for all honest SEOs worth their salt. Unfortunately for them, there are always the unscrupulous ‘others’ willing to provide poor quality (and totally ineffective) SEO services and promise top Google rankings for dirt cheap prices and in unrealistic time frames. It is these cowboys who have given the entire industry a somewhat shifty image and has subsequently made business owners far less willing to invest in it.
However, the quick-win ‘services’ the scammers provide is absolutely not SEO. Real SEO takes a great deal of time, effort and know-how, and will produce tangible results if properly executed.
Any business with an online presence would be well advised to take a great deal of time to choose an SEO provider who would suit their needs; but it is a legit service and is absolutely worth looking into.
It’s All About Links
Another myth which can become tiresome to SEOs; link building is still regarded by many as the only thing that will ever improve your rankings in Google search results. This is absolutely not true; Google lists over 200 ranking factors which can affect just how your business will fare in SERPS. In fact, in this article on serountable.com, you will see that someone has actually gone as far as to document 260 ranking factors; so much for ‘it’s all about links’.
This is not to say that links are ineffectual or outmoded, as this is certainly not a true statement either (as you will see in our next myth). However, what is true is that it can be very harmful to your business’ overall online performance if you get link tunnel vision and forget to pay attention to your site’s infrastructure, user experience, social media and, very importantly, the actual quality of your onsite content. Businesses, neglect these at your peril.
Link Building Is Dead
It may seem a little strange to follow the previous seemingly anti-links myth with this one. However, links do still play an integral role in the rankings game, despite Google’s Penguin algorithms or – most confusingly – Google’s own John Mueller recently telling us all to stop link building altogether.
In reality, though, it is just the spammy, black hat link building that is dead; directories, paid links and the like. If you really wanted to get into semantics, link building has simply turned into ‘link earning’ – a widely accepted new moniker for the process.
Going after those high quality links from authoritative and – here’s the very important bit – relevant websites is still well worth it and genuinely can help in your business’ journey to Google ranking success.
In other words, if Google sees you engaging in dodgy link exchanges or notices that you have 40 new links from an opticians website when you run an online food business, you could end up with a penalty. However, keep it relevant and keep it clean and you can’t go far wrong.
SEO Is a One-Off
Wrong, wrong and more wrong. Much as it would be wonderful if you could simply give your site a few tweaks and a handful of links in return for evergreen high Google rankings, this is, unfortunately, merely a pipe dream.
After doing these things you may well see a nice healthy spike in your organic search traffic and visibility, however you will also notice the inevitable fall back down to your humble beginnings if you apply no further effort.
Why is this? Well, the links you earn can often fall in value over time, the wonderful content you created 6 months ago may well also be out of date and no longer relevant, Google’s algorithms change at an alarming rate and your competitors – if they’re smart – will be using this opportunity to get ahead and out-perform you.
It may be that your site doesn’t need constant updates and link building campaigns to keep your business afloat, however it is always worth at least monitoring your SEO performance to make sure nothing drastic is happening.
Google Knows What I Mean
Nope. If this one were true, everybody’s lives would be so much easier, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, Google still needs our help to ensure that each and every one of our precious pages is correctly crawled, indexed and interpreted by Google’s bots.
For example, if you run a gigantic e-commerce site with hundreds of thousands of product pages, it’s quite likely that many of these will be duplicate or near-duplicate pages. Google will not realise that this is because you have the same product in a choice of 5 different colours, it will mark them as duplicates and potentially make you suffer for it. (Canonicalisation is a godsend here by the way).
We need to provide Google with as many technical clues as possible to help it sort our pages correctly and put them in front of the audiences we intended them for. In other words, keep all of your content valuable, relevant and unique; leaving it to chance will more often than not have unhappy consequences for your SEO performance.
Social Media Doesn’t Count
This is one of those myths an SEO can forgive people for believing, as Google themselves have openly said they do not use Facebook Likes or Twitter interactions as ranking signals.
However, the hidden benefit of Social Media activity is a secondary one; it helps increase awareness and amplifies your voice to millions of users.
Picture this: You create a fantastic piece of content and it’s just sitting there on your company website or blog. Being ignored. But then you share it on your social media platforms, then someone else shares it, and then the whole thing snowballs until you’ve reached thousands if not millions of people, including powerful influencers.
This will lead to an increase in visits to your site, engagement with your brand and can even generate natural links to your site from people who appreciate what you’ve done. Get this right and you could potentially see some positive ranking movements and increased traffic to your website before you know it. Facebook in particular can be a fantastic tool for driving valuable extra traffic to your website; Rand Fishkin at Moz explains this in expert detail here.
The above myths illustrate exactly why it is so important to conduct as much of your own research into SEO as possible before writing it off for your business. That way, you can learn to navigate its winding paths and avoid the dead ends like a total pro.