We’ve helped a lot of businesses improve their SEO and rank well on Google.  They’ve increased their sales, reputation, and visibility by being one of the first businesses found on search engines!  But over the years, we’ve also run across quite a few myths out there about successful search engine optimization.  Learn about how to improve your SEO by checking out the myths below.

Myth #1: I can “put” my website on Google Search.

This is one that I hear all the time.  You see, websites don’t purchase their search engine rankings, nor are they intentionally put in one position by the website owners.  Instead, they’re “ranked” by Google based on a variety of factors intended to display the highest-quality and most relevant results for searchers.

Think about it this way.  Google’s job is to give their users the information that they’re looking for based on the terms that they use in their search queries.  And if people could just buy those spots, then they wouldn’t be doing their job very well!  This is why it’s very important to create great content that fits with what your target audience is searching for, and to provide an excellent user experience for your site visitors.

Myth #2: Keywords are the most important element of SEO.

Let’s be honest – keywords are important.  But they’re not necessarily the most important part of search engine optimization.  Think of search engine optimization as a puzzle.  There are many pieces that make up the puzzle, and each piece gets you a little closer to finishing the picture, but true puzzle “success” comes from connecting them all together correctly.

SEO is just like that.  There are a lot of little pieces that all work together to make for an excellent ranking. While keywords are an important aspect, they’re simply one piece.  And, if you focus too much on keywords, you could get penalized for keyword stuffing, which also doesn’t provide a very good user experience.

Myth #3: I don’t need a blog.

Wrong.  Not trying to be overly blunt here, but a blog is one of the most critical aspects to SEO.  Google wants to provide their users with relevant, up-to-date content, and your blog is one of the best ways that you can provide that content.

A regularly-updated blog does a few things for you.  It gives your website more opportunities to rank for a variety of keywords (with each post optimized for the keyword that fits the best), proves that your content is relevant and timely, shows potential customers that you know what you’re talking about and gives Google more pages to index (which can increase your authority).  And that’s not even taking into consideration the amazing opportunities a blog offers to connect with potential clients, capture emails, and make sales!

You may think that you don’t have anything to write about, or that your industry is boring.  That’s simply not true.  While it’s easy to get writer’s block, there are definitely ways to overcome it!  I’m writing content for a toilet stall manufacturer client, and we’re able to come up with fresh ideas that bring in regular traffic. Check out this list for some great ways to come up with engaging content.  And, if you’d like someone to write your content for you, we’d love to come up with a content marketing plan that fits your business and schedule!

Myth #4: My blog post should rank as soon as I post it, if it’s well optimized.

No it shouldn’t.  This is essentially unheard of.  Again, we go back to the idea that SEO is made of a lot of little pieces that work together.  So, if the rest of your site is ranking well, and you have a good amount of blog posts that are updated regularly, then the potential for your blog post to rank faster is increased. However, if your site isn’t ranking well, or if you only have a handful of blog posts, then it could definitely take longer for your new post to rank.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Google doesn’t constantly crawl your website.  They crawl websites that already rank well more often.  But it could take a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks.  And, no, there’s no way to pay Google to crawl your website more frequently.

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Myth #5: Social media isn’t related to search engine optimization.

To begin, social media is something that should be a part of your marketing efforts regardless of its impact on your website ranking.  It’s an excellent opportunity to reach your target market, truly connect with your audience, and establish yourself as an expert in your field!

Google likes social media for all of those same reasons.  Successful social media profiles, with engagement and followers, shows Google that you’re a credible resource.  Social media is also a valuable way to build links to your website, and your social media profiles can definitely show up in Google search.

Google, of course, loves their own social media platform, Google+.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be the focus of your social media efforts, but having a somewhat regular presence on Google+ is a great way to help with SEO.  Share your best content there, that you’d love to be associated with your website ranking.

Myth #6: I shouldn’t invest my time/money into SEO.

It is certainly true that different marketing methods work best for different companies.  However, SEO is one that can have longterm benefits for any business!  It is important to remember that SEO is a longterm strategy, and not an “overnight success”.  However, there are a lot of things that search engine optimization brings to the table that other types of marketing do not.

Think about the Internet ads that pop up when you’re trying to read an article on your favorite news site. Or the commercials that you skip over while you watch tv shows.  Those types of outbound advertising and marketing can really get on peoples’ nerves!  Or, they’re just so used to them that they either skip them over, or don’t even see them to begin with.

However, inbound marketing strategies, like SEO, allow people to find you!  If someone finds you using a search engine, that means that they’re actively seeking out what you provide – your product or service.  This saves you a lot of money in advertising and allows you to reach people who are more qualified customers.

Myth #7: I should post the same blog posts multiple times to increase my ranking.

This could actually hurt your website more than help it!  Google sees content that is posted multiple times or on a variety of websites (duplicate content) as trying to trick the system.  They can actually penalize you for it!  It’s perfectly fine to share a post on social media multiple times; but it’s best practice to only publish it on your website (or any website, for that matter) one time.

Myth #8: Once my site is optimized, I won’t need to do anything else.

While initial website optimization can really put you on the right track to SEO success, search engine optimization truly takes ongoing effort.  Google changes their algorithm regularly, and it’s important to stay up-to-date with those changes.

In addition, blogging regularly is critical for SEO (see above), and those blog posts should be optimized for your target keywords.  It’s also important to maintain your website speed, social media profiles, etc. Remember, Google values regular, high-quality content!

Myth #9: I should focus on the most popular keywords.

Not always.  Let’s consider the keyword “real estate”.  Lots of people search for this on a regular basis, so it might seem like a good idea to focus on it.  However, there are huge players in the real estate field (Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, etc.) who have completely dominated the industry.  It would be essentially impossible to beat them out for that keyword!

Therefore, you should consider long-tail keywords.  These contain a few words (such as “real estate in Nashville”) and are easier to rank for.  It’s all about a balance between ability to rank and popularity.  You don’t want to target something that no one is searching for, either!

Google Adwords Keyword Planner is an excellent tool to give you all the information about keywords that you need to know!

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Myth #10: Search engine optimization is all about the robots.

One could argue that this used to be the case.  However, it’s definitely not anymore!  Google is constantly updating and refining their algorithm for displaying search results.  And, since their ultimate goal is to provide their searchers with the content that they’re searching for, their focus has shifted to relevant, high-quality content.  This means that SEO is now all about the user experience, rather than the robots.

Yes, you want to make your site easy to index for Google’s bots.  A great tool to ensure that you have everything set up correctly is Google Search Console.  There, you can view your site as Google, submit a sitemap, check your robots.txt file, and more.

More importantly, however, you should focus on an excellent experience for your site visitors.  Create excellent content that answers their questions.  Make your website look perfect on all mobile devices. Ensure that it loads quickly for your customers.  Break up your text with titles and bullets.  Add high-quality images.

A great way to find out if it’s user-friendly is to send friends and family to your site and ask for honest opinions.  Another amazing tool is Peek – a tool by User Testing that sends your website to a random tester, who records a video of them navigating through your site.  This is an excellent way to find out how unbiased people really use your website!

Myth #11: A specific formula works the same for all websites.

Absolutely not.  While there are definitely best practices for SEO, every website, industry and keyword is different.  For example, if you’re in a very competitive industry, you may need to focus on long tail keywords in order to have a chance to rank well for them.  Other industries may require more frequent blog posts to keep up with your competitors.  It’s best to find an expert to perform a full analysis and help you figure out the best steps to take when it comes to SEO.  If you’d like a free consultation, we’d love for you to get in touch!

Myth #12: Google knows what my images are of.

Not really.  They can’t scan the images and tell that your photo is of a cat or a computer.  Or a cat on a computer (which is most often the case in my office).  However, you can set up alt text for each image to let Google know exactly what your image is of.

Your alt text also serves another purpose; it is used by screen readers to “read” your site to those with visual disabilities.  Therefore, your alt text should not only contain your keywords, but should be something that would make sense if it’s read aloud to someone.

Myth #13: It’s more important to post often than to put a lot of time into my posts.

While regular posting is important, it’s even more important to create quality posts that people want to read.  Going back to the concept of user experience being the most important thing for SEO, your posts won’t do much for you if they’re put up hastily without thought.  They should make sense, be easy to navigate and read, and fit your target market.

Myth #14: SEO is not related to usability.

SEO is definitely related to usability!  Beyond some of the other things that we’ve discussed so far (responsive design, load time, navigation, etc.) engagement metrics are very important.

“When a search engine delivers a page of results to you, it can measure the success of the rankings by observing how you engage with those results. If you click the first link, then immediately hit the back button to try the second link, this indicates that you were not satisfied with the first result. Search engines seek the “long click” – where users click a result without immediately returning to the search page to try again. Taken in aggregate over millions and millions of queries each day, the engines build up a good pool of data to judge the quality of their results.” – Moz

Google has also developed what’s called “machine learning”, which imitates the way that a real person would use a website.  If it’s determined to be difficult to use or navigate, then your rankings could be negatively affected.

Myth #15: I’m a local, small business.  I don’t need SEO.

If you’re a local business, then SEO can be even more beneficial for you than national or international companies!  You have the unique ability to use keywords specifically for your area.  It’s also much easier for you to define your target audience.  Here are a few ways you can use local SEO to your advantage:

  • Create local listings.  Make sure your business is included on a variety of listing sites.  Here are some of the top ones to consider:
    • Google My Business
    • Yelp
    • Bing
    • The Yellow Pages
    • Angie’s List
    • LinkedIn
    • MapQuest
  • Use your location in your keywords.  For example, if you’re a boutique clothing store, you might use keywords like “clothes in Atlanta.”
  • Write blog posts that apply to your area.  Feature local events and other local businesses.
  • Ask your customers and clients to leave reviews on the sites that you’re listed on.  You should focus first on Google and Yelp.  This gives you credibility in Google’s eyes!
  • Make sure your address is listed on your website.  A great place to include it is in the footer, so that it’s on every page.
  • Build links with other local businesses.  Write guest posts for other local businesses.  Reach out to local newspapers, blogs, or websites to see if you can be featured on their sites.

Have questions?

We’d love to hear from you!  Feel free to ask anything in the comments below, or reach out via our contact form.