Richard Conway debunks six common myths surrounding search engine optimisation, and offers the simple truth about SEO.
Having been involved with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for almost 15 years, I have heard and seen so many false promises, misconceptions and outright lies, that I thought this month I would debunk a few of the most common myths. So here they are:
MYTH #1: All SEO nowadays is just creating good content
Content is in the top three most impactful aspects of Search Engine Optimisation. However, with good, regular content alone, you will not actually be doing any real SEO.
In order to turn content into something meaningful, you need to first look at keyword research. What terms and phrases are they searching? What questions is your audience asking? What value are you providing your potential customer, and what is the actual point in the content beyond it being there for the sake of needing some content?
You need to ensure that the website is set up in a manner that Google can find and attribute value to the content. You need to ensure the content is tagged properly (with metadata, tracking code, etc.), is linked to (internally and from external sources) and has thorough research, planning and editorial authority attributed to it (great punctuation, grammar and spelling).
MYTH #2: Link building is dead
Link building is really, really hard. Even in 2019 it’s one of the biggest indicators to Google that your website has authority (especially for a small business). Getting third-party websites to link to your website is critical. Think about relationships you already have – suppliers, customers and sponsorships – and make sure you are properly listed on all the local online directories (like Yellow, Finda, Neighbourly, etc.).
Content is another great source of links. If the content is great and is distributed widely enough, it should garner organic links (usually the best types).
MYTH #3: I have completed an SEO audit; it looks good, my work here is done
SEO is not a one-off thing; it is something that needs continual attention and work. I recently wrote a book for SMEs so that they could do their own website optimisation. As part of that, I had Rand Fishkin, probably the most famous SEO person globally (founder of Moz.co and SparkToro), write a couple of pages for the book. He said:
“Every month you don’t invest in SEO is a month when your competitors will, and eventually, even if you have a long head-start, they’ll catch you up and surpass you.”
At Pure SEO if we start to get complacent and forget to focus on our own efforts, we see a fall in search engine rankings, traffic and enquiries. To counter this, we have our own website booked into our workflow, just as if we were a client. That way, we ensure we add regular good content and attain regular new links to our website.
MYTH #4: Guaranteed, quick rankings
We hear this a lot: “This company said they will guarantee that we are on page one of Google overnight” – but there are so many factors to consider that an overnight job is simply impossible. Even Google’s support website states:
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google, or advertise a ‘priority submit’ to Google. (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en)
In reality, there are hundreds of different signals that Google’s search algorithm looks at to determine if a website ranks well or not. Not only that, SEO is an ongoing practice that takes considerable time to yield results. If you have a short-term view on your marketing, then SEO is simply not the right path for you; you would likely be better off investing in paid advertising (like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.).
MYTH #5: If you spend money on Google Ads, this will help your website rank organically
Google Ads and the organic (natural) search results are mutually exclusive. Throwing lots of money at a Google Ad campaign will certainly bring customers and traffic to your website. However, it will not have any direct impact on your SEO or organic rankings.
Paid adverts can, however, be used to help your SEO by bolstering your keyword research. You will be able to gather a lot of accurate data around keywords very quickly using a paid search campaign.
MYTH #6: SEO is all ‘smoke and mirrors’ or black magic
This couldn’t be further from the truth; some marketers may make it seem that way because they don’t want you to know what they are doing. However, good SEO is just good marketing; everything we do as optimisers should have a simple, valid and logical explanation attached to it. For example, when auditing a website, the aim is to find out what obstacles there are to Google’s ability to understand, crawl and show your website for terms that would be beneficial to the searcher.
The simple SEO truth
Google’s main focus is delivering quality search results to searchers as quickly as possible. If your website is perceived to return the best result for a given query, Google will opt to show your webpage – it’s as simple as that.
Ongoing SEO is about creating extra authority and value to your website; this value is accretive and can be achieved through extra links, quality content and audience engagement.
Article by Richard Conway, CEO – Pure SEO