The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is so vast and dynamic that it’s only natural for a lot of things to be said about it. Note, however, that not everything that’s said about SEO is true. It is understandable that SEO specialists will have different opinions as regards the best way to approach certain aspects of SEO. However, you have to remember that there’s a huge difference between a unique approach to SEO and an opinion posing as fact. The latter only causes confusion, especially to beginners who are still testing the waters in the land of SEO.
SEO Myths Debunked
To make things a bit clearer, let’s begin debunking some of the most persistent SEO myths.
Myth #1: The more you mention a keyword in your content, the more likely you are to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This may have been true when SEO began, but it most definitely is no longer true these days. Take the time to read an article that’s filled to the brim with a particular keyword. Not very easy to read, is it? Well, the search engines of today have adjusted their algorithms such that they provide users only with the most relevant results for a particular search query. This means results are no longer based on single keywords alone, but on the context of the search terms used.
Rather than using a single keyword and then stuffing your content with it, focus on a key phrase instead and then use it only once or twice in your content. More importantly, use your chosen key phrase in such a way that you’re still able to maintain the natural flow of discussion. This means your key phrase should be incorporated into the content such that it makes sense. This is the one thing that makes the old tactic of keyword-stuffing a big no-no these days – it almost always makes no sense at all.
Myth #2: You need to focus all your SEO efforts on Google.
Yes, Google is still the biggest search engine in the world. But that doesn’t mean you should spend all your energy optimizing for Google alone. Remember, it may be the biggest, but it isn’t the only search engine around. And online users definitely do not conduct online searches on Google alone. There’s Bing, and Yahoo, and several other search engines your target market could be using. It will definitely be a good idea to take them into consideration when you optimize your web pages.
Perhaps the best way to decide which search engines to optimize for is to check the search engine shares in the country or countries where you operate. If you do business in the UK, for example, it would indeed be wise to focus on Google, as it holds an 89% share of all search engine use in the country. If you operate in China, however, you may want to forget Google, which holds only 3% of the country’s total search engine use.
Another thing you need to take note of is that optimization is no longer confined to search engines. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be if you’re serious about wanting to achieve success in online marketing. Sure, the process is still called SEO, but it has become important for you to optimize your web pages not only for search engines, but also for social networking sites. Google and Bing have started taking social into account in their rankings, so you definitely need to work on social media marketing as well.
Myth #3: The number of links you have is the most important factor for ranking high on SERPs.
This is one myth that has been said so often by so many that those who are new to the SEO world are bound to believe it. Perhaps the biggest reason why many people think this way is that natural links are very difficult to get. In fact, you don’t just get them; you have to earn them. This difficulty notwithstanding, link-building isn’t really all about quantity. It is about quality. Search engines won’t give you high rankings just because you have many links. They will give you good rankings if your links all come from trusted authority sites.
There are companies that offer to sell you some links, even today when it has become clear that old link-building tactics no longer work. Be careful not to fall into the trap of buying these links. More often than not, buying links will only get you penalized with poor rankings. Come to think of it, links (quantity- or quality-wise) aren’t even the most important ranking factors – relevance is! So instead of scrambling to get as many links as you can, you should focus more on earning high-quality links by making sure your content and your site are always relevant to your target audience.
Myth #4: Content creation is the end-all and be-all of SEO.
True, high-quality content is very important. It is, in fact, one of the most important components of an effective online marketing campaign. However, this does not mean your SEO efforts should start and end at creating content alone. You should not devote all your time, money, and effort on creating the best content your team can churn out of their creative minds. Bear in mind that even the best content won’t be of much help to you unless it is put to good use.
What do I mean by putting content to good use? Why, you have to promote it, of course! Content promotion is a necessary next step to content creation. If your website has the most entertaining, the most informative, the most useful, and the most relevant content in the worldwide web, but nobody knows it is there, what good will it do? You have to put your content out there, post teasers and links on your social media pages, and tell as many people about it as you can. That’s the only way you will get people to appreciate the content your team worked so hard to come up with.
And it’s not even just content creation and promotion that’s important. You should also work on making your website visible and accessible to both users and search engines. Think about it. How will search engine bots index your content if your web pages can’t even be found? Your content may have gone viral on social media and people may be talking about it, but if the search engine bots cannot find the page on which it is posted, you still won’t gain anything in terms of search rankings. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make your website more visible and accessible, and there’s plenty of information on the Internet on how to go about it.
Myth #5: Getting top rankings is the best way to get traffic to your site.
Wait, am I saying that improving your SERP rankings isn’t the best way to increase site traffic? Yes, indeed I am. So, why should you keep investing time and money on SEO if it’s just a waste of time? Well, now, that is something I most definitely did NOT say! SEO is important and it probably will always be important for gaining more traffic and achieving overall online marketing success. I’m just saying it’s not the only way to accomplish that goal and may not even be the best way.
Take the time to observe the amount of traffic you get from organic searches over a particular period of time. You’ll notice that while there is indeed traffic that comes from searches, the volume is pretty much inconsistent. To achieve the goal of increasing web traffic, you may want to focus more on content promotion. Whether you rank high for a particular keyword or not, as long as you have promoted your content well enough, you’re bound to get a more consistent flow of traffic to your site.
The bottom line is that SEO is not meant to operate on its own. It is an important component of online marketing, but it is just one of several. You need to use it in conjunction with other tools like social media in order for it to reach its optimum potential.
A Final Word
As you test the waters in the world of SEO, be careful not to believe everything you hear or read about the process. Remember that the most successful SEO practitioners went through an arduous process of putting theories/myths to the test. You, too, may have to go through a trial-and-error phase to determine which specific strategies and techniques work best for you. What’s important is that you listen to advice along the way, but make your own decisions based on what suits your situation best.
It is my hope that the above discussion has been of real help to you. If there is anything else you want to add to the list of myths I’ve just debunked, or if you have counter-evidence to anything stated above, please feel free to share.