SEO is…complicated. Anyone who remotely suggests otherwise, or claims to have “cracked the code,” is lying through their teeth. Like it or not, there are no shortcuts or easy outs when it comes to ranking your site. Basically, staying on top of the latest SEO strategies, tactics, rules, and guidelines is no easy task, and trying to wrap your head around every single variable that separates a ranking site from an unranking site is an exhausting undertaking.
When it comes to SEO, there are a lot more unknowns than there are certainties. And because of this, there’s more room for experimentation and evaluation, but this also can leave the door wide open for half-truths and misinformation. And when you spend as much time studying SEO practices and analyzing results as we do, you certainly come across your share of SEO myths and legends. Here are a few of our (least?) favorites…
SEO doesn’t work for small businesses
To say it “doesn’t work” is a bit of a pessimistic approach. I will grant you that SEO isn’t a level playing field, per se. For instance, if you own a small hardware store, you’re probably not going to be knocking Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Amazon off of page one for search terms like “hammer” or “home repair” any time soon. The key for small businesses is to capitalize on local and/or less-trafficked keywords, gain backlinks, and increase your domain authority. As more and more people recognize your site as a valuable resource for their home repair tips or hammer-buying needs, Google will begin to take notice and your rankings WILL improve.
If you’re not first, you’re last
It makes perfect sense that you and your SEO agency would want to conquer that number one spot. After all, no one goes to the Olympics and strives to bring home a bronze. But you shouldn’t pin all of your hopes to the top rank, nor should your agency give you the impression that they, and only they, can get you there). Instead, you ought to focus on generating valuable website traffic, converting that traffic into leads, and driving those leads to become customers. In fact, a recent study revealed that in many cases, that coveted number one spot doesn’t even bring in the most traffic.
Paying for backlinks works
Backlinks are essentially votes of confidence in your website. When another website links to your own, they’re saying to their own audience that you are a credible source of information. The problem is that there are shady “companies” out there that, for a nominal fee, will stick your links on hundreds or thousands of garbage sites in an attempt to fool Google and take your money. Google is smarter than this, and you should be too. Buying backlinks is a great way to get flagged by Google and have your domain penalized and, worse, tarnish your brand. Focus your resources on giving real people valuable information and positive user experiences. Remember, qualified backlinks are earned, not bought.
Using Google Ads helps organic rankings
Now there’s actually a bit of truth to this one, but probably not in the direct way you’re thinking. Typically when we hear this, it’s under the presumption that by buying Google Ads, Google will give your site an organic boost as somewhat of an under the table show of appreciation. It doesn’t work like that. However, since site traffic is a major component of organic SEO, and targeted pay per click ad campaigns are a heck of a way to generate just that, there IS a degree of connection here. Let’s just call this one a semi-myth.
A vibrant social media presence can boost SEO
Another semi-myth. A million Facebook likes or Instagram followers certainly has the potential to take your brand to new heights. But simply having this audience won’t affect your organic ranking. However, by engaging your social media audience and getting them to visit, reference, and share your unique content, you’re driving more website traffic and thus taking steps to improve your organic rank. Learn more about the connection between SEO and social media HERE.
We already did SEO. We’re done.
No, you’re not. Until you’re ranking #1 for every targeted keyword (and let’s face it, you’re not), there is still work to be done. And if you are lucky enough to be sitting atop the organic rankings for a handful of high traffic keywords, don’t get too comfortable. Competing companies—even the ones you’ve never heard of—are working right this very minute to annex that spot for themselves. And unless you’re putting in the work to defend it, you won’t be there long.
We can handle SEO in house
Your competition is really hoping you’ll buy into this one for the simple reason that it doesn’t work. I can count on one hand the number of times when this claim has actually been true. It is rare to have the in-house resources and expertise necessary to build and implement an ongoing and effective SEO strategy. It is not a throwaway task you can tack on to someone’s already full plate, pass off to an intern, or cross your fingers and expect concrete results. It’s simply unrealistic.
Your best bet when it comes to developing and monitoring SEO successes and opportunities is to cultivate a relationship with a trusted and experienced SEO agency. It’s not too late to get your SEO in gear, but the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be.