- Search Engine Optimisation
- 15th Oct 2015
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been around a long time in internet terms. Website owners started exploring how to get their sites recommendation by search engines in the mid-1990s, even before Google launched (1998). It was 2002 before Myspace arrived, 2004 for Facebook, and 2007 for the iPhone to appear.
That's one reason why so many SEO myths have been created and shared.
Another problem is that search engines want to keep a lot of the ways they rank web pages secret, so that they can do their best to maintain quality and control. As a result, it's easy to confuse the apparent cause of success or failure without taking into account all the potential reasons. Especially when you remember a search engine is also a business which may want to publicise a particular opinion for its own reasons, rather than to help website owners or SEOs.
The final reason is that there is no barrier to entry for anyone to start working in Search Engine Optimisation. You could call yourself an SEO Specialist without any training or tools. That's why it's so important to work with a company or individual that can demonstrate successful results over a decent time period. And it's also why so many people still share old myths and mistakes in new blog posts and articles - they've simply repeated what was written a few years ago, without any experience to contradict it.
With decades of combined SEO experience, we've heard pretty much every story, tale and myth in existence. And we've also got many years of experience in exploring the truth of each one with practical examples and results.
1. SEO is Dead:
Even search engine and marketing websites continually publish articles claiming that SEO is either dead already, or will be on it's way out 'next year'. They know that these articles will generate a lot of views and comments - mainly because they're utterly wrong.
Websites can get a lot more traffic from social media than ever before. And there are constant improvements in artificial intelligence like Siri on your iPhone and Cortana for Windows. But that still requires websites to be created in the right way and optimised for sharing, accessibility and technical elements like Schema Markup (which helps to identify specific information and content as an event, film or recipe, for example).
Sometimes the claim is made by people who have hired an individual or company without really checking their credentials and their work has failed to deliver. Or it's often made by someone who wants to promote their efforts in a related field like social media or content marketing.
But in general, websites will still get around 50%+ of their traffic from search. And that's a lot more if you're not constantly able to update your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts every day.
And even when you get as much traffic from other sources - people that find you from actively searching will read more, and be more likely to make a purchase. And those people are vital for businesses.
Even if every search engine closed their business tomorrow, you'd still need your website to be optimised for people searching within sites like Facebook, or sharing your content on Pinterest. And that's before you even start optimising applications for the App Store and Google Play.
2. SEO is Easy:
In the distant past, Search Engine Optimisation meant ensuring your content had a lot of keywords, and then obtaining lots of new links to your website. But the SEO industry has evolved a lot over the last few years in particular. Google in particular has put an emphasis on trying to rank quality content, and as a result, managing keywords and links has become a lot more intensive.
You need to have the right balance between targeting the right keywords, and avoiding overdoing it (known as 'keyword stuffing'). And acquiring links needs to be a more natural process - without ending up on a lot of low quality link directories based in the Far East, for example.
Working in SEO full-time means keeping up with all the latest news and information on search engine updates, testing them to see what has really changed, and applying them to your website in the right way to get the most benefits. It's time-consuming, and definitely isn't always easy.
3. Search Engines Will Do It All For You:
The people working at Google and other search engines are very smart. But that doesn't mean they can solve every issue affecting the 1 billion-plus websites on the internet.
There's no reason for Google to work and find ways to rank your website when there are already lots of competitors who have put in the effort to make their site easily accessible or full or relevant content.
Search Engines do provide recommendations - they'll flag up if you've received a manual penalty, if they have a problem accessing your website, or if your pages load particularly slowly. But you have to get those issues solved before you get more customers, whether you do the work yourself, or find a reputable company to work with.
4. We already did SEO a few years ago:
Marketing is an ongoing investment, and that's particularly true in SEO. While you might save a bit of money by stopping work once you've seen a boost, it's likely to mean you'll need to invest even more when traffic has fallen over time and you need to start again.
The reasons for that include:
- - Links degrade over time (Older links pass less and less value).
- - Search Engines prefer fresh, updated content.
- - Changes to Search Engine algorithms.
- - Competitors moving ahead.
- - Customer habits and search terms changing.
It's far better and cheaper to keep improvements going, rather than stopping and then restarting again when you inevitably start seeing traffic and customer numbers tailing off.
5. Search Engines Hate SEOs Because It's All A Scam:
You could easily get the impression that search engines don't like the fact Search Engine Optimisation exists. But the press releases, algorithm updates and other measures are aimed at those in SEO who use tricks and scams to get results, known in the trade as 'black hats'.
At the same time, Google themselves provide advice on how to choose an SEO, an SEO Starter Guide, and tools like Google Search Console. The reason is that most of the elements of ethical SEO are designed to make websites more accessible, and to make it easier for search engines to find, index, and display good quality content. Which is what everyone wants, including Google.
Many people in SEO have a good relationship with Google staff and speak to them at events, in webinars etc. It's a question of choosing the right SEO, with a proven track record and expertise.
6. SEO is Completely Separate From Other Marketing:
It's true that paying for search advertising won't help your content appear higher in search results. And search engines don't look at the number of followers you have on a social network or treat the links you post socially as the same kind of recommendation from a relevant website.
But the data from your Paid Search Advertising (PPC) can really help the insights into your SEO - adverts will appear and start accruing information on relevant keywords, and what drives sales, which will help you in choosing what to target.
And social 'engagement' will help your SEO - the more successful you are on social media, the more traffic you're likely to get back to your articles, which is one signal for search engines to increase your rankings. It can also help your latest updates appear in search more quickly, and your activity on the big social networks will appear in search results alongside your website.
It's understandable that these myths are still being shared by websites, writers and marketers. If you're trying to keep up with any marketing discipline, then it's time-consuming. That makes it easy to accept what you read on any official or respected website as fact and repeat it to people you're trying to help. Not every company or SEO has time to test thoroughly, or has a broad range of client data from which to draw the right conclusions.
And if you've got any questions about Digital Marketing or SEO, then let us know and we'll help separate the fact from fiction. Why not connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and drop us a private message.
- Search Engine Optimisation,