Minneapolis SEO Experts Weigh In on the Top 8 SEO Myths
SEO, as it exists today, is a complex discipline combining a variety of technical and non-technical components to assist webmasters in their never-ending quest for higher search engine rankings. Or, as defined by the unofficial overlord of SEO Mr. Rand Fishkin, “SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of the traffic that you earn through the organic results in search engines.” So, now that we’ve briefly discussed what SEO is, let us delve into what SEO is not.
Major SEO Myths
SEO is Instantaneous
The term “quick fix” might apply to a small subset of products and services, but SEO is not one of them. Effective search engine optimization begins with an extensive audit of your current web presence and rankings. From there, comprehensive research must be conducted, technical issues must be corrected, and new strategies implemented. You might think that after the initial implementation your rankings should shoot through the roof, thereby negating your need of SEO services, but this would be a sad underestimation.
Though there may [read: will] be an initial rankings boost after your first 3-6 months, a wise SEO knows that there is always room for improvement. By utilizing on-going link development strategies and making necessary adjustments to the initial implementation, long-term SEO services equate to steady gains over time.
Step back and look at the big picture; imagine that this is your website and that you only enlisted SEO services until January 2012. Do you really want to miss out on an over 400% increase in qualified traffic?
If that doesn’t demonstrate the value of sticking with it, nothing will.
SEO is Dead
Hate to burst your bubble, but no, SEO is not dead, and as long as there are search engines, there will likely be search engine optimization of some type. This myth is one that cycles through the blogosphere with every shift in Google’s strategy or the appearance/disappearance/reappearance of algorithms and tools.
SEO, with it’s many moving parts, has proven to be a shape shifter, with key components fluctuating in importance and efficacy. It can be said that the SEO of old is dead, as search engine marketers have abandoned tactics such as keyword stuffing, creating links with misleading anchor text, implementing ridiculously long and nonsensical title tags, and creating countless spammy backlinks. With that said, if that is your idea of SEO, you’re a few years behind the times.
Keyword Density Matters
Keyword density actually does matter, just not like it used to. Keyword density is no longer a ranking factor, and overdoing your keyword integration can actually be extremely detrimental to your SEO efforts. Known as keyword stuffing, this practice is considered to be “black hat” or – for non-industry readers – spammy, and can lead to Google penalties. In today’s world of SEO, it is much more important to ensure that your keywords are relevant and read naturally within your content than having a certain number of keywords per page.
Keywords Are Dead
There is an increasing level of buzz surrounding the idea that keyword research and keywords in general are “dead” or no longer the way to optimize websites for search engines. In place of keywords, it’s been said that crafting content around topics and themes is more important. While ensuring that all of your content follows a general theme and is topic-specific is absolutely essential to your success, that does not mean that keywords are no longer necessary. Instead, these two practices need to work hand-in-hand more than ever.
Keywords are still the building blocks through which search engines find your webpage for users. So while you can spend countless hours crafting an amazing piece of content or a spectacular webpage, what good is all of that work if no one ever finds it? We’d argue that you just wasted your time.
Content Doesn’t Matter
You might think that if you have all of the technical aspects of SEO in place your website will rank well no matter what it says, or regardless of how many words live on the pages of said site. This could not be further from the truth. Not only are search engines [read: Google] getting better at understanding how types of content relate to one another, they have made leaps and bounds of progress in parsing out user intent.
For the quick and dirty rundown, your content must be relevant and optimized, but that alone is not the ultimate formula for success. Though the specific length will vary on different types of pages, your content must be in-depth enough to effectively articulate that you are an expert in your industry. For example, if you have a website that sells handmade rugs, your site will be viewed much more favorably if you feature information about how the rugs are made, what materials are used, how they are dyed, etc. than if you simply state that you sell rugs.
The idea that “nobody reads the content” is, to keep it PG, bunk. Especially for areas of your website where you can expand on your products and services, length goes a lot further than one might think.
Longer content not only provides you with better rankings, but it is also shared more often than shorter content, which can be huge for getting your brand out there through social media.
Linking to Authoritative Sites Provides a Boost
Linking to authoritative websites does improve the authority of a website, but that site is not yours. Your outbound link is simply another “popularity vote” lending more credibility to the other site, but doing nothing for your own. If linking did in fact work this way, everyone would link to authoritative sites, rendering the tactic useless.
Instead, the goal is to provide such valuable information through your web presence that those authoritative sites want to link to you. When this happens, said authoritative site is giving your site the “popularity vote” and thereby providing you with additional credibility and authority.
Link Building Is Dead
Like other myths on this list, link building is not dead, but it has changed immensely over time. The traditional [read: spammy] style of link building where webmasters try to get links on any and every website possible, by paying for said links or acquiring them through other means, is really, most sincerely dead – as it should be. Websites that utilize these tactics are policed by Google’s Penguin algorithm, and see catastrophic results when their unsavory link strategies are discovered – again, as they should.
Today, link building strategies must take a much different approach, but when done correctly, results can be outstanding. By only seeking out links on sites relevant to your industry, and by doing so organically using events, on-topic directory listings, and the like, your website can see authority gains without the risk of plummeting off of search engine results pages.
You Must Submit Your Sitemap to Search Engines
Submitting your sitemap to Google, Bing, or Yahoo does not have any impact on your site authority or search rankings. With that said, submitting your sitemap after you’ve made a change to your optimization strategies, added pages, or corrected a technical issue can help search engines recognize these changes faster than if you neglected to do so. Therefore, though it isn’t an essential for SEO strategies, it can sometimes speed up the crawling process when you want to implement a change quickly, which can come in handy.
Bringing It All Together
Though we’ve just examined only a fraction of the myths surrounding SEO, there are two underlying messages that each little snippet clearly conveys:
- When SEO is done correctly, it produces real, valuable results.
- There are a lot of people out there who do it wrong.
To truly unlock your website’s revenue generating potential, you have to have an in-depth understanding of how each part of SEO functions within the big picture. When embarking on an SEO campaign, or hiring an agency to do it for you, be sure that your expectations are realistic, and that you aren’t living in the past with any of these myths – because if you are, it could do you more harm than good.