When it comes to successfully running a business online, ranking at the top of search engines can be critical because higher traffic can lead to more conversions, leads, or sales for a company. Due to this, search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved from a niche marketing skill set to almost an art. Unfortunately this has also led to a rise of SEO snake oil salesmen peddling half-baked solutions or using black hat tactics to move up in the rankings. With so much information coming from so many different types of sources, it can be difficult for people and businesses to separate the wheat from the chaff.
A guest post from Nick Rojas @NickARojas.
Below are some of the most common misconceptions about search engine optimization.
1. SEO is all about the rankings.
Rankings are important, but not as a standalone metric. Many people focus on rankings as the ultimate metric, but in truth the important metrics come after the rankings. Rankings matter when they lead to traffic, sales, leads, and profit. While businesses shouldn’t ignore search engine rankings, they also shouldn’t take their eyes off the prize: profits.
Businesses should first focus on profits, then work backward to develop a ranking strategy. Some questions businesses can ask themselves to do this include:
- What are the company’s most profitable services and products?
- How can the sales process be changed to close more deals from leads?
- How can the website be modified to generate more leads and sales?
- What keyword strategy would be most effective for generating more visits from qualified visitors, and how can the website be optimized for this keyword strategy?
2. Search engines love content.
Many companies have heard that search engines love content and lots of it. Based on this advice businesses pump out web content with abandon. In actuality search engines don’t just love websites that have content – they love websites with high-quality content. Instead of producing a surplus of bare bones content, businesses should focus on producing content that delivers real value to consumers and gets shared on social networks and other avenues. High quality content that is linked to by other websites and gains traction on other platforms will do more for SEO than hundreds of pages of low-grade articles.
3. The more inbound links the better.
Inbound links are good, but like the point above it all has to do with quality. High-quality incoming links can have a positive impact on SEO while low-quality incoming links actually have the potential to result in Google penalties or lowered rankings. Businesses should focus on organic link building, and that begins with producing superior content that people will want to link to.
4. SEO is a fast-acting solution.
Many companies adopt an SEO strategy because they believe they’ll see immediate results and rank #1 in just a few weeks. Often these businesses need results fast, but in truth SEO is a long-term strategy, not an overnight process. Some businesses might see results in just a few months, but that is in no way guaranteed. SEO requires a consistent investment of time, resources and effort in order to achieve desirable results.
5. Duplicate content will always result in a penalty.
Many companies have long feared a duplicate content penalty from Google. The conventional wisdom was that if more than one page had the same content or links pointing to one page, a site could be blacklisted or bumped from the rankings. Google does indeed penalize websites with duplicate content, but only if it appears that the content is being used to manipulate search engine results. In fact duplicate content is alright on legitimate websites. Websites that don’t try to fool the search engines or scrape content from other sites won’t be penalized for duplicate content.
With updates to search engine ranking algorithms being so frequent today, SEO is an ever-evolving field. One thing will always be true, however: original, high-quality content will perform the best and be rewarded by search engines and visitors alike.
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.