While SEO is an industry of constant evolution and discovery, the fundamentals of SEO have more or less remained the same, despite two decades of progression. That’s the word from, Jayson DeMers, CEO of AudienceBloom.
“And, in part because people never bothered to learn how SEO really works and in part because of myths that are still circulated by uninformed writers, most people still don’t fully understand how those fundamentals work,” says DeMers.
Here are 8 main points DeMers says most people get wrong about SEO:
1. SEO is just a gimmick
In light of how some people talk about SEO, it’s not a stretch to think of it as a sequence of clever tricks designed to get your site to outrank others in search results.
The truth is, white-hat search optimizers aren’t trying to deceive Google’s search algorithm or scheme their way to the top. They’re trying to determine the most important website features and content for users (and search engines) and deliver it.
“Most of the time, this results in organic, well-intentioned website improvements—not spam, hacks, or short-term tricks,” explains DeMers.
2. Only keyword rankings really matter
While it’s true that one of SEO’s main priorities is getting you ranked as high as possible on search engine results pages (SERPs), this misconception can lead to an error in prioritization, resulting in marketers believing keyword rankings are all that matter.
3. Google penalties pose a major threat
“The way some people write about Google penalties, you’d think they were handed out more often than speeding tickets,” says DeMers.
The reality is that really severe Google penalties result from manual action—regrettable behavior that most webmasters try to steer clear of. Temporary ranking drops, or automatic penalties, although common are far less severe.
Bottom line: Follow best practices and you have nothing to worry about.
4. When it comes to SEO, the less you spend the better
“SEO is known for being a cost-effective strategy with a high return on investment (ROI),” says DeMers. But newcomers mistakingly believe that it’s best to spend as little as possible on SEO in order to avoid risk and boost long-term returns.
The problem with that thinking is, low SEO budgets often come with amateur work and inadequate strategic execution. So, suggests DeMers, “In many cases, it’s better to spend more on better services.”
5. You need to have the technical expertise to do SEO
While it’s true that there are a lot of technical elements to SEO (robots.txt file editing and canonical tags can look pretty intimidating to newcomers), even without coding experience, you can learn the basics of areas like these within a few hours.
6. SEO is Simple
Interestingly, there are people on the other side of the SEO fence who insist that search engine optimization is so easy anyone can do it without experience.
Although it’s possible to learn many SEO concepts in an afternoon, there are still loads of important variables and strategies involved—all of which require years of practice to master them. And even when you do, you still have to keep up with the latest industry changes in order to stay relevant.
7. Link building = spam
Without proper execution and planning, link building can be spammy. But, says DeMers, “Capable link builders know that the tactic isn’t about stamping your links on as many off-site pages as possible; it’s about creating relevant, valuable content that people want to read, and including natural, informative links within that content to boost your search relevance.”
When you do link building the right way, you add value to the web, in addition to boosting your own domain authority.
8. The SEO process is the same for everyone
One of the biggest SEO falsehoods DeMers comes across is people thinking that the SEO process is always the same. They mistakenly believe that an SEO agency can use one reliable procedure, step by step, for client B and get the same results that they did for client A, within the same timeframe. But that’s just not realistic.
“SEO is an art as much as it is a science, and different clients will require different targeting strategies, execution methods, and investment levels to get comparable results.”
Have you held any of these common beliefs or assumptions? If so, it’s not surprising. After all, there’s an awful lot of content in circulation to give you a somewhat skewed vision of how SEO really works.
But even if you do know the fundamentals, there’s always something new to learn as the industry evolves. Head on over to AudienceBloom to learn 101 Ways to Improve Your Website’s SEO today.
Done well, SEO will add value to the web—from the search engines and their users to your own website.
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Also published on Medium.