Busting Myths About SEO: The Truth Can Help You Succeed at Digital Marketing

March 18, 2016 Doug Milnor

Quick riddle: In fifty words or less, can you explain how search engine rankings really work? For many organizations, the concept behind search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is a confusing mass of conflicting information.

This confusion may, in part, be a result of evolving ranking techniques. However, much of the confusion comes from a few common misconceptions about SEO. Here is a look at persistent SEO myths and the reality of SEO today.

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Are your SEO efforts paying off?

Myth One: Good SEO is the only technique you need to mount a successful digital marketing strategy.

Good SEO practices are undeniably important for success with digital marketing. However, SEO is just one aspect of a much larger marketing strategy. Search Engine Journal's "Don't Be Sucked in by #SEO Lies" has this to say: "SEO is only one piece of the puzzle. Good agencies will go beyond the basics of SEO-friendly keywords, meta descriptions, and tags to help you develop a full-fledged strategy that could include a unique blend of: pay-per-click (PPC) ads, content marketing, social media, and other tactics."

While a good SEO strategy is essential to your overall digital strategy, it is by no means the only tool in your marketing kit. Integrating good SEO practices into a comprehensive digital marketing plan is a best practice.

Myth Two: You will see quick results with SEO.

In a perfect world, every marketing strategy employed would garner instantaneous positive results. However, in the real world, it takes substantially longer for most marketing strategies, including SEO, to show measurable results.

Because the search algorithms are constantly evolving, your SEO strategy is not a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. Rather, you must constantly analyze and adjust your SEO strategy to remain in sync with the realities of search ranking systems. SEO does work, but it is rarely a magic bullet with immediately measurable results.

Let's be honest here.  Google's algorithms are not published anywhere.  Digital Marketing Experts will read Matt Cutts blog to read between the lines on what we interpret Google deems valuable.  However, SEO is really like driving a large ship - you pull a bunch of levers, analysis the results but it doesn't turn very quickly.  If it happened immediately, then everyone would be able to understand what the search engines consider important and could quickly "game" the system.  Therefore, without good analytics and patience, SEO strategies will never take hold and organizations will not realize the benefits.

Myth Three: The more keywords, the better.

This myth is incredibly persistent. Despite all evidence to the contrary, many people still believe that the best way to improve SEO is to use keyword stuffing. The reality, however, is that repetitive use of keywords may actually harm your ranking with search engines. Worse yet, repeating keywords with little discernible purpose in a post alienates your audience. This is the worst possible outcome for your digital marketing efforts.

Moz's "Myths and Misconceptions about Search Engines" offers this suggestion about the use of keywords: "Use keywords intelligently and with usability in mind. The value from an extra 10 instances of your keyword on the page is far less than earning one good editorial link from a source that doesn't think you're a search spammer."

If you follow that advice, the search engines will be happy, and your target audience will have a better user experience with your content.

Myth Four: All links are good for SEO purposes.

Manipulative linking tactics are frowned upon by search engine algorithms, and can hurt your ranking in the long-term. While manipulative linking like paid links and low quality directory links are possibly more difficult for search engines to detect than other spamming methods like keyword stuffing, this link-stuffing tactic will be considered even more unacceptable as algorithms to detect it become more advanced.

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Stuffing - great for a turkey, but not so great when it comes to keywords and links.

Myth Five: No-follow links have no value.

On the other end of the link myth spectrum is the idea that no-follow links provide no value to your site. This is an erroneous thought. No-follow links are basically a way to reduce the size of the spam target on your website. Less spam is always a good thing.

Additionally, a well-thought-out no-follow link still generates referral traffic to your site, which translates ultimately into more leads and conversions, the ultimate goal of all your digital marketing efforts.

SEO as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy

There are, of course, a number of other SEO myths that may be negatively affecting your SEO results. To explore the various ways SEO works as a part of a comprehensive digital marketing plan, contact us today. As specialists in digital marketing, we can help you align all the elements of your digital strategy to the best effect.

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