The basic principles of good search engine optimization have remained unchanged for years. Find relevant keywords that bring in targeted, profitable traffic. Optimize your website content for those keywords. Add lead capture forms and buy now buttons throughout your website to convert visitors into leads and sales. Build back links to increase your website’s authority.
It seems simple and straight forward. Yet many search engine optimization myths just won’t die. Here are a few.
- The Goal is a #1 Google Rank – A top rank in Google can have no effect on your bottom line if you aren’t targeting the right keywords (those keywords aren’t relevant to your website’s content or no one is searching for those terms) or if your website isn’t set up to convert visitors into leads and sales. The goal of an SEO campaign should be to deliver highly targeted visitors who want/need your product or service – and are ready to take action.
- SEO Involves Secret Techniques or Manipulation – SEO isn’t rocket science, nor is it a secret practice that only experts are privy to. Good SEO doesn’t involve shady “black hat” tactics that go against Google’s best practices or taking advantage of loopholes in how search engines rank sites. There’s no magic bullet other than writing great content optimized for relevant keywords and getting people to link to that content.
- An SEO Company Can Guarantee Top 5 Rankings – You’ve probably received unsolicited emails claiming they can get you a top 10 ranking on Google “guaranteed.” Unfortunately, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is – especially in this case. Google even states that no one can guarantee top search engine rankings.
- You Should Use The Same Keyword For Every Page – A common belief is that if you want to rank for a specific keyword (like “blue widgets”), every page on your website should use that keyword. A better SEO strategy is to rank your website for your most profitable and highly traffic keyword. Then, use secondary keywords and longer tail search terms for internal pages. So your homepage might be optimized for “blue widgets” but your internal pages would be optimized for “affordable blue widgets,” “unique blue widgets,” “buy blue widgets in New York,” “blue widget ideas,” or “popular blue widgets.” Use the Google keyword tool to find related keywords.
- SEO Is a One-Time Event – SEO for profitable keywords can be very competitive. New websites join the game every day. Older, established websites start publishing content about that keyword. Search engines tweak their algorithms regularly to change their ranking factors. Once you achieve a top ranking, it is never safe or permanent. Don’t stop your marketing efforts once you achieve your goal.
- SEO Is The Cheapest Way To Market Your Site – This depends on how competitive the keywords you choose are. If you are trying to rank for a keyword with hundreds of thousands of competing sites, SEO can be very time consuming. If you are paying someone hourly or by project, it could end up costing you quite a bit to write content, build back links and monitor your performance.
- You Can Rank Any Keyword Within A Few Months – If you are a big company with a big online marketing budget and a team of quality writers and link builders, then yes, you probably can unless you are going for the extremely difficult keywords like “credit cards” or “travel.” For the average solopreneur or small business owner, stick with easier to rank keywords that still get good traffic. Finding easy-to-rank keywords through your initial keyword research efforts is the most important factor in determining how long it will take to rank your website.
- Meta Tags Are The Key To SEO Success – Back in the late 1990s, before Google, all you had to do was stick a few keywords in your meta tags and you could rank well. Once spammers discovered this technique, search engines dropped it as a major ranking factor. Meta tags do not affect rankings. They are useful, however, because search engines display your “meta description” tag under your page title in search results. Your meta description then acts as a mini ad for your website that should your attract visitor’s attention and motivate them to click onto your page.
- You Have To Submit Your Site To Search Engines – This was true 10-15 years ago. Search engines did have submission forms where you could tag your website with keyword information and submit it. Now, this is useless. Search engines find new sites through links, not submission forms, so if you want your site to be found, build back links. It is also good practice to submit a sitemap (a list of all pages on your website) to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Higher Keyword Density Means Higher Search Rankings – Your keyword density is the percentage of how many times you used the keyword you want to be ranked for compared with the total number of words on your page. If your percentage is too high, search engines consider your website to be spammy because you are “keyword stuffing.” It’s useful to use keywords intelligently, but write for readers first.
SEO can be a great way to send high-quality, targeted traffic to your website, but getting web traffic isn’t enough. If you aren’t also focused on converting that traffic to leads and sales, you are wasting a lot of time and money for minimal results. A solid SEO strategy will help you get the most return on investment (ROI) for your SEO efforts.