Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a digital marketing technique businesses need to seriously consider using if they are looking to attract highly targeted traffic to their website.
But be aware, as the SEO industry is filled with mythology, speculation and misinformation. In a world where the search engines keep their search algorithms a secret, it is somewhat unavoidable that misinformation is so prevalent. The SEO industry (in practice) relies on specific tried and tested SEO techniques with a little dash of speculation and logical guesswork thrown in.
Search is still in a very primitive stage, which means that the SEO industry is also in its infancy as they evolve in parallel with each other. As the SEO industry grows, more and more people are getting involved and technology is changing at a rapid pace. This means that SEO techniques are constantly coming and going. In some respects what used to work in SEO at one point in time no longer applies to modern day search.
It’s this element of speculation regarding what works and the consistent need to adapt SEO techniques to accommodate the forever evolving search engines, which has fuelled so many SEO myths and untruths within the industry.
Here are ten of the search industries most common organic SEO myths:
1) Optimisation is a dark art that tricks search engines
Search Engine Optimisation isn’t carried out by Alchemists and does not involve any form of wizardry or witch craft. Optimisation is an applied set of online techniques which (usually) follow the guidelines set out by the search engines. SEO agencies (like Ocean SEO) do not try to trick the search engines; we actually try to make websites more relevant to their most appropriate keywords and make the sites more accessible. Providing search engines with what they require isn’t tricking them.
2) Websites need to be submitted to search engines
This myth is the most widely believed myth of the entire search industry because it stems from a previous truth. However, this is categorically not true of modern search engines; they will find your website without any form of submission.
Paying for your website to be submitted to search engines is, to be honest, a total scam. Search engine submission does not need to be carried out, especially not for a price. Search engines will find your website in their own time and index your website organically for free. There is no harm in actually submitting your website to the search engines but any SEO company that charge for this service (irrelevant of whether they do it manually or by using their own “special” software) should be viewed with suspicion and avoided if possible.
3) Search engines favour older website domains
It is true that search engines do like older domains. The reason for this is that they have typically built up more trust and authority because they have been online for a longer period of time.
It’s not the actual domain the search engines favour but the older content they contain. So this statement is a myth because search engines don’t care how old a domain is, they only concentrate on the content which is present on that domain.
4) Click through rates affect search engine results pages (SERPs)
Some people believe that the more people who click on your website the higher that website will rank in the SERPs? This is completely untrue and the search engines have even publicly said that click through rates have no influence on organic rankings. If this was true, the SEO industry would be swamped by Asian and Eastern European companies offering their services where by they will click on your search results all day long in order to get you to the top.
5) Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts influence your rankings.
This myth is split into two camps. Those who believe that by running a PPC campaign means they receive more favouritism from the search engines and therefore get better organic results. The second camp believes that their organic positions are somehow penalised if they carry out a PPC campaign. In truth, both camps are totally wrong. Organic search results are based on pure relevancy to a search query, so PPC has no influence over organic results whatsoever!
6) PageRank is the critical measure of a websites success
The PageRank is the value which is displayed in the Google toolbar. PageRank is a method used for measuring the importance or relevance of a webpage and ranges between 0 to 10. However, according to Matt Cutts who is the head of search spam at Google and who also specialises in Search Engine Optimisation issues, has officially stated that you should not take the PageRank shown in Google toolbar too seriously as it is not very accurate and it only gets updated every few months.
Also, the PageRank we see in the Google toolbar isn’t the actual real PageRank Google uses internally for their ranking algorithm. Just by looking at a few simple examples of search queries, it quickly becomes clear that some websites with lower PageRanks occasionally out rank websites with higher PageRanks. For this very reason, PageRank should never be used as a measure of a website’s success.
7) Guaranteed top listings in SERPs within 24 hours
This is a complete and outright lie when it comes to organic search engine results. If an SEO agency has even remotely hinted this to you then they are talking utter nonsense.
There is no magic technique that can get you instant results and don’t believe any marketing hype that says otherwise.
Organic results are not called “organic” for nothing, they take time to nurture and grow. Indexing cycles of website changes alone take a long time as search engines will index you as and when they choose too. Optimisation is a gradual process and is a long term strategy. To achieve your websites fullest potential will take several months of optimisation, it will not happen overnight no matter what you are promised.
8) Meta keywords & descriptions help websites rankings
A long time ago meta keyword tags influenced a websites ranking until these where abused by spammers prompting search engines to stop using them as a ranking factor. Description tags are also not used by search engines to rank a website. However, description tags do give website owners a great selling opportunity to entice people to click through to their websites. Search engines may highlight keywords within the description tag snippet but make no doubt that either of these currently have an influence on your websites ranking in search engines.
9) SEO is a one off activity
SEO is not a one off piece of work which once completed can be left and not thought about again. Would you carry out a one time only marketing strategy for your company? Of course you wouldn’t so why would you think you can when it comes to digital marketing. Like any marketing drive, SEO involves an ongoing long term commitment.
Think of SEO as a race, in a race there are other people competing against you, and if you were to stop then you will just be over taken. Search engine algorithms are forever evolving, search patterns change and peoples wants and needs develop over time. To naively believe that in this ever evolving world of search that you can simply do a one off SEO activity for your website will ultimately lead to your website being left behind over time.
10) Getting a high organic ranking with SEO is not as effective as a high PPC position
There is no doubt that PPC is an excellent means of promoting your website online. However, to believe that PPC is more effective then an organic listing is incorrect.
Search engine users are aware that organic listings are based on relevancy and for that fact alone trust organic listings above PPC sponsored links. It is estimated that the search traffic levels are roughly split into 70% favouring organic listings and 30% clicking on the PPC advert. PPC is really only a short term ranking solution that is based entirely on your budget. Using SEO to gain organic ranking is more effective and has the potential to capture a lot more traffic.
A bonus point for you here, which isn’t really a myth – more of a choice – but one I feel still falls into the misinformation category is:
11) We can do optimisation ourselves in house
Realistically, do you have the time? SEO is a very labour intensive process that takes a lot of time and patience. Secondly, do you have the skill set? SEO can be a complex process where up to date industry knowledge is a key factor to a successful campaign. SEO professionals (like us here at WPM) work in SEO on a daily basis and know what works and what doesn’t. One mistake companies make when they do their own optimisation, is that through their lack of real SEO understanding, they end up actually doing more harm than good to their websites.
SEO done badly can cause a website to actually lose rankings and in some instances actually result in a website being banned from search engines all together. For example, when our car breaks down we could roll up our sleeves, pop the boot, consult the manual and have a tinkle with the engine.
The question we need to take on board is whether we should actually be doing what we are doing? Are we skilled and confident enough to do the job at hand? The majority of the time most of us get a professional to do the job. This applies to SEO too, yes you can do optimisation yourself but it truly isn’t a wise idea.
You should seriously consult an SEO specialist and get them to carry out a professional optimisation campaign on your behalf.