As an expert digital marketer, you know the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). Utilizing the power of SEO, you can increase organic SERPs, drive more natural, targeted traffic to bolster conversions and improve trust among clients and customers.
SEO should be an integral part of every digital marketing campaign. The only problem is, it is not simple to explain to business owners why they need it.
All of these links, keywords, tags, rankings, and algorithms are hard for non-marketers to understand. Plus, search engine optimization methods and practices evolve so quickly, sometimes even certified professionals fall short. No wonder there are so many misconceptions about SEO among entrepreneurs.
In this article, I break down the six most common misconceptions about search engine optimization and explain how to use them to amplify your digital marketing efforts. Let’s dive in!
Dangerous Misconceptions About SEO
Misconception #1: SEO Is A One-Time-Only Thing
I don’t know how many times my clients have asked me, “Can I stop SEO now?” And my answer is always no. SEO is a process.
The most important thing with SEO is consistency. You need to optimize pages, post new content, attract links, drive traffic, and improve your site’s structure on a regular basis. If you lose momentum, your SERPs will inevitably suffer. Your competitors don't take the time to rest or sit idle, so you can’t afford to either.
Even if your website hits the top search engine ranking position, don’t stop. I will go so far as to say:
When your site is ranked at the top on Google, this is when the true battle begins. Having lost the number one spot, former rank leaders will definitely increase their SEO budgets to fight back. This battle never stops.
There’s no limit to what you can accomplish with SEO… but only if you are ready to invest your time, money, and resources into it consistently. This is what every business owner should understand before paying for SEO. If you need results quickly (or within a limited time period), you’re better off choosing PPC ads as your primary digital marketing method rather than explaining why SEO doesn’t magically push a client’s site to the top.
Misconception #2: SEO Is All About Links
Though links are still important, you shouldn’t overestimate their influence on SERPs. Google’s algorithm is very complex; and, to tell the truth, we have no idea exactly how it works. What we know is that it relies on many factors (like context, social signals, content, keywords, meta tags, and links) to calculate a site’s SERP.
Links matter, but SEO is not only about links anymore. Moreover, link quality, not quantity, is what actually makes the difference. A single backlink from an authoritative website is much more valued than dozens of thousands of low-quality links.
This is exactly why SEO is not as simple as it once was. No longer can you just purchase links and shoot sites to the top of search results.
Business owners still think that SEO guarantees instant results. Basically, their version of SEO works like this: They pay to purchase links, you do some SEO magic, and bingo! — their websites are ranked in the top 10 on Google.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
High-quality links are what every website needs. However, driving dozens of links to a site doesn’t magically result in higher, better SERPs if the sites lack useful content, intuitive structure, and are not optimized for mobile.
Misconception #3: Keywords Mean Better Rankings
Once, keywords were as vital to SEO as links. Anyone could obtain a better ranking position by simply creating tons of low-quality content, stuffed with keywords. Fortunately, the era of keyword stuffing is long gone, and you have to put your brain to good use to get to the top spot.
Don’t get me wrong. The statement that keywords equate to better rankings is still true, but its meaning has changed. Now, to gain ranking in organic search, you must not only lay out a keyword research process but also create high-quality content. You need to optimize that content and post it regularly to succeed. Well-researched keywords that are accurately placed into your text, headlines, subtitles, images, video descriptions, and links are your way to success.
What kind of keywords are these? It mostly depends on your industry, but, basically, you need to choose one or two main keywords per piece of content and then sprinkle those throughout with relevant keyword synonyms.
Google understands the meaning behind this or that piece of content with the help of keywords, but it doesn’t need tons of them. If your client chooses to create content on their own, make sure to provide detailed guidelines (or at least give some advice) on how to do it right. Non-optimized content that spams keywords is a great danger to your digital marketing.
Misconception #4: Encrypted Keywords Kill SEO
Google started encrypting keywords (hiding them in Google Analytics) back in 2011. The SEO world was shocked.
SEO professionals were used to having access to all keywords and keyword-related stats in GA. It was convenient to research and analyze keywords that performed well and sift out the ones that lagged behind. So, when the dreaded ‘Keyword (not provided)’ popped up in GA, everyone became a little bit panicky. Some even said that encrypted keywords killed SEO.
But, miraculously, SEO is still alive and kicking.
While Google Analytics stopped displaying keywords, professional SEOs can still access all of a site’s pages. It takes a bit of analysis to pick the wheat from the chaff, but it is not such a big deal. You simply research pages that rank better organically (topic, keywords, headline type, imagery, structure, backlinks, etc.), and then adapt other pages to meet that standard.
Encrypted keywords didn’t kill SEO, but your clients might not know that. If they think SEO is a fad because of a you-never-know-keywords policy, explain how keywords research can be done now. You may not have all the fancy spreadsheets in GA, but you can still do a lot (i.e. research keywords with tools like Serpstat and SEMrush, use Google Predictions, or simply ask your audience how they find a site).
Misconception #5: Guest Blogging Doesn’t Work
After Matt Cutts announced “guest blogging is done” back in 2014, there was a lot of talk about Google’s next steps. Digital marketers and SEOs who invested heavily in guest blogging were afraid of losing traffic, but it turned out that only black-hat guest bloggers were on Google’s you-cause-me-problems list.
It is 2017, but guest blogging is still a viable SEO strategy if you consistently create and share high-quality content. Sites that post useless content with spammy links are punished, but the ones that help people solve their problems (aka sites that Google wants to see in organic search), providing original, useful, relevant content do perfectly well.
Guest blogging can be used for PR purposes as well.
Even if you are afraid of building backlinks with shared content, you can rely on guest blogging to start new relationships, build trust, and position your clients as thought leaders in their niche. If one of your digital marketing goals is to popularize your client’s brand, guest blogging is what you need. So, make sure your client understands why it is important.
Misconception #6: Content Marketing Replaces SEO
Nowadays, it is merely impossible to attract, convert, close, and retain customers without content. Sites that stop posting content suffer from massive drops in organic traffic, leads, and conversions. Yet, this doesn’t mean that content marketing has eliminated other digital marketing methods, including SEO.
Every article, infographic, slide deck, and podcast needs to be optimized. By this I mean that every piece of content should:
- Incorporate several properly selected keywords (2-3 per 500 words)
- Feature a main keyword in the headline, wrapped in H1 tag
- Sport relevant keywords in subtitles (with H2, H3 tags), Alt tags, and meta descriptions
- Include links to other on-site pages and outbound links to trustworthy resources
And this list may go on and on. No wonder even expert content marketers need the help of SEO professionals. Being good at wording and analytics is important, but they often lack insights about how search engines index content. As such, they create marvelous posts that nobody reads because people cannot find them on Google.
Anyway, if your clients think that producing content without SEO is a great idea, your job is to change their minds. Content is expensive. If you keep investing in it without proper optimization for search engines, it will suck funds out of your campaign but return no value. Beware!
Digital marketing depends on search engine optimization and businesses that think otherwise limit their performance in the digital space. SEO can be a massive boon to your content performance in search, which, in turn, leads to better rankings.
And this means more traffic, leads, conversions, and revenue. This is what every business needs, right?