Search engine optimization is something that increasing numbers of people have heard of, but few truly understand. For as long as there have been search engines, there have been guides for SEO best practices, tips, tricks and techniques designed to boost rankings and increase site traffic. Which of these actually work, and which are outdated or worse – complete fiction?
When it comes to making optimizations on your website, there are a few steps that are no-brainers. Everyone knows you shouldn’t display tiny green text on a white background, for example. But, for as many legitimate methods that exist to rank higher on Google, there are a number of SEO myths that simply won’t die.
Implementing bad SEO will, at best, do nothing – at worst it can severely damage your search ranking. Google constantly monitors and checks interventions that are made to each and every website in its index, and has been known to penalise websites that engage in bad practices, so it pays to know which interventions can help your rank and which can make your site invisible.
Fact or Fiction: I don’t need SEO – Google will find me eventually!
Google is pretty smart. Its’ mysterious algorithms serve up billions of search results every single day, and when it works, it works so well that most people completely take it for granted. That being the case, few people really understand what search engines need from a website to be able to display it properly in search results. That’s partly what has led to the number of SEO myths we see on a daily basis!
FICTION: You can’t rank highly without doing any SEO at all.
SEO is as simple as making your website as easy as possible for Google to understand and categorise. When done properly, SEO tells search engines “this is what my page is about, and this is what you will find here.” Without SEO, you might as well be giving Google an untitled document and filing it under U for unknown.
It’s true that search engines will try their best to read your page and figure out what your content is about, but without optimization, this will only get you so far – and you’ll be competing with every other unoptimized site for a tiny scrap of monthly searches.
FACT: SEO is there to make sure your page is seen.
You know what content you want your visitors to find and what pages are the most important to be visible on search results. But without SEO, your site has to fight for attention amongst thousands of other sites that might all be saying similar things. Its optimization that makes all the difference in these cases.
Search engines are clever, but you can’t expect them to get it right all of the time; taking the extra steps to ensure your content shines above all others means guaranteed web traffic, which translates into more enquiries, leads and ultimately, sales.
Fact or Fiction: Keywords, keywords, keywords!
If you know anything about SEO, you probably know about the importance of keywords. Even since the early days of the web, these have been essential for discovering content online (anyone remember AOL keywords?)
Things have moved on since then, but the importance of keywords still remains. When used properly, keywords tell Google what your page is about, and help to direct users towards content that is relevant to their search.
FICTION: Keywords are everything, and they should be jammed into your page as much as possible.
The clue is in the name; keyword stuffing means literally stuffing a word into a page as many times as possible in an attempt to rank higher. The logic goes that the more times a word is present on a page, the better.
A classic example of keyword stuffing. (Source: digital22).
Search engines like Google are great at detecting keyword stuffing. Once upon a time, it was possible to manipulate Google’s results by employing this method, but this led to terrible user experience, irrelevant search results, and sites that read as spammy or manipulative.
FACT: Great content is more important than lots of keywords.
Ideally, your page’s content should be designed with humans in mind, not machines. Designing content around a particular keyword or phrase and using it a sensible amount of times isn’t going to raise too many red flags. Finding the balance is part of the art of SEO, ensuring that all copy reads properly and sounds natural for the people that will visit your site. A little bit of keyword research goes a long way when working out what users are looking for online.
With that said, the best strategy is to use keywords sparingly and sensibly. A well-researched word or phrase that your target audience is searching for can be great for informing the type of content you want to create. Content marketing has gained a lot of traction in recent years as one of the cornerstones of good SEO strategy and can provide great results if used effectively.
Fact or Fiction: I did SEO once, I don’t need to do it again!
This is a really common thing that we hear from website owners. They’ve heard about the importance of SEO, and either paid someone to go in and make the necessary optimizations or made a DIY attempt after doing a bit of research. Website owners are often thrilled when the first round of SEO boosts their pages’ rankings and leads to an increase in enquiries and sales, but is that always enough to guarantee ongoing results?
FICTION: SEO only needs to be done once.
Some SEO is (sometimes) better than none at all, but unfortunately, just like everything, it goes out of date, gets old and becomes obsolete. There are several reasons your one round of SEO might lose its effectiveness over time. Maybe the content on the page has changed and no longer reflects the needs of the audience it was originally targeted towards. Or perhaps your target audience’s habits have changed; new trends have swept through the industry, and people aren’t searching for the same terms they were before.
Another point to consider is the activities of your competitors. Maybe you haven’t spent much time thinking about search engine optimization recently, but rival companies sure have. With SEO becoming an ever-more essential aspect of digital marketing, you can count on other firms muscling in on the results page, perhaps overtaking you or worse, burying your pages with laser-targeted, research-driven SEO of their own.
FACT: SEO is an ongoing process that keeps you on top.
Just as your online presence should evolve to reflect changes in your audience, content and product offering, your SEO has to keep up with those changes. Great SEO is based on research – that is, research about what’s new, relevant and valuable to your target audience. Out of all of the ranking factors that determine your site’s search position, relevancy to the search query is key, and remaining relevant is an ongoing task that should never be neglected if you want results that last.
Data gathering and ongoing, in-depth research is an absolutely vital aspect of any online marketing strategy, as it helps you stay ahead of the curve rather than constantly playing catch-up with competitors and wondering what the next big move should be. Working with a reputable agency that specialises in SEO will give you access to a number of tools and insights that will steer your business into the future and keep you relevant with your audience.
FACT: SEO is an ongoing process that keeps you on top.
In 2021 SEO is going to continue to grow into an even larger part of business web strategy, and remain the fastest and most reliable way of being found online and attracting clients to your site. Given that the list of things to learn and keep track of is constantly changing, it pays to consult with an experienced, reputable SEO agency to analyse and enhance your online presence.
At iZurch we pride ourselves in providing excellent results every time. Why not move forward with your web strategy in 2021, starting with a FREE SEO audit? Get in touch with our friendly team on 020 8050 2767 or email befound@iZurch.co.uk, and make being found online a reality for your business.