“SEO is just rubbish. It doesn’t work. I have tried it a couple of times and it doesn’t work. It’s just a big industry trying to scam people”.
Well, I have heard this from several different people. Some have a reason as to why they have come to this conclusion; the rest are just well-meaning people with the wrong knowledge about SEO. In each of these cases, I have responded by passionately batting for SEO. I openly like to announce to the world that I love SEO. And there is a big reason for that. SEO has single-handedly, well almost, been responsible for doubling our sales volume. We invested in an SEO strategy, created loads of the right content, spent our time in marketing that content and well we tasted success.
And that’s the only thing you need to remember about SEO – you need to do SEO the right way. There are scores of companies mushrooming every day in every corner of the world promising you SEO services. Make sure you know what is right and wrong about Search Engine Optimisation so that you can have big wins.
So that’s what I am going to do in this blog post – shout out the most common myths or misconceptions about search engine optimization. Here we go-
Myth #1: SEO just does not work
Well, this one really gets my goat. But, unfortunately, I know a lot of business owners across the world being sold really bad SEO deals with promises that really don’t work. If you are paying someone anything lesser than $125, your SEO goals are most likely not going to be met. This is because your service provider will not invest in high-quality content writing services that are really needed to make a difference. Because he will be cutting the corners on content, he will not be able to deliver the results you are looking for.
SEO is working the world over but only if you are going to do it right. And that is impossible without a proper strategy that is backed by lots of good content. If you don’t have a blog, get one integrated to your website. Your service provider should have advised you to get your blog up and ready with good content. For genuine traffic to flow in, you need at least two blogs per week or at least four blogs a month (remember long-form content) to be published and shared.
Ask your service provider to share with you the kind of content that his team is producing and sharing on third party sites. If this is crappy content stuffed with keywords that don’t really make sense then chances are your SEO won’t really work.
Myth #2: SEO is a one-time thing
I did SEO once, so why should I do it again.
This is like saying – I invested in updating my blog once and why should I regularly update it.
SEO is a continuous process because of these reasons –
- Your competitors are continuously at it – There are hundreds of thousands of websites who vie for that ranking on the first page of Google. And that is true for any industry. So if you want to retain that first-page ranking, make sure your SEO is not a one-time activity.
- Search Engines are continuously changing Algorithms – Google’s Pigeon, Panda, Hummingbird Bird, Penguin updates have changed the way search was done. According to Matt Cutts, the former head of Google Spam Team, 90% of all searches were affected by Hummingbird. Hence, its important to stay abreast of these algorithm changes and work towards newer strategies that help you understand what your users are looking for.
- Regular updates help maintain page rankings – Your page rankings depend on how regularly you conduct your SEO activities. An interesting study, though very small, highlighted by SEO Roundtable, shows that clients who stopped their SEO campaigns experienced a 30% drop in ranking.
Consistency is the word for SEO. You have to regularly optimize pages and images, submit new content, build links, drive traffic, and enhance your website’s structure. So if you lose momentum, your SERPs will be affected. Your top rankings are never guaranteed. The competitors you have beaten will fight back even harder to reclaim their spot.
Myth #3: Link building is dead. Its only content that matters
I wish that was the case. But no matter what anyone says, link building is very much alive and kicking. It still happens to be one of the most authoritative factors that determine the ranking of a page for a particular keyword.
The age old way of building links, of course, is dead. Submitting to scores of directories or building empty links without context doesn’t work anymore. What works now is getting quality back links (preferably with the keyword you need) from a mix of high and average authority websites.
In that sense, link building has become less tedious but a tad more difficult. You now need to ‘invest’ strategy and time into link building and cannot copy-paste from others. Research the domain authority of the websites you want links from, serenade them with high-quality content and approach them to build links.
Along with on-page SEO, link building is something that you’ll have to do every week. You can start with extensive research on your top Google competitors, spy on their back links using the MOZ site explorer or the Cognitive SEO tool. Curating this list and setting up a process for ongoing link building practices every week can give your SEO the push it needs.
Remember that external link building will also need a lot of authoritative, good quality content. Your guest posts need to add value to the host site and the user. Your blog comments should make sense and not be spammy. Start by dedicating just two hours a week to make this work – two dedicated hours where you do nothing but work on executing your link building strategy. The results will be slow but steady.
Myth #4: Keywords Mean Better Rankings
In the pre-Hummingbird era, keyword stuffing was a major way of fixing drop in rankings. You could create low-quality content, push in the right keywords and improve your ranking.
Then Google decided to fix things. It unleashed Hummingbird and shook the SEO world. It also ushered in the new evolution of Google Search, where Google wanted to understand the context of the search better and faster.
Currently, to gain organic search ranking you must create high-quality content. You are required to optimize the content and regularly post it. The keywords that you are trying to rank for should be placed in your text, headlines, subtitles, images, video descriptions as well as links to be on the top ranking pages. These keywords depend on your industry. Ideally, try not to use more than one or two main keywords in every piece of content. Don’t let your keywords dictate what you write. Write first and then create space for your keywords. That’s the order to follow.
SEO Copywriting: How to do it right
SEO copywriting treads on a thin line between writing for humans and search engines. Most experts will tell you that humans come first. Search engines rank the content on a variety of factors but the elusive term ‘quality’ is the biggest factor. Quality, in turn, consists of two parts – relevance and links.
How to increase your content’s relevance
When you write a blog or add a page to your website about a topic, how authoritative is it? Let’s taken an example about a blog on ‘Hotels in London’. Here’s what you can do to make your content.
- Write content in long form: When someone is looking for hotels in London, they are looking for many facets of the information like the hotel names, their price points, reviews, room information, availability and more. Write articles that are at least 1500-2500 words.
- Break down the content: Intersperse the content with images and bullets to make it easy even for the scanners. (Highlighted bullet headers also help with SEO). Make sure all images have relevant alt tags and credit links.
- Provide ample room for CTAs: Content is just a bunch of words unless it is linked to a relevant call-to-action. Link to various aspects of your CTA to keep your user engaged from beginning to end.CTAs: Content is just a bunch of words unless it is linked to a relevant call-to-action. Link to various aspects of your CTA to keep your user engaged from beginning to end.
- Creating a compelling headline: Studies show that you need to draft at least 25 headlines before you can zero in on a good one. As an SEO professional, the first instinct is to plug in ‘Hotel London’ and ‘London Hotel’ into the copy. Studies show that 80% people don’t make it past the headlines and traffic can vary as much as 500% because of the headline! Read this interesting blog by MOZ on creating a compelling headline.
- Not keywords but their relevance matters: For the keyword ‘Shopping in London’, the first search result shows the exact keyword appearing on the landing page just twice. But the word ‘shopping’ appears 28 times and ‘London’ appears a whopping 42 times. The analysis of this page helps search engines connect these two words to help the page rank high for the term ‘shopping in London’. So before you go about keyword stuffing, remember to improve the overall relevance of the individual words.
Myth #5: Encrypted Keywords Kill SEO
In the good ol’ days of SEO, analysts could easily look up their GA to know what keywords were driving traffic to their website. Eventually, things became complex with a big chunk of keywords coming under the ‘not provided’ category. This posed a problem for SEO professionals who knew their SEO was working on some level but did not know which keywords were working well.
As always, where there was a will, a tool would be invented to find a way. In fact, Google’s very own search console came to the rescue of webmasters who were lost without the keyword data in Google Analytic. External tools like SEMRush too now cash in on this requirement by not only showing the keywords you rank for but also the position you rank in!
Here’s how you can find out the keywords you are ranking for
1. Look up the Google search console
Earlier called the Google Webmaster tools, the search console provides detailed information on how Google views your website. The Search Analytics section now shows ‘queries’ that your site has ranked for.
If your Google Analytics account and search console are connected right, you’ll be able to see this information there too.
Use SEMRush to see your keywords and rank position
SEMRush provides a ton of useful data. It not only shows which keyword you are ranking for but also the position you are in. It makes analysis easy to see which part of your site needs optimization on priority.
Use Wordstream’s free tool
While Wordstream is a more popular PPC tool, it also provides interesting insights for SEO. The site provides a great list of long tail keywords which can be very helpful from an SEO perspective.
Myth #6: Guest Blogging Doesn’t Work
Guest blogging was (and still is) a great tool for SEO. It started out as a great way to build authority on the internet by allowing website owners to showcase their knowledge via relevant posts on other websites. That was the purpose of guest blogging – a way to increase quality content on a website by collaborating with others. Alas, this power was abused to build backlinks. Google realized this in 2014 and eventually put it out there for everyone that guest blogging can’t be used to build links and spammy practices would be awarded a penalty.
So how is guest blogging still a great tool for SEO? Authentic guest blogging with original relevant content still works well.
The thing to keep in mind is that guest blogging may not be a sure shot way to no #1 rank but it can do a whole lot of good for your website. It can super-drive traffic, get you email subscribers and even aid in conversions.
How to start guest blogging
- The first thing is to know who you want to guest blog for. Once you collect a list of influencers in your domain, analyze your host website to understand their demographics and influence. For example, you can check Alexa to know the site’s audience and interests. You can even use aspects like their education and browsing location to your advantage. You can cross reference this with the website’s domain influence and traffic to see how much you’ll benefit from a guest post.
- Write an authoritative, original guest post with at least 3000 – 4000 words. It takes time and energy to create a post like this but the reward is well worth it. If you are racking your brains wondering how to create such content, here’s some help
- Focus only on quality: The whole debate about guest blogging not working probably stemmed out of this post from Matt Cutts who said that guest blogging was no longer an effective way to build links. The key to the post here is that low-quality spammy guest blogs can cause more hurt than good. While the good old way of guest blogging still works wonders.
If you are reading the conclusion right now, I am hoping you have picked up some knowledge about what is right and wrong about SEO. Make sure you keep reading blogs from expert content marketers and updating your knowledge on SEO. This will not only help you understand what your SEO team or your hired SEO agency is doing, but also help you grow your site and get better traffic.
3 Things you can do now
- Write to us about SEO myths you have heard
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- Leave a comment below on what you feel about SEO