SEO has causes a lot of confusion and frustration. This confusion and frustration is the result of an overwhelming amount of misinformation and the perpetuation of outdated SEO practices.
Google returns over 35,000,000 search engine results for the keyword search, SEO. With so much written about the subject, it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction. So, let us do some myth busting and finally lay to rest some of the most common myths circulating.
Myth #1: SEO Can Only Be Done By Technical People
I’m not going to mince words here. SEO has many moving parts and there are quite a few principles and best practices that must be understood, but anyone can learn SEO. However, to be good at it takes time, patience and a lot of practice.
As the owner of your website, SEO is something that you can and should take into your own hands. If nothing else, it’s important to learn basic SEO tasks like creating and editing page titles and heading tags, as well as building sitemaps and submitting them to search engines. These simple tasks will ensure that your website can be found online.
If you use a Content Management System, blogging solution or a website builder to create and manage your website’s content, this task is made even easier. Many of the popular website platforms mentioned above have built in modules, widgets or plug-ins that allow you to take more detailed control of your SEO.
If you’re interested in learning more about Search Engine Optimization, a great resource is SEOMoz and their guide “The Free Beginner’s Guide to SEO”
Myth #2: You MUST Rank #1
A recent study by Compete.com found that 53 percent of searchers click on the top result on the first page returned by a search engine. The second result sees 15 percent of clicks, the third result sees 9 percent, the fourth result sees 6 percent, winding all the way down to 4 percent to round out the top 5 results on page one of search results.
From this data, some might conclude that if your website is not the very first listing on page one of search results, that SEO doesn’t work. But, consider this …
Studies have also shown that on subsequent pages, being listed toward the top of the page shows similar click behavior to being ranked on page one of results.
Additionally, many search results now include images, local maps, videos, author profiles and rich snippets. Click rates on these types of results are proving to be higher than results without images, maps, videos, author profiles and rich snippets—and in many cases are equal to or better than the first result on the first page.
Myth #3: SEO Is Web Spam
Very simply put, search engines are computer programs. Their job is to retrieve data, files or documents from a database or network, esp. the internet. Computers are not as smart as people, yet. They don’t always understand what people mean when they type in words or phrases into the search box. They don’t understand vocabulary or the nuances of language.
SEO exists to help search engines find information and content that is relevant to your search. Its job is to make sure that the pages of your website are well represented within search engines.
A large part of SEO is making sure that your website pages; are accessible to people and search engines, use the right keywords, utilize good design and load fast.
Like anything else, SEO can be abused by those with bad intentions. Those with less than good motives purposefully hack sites and use unsavory tactics that search engines frown upon to cheat their way to the top of search engine results.
SEO can be enormously helpful and can be a valid way to help people to find what they’re looking for via search engines—but it can also be abused and overdone.
Myth #3: SEO Is Dead
For whatever reason, lately it’s very en vogue to pronounce all kinds of stuff as dying or dead. Be it technology, religion, politics, music, business or even SEO—it’s all dying or dead.
Are people right? Is SEO dying or even worse, dead?
Google alone makes 350-400 updates to its search engine algorithm, each year. Add in the fact that Bing, Yahoo and other search engines also make a similar number of tweaks to their algorithms and we’re talking about thousands of updates to search engines each year!
As long as search engines continue to roll out algorithmic updates in efforts to provide better search experiences and combat spam, there will always be a need to stay on top of these updates and make optimizations to your website.
Needless to say, SEO isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.