Search engine optimization is not the most straight forward marketing tactic that has ever existed...which is the cause of many SEO myths. Let's explore a 5 of these myths.
The "Paid Search has an Effect on SEO Theory"
A recent video by Matt Cutts talks about these as "conspiracy theories":
- If you pay for ads you will rank better in the organic search results (AdWords improves your SEO)
- If you don't pay for ads you will rank better in organic search results (AdWords hurts your SEO)
- Google makes changes to the organic algorithm to force people to buy ads
If these theories were true it would completely destroy the reason people use Google in the first place: relevant search results. Without searchers using Google as their primary search engine their ad revenue would plummet. If you've ever noticed a correlation between who shows up in the paid search and organic search it is not a coincidence. If the same people are in both they are likely online marketing rockstars and understand the importance of a complete online marketing strategy.
Despite Matt Cutts denying this myth, it will continue to exist. You'll hear the same debate about Facebook ads.
I'm Getting a New Website...it Will Already be More SEO Friendly than the Old One
This might be partially true depending on how your old site was done, how old it is, how much content you had etc. Just remember, a new website doesn't mean a new SEO strategy or even a website that was developed to be SEO friendly. Developing and building-out a truly friendly SEO website takes significantly longer, not to mention everything that comes after the build-out. You'll want to be sure that your old URLs are mapped appropriately to your new URLs using a 301 redirects, reporting, monitoring, updating, conversion tracking, etc. If you are going for a budget website, don't plan on it being more SEO friendly just because.
SEO is All About META Tags and Search Engine Submissions
If only it were this easy. In the past these things carried more weight, but they were abused...meaning people wanted their website to rank for specific words would list 50 keywords in their Keyword Meta tag whether the content was related or not. There is still some weight placed on a couple of these "low hanging fruit" items, but that isn't true SEO. It should be more of a marketing strategy that looks at:
- The technical aspects of SEO
- On-page SEO elements
- How to grow inbound links without doing harm in the future
- Implementing great content
- Social media impact on SEO
- Overall SEO best practices
We Did SEO on Our Site Several Years Back...We're Good
Just because you "did SEO" several years back doesn't mean the strategies are relevant today. Many SEO firms out there follow trends on what they think will work, but might be pushing the envelope between white hat and black hat SEO. Search engines are much smarter these days and can find things like that pretty easily, which in turn could negatively impact your traffic and visibility. Even if they aren't unethical practices, it doesn't mean they will work years later. Take for instance guest blogging. A few years ago this was a way to get inbound links to your website while increasing content on someone else's site. As a guest blogger you could control where and how the links to your own website were implemented. Guest blogging is no more and if it was a frequent practice in the past, it may negatively affect you in the future. Here's an article from Matt Cutts on the Death of Guest Blogging for SEO.
This Other Company Guaranteed 1st Page Results
Well if they guaranteed you that I guess it's not a myth. I would however question what they are guaranteeing you first page results for. If they are guaranteeing 1st page results for a term that has no competition or is your brand name then maybe they can do it...but is there value there? With a true SEO strategy, there is no way to guarantee 1st page results...there are just too many factors. Coincidentally the firms promising this are probably the same ones cold calling you. If a firm had this power they wouldn't need to call anyone, they would be busy for years to come.
So What Do You Need to Know?
Just know that SEO isn't magic and no one has the "in". It's a strategy. One that takes time, effort, and may not always hit the mark the first time. Don't just look at what you are ranking for in the search engines, look at the traffic you are getting in correlation with the quality of that traffic. If it's not bringing $$$$ through the door, this strategy is not going to provide you with a positive ROI. Also be sure that if you hire a firm that they aren't doing something that might cause you problems down the road. If it sounds like smoke and mirrors, it probably is. Check out the recent Matt Cutts video on SEO myths.