What’s the deal with SEO anyway?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing web traffic through organic search results. Investing in SEO is one of the best investments you can make for your business. It improves your findability and provides long term results.
Because Google and other search engines are creating increasingly sophisticated search engines, the SEO industry is constantly changing.
There are many SEO “rules” that are floating around the internet. Following many of these outdated rules will lead to fewer hits in search results. Why? Well, in the early era of the internet, search engines were based on keywording and metadata and it was easy to game the system. But now with more sophisticated, contextual results, Google and other search engines have learned to decipher between relevant web content and websites that are simply vying for the top spot.
Read on to learn some of these common myths that you need to ditch ASAP.
Myth 1: Stuff your web content with as many keywords as possible
Keyword stuffing was once a popular tactic to game the system. It involves writing repetitive content that hits certain keywords in an effort to rank higher in search results. The problem with writing this way is that it hardly ever sounds natural to a user. It also fills up your pages with irrelevant content, and the keywords you choose are rarely ever the words real people use to get real information.
When it comes to SEO, there is a way to write using keywords that doesn’t involve stuffing each sentence with them. SEO does use keywords, but focusing on answering a user’s question is more important than hitting specific words that they may or may not use to search.
Over the years, Google has grown much more sophisticated. It now uses measures like reading time, task completion and other metrics to determine the effectiveness and relevance of a website in comparison to a specific topic. Keywords are one piece of the puzzle.
Myth 2: Focus on ranking for one or two keywords
While doing keyword research is important, some SEO experts advocate for picking one or two keywords and focusing on ranking for those. This approach is problematic for several reasons.
For one, you may think of your business in specific categories but that often doesn’t align with how people naturally search for things. The better approach here is to understand what your audience wants, and in what context they are looking for it. The more you understand this, the more likely you will be able to answer their questions and their needs through your web content.
Answering true, contextual questions from users is key to performing well on search results. Google and other engines are getting better at deciphering what information people are looking for when they type in search terms.
Second, only focusing on a couple of keywords limits your ability to rank for less popular or very specific searches. Long-tail keywords, or, more specific searches, almost always have a higher conversion rate than basic search terms. For example, if a user is looking for “arm tattoos”, they are likely doing broad research and browsing possibilities. If the same user asks for “floral arm tattoo artist London” they are more likely ready to get serious about their search and book an appointment!
In this example focusing on a word like floral or even London tattoo doesn’t provide enough specificity to meet a customer’s inquiry. But these are the types of keywords you are probably focusing on. By more broadly and succinctly explaining what you offer, you will naturally hit these keywords through your content. By explaining that you’re a tattoo artist that loves to do traditional floral pieces you’ll hit many keywords without needing to specifically use terms like “arm” or “floral tattoo”.
Myth 3: Make sure all your pages are (x) number of words
The fact is, if all the words on your page are relevant and useful, people will continue scrolling. There is no magic number for how many words should be on each page. This is usually an arbitrary number that misses the point completely. What you should focus on is answering users’ questions, and helping them complete their task. Whether it takes 200 or 1,2000 words to do this, doesn’t matter.
As well, some may tell you that the ideal website has (x) number of pages on a given topic. This is also a myth. Google clearly states that it is more effective to have one comprehensive page on a specific topic than to have several smaller pages that duplicate content. Duplicate content almost always raises a red flag for search engines and should be avoided when possible.
TLDR: use as few pages and as few words as you can to support your users.
Myth 4: Show search results different data than your users
If you hire an SEO expert and they EVER mention cloaking, ditch them right away. Cloaking is the practice of showing search engines content that is different from what your actual users see. It was once a trick devised by SEO scammers to help your search rankings. While it may work for a couple of days, Google is able to see through it quickly and will penalize you for it.
As well, even if your website ranks well for certain categories, it will not lead to conversions in the long run. Irrelevant content is likely to increase your bounce rate, which is users leaving your site right after opening it. The higher your bounce rate, the lower you will rank over time. If users are coming to your website looking for a specific product or answer, they will likely move on if they don’t find it, or even worse, report your site.
Just don’t do this. It’s not worth it.
Myth 5: SEO will get you immediate results
This is a popular myth that many scam companies and other SEO “experts” will try to sell you on. If they promise or guarantee that you will rank in the top 10 of Google, run far away. True SEO work makes no guarantees and is not instant. SEO is a long game. It requires time and effort to master, and to gain enough credibility to climb search rankings.
Even if you were able to improve every single thing on your site to optimize your SEO (and I promise, you can’t) Google still takes time to index your site and actually apply those changes to its database and rankings. Nothing is immediate.
As well, don’t expect that your sales or inquiries will skyrocket. SEO is about getting the right people to your site at the right time, but increased traffic doesn’t always lead to conversions. There are a lot of factors that go into a purchase or a decision to contact you, and SEO is one method to get found easier. You need to be able to convert that increased website traffic into real sales and tangible leads.
Need help with SEO for your business?
While ditching some of these myths can help improve your SEO in the short term, you may need some help to optimize your website! I offer SEO services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. My work includes holistic SEO audits, SEO-focused writing and keyword research.
If you need help increasing your online traffic, I got you. I offer free 30-minute consultations to anyone who wants to chat! Learn more about my SEO services and packages.Learn more