It’s time to go: 5 SEO myths exposed
Hear the acronym SEO, and no doubt you also hear a lot of conflicting opinions.
Depending on who you ask, SEO might be:
Some kind of dark magic
Something that’s best left for a specialist/agency to take care of while you get on with your job
A great marketing tactic that can help bring more customers through your virtual door
Even though SEO has been around for decades, it’s also one of the most misunderstood areas of digital marketing. Thanks to evolving algorithms, the growth of new marketing channels, and changing online buyer behaviour, it feels almost impossible to keep track of. And with no real barriers to entry into the field, it’s been easy for mistruths to grow and spread, making the world of SEO even more confusing.
We’re here to help set the record straight on some of the most common myths we hear about SEO in 2021 – and help get you across what you need to know.
Myth #1: Link building doesn’t work
We often hear from people that they don’t believe link-building works. And sometimes, it doesn’t.
Link building often was – and sometimes still is – a back-office function given to outsourced teams that aren’t familiar with the subject matter, have no PR training, and have no true understanding of the business. With no solid strategy to guide this approach, outreach would often fail, which meant no backlinks or poor backlinks with very little relevance and SEO juice.
But that doesn’t mean your link-building efforts should be scrapped. The problem with this myth is that while it can be true, it’s only true when it’s not backed by a solid understanding of how search engines work.
Link building will always be important because of the way the algorithm works, with Google discovering content on the internet through links. By having links from relevant, high-authority sites linking back to yours, Google is getting all important signals that your website is one to trust. The right strategy can work perfectly with Google’s focus on E.A.T. and help get your site move up the search rankings.
‘The objective is not to make your links appear natural - the objective is that your links are natural.” – Matt Cutts, former Head of Webspam, Google
Connected tip: Take a look at back links through a PR lens. Where are your customers spending time online? What sites, accounts or podcasts are they consuming? Where do they go to learn more about your industry, product or service? If it’s a good fit for your PR strategy, it’s likely a good fit for building solid links and boosting your E.A.T.
Myth #2: I’m going to get someone else to ‘do’ my SEO
SEO is no longer something that you can just ‘do’ as a standalone activity. It has grown beyond simply being a marketing tactic and now reaches into many areas of a business including customer experience, website management and brand communications (to name just a few).
In the past, SEO has often been simply handed over to a dedicated SEO team or agency. The whole process was outsourced, and it was something CMO’s could tick off their list, knowing that someone else was taking care of it. But with the evolved nature of SEO today, this approach doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. Outsourcing can absolutely still work, but it needs to be backed with a solid strategy and analysis of what parts should and shouldn’t sit inside your business. The key is to embed SEO into your overall marketing and communications activity, rather than seeing it as a separate function that runs in the background.
‘SEO is no longer just a job title, it has become part of everyone’s job description.” — Rand Fishkin, Co-founder and CEO of SparkToro
Connected tip: Incorporating SEO as part of your marketing, communications and PR methodology while outsourcing some elements can help you get the best results. Take a look at what is best done in-house vs what you need to bring in the SEO specialists for.
Myth #3: SEO is all about content. Or having a fast website. Or getting more links.
One of the biggest misconceptions we see about SEO is that even though Google uses over 200 ranking factors, there’s one key area that really makes a difference. For some it’s keywords, for others it’s the technical set up of their site, or sometimes it’s all about back links.
The truth is, there is no magic bullet when it comes to SEO. Focusing on one area alone won’t get you the results. A holistic approach across three key categories is the way to get traction:
Technical - How is your site built? Consider crawlability, speed, responsiveness.
Content - Do you have quality content? Consider keywords, useability, keyword optimisation.
Links - What websites are linking back to yours? Consider the types of links, relevance, volume.
It might sound like a lot of work, but as with most marketing tactics, there’s no overnight fix and it can take time to build momentum. But when it does, it can be one of the best ways to build a sustainable brand presence online.
Connected tip: Not sure where to start? An SEO site audit can evaluate how well your site is performing on search engines and highlight what’s going well, what needs improving, and prioritise what to do next. At Connected, we start in consultation with our clients to create a picture of the commercial impact of any projects before we begin.
Myth #4: SEO is a set-and-forget project
Imagine having a physical store front. When you launch, you have fresh paint, clean windows and the best stock you could possibly source. Over time, without any maintenance, your fresh new store starts looking a bit worse for wear. Dust gathers, paint peels and your stock starts to look dated.
This happens to virtual storefronts all the time. Businesses ‘set up their SEO’ once and think the job is done. In the meantime, competitors start offering better content, customers start shopping elsewhere, and their site keeps falling behind in rankings.
The key is to look at SEO as an ongoing activity. As your customers change their behaviour, Google updates their algorithm, and competitors up their SEO efforts - it’s important that your SEO activity adapts along with these changes.
Connected tip: The good news is that once you’ve done the work in building your online presence, maintaining it becomes a lot easier. Some consistent effort each month can help maintain your SEO results and continue to bring traffic to your site for years to come.
Myth #5: SEO doesn’t really work – and didn’t it die off years ago?
This is a myth we see trending every few years. And it’s tempting to think it’s true. In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, SEO has been around for what feels like forever. Surely there are better ways to get found online? Then there’s the various myths that abound – some of which we’ve covered – that inevitably lead to the question being asked.
Our view is that as long as people are searching for your product or service online, SEO isn’t dead. It might not look the same way it did in the past and it will no doubt continue to change, but it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Connected tip: While SEO isn’t quite as sexy as some of the shiny new digital marketing tactics that have emerged in recent years, it’s still one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website without handing all your budget over to big tech. If you’re still not sure, check out your data and analytics to see how your site is performing. Experiment with improving one page or section and monitor the results.
SEO myths vs reality
In our experience, SEO myths are here to stay as long as SEO is around. And as a busy CMO or marketing lead, it can be near impossible to keep up with every single change and separate fact from fiction. We recommend some key blogs from reputable industry sites such as Search Engine Journal and SEMRush to keep across the latest news. Or, if you’re after SEO consultancy services to help set your team up for success, get in touch to see how we can help.