We work with a variety of different clients of all shapes and sizes across multiple industries all with different target markets, needs and requirements yet it is surprising that we get asked the same questions all the time and the common misconceptions raise their head on an almost daily basis. We face a plethora of challenges depending on what our individual clients are looking to achieve, but at the end of the day, everything that we do it all about raising our clients visibility in their digital environment. Here are 10 SEO myths that we have successfully busted.
- SEO objectives. This is one of the most common things people seem to misunderstand. SEO’s prime responsibilities are increasing visibility in search and bringing more organic traffic to a particular website. Conversions are a shared responsibility. Of course, the organic traffic should be qualified, but if the website is not easy to navigate then it won’t convert. After all, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
- SEO is a slow burner. Big overall changes won’t happen overnight. The only time you’ll see significant movements in visibility and traffic will be when you either get penalised or a penalty is removed. Find out more about Google penalties here. Saying that, noticeable improvements can be seen in certain segments of the website. If a website hasn’t previously utilised key on-page factors such as title tags and meta descriptions, small tweaks can go a long way. Updating these elements can result in visibility uplifts for the targeted products and services. The screenshot below shows just how a title tag update on the homepage alone has made a big difference over the course of a week.
- Communication is key. As mentioned, SEO techniques can take some time to impact visibility and show measurable results. That’s why a list (or even better, a calendar of future company or industry events) is desirable. Knowing what will happen in advance can make a big difference to the way the SEO tactics are prioritised and deployed. Regular updates from both the client and the agency sides should be in place to ensure that SEO activities are in line with the business objectives.
- Rankings don’t mean a thing. Marketers keep saying that SEO has changed, yet you will be surprised how many people still think that SEO is about rankings; about chasing a handful of keywords; about manipulation. Well, it’s not. Absolute rankings are long gone. Results in Google are personalised based on a number of factors, which is why it’s possible that two results for the same searches will not exactly match.
- Google+ local listings work for national businesses too. It’s a common misconception that if a business wants to target the whole of the country, or even foreign markets, it doesn’t need a local listing. This is definitely not the case, as Google+ local not only boosts local presence but increases domain authority as well. It’s a mistake to overlook potential customers in the local area just because there will be fewer of them. Ultimately, it’s easier to get stronger in one specific area and expand from there, than to try and compete at a national level with a website that has low domain authority.
- Don’t think links, but references. In the old days of SEO, links were built for their own sake. Now, this approach can only get a website penalised. Today it’s important that references to a website are created. If a link is associated with those references then great; if not there’s no reason to worry. Google likes to see that websites across the internet are mentioning the company’s name. There is a list of highly authoritative directories called local citations sites that Google uses as a ranking factor for these results. Often those websites don’t have a link to your website, yet having a reference to your business there is beneficial for your organic visibility.
- SEO doesn’t generate demand. Contrary to what people expect, if you work in a niche market it’s likely that there won’t be a lot of searches for your products without other forms of marketing. It is funny when clients come to us and say “I’m not happy, we only had 150 impressions last month” but it turns out the average search volume is 200 monthly searches. This clearly shows that our work for the client is actually pretty good; three quarters of searches have been for their products or services.
- Seasonality affects every industry. Clients often think there is no seasonality in their industry. When we look at Google Trends and Google Analytics data (if available), we find that there are seasonal highs and lows for each business. Bank holidays should also be taken into account in B2B markets, as they can affect number of searches, as well as leads. That’s why I recommend when looking at data to compare year-on-year stats, instead of month-on-month.
- SEO shouldn’t be paused during a website build. Stopping all SEO activities while a new website is being built is one of the worst decisions that can be made. SEO expertise during a website build is just as important as it is when the site is launched. Clients sometimes make the mistake of thinking that not having SEO for a few months will save them money and they can simply resume the service when the new website is live. Not having an SEO expert whilst working on a new website, though, can result in losing a lot of visibility and traffic after the new website launches. Read about how SEO can help you launch a website without losing visibility and traffic here.
- Website maintenance is not part of SEO. Website updates can be made by SEOs, given that the right logins are provided. However, updating banners and/or outdated information on the website is not what your SEO agency is contracted to do. If the website goes down, this also doesn’t fall under the SEO remit.
Author’s note: in the circumstances where your web design agency is also your SEO provider, the above is not applicable.
Moral of the story
The relationship between clients and SEO experts will be so much smoother if there is more communication. SEOs should understand that clients are not always aware of the points above, so some education might be needed. On the other hand, clients should trust in their SEOs and co-operate in any way they can. After all the, SEOs are only trying to increase their clients’ businesses.