The Top Three Misconceptions of Search Engine Optimization

By now, you probably know how we feel about Search Engine Optimization here at Citywide SEO. Over the past decade or so, SEO has grown from a trendy concept among techie-types into a near necessity for small and large businesses alike. Regardless of your business niche, your growth goals or your overall marketing presence, SEO has become critical as more and more customers are looking for goods and services online.

Over the years, Google algorithm updates such as Panda, Possum, Penguin and Hummingbird have impacted the world of SEO. Since the industry is always changing and evolving, it’s easy for business owners who don’t keep up with the Google algorithm on a daily basis to get confused. Best practices that were relevant six months ago can sometimes be actively discouraged by search engines today.

Due to all of this, there’s a LOT of bad information and misconceptions out there about how your SEO should be managed. Let’s look at the three most common SEO misconceptions and try to find some truth.

  1. Keywords Will Earn You #1 On Google

In the past decade, keywords were once the primary determining factor in helping your website to rank on Google and other search engines. Keywords (just in case you don’t already know) are the specific words that pertain to your product or service that individuals and prospective customers might search for online. Typically, a keyword consists of a search term and a geographic location, such as “SEO Company San Antonio.”

Yet, many people abused the use of keywords by practicing “keyword stuffing”—where a page contains as many similar iterations of one keyword as possible. Although it’s primarily an archaic, old-school way of “optimizing” a site, it’s still not terribly uncommon to see a website that says something like this:

Welcome to TeddyBearStores.com, where we have all the Teddy Bears you could buy! If you’re looking to buy Teddy Bears, TeddyBearStores.com is the website for you! We offer the best Teddy Bears you can buy at TeddyBearStores.com! Our website has more Teddy Bears than you could buy! Buy your Teddy Bears from TeddyBearStores.com today!

While this is a goofy and extreme example, this type of keyword stuffing caused Google to create algorithms to weed out spam content, making it more difficult for websites to rank in search results. Today, Google actively penalizes sites that practice this type of lazy SEO.

While keywords still remain part of an effective SEO strategy, it is important to avoid keyword stuffing and focus on the context. If you do practice keyword stuffing, Google will catch up with you at some point and the results won’t be pretty.

  1. Link Building vs. More Content

A lot of DIY-SEO gurus (who typically aren’t nearly as much of an “expert” as they think they are) believe that link building is the way to go when it comes to increasing rankings and earning that first spot on Google. Yes, it is true that link building still remains one of the top factors for better ranking, it can also be a very delicate balance between good, Google-approved SEO and practices that can get your site in trouble.

Building links just anywhere on the web (or even worse, engaging in a practice called “link farming” that actively seeks to build sneaky links in order to pass more page rank juice) can do more harm than good. In fact, some types of link building can fall under Google’s “Black Hat Tactics” policy and actually penalize your website. When it comes to both link building and content, it is important to focus on quality over quantity.

As a good rule of thumb, links should always come from websites with strong domain authority. Investing in writing good quality content that can be used for blogs, landing pages and e-books that will earn you high quality links over time.

  1. Meta Descriptions Directly Impact Rankings

For many years in SEO history, people believed that meta descriptions had a direct impact on search engine rankings. The old adage was that meta descriptions were the end-all-be-all of on-site SEO and neglecting them was a cardinal sin. Despite many SEO “gurus” harping on meta-description necessity, Google has long stated that “meta descriptions do not influence the search algorithm.”

Well, more specifically, meta descriptions do not directly influence the search algoritm.

That being said, it has been shown that writing compelling meta descriptions can increase your click-through rates. Having higher click-through rates is part of successful online marketing, but through time, also legitimizes your website as relevant and useful to users, which does directly influence your search engine rankings!

Summary

Understanding these myths about search engine optimization can help you yield better online marketing results. What used to be pivotal to increasing rankings doesn’t matter as much today. Building good quality links and putting emphasis on quality content will help improve your rankings and attract valuable traffic. Using keywords wisely and writing compelling meta descriptions can enhance the overall search experience for users.

In the end, good SEO truly is always a matter of quality over quantity. That’s precisely why you should always hire a certified professional like Citywide SEO to assist with your SEO, web design, PPC and social media.