Every industry has people who call themselves “experts”. They usually give advice, have a hill they are willing to die on or may even just preach information. The SEO world is no exception. But how do we know if this information is correct, sound, or even true? We will never know if Big Foot is out there or if the Loch Ness Monster is really down there, but what we do know is that there are quite a few SEO myths out there that need to be debunked.
SEO is dead.
Let’s start off with a bang. Is organic SEO dead? Well, of course not. SEO seems to be a “trend” that has its ups and downs just like Justin Beiber’s reputation. It seems to be more popular when a Google update comes around and is often used to earn bloggers some clicks. SEO can be incredibly powerful – if you’re good at it. The problem is that most people don’t know how to produce good SEO strategies or optimizations.
Google is driven by other websites and relies on those sites to provide high-quality content to serve up in its results, therefore, there will always be a need for SEO. Sure, the days of SEO being super easy are long gone and that’s why SEO agencies are on the rise. Websites/businesses need to work with skilled professionals to get it right. We wouldn’t trust just anyone to file our corporate taxes, so why would you trust just anyone to drive traffic to your website?
We understand that it may not be for everyone. Even knowing that fact still doesn’t put SEO in the grave. You may not need a dedicated in-house SEO expert, or even an agency but think about it, why do you have a website if you don’t want people to find it? As long as there are search engines and websites, organic search optimization will be around.
Page Rank is important for SEO.
Yes, but not the most important.
First we have to understand, what is page rank? It is most important to know that it is one of the oldest rank factors. It was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Page Rank is defined by Google as the counting of the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites. Google says they still use this algorithm, but there are many more layers that have been added to the algorithm to make it more effective. Google seems to prioritize other rank factors first, which leads us to focus on other factors that are more influential rather than page rank.
Now, we don’t want to say that page rank doesn’t matter. It matters, but it’s not the only thing or even the number one thing. It’s just one of many Google rank factors. It’s the one that we have the least control over. Google has said they may or may not look at this ranking factor based on the individual website and circumstance. Google values links differently, so the idea you can guarantee building links will improve SEO performance is just not true. Links and links from relevant and popular websites will always be important but instead focus on what you can control the most, which is the stuff on your website.
Long form content equals good rankings.
If you want to rank for “what time is it” do you need 4,000 words? Of course not. Long form has its place, just like every other SEO strategy. However, it must be used in the right context.
Now, don’t confuse Google’s Hummingbird update as more content equals better rankings. Your content still needs to be relevant and valuable. This update was more about context y instead of length. Specifically, how can we find all of the different ways to talk about one thing using this update to better understand synonyms or relatively synonymous terms and phrases. You could search “who was the lead actor in the 1992 movie wayne’s world” OR “who starred in wayne’s world” OR “what movie is mike myers famous for?” and get the same result for each.
When in an ultra competitive space you will often see long form content because you need extensive content length to properly target the topic. A lot of SEO is not done at that level. Say you are trying to sell steering wheel covers. This is not a super competitive market and your goal is to rank in the top 10-20, which is not an aggressive goal. In order to achieve results, you need to have optimized and well-structured content but length is less of a concern.
Social does not affect SEO.
Doing things on social media can indirectly have an impact on SEO. These social signals in SEO may not improve rankings, but things like branded search terms may be affected. You don’t want an angry review or tweet as the first search result in Google. Google tends to favor tweets with more interactions so making sure your socials are up to snuff is important. Healthy social channels may also lead to social accounts appearing in organic search. This appearance won’t get people to your website but if someone shares a link from your site on social media that could potentially bring in referral traffic to your site. So in a nutshell, more shares lead to more exposure and that often leads to more backlinks (which are a ranking factor). Pages that rank well in Google get more traffic and some of those people will share the content on their own websites. A bit of a stretch, but helpful nonetheless.
Sometimes things you see on social media can help your SEO research. If you share things specific to your business or products, the questions or comments people leave could become useful content. FAQ pages or new static landing page ideas can often be generated with these insights.
But BEWARE! The timing on that data can be short lived and sometimes can be too old too soon to be used for research in SEO. You can get information on what’s hot from social media, but a lot of it has a less than 4 hour life cycle so be careful about flash in the pan moments. Is anyone going to care about it two days from now?
SEO is a one time thing.
If SEO was a one time thing, the team here at Transistor would probably need to get new jobs. Luckily for us, even if Google never changed how it operated, competitors would change and the marketing landscape would change (as it always does). Competitors are doing SEO, even if it is by accident. This will push you down the search results and traffic and rankings over time will decrease.
Also, people change. Does Gen Z even use written words anymore or are emojis the norm? New words come in and out over time and people use language differently. These societal changes will make your site outdated when Google is constantly changing to keep up.
If SEO is a one time thing, then my name is Princess Banana Hammock. Even if we take Google out of the equation, not checking in on basic SEO factors for your site can have major consequences. There are lots of moving parts to a website. Services and products come and go and lots of people may be making changes. Mistakes are bound to be made and things are probably going to have to be updated.
So what are some things that you can focus on to keep SEO always top of mind? In the short term, look at search results for products and main keywords. Make sure your site is in line with the types of results, if not, take action on immediately. In the long term, look at both the competitors you know today and the ones that appear over time to see how their sites differ from yours. Where they might be developing some obvious advantages. This would be something that takes time to develop and might change along the way.