Myths in SEO run almost as deep as they do in Lock Ness and Area 51. Let’s have some fun and look at 10 of them today. By no means a definitely list, these still pop up.
- I need to rank #1
Yes, it’s nice to rank on top, but you know that actual rankings fluctuate on a daily basis. Does the #1 spot actually get you more clicks and conversions and the # 2 or #3 spot. Depends on the phrase sometimes. And for those trying to get off page 2 of the SERP and onto page 1, be careful. Often the click through rate (CTR) of the top spots on page 2 are far better than the CTRs on the lower positions on page one. If you rank well on page 2, be careful when planning your assault on page one. Unless you can get above the fold, it might be better to stay put and own the top of the second page. All of this will, naturally, vary a great deal form site to site, page to page and even across individual phrases. Sometimes people research on one phrase and buy on another version, for example.
- My Title tag will save me
It’s important, but even the most well-crafted title tag can’t elevate a site skipping everything else. This is a somewhat common refrain from bloggers as some of the most popular platforms don’t include things like meta descriptions in their base code. Plugins exist to easily add them, and allow access to a bunch of other common areas SEOs like to fiddle with. You should spend time getting the title right, but this alone won’t save a sinking ship.
- Social is all I need
Social takes time, I can’t be bothered with SEO, so I’ll just do social. There was a time when ranking a website was like making consommé. You wanted one thing – clear broth. At that time, you could focus on a single tactic and it would boost rankings. Today it’s more like trying to make the world’s best seafood chowder. Success depends on a complex mix of ingredients, freshness and timing. One ingredient alone won’t bring success, and yet without that one ingredient, you don’t have a chowder.
- Videos are all I need
People like to consume content in videos. Videos are easy to produce and easy to consume. It’s pretty easy to make high quality videos today, and even if you don’t the expectations of people online have aligned with more modest efforts. But let’s face it, embedding videos can negatively affect page load times, frustrating visitors. And a video alone won’t help rankings. You’ve got to give the engines something to understand, as they’re not going to “watch” that 4 minute rant you posted. Transcripts are a great way around this little issue. Videos are a great part of growing your content, but aren’t a silver bullet, despite what some ads on Facebook would have you believe.
- Buying ads helps my rankings
Nope. No amount of ad buying will get you organically ranked higher. If you still believe this today, click here. The instant and engine starts determining ranking based on ads bought is the instant it loses credibility. Game over, Player One.
- I make awesome content
Maybe you do, but it’s not your call to make. Great content is content that’s deemed great by searchers and visitors to your site. All the standards in the world won’t help you if no one likes your writing style, voice or message. Grammar affects how people (readers) perceive you, so that can have a direct impact on engagement and rankings. But never delude yourself into thinking what you produced is excellent just because you put time into it. Watch what visitors engage with and seek to follow that same pattern.
- Links are all I need
While important as a vote of confidence for the content they point to, there is simply so much link spam these days that it’s tough to know where to turn. Obviously buying links is a dead end, and it doesn’t matter how you split this hair: sharing, encouraging, incentivizing, buying – it’s all the same. You want links to surprise you. You should never know in advance a link is coming, or where it’s coming from. If you do, that’s the wrong path. Links are part of the bigger picture. You want them, but you want them to be natural. If an engine sees you growing tem naturally, you’re rewarded with rankings. If they see you growing them unnaturally, you’re rewarded with penalties.
- Marking up my content will help it rank
No. It will help the engine gain a better understanding of your content, and allow us to use that content in unique ways in the SERPs (should we choose to), but installing the code doesn’t boost rankings.
- Usability is different than SEO
While technically a different discipline, its time more folks starting seeing them as similar. Both focus on improving a website for users. Investing in SEO and not investing in usability is like tying one sneaker and going for a run. Yeah, you’ll be OK, but wouldn’t it be a better experience with both shoes tied?
- SEO is all I need
Do you want consommé or chowder? SEO is foundational. It’s important and can fuel growth. Like Soylent, it’ll keep you going. But maybe you’d rather sample the entire buffet?
Sr. Product Manager