Businesses operating in the digital age do need search engine optimization in order to stand out and ensure customer needs are met. But even if you know that SEO is non-negotiable, you might not know much else about it. It’s a vast and complicated topic, so it’s understandable that many business owners feel overwhelmed by the entire premise.

Unfortunately, those feelings can often make it more likely for us to believe certain misinformation. It’s often easier for us to over-simplify or even dismiss the validity of these concepts, rather than accept that we can’t possibly know everything about them. As such, myths about SEO tend to be pervasive and unyielding. And if you believe these misconceptions, this could greatly affect your ability to market your business correctly.

It’s time to learn the truth behind these common SEO falsehoods. The more you truly know, the better equipped you’ll be to make the right decisions for your organization pertaining to digital marketing and search engine optimization. If you want to amp up your SEO efforts, you’ll need to stop believing the following myths.

MYTH: It’s unnecessary to prioritize SEO if you’ve already done so in the past.

Some business owners think that SEO is a “one and done” kind of endeavor. But it’s actually not something you can try once and check off your to-do list, never to be addressed again. In order to work, SEO needs to be performed on a consistent basis. Digital marketing is always evolving and Google updates its algorithm regularly. That means that if you want to stay relevant, you’ll need to continuously put in the work.

What’s more, just because you’ve made search engine optimization attempts in the past doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to replicate those results again. In some cases, organizations don’t give an SEO strategy nearly enough time to be executed; when it “fails,” they assume that SEO just doesn’t work and they give up. And even if you saw positive results when you had your website rebuilt or you published content regularly, you probably won’t be able to keep that momentum up unless you’re making a conscious effort to keep improving. SEO is meant to be a long-term plan, rather than a quick fix. You can’t merely set it, forget it, and reap the rewards. You’ll need to be persistent if you want SEO to pay off. 

MYTH: The main goal of SEO is to rank for the right keyword.

It’s easy to become focused on the wrong things with SEO, particularly if you aren’t a professional in this industry. For example, many business owners get tunnel vision pertaining to the keywords on which they’d like to rank. Sure, it would be nice to nab that number one spot for a highly competitive keyword. But in some cases, that may never be possible, which can lead to endless frustration. Even more importantly, being the top result for that desirable keyword won’t be the magic pill to help your business succeed — nor is it really necessary for you to be profitable.

Trying to rank number one for a broad keyword will often cause you to go over your budget or even turn to less-than-ethical tactics in desperation. Neither one will yield good results for your business in the big picture, and in the meantime, you might miss out on opportunities to rank for less competitive (but highly effective) keywords instead. Visitors will come to your site (and spend money there) because your efforts aligned with their needs and their questions — not because you managed to outwit your competitors.

Keywords and keyword research certainly are important, but your desire to be number one could actually keep you from reaching your other business goals. And while Google generally does a good job of ensuring that high-ranking websites provide value to web users, it’s entirely possible you could be so focused on ranking that you forget about what your customers are actually looking for. Instead of becoming obsessed with one specific keyword that everyone in your industry is targeting, try to find other ways to increase your brand recognition and search ranking. You do not have to be number one to grow your business.

MYTH: Link building is a bad and ineffective practice.

This myth stems from a statement made by Google’s webmaster trends analyst, John Mueller, back in 2015. Mueller said in a video that other webmasters should generally avoid link building, which many in the community interpreted to mean that link building practices were harmful and against Google’s guidelines.

Neither of those assumptions is actually true, however. Manipulative link building is a bad idea, but Google still places an emphasis on domain or link authority, as well as anchor text, when determining ranking signals. In other words, obtaining backlinks from relevant, high-quality sites through organic (read: unpaid) means can be an excellent way to improve your search ranking, and increase web traffic to your site. As long as you follow the rules laid out by Google and are able to develop a link-building strategy, this practice can become an important part of your SEO efforts.

MYTH: Great content is all you need for successful SEO.

You might have heard the phrase “content is king” before — and it’s an adage that often rings true. You really cannot create and maintain a successful SEO strategy without having high-quality content. Otherwise, you won’t have much to offer your audience. But that isn’t to say that having informative or entertaining content is all you need for better SEO. While it’s an essential component, it isn’t the only box you need to tick.

Just like any other type of marketing strategy, diversifying is key. Having the best content in your industry doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be rewarded with a number one ranking spot or that your business will be booming. Your content must be valuable to readers, but you’ll also need to implement other aspects of SEO to ensure that valuable content is seen, clicked, read, and translates into viable leads and customers. You’ll also need to work on your backlink profile, optimize tags, show off stellar images, ensure your website is fully user-friendly, prioritize your page loading speed, and much more. There are lots of other ranking factors to consider, so you can’t afford to ignore everything but the content quality. Great SEO can’t exist without that superior content, but you also won’t see the results you want if you fail to see the bigger picture.

MYTH: It’s more cost-effective to handle your own SEO.

As a business owner, you’re probably accustomed to DIYing any number of tasks. When something needs to get done, you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and figure it out yourself. While that’s an admirable quality — and could potentially allow you to cut costs, in some cases —  it’s not the best option for every area of your operations.

When it comes to search engine optimization, it’s not usually recommended that you tackle this responsibility on your own. SEO can be extremely complex and is constantly evolving, which means gathering that knowledge and implementing it will essentially be another full-time job. What’s more, there’s no way you can possibly learn all of those concepts in a short period of time; you’ll always be playing catch-up while the rest of your operations suffer as a result. And if you make a rookie mistake or take an intentional short-cut, it’s possible that your site could be penalized as a result.

Although you might initially be able to save some money by DIYing your SEO, the long-term cost benefits just aren’t there. It’s far better to outsource to an SEO company or a white label seo platform with more experience and know-how, particularly because there’s so much risk (and so much reward) associated with this part of your digital marketing. Rather than wasting time and energy trying to do it on your own, it’s better to bring in an expert so you can devote your efforts elsewhere.

It’s not always easy to admit that you don’t know enough about marketing your business, particularly when we all rely on search engines every day. But now that you’re more familiar with the reality behind these myths, you can feel confident in your ability to squash them when you hear them. Even better, you’ll be more likely to recognize what your strategy needs (and what it doesn’t).

By palmora