SEO Mythbusting: Fact or Fiction?
Make no bones about it – SEO works.
Granted it’s not a magic bullet for failing businesses. But when done correctly, SEO can definitely improve your traffic and topline.
Want to see it in the numbers? No sweat. We compiled a couple of great SEO case studies a little while back, so take a peek!
SEO is tricky however, and it’s really quite complicated. With that in mind, it’s probably not surprising that there is plenty of misinformation out there.
So, we though it high time someone took a closer look at some of the most common SEO claims thrown about. We wanted to get to the bottom of them. Which ones are true and which are fiction?
We’ve got over 10 years of data-driven experience working in the industry, so we’re fortunate enough to find ourselves in a position to take on this challenge. So let’s get down to it.
We’re going to clear the airwaves and get to the bottom of this. It’s time for some SEO mythbusting!
1. “SEO Is Dead”
This phrase has almost become as overused as “content is king.” Yeah I know, we’re guilty of saying that one a bunch of time ourselves.
But there’s a critical way in which these statements differ! Content is actually king, but SEO is anything but dead.
Industry experts and dilettantes alike enjoy complaining when Google updates their algorithm, and for sure, there can be cause for concern. But the truth is this…Google algorithm updates simply aim to provide users with more accurate and useful results. Click To Tweet
Look at it this way: as long as there is a page on which various items are “ranked” by an algorithm, there will be a market for people to help facilitate changes in rankings on that page. In this case, that means search engine optimization!
SEO is definitely not dead. “SEO is dead” is merely an over-exaggeration.
The improvements made to Google’s search algorithm in recent years are ways of weeding out low-quality websites from the search results. This simply encourages site owners (and SEO practitioners) to develop and promote quality websites. Tactics and SEO techniques will continue to evolve over time, but the practice itself is alive and well.
2. Social Media Marketing Can Impact SEO
While SEO and social media seem to be on opposite ends of the marketing spectrum, they’re actually a bit more intertwined than you might think.
Matt Cutts has flatly stated that social signals don’t contribute to higher rankings in Google’s algorithm. And this seems to play out in the data we’ve observed. But, there are still plenty of ways that social marketing can have a noticeable impact on search rankings.
For instance, traffic, CTR, and bounce-rate matter! Also, owning additional top search real-estate on your brand terms (like your brand social profiles if they’re up to date and relevant) is never a bad thing. That just gives you more control over your brand image and messaging!
Further, check out this cognitive SEO case study that revealed a strong correlation between a page’s social shares and its search position for its keyword. The higher the shares, the higher the page ranks at the top of SERPs.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily indicate cause and effect, but the correlation is clear. And that speaks to what we were saying earlier.
Social signals and shares may not directly impact a site’s rankings on their target keywords, but it can indirectly have an effect!
As we mentioned, there’s no causal link between social shares and SERP rankings. But evidence strongly points to there being a measurable correlation. This alone should be reason enough to try and amp up your social shares.
3. Guest Posting Doesn’t Work Anymore
At the risk of being annoying, I’m going to open this topic with another tidbit from Matt Cutts.
It’s been 3 years since he wrote that article, and we can safely say that guest blogging is definitely still useful. Of course, you will need to go about it with a clearly defined and smart strategy. Aiming to get published on any outlet that will take you will certainly be a waste of your time.
To be fair, Matt’s statements came on the heels of guest blogging be overused, and in many cases, downright abused. In short, SEO-minded writers were creating useless and/or “spun” content just to get a quick link.
Quality matters when it comes to guest posting. Always choose quality over quantity!
When done right, it can have a seriously positive impact on both your rankings and your traffic. You’re able to get two birds with one stone… gain exposure and earn quality links.
Link-building is arguably still one of the most high-impact ways to improve rankings. Of course, these days, it’s important to focus on earning quality and relevant links instead of aiming for quantity.
Regardless, guest blogging is a natural, useful, and effective way at earning links and reaching new pockets in your target market.
4. UX Has a Lot in Common With SEO
Back in the day, links and rudimentary on-page optimizations were all that were required to earn higher rankings. That’s no longer the case.
Nowadays, search spiders are almost infinitely more sophisticated and advanced. Before ranking a page for any keywords, the crawlers take into consideration a huge number of factors. Many of these factores revolve around usability and relevance.
To get specific, let’s loosely assume that UX can be broken down into smaller elements like site speed, content relevance, and good web design. Running on that assumption, it’s easy to see that UX has a whole lot in common with SEO.
When you consider that UX includes known ranking factors like site speed it should come as no surprise that it can impact SEO. Further, some of the downstream consequences of improving your UX can similarly improve rankings.
Focus on engaging your visitors with a quality website and you’ll find them staying longer on your site, visiting additional pages, and sharing your content.
5. SEO Automation Is Always a Bad Thing
One of the main concerns business owners and SEO practitioners have about automation, is the loss of personalization.
This is an unfortunate misrepresentation of many perfect acceptable ways to automate a handful of administrative tasks. These can save time and energy, and free individuals up to spend more time on creative and strategic efforts.
There’s a clear line however, across which automation strays into the realm of “unhelpful” and ineffective.
Automated backlink creation, comment spam automation, and bot traffic are all well across that line. So don’t get confused about what constitutes the safe leverage of SEO automation.
A few useful ways to automate search optimization efforts, are
- Setting up alerts for brand, keyword, and other specific mentions across the web
- Crawling competitor sites for good keyword opportunities to pursue
- Collecting relevant and highly targeted lists of link-building opportunities
There’s no doubt that spam and bot traffic are tactics you’ll want to avoid. But there are many useful applications for SEO automation as well, and I’d encourage you to look into them as a way to save time and effort.
For further reading, check out this guide and this list of tools that can help you automate mass research for white hat SEO purposes. Just stay focused on how to leverage these tools to even better personalize your approach to SEO.
6. SEO Agencies Can Guarantee #1 Rankings
A good rule of thumb… if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Along your internet travels, you’re bound to encounter your fair share of SEO companies that will guarantee #1 rankings. There’s a technical term for these guarnatees: bullshit.
No matter how good an agency is at delivering results, no one can guarantee page one rankings, let alone placement in the top 3 results. There are variables at play when it comes to SEO, and sometimes your best efforts just won’t be enough.
We take a different approach to guarantees, and instead offer our customers the following: If you don’t rank, you don’t pay!
Nobody knows the exact process of how search engines decide which page to rank on top. We can be really good at guessing, and we can be even better at using data to drive the optimization of our tactics and methods, but there’s always a chance of failure when it comes to SEO.
Google did provide a starter guide on how to optimize your site for organic search, but they’ll never reveal the inner workings of their algorithm itself. So be wary of guarantees, and keep in mind that it’s not possible to ensure search engine results no matter how good an SEO agency is.
These are the most common SEO myths that we encounter on a regular basis. But that’s not to say there aren’t many more old-wives tales and misunderstandings in this industry.
Keep your head on your shoulders and educate yourself about which topics we covered today are true, and which are anything but.
Thanks for reading our 2017 edition of SEO mythbusting. If you take one thing away from this post, it should be the following: always stay up to date on the latest and most accurate information about SEO.
The tactics you know and love today, may change tomorrow if Google pushes a big algorithm update out the door. So be sure to subscribe to our blog and we’ll keep you abreast of all the latest SEO news.