A 2013 study published by GE found that 81 percent of American consumers research online before making any major purchase—that’s a 20 percent increase from 2012. Further, 60 percent of shoppers start off by visiting a search engine.
With 2015 nearly halfway over, what does this signify for your business? Whether you run an insurance company or a manufacturing facility, it means your customers are more likely than ever to be exposed to competitors online, not only from your region, but also from rival companies that can serve your customers from across the globe. The best way to combat this global competition is to keep your business at the top of the search engine results pages (SERP) by using a clear and effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. As the millennial generation comes into buying power—a generation prone to Google just about anything before making a major decision—an error-free SEO strategy is becoming a necessity.
From simply ignoring SEO to deliberate keyword stuffing, here are five of the worst (and most commonly believed) SEO myths that could be hurting your business:
Myth 1. I shouldn’t concern myself with SEO
Too many businesses believe their reputation will do the work for them, that people will search for their company by name and be able to find them instantly. In reality, most users search for businesses by category. So instead of typing “Joe’s Flower Shop,” they will simply look up “flowers.” Without an effective SEO strategy, your business is unlikely to appear near the top of the search results, and if you’ve ever used Google before, how often do you click past the first two results pages? Or even past the first page? If you want your business to stay competitive, you must implement a strong SEO strategy. This will boost your business’s traffic, visibility and reputation.
Myth 2. Once I’ve built my website for SEO, I can sit back and wait for results
For many businesses, SEO is a top priority upon the launch of their new websites. Although this is a great start, the issue is just that—it’s only the start. It’s great to have a plan to build your website with SEO in mind, but recognize that search engines cannot guarantee you will maintain or improve your search ranking without intervention and effort. In the SEO world, change is a fact: search engines are always updating their algorithms, links can suddenly lose their credibility and new competitors can arise without warning. If you want your website to stay relevant and effective, you must monitor and update your SEO constantly, meaning that SEO is an ongoing and full-time job.
Myth 3. I should use multiple domain names in order to boost SEO
It’s time to quash this rumor for good. The reality is that using several domain names to direct users to the same or similar content can only be detrimental to your SEO. Search engines recognize when a business is using multiple domain names for the same purpose and will, in fact, penalize you by dropping you down in the rankings. Make sure you are only using one domain name unless you have a valid reason to use more. For example, if you have multiple organizations under the same umbrella organization, feel free to use multiple domain names. Otherwise, one will do.
Myth 4. The quantity of my links is more important than the quality of the content
The fact is that you cannot directly compare these two strategies because they are, fundamentally, two different measures. Quality content, independently, is extremely important to boosting your business’s SEO. By providing robust, creative and unique information, you will encourage visitors to stay on your website and share it with others.
However, having the proper amount of links is equally important, but not in the way believers of this myth think. First, it’s important to clarify that when working to improve your SEO, “links” does not refer to outbound links (to other sources), but rather the backlinks (links to your page presented on other websites) that are directing users from their original source to your company’s content. But the real debunking of this myth lies in the fact that the quantity of these links can actually be harmful to your SEO if you don’t focus on the quality of the websites hosting your backlinks. It’s crucial to monitor what sites are incorporating your backlinks into their content in order to ensure search engines do not penalize your business for being associated with irrelevant or low-quality websites.
Also remember that these two strategies can have a symbiotic relationship: with share-worthy content, you are more likely to gain inbound links (another term for backlinks) over time. This will help prove your credibility to search engines even further, resulting in significant improvements in your SEO.
Myth 5. I should use as many keywords as possible in my content
This strategy is called “keyword stuffing.” The idea is to produce as much content as you can, simply as an excuse for filling your site with popular search terms. This tactic used to be considered the loophole of search engine rankings, but it’s quickly becoming an ineffective method of SEO. Google’s many content-screening updates, for example, are able to recognize these tactics and penalize you for them (not to mention it’s simply bad SEO form to blatantly repeat keywords and phrases). That isn’t to say you shouldn’t optimize these terms on your pages—you definitely should. But while keyword stuffing typically produces unhelpful, badly written information, your business should strive to create polished, useful content based on prioritized subjects.
So who can you trust?
Knowing who and what to believe is a challenge when it comes to SEO. It’s a relatively new, progressive and fast-paced field in which one mistake can set you far behind your competitors. Because of its dynamic and changing nature, it’s extremely important to adapt your SEO strategy as the industry changes. It’s not enough anymore to simply set up a page with a number of keywords. In this day and age, search engines are more sophisticated and smarter than ever before. Not only that, but the new generation of consumers is more tech-savvy, as well: using Google is simply second nature to them.
As the industry changes and evolves, new myths will emerge, as they always do. Ultimately, it’s up to you to maintain a critical eye and carefully consider each SEO strategy your business is using.