Whether you’re currently dabbling in SEO to grow your business’s web presence or gathering information to understand where to start, you’re probably already convinced that SEO is something you can’t ignore. For most businesses, it also becomes an essential part of their marketing strategy.
Search Engine Optimization is what the acronym stands for, but for many people beyond that it can be a little bit of a black box. What does it actually mean to optimize your website for SEO?
Put simply, optimizing for SEO simply means making your website more relevant and easier to find for your target audience.
To get you started in the right direction, we’ve identified and unraveled 5 common myths about SEO.
Myth #1 – You have COMPLETE control over your SEO.*
Sorry, you just never will, and that’s a good thing. Search engines’ algorithms are optimized to yield the most accurate and impartial search results for its users, as opposed to SEM (Search Engine Marketing), such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads online advertising platforms.
To that end, Google is extremely protective of the secret sauce that fuels its search algorithms and according to MOZ, changes the algorithm 500-600 times per year! Hopefully it gives you some comfort to know that everyone else is in the same boat.
However, there are certainly things that you CAN do to help your SEO. Last year, Google confirmed that two of the three most important search ranking factors are comprehensive content and high-quality links from authoritative sources back to your site.
Developing content for your website is certainly within your control, and one of the easiest and least technical things you can do is to simply start a company blog to push compelling informational and educational articles that interests your target audience.
Feeling a bit of writer’s block? Try using a tool like BuzzSumo to see what topics your target audience is searching for and use that as a guide to start developing relevant content.
Don’t be intimidated if you’re not a subject matter expert on a certain topic. Do some research and always be certain to cite your sources appropriately or set up an interview with someone on your team who can speak to the topic.
Myth #2 – You need to hire an expensive SEO resource to get good results.*
This is also not true. SEO is an area of specialty which like all specialties has a broad spectrum of people whose knowledge and skills vary greatly. Many growing companies are willing to hire less seasoned talent in various business functions and provide opportunities for learning and mentorship so that person can grow their skills as the company grows.
One interesting option is to hire a SEO consultant or agency along with your growing marketing team to provide the guidance that you can’t, and act as that experienced set of eyes to make sure things are moving in the right direction.
Of course, you could also hire an agency to manage this full time as well. If you’re a marketing jack-of-all-trades who enjoys developing new skills, you could even learn to do it yourself.
The point is that you have the same options in other business functions, so don’t get pigeon-holed one way or another.
Myth #3 – You only need to hire an SEO agency/consultant for the initial set up, and after 3 months can just take the wheel yourself.*
While this is not necessarily a myth if you yourself have acquired sufficient knowledge of SEO yourself in those 3 months (or whatever time frame you’re working with) and have the bandwidth to continue to manage your SEO regularly.
However, for the vast majority of organizations who try to go this route, that is not the case and their SEO ends up tanking from neglect.
Don’t neglect those initial SEO efforts you worked so hard for in the beginning. Keep giving it the attention it deserves for its full lifespan, and remember SEO is an ongoing and ever evolving process.
Myth #4 – Content should be short because people have short attention spans and won’t read it if it’s too long.
While this used to be the generally prescribed methodology for all types of marketing content – be it blogs, email or anything else that requires reading, increasingly, studies are proving that long-form content performs better. In fact, 1,000 words is the minimum you should be striving for with approximately 1,600+ words being the sweet spot.
This makes sense because the whole point of writing and publishing any content is for people to engage with it, as opposed to quickly skimming it over and moving on to the next article.
You want to engage with people who are in a state of thoughtfulness and discovery about the topic and hopefully take the action that you want them to take, such as filling out your Contact Us web form or subscribing to your blog so they can receive updates the next time you publish an awesome article.
Myth #5 – You can’t get accurate ROI reporting on SEO to measure its effectiveness.
While in past years it was challenging to tie search activity back to closed business, that is no longer the case as companies such as Bizible have sprung up to solve that very problem. Bizible’s solution works by placing code on your website that categorizes your web traffic and sends that information to your CRM (i.e. Salesforce.com) data.
Their solution is not cheap, but if you’re serious about getting accurate reporting on which web traffic sources contributed to won deals, a software solution like this is an effective way of measuring results.
If you’re using a marketing automation tool like Marketo and either have either in-house or outsourced expertise, it is also possible to connect some SEO activity to a portion of your leads (Remember, Marketo is a marketing automation tool which targets leads, not a web analytics tool which targets traffic). However, this is not what Marketo was designed to do, so the results you’ll get will be better than nothing, but not as good as a tool that specializes in it.
Whether or not your company is at the phase of maturity to justify another costly software tool, remember that ROI stands for return on investment, and both the investment and the return can take many forms.
For example, your goal might be to acquire new leads via your website. To achieve that goal, you not only need to invest time developing content that covers topics that interest your target audience but you also need to optimize your site for SEO to ensure people can easily find your blog posts when they’re searching for that topic.
As mentioned earlier, SEO is an ongoing, evolving process that should not be disregarded if you want to have your website’s content rank highly in search results.
Whether you consider yourself to be an expert or novice, the key to successfully begin executing your SEO strategy is to determine the resources you’ll need (web developer, content writer, web analyst) and understanding the various factors that contribute to higher rankings.
What are some other SEO myths that you are unclear about? Let us know in the comments section below!
*Source: SEO From Scratch by Jeff Smith