We have been providing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services for over 4 years now and in this time, I have found there are some common misconceptions about what works in SEO and that using certain techniques will “guarantee” page one rankings.
A few of these worked until not so long ago. However, with the Panda update and recent changes in Google’s algorithm to take a website performance into account to determine rankings, what SEO was about in 2011 will not be the same for 2012.
So, instead of compiling a list of SEO misconceptions, I thought I’d be more helpful create a list of facts which I hope will help you create a more effective SEO strategy for your own website.
1) You can’t guarantee rankings –The popularity of SEO has led to a lot of companies advertising guarantees that they can get you to page 1. However, this is close to impossible. No one, apart from a few people at Google knows exactly how the search engine giant’s algorithm works and what conditions need to exist to rank in page 1. Yes, by keeping up to date with the updates to changes in the algorithm and guidelines that Google publishes, you can increase your chances of a page one ranking.
2) SEO isn’t just about page 1 rankings – real SEO is about traffic and conversions. If your website isn’t easy to use, this will limit the amount of traffic and visitors that turn into enquiries and/or customers. You should be putting in the same amount of time and effort into making your website user-friendly to maximise the possible gains from your rankings.
3) You can’t reach page 1 overnight – Optimising your website takes time and is an ongoing process of building links, adding link-worthy content and through a process of testing and trial-and-error, finding how your users like to use your website (see point 2 above).
4) There is no shortcut to page 1 – gone are the days when just building 000’s of links in a short period of time would skyrocket your rankings to the first page. Google is much smarter than that now. Link building along with content generation, Social Media, Blogging , to name a few, are only some of the components that make up SEO and a planned and integrated effort over time will help improve your rankings.
5) Flash isn’t bad for SEO – Yes, it’s true that a full Flash website isn’t good for SEO because search engines cannot “read” Flash content. However, if your website has elements of flash along with other readable content by search engines, that isn’t a bad thing. Do a search now and you’ll easily find many websites on page 1 which use Flash elements but still able to maintain high rankings because they have a lot of other useful content, for visitors and search engines.
6) Stuffing your pages with keywords (Keyword Density) doesn’t help – there was a time when filling your text with numerous instances of target keywords would help in your rankings. Keyword Density is now, only a small ranking factor and stuffing your text with too many keywords can actually hurt your rankings, if Google thinks it’s a deliberate attempt to spam.
7) Stuffing your Meta keyword with your search term doesn’t help – as in the case of Keyword Density, the effectiveness of Meta keywords in your rankings is arguable, with many believing that they don’t have any ranking effect at all. You should still populate your Meta keyword tag with appropriate and relevant keywords as it can help users during their search phase.
8) Google AdWords wont help your SEO in the long term – using Google’s AdWords can help you get more traffic which in turn can help improve your rankings. However, Google doesn’t “favour” sites which uses it’s advertising platform (not that we know of anyway).
9) SEO isn’t all about link building – See point 4 above.
10) Getting to first page doesn’t means you’ll stay there – With the constant changes in search engine algorithms, there’s a good chance that what worked in getting you high rankings in 2011 will not work, 6 months for now. Also, as more of your competitors optimize their own websites, it’s important to stay on top of your website’s SEO to ensure that it preserves its rankings.
If you have any questions on SEO or need help with optimizing your website, you can contact us here.
Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20 and looks after the PPC and SEO side of things. Shirish also regularly contributes to leading digital marketing publications such as Hubspot, SEMRush, Wordstream and Outbrain. Connect with him on LinkedIn.