It's true, I've had to replace my head several times now, it keep exploding. Why? Because certain myths about SEO, which are utter, utter nonsense, keep cropping up.
You can understand some of them, they sound geeky enough they may be true, and you can understand why a guy selling washers might believe them, but all of the below have been heard recently. And I've heard SEO companies spout them. And they're all wrong.
Myth One: The Statement – “We've done our SEO.”
Really? Just the one-off? How did that work out?
SEO isn't something you “just do”. I mean, you have a thing on your hosting called “EXTREME TRAFFIC” – so good they put it in caps, but what does that do exactly? Shall I tell you?
Actual conversation that happened to me:
“This thing on my hosting says ‘EXTREME TRAFFIC: £30', should I do that?”
“No, it just submits your website to Google, which does nothing, you need proper SEO and content marketing.”
“But I can't afford it. I might just give this EXTREME TRAFFIC a go. What have I got to lose?”
There's no such thing as a one-off SEO ‘hit'. SEO means more than just shoving a hundred keywords in your meta tags or putting all your text in bold on the front page. It's about marketing, the good stuff that means getting great content in front of your customers and enticing them with your knowledge, skills and experience.
That takes time; it's what content marketing is all about. It changes with the times, with trends and with current affairs and you should be creating content that appeals to people at different times.
You can't just create an “about us” page and expect it to bring you lots of traffic.
Expect to spend time on it, or money.
Myth Two: SEO is dead
This crops up whenever there's a new Google update. It's also pushed by a bunch of marketers to believe that Google hate SEO and so back links are now ignored, and any efforts to boost your ranking will end in a penalty.
If your idea of SEO is creating thousands of links a day for pennies or hiring a company for $50 a month to handle it for you, then yes, that's dead.
But if your idea is to market your website regularly, consistently and gradually over time, then that's absolutely tickity-boo.
SEO is about marketing your content. It's content marketing. It's been around for hundreds of years in one for or another, and it will continue for as long as people rule the earth. So, at least twenty years or so.
Myth Three: You should have all your keywords in your keywords meta tag
SEO companies who say this really should grab their coat and get out.
The keyword meta tag was used over a decade ago when there was no clever way to understand what a web page was about. It was a crude tool which relied on honesty from the site owner.
For example, if a page was about red cars, then the site owner would have had the keyword “red cars” in the meta tag, along with some other associated keywords.
But, it was easily abused. He could put “blue cars” in there as well, even though he didn't sell them. But if blue cars were all the rage, it might get him some traffic, and maybe they'd buy a red one?
In about 2003, this type of abuse got to the point where Google had all but removed any relevance of meta tags out of the algorithm. It was gone, and content was now the way forward. They could actually understand what a page was about without using such basic means, and they've only got better since.
It hasn't been used at all as any kind of ranking measure for at least ten years. I'll just make that clear: It's not used at all.
So, putting your keywords in your meta tags makes no difference, it's, therefore, pointless.
Myth Four: You need to submit your site to Google
Most search engines have a page where you can submit your new website URL. However I've tested this a lot, and the best I can say is that it does absolutely nothing.
What's more, there are companies actually selling this as a service. Seriously!
They'll take your web address and submit it for you, and change you for the privilege.
And it does nothing!
I tested this out ages ago using a number of websites, and here's what I found.
For brand new websites on brand new domains, I split them down the middle. Some of them I submitted to Google using their submission tool, and others I linked to from another website that was already known by Google.
Within two days, every single website that I'd linked to had been found by Google.
Every single one had every single page in the search engine.
And the ones I submitted? Not one was found. It took TWO WEEKS before they ended up being found by Google. And that's using THEIR submission tool.
Myth Five: You have to run AdWords in order to rank
If you don't know, AdWords is Google's own paid-for system which brings them billions in revenue. Essentially, you can pay to have your website appear on the search page, and it’s highlighted to show it’s an advert.
AdWords and the organic (non-paid-for) results are entirely separate.
There is no correlation between them at all, and just because you pay for AdWords doesn't mean your organic results will be affected. In fact, I've known companies that pay tens of thousands of pounds for AdWords get removed from the organic results because of dodgy practices.
The two sides of the business are very different, and you can call “conspiracy” all you like, it ain't gonna change the fact that you can't pay your way to the top of the organic search.
It just takes hard work
I've seen some awful sites rank well, really awful. I've seen some technically fantastic sites rank poorly. There's no quick-win way to getting your site found, it's purely down to hard work.
Websites need to offer something to people. When they offer something worthwhile, people will keep coming back, and they'll share what they've found with others.
That's content marketing; that's SEO, and that's what works.