Search engine optimization (SEO) can be problematic for any business.
Even if you hire an SEO expert, who knows the best practices, search engine algorithms change constantly, and they deliberately keep everyone in the dark about what factors really affect rankings.
So before you decide on which SEO expert to work with, make sure you aren’t getting duped by some common SEO lies. Here are the top seven.
1. “I know the algorithms.”
Google has told us about some of them while others you have to figure out on your own by researching what affects rankings. Also, Google is always in the process of updating and adjusting.
Just think of RankBrain, Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) ranking factor, which they implemented last year.
As it turns out, it was already in effect months before they told everyone about it. SEO experts didn’t have a clue, and it’s now considered one of the top three rank factors.
2. “I can help any industry rank.”
One of the most important aspects of a successful SEO strategy is understanding consumer intent.
This varies greatly from industry to industry. So an effective SEO has to have some real insight into your niche and your audience’s needs if they’re going to help you rank for the most relevant search terms.
Unless you have a giant SEO budget, much of successful SEO involves identifying longtail keywords to rank for. Finding the most relevant ones requires industry knowledge and experience.
3. “SEO is all you need.”
SEO is a major channel marketers need to take advantage of, but it’s only one of many effective ways to reach your audience.
The most successful businesses work with a combination of channels, including: advertising, content marketing, social media marketing and more.
Research has shown that these tactics often complement each other.
For example, creating a lot of unique content is a great opportunity to improve SEO. And marketers who use pay-per-click ads (PPC) can use their keyword research data to inform their SEO efforts and even see an organic lift in click-through-rates (CTR).
4. “The more links, the better.”
Despite efforts by Google to penalize domains using unnatural linking practices, backlinks still matter a lot today in search.
But nowadays, Google is keeping a very close eye on what kind of links are pointed at your site. If you’re working with an SEO, make sure they understand the kind of links you want to garner - legitimate, high quality and high authority ones.
Ask them for specifics about their link building strategies. Those sticking with “the more links the better” as an SEO tactic could end up hurting your search ranking.
5. “Duplicate content won’t hurt your SEO.”
Google is looking to penalize marketers who are trying to duplicate content across domains to manipulate search, and get more traffic. Since that’s not the case for most duplicate content you find online, some SEOs think you shouldn’t have to worry about eliminating it from your website.
And they’re wrong. Google doesn’t know your underlying intentions, which is why they recommend addressing duplicate content issues on your domain by doing the following:
- Minimizing boilerplate repetition
- Avoiding publishing stubs
- Minimizing similar content
- Telling Search Console how to index your site
Make sure your SEO demonstrates a strong understanding of Google’s recommendations and takes them seriously for your website.
6. “I’ll get you on the first page of Google.”
Any claim by an SEO that they can get you on the first page of search results, or can fix your SEO in two months, or any other quantifiable result, simply isn’t true. In fact, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines warn you against SEO firms who make these claims.
Page Rank can change daily for any number of reasons outside of anyone’s control. An honest SEO won’t make promises they have no idea if they can keep.
Work with an SEO, who doesn’t promise anything, but has a portfolio of successful case studies to back up the effectiveness of their methods.
Related: The Top 4 Reasons SEO is Dead
7. “All you need to do is follow Google’s recommendations.”
This can’t be true given the simple fact that Google makes 97 percent of its revenue from advertising.
The platform wants marketers to spend money on AdWords and that simply wouldn’t happen if it were so easy to rank.
Businesses certainly should follow Google’s recommendations, but effective SEO doesn’t end there. A good SEO expert will pay attention to what elements of a site have an impact on SEO, and keep up with industry research outside of what Google has to say about rank.