Search Engine Optimization is becoming a hot topic with many business owners. That's partly due to the rise of the importance of online marketing, but also because there are ever increasing numbers of online marketing consultants and agencies, especially in our HQ town, Houston.
Although there's an immense need for proper online marketing, a lot of these agencies will have a rounded package they offer to prospective clients which has SEO as an "add-on". This is a red flag. Proper SEO techniques require a level of expertise and testing that cannot be justified as an add-on to another package. The way they are able to do this is by defining SEO as something it is not, and usually it's because they don't know any better.
So, let's talk about what the most common misconceptions are in both individual business owners and marketing agencies.
Probably the most common misconception is that SEO is equivalent to content. This is simply not the case. That doesn't mean content can't help your SEO, but it is not what defines SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the act of priming your website and content so that it matches Google's algorithmic expectations of how a website should be built, organized, and presented, as well as its relationships to other websites. Content helps by bringing value to your website for your visitors while also being something that can be shared on the internet, thus building more credibility (through links from other websites that share your content) and driving traffic from those sources.
So what's the problem with blog content? Not only is it not necessary for SEO, but it's what marketing agencies are offering in their packages to justify their SEO cost. If you are an HVAC company, posting 2 blogs each month for $700 is not going to help your traffic if it's not be shared and if no one is seeing it. Yes, the content may get indexed in Google and have some sort of ranking, but that alone will never make it rank to the top of any valuable keywords.
A lot of providers send you an audit which includes a checklist of on-page related things to fix or commit. Sometimes they'll even charge for this audit.
These audits, for the most part, are BS. There are of course some important items to review, such as the title of your page, the URL that's included, making sure content is relevant, not over-optimizing your anchor tests, and so on. But everything else on these audits are so minute that they will do little to nothing to help your rankings.
Having basic requirements such as those mentioned above plus some legible and valuable content is all that is needed for your on-page SEO (barring anything more advanced like silos). Some may disagree with this, but let's think about it for a moment.
First, if everyone had perfect on-page content, everyone would be #1.
Second, Google wants to present the absolute best in their search engine results for users.
In the past, you could rank with keyword stuffing and tons of on-page techniques, but Google will put a lot more weight on what is the most difficult to manipulate - backlinks. And not just any backlinks. We're talking about links coming from authority websites that are relevant to your niche/topic. That's why links from directories, some blogs, socials, press releases, and many others carry so little weight. Those are easily manipulated, whereas SpaceX getting a link from NASA is not.
If only it were that easy. Let's talk about your brand for a moment.
Firstly, if you are not ranking for your brand, especially if no one else is using your brand name, then that's a problem. This basically means that your site has zero credibility. And If you have an exact match domain, for example you are www.jakesbrand.com, and you still don't rank for "Jake's Brand", then you're possibly penalized.
Secondly, unless people actually know your brand, ranking for it is useless except for the sake of having some legitimacy. People looking for your product or service are not going to Google your brand. They're going to Google for the type of product or service. They will google for "car interior cleaner", not "jakes brand" when looking for an interior cleaning product.
Thirdly, because careful about Googling your primary keyword and seeing yours at the top. You might say, ha, my on-page techniques did for me what I would've had to pay this guy $2,000. But in reality, Google knows when you're searching and visiting your own website, especially if you're using Chrome. Repeatedly visiting a website for a given search term is going to make them present that site at the top for your search results. This makes sense because the algorithm thinks you want to see the same content - it was relevant to you because you visited so many times.
The best thing to do is use incognito mode, another browser, or best, a totally different computer to search your terms and find where you really stand. If you want to get more accurate, use a keyword rank checker tool like http://whatsmyserp.com/serpcheck.php to find out where you really rank for your keywords.
If you're still ranking at the top, then you can go ahead and claim credit for that. But unless you're offering a totally new product that no one would rank for in the first place, or you're in a town of 200 people, chances are you're going to need some help.
Hopefully, this dispels some of the top misconceptions we've seen many business owners and agencies have. Check our blog for more helpful information on learning what you can do for your business with better SEO techniques, or things to look out for when searching for an SEO consultant.
If you have an questions, feel free to reach out to us via our contact page or find us on Facebook!