Whether you’re new to the idea of search engine optimization and tweaking your webpages and content in order to achieve higher search result rankings or you’re experienced enough to know your Google Pandas from your Penguins, you’ve likely come across some bad information in the past. Some individuals are misinformed about how Google’s search algorithms work and others just seem to spread bad information, but the end result is the same: myths about SEO that just won’t seem to die out.

In this post we’ll bust ten myths about search engine optimization that need to be put to bed, including why the top ranking isn’t everything, whether or not social media can impact your rankings and more.

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Myth #1: the ‘Number One’ Ranking is All That Matters

Let’s start with one of the most widely-spread SEO myths out there: that the top spot on Google for any given keyword is the only spot that matters. This isn’t true for a variety of reasons. If you are considering a search keyword that has a high level of competition or a number of SEOs trying to rank in it (CITY real estate, for example), you’re going to have to invest heavily in order to take and keep that #1 spot. Studies show that while search engine users definitely click the #1 result more often than any other, every result above the “fold” of the webpage is worth having, as are the top spots on the second page of the search results.

If you’re the type that likes to see your webpages at #1, a focus on “long tail” keywords might be a better fit. While there will be fewer searches for “CITY real estate” compared to “houses for sale in SUBURB” it will be far easier to rank for the latter than the former. Long tail keywords are one of the reasons that investing in content marketing is a strategy worth pursuing. The cost of producing and promoting a blog post or another piece of content that ranks naturally for these low-search-volume keywords is far less than trying to brute-force your way to the top for a competitive term.

Myth #2: Guest Blogging is ‘Dead’

Early in 2014 Google announced a number of penalties aimed at website owners who had invested a bit too heavily in “guest blogging”, or writing blog posts for others’ blogs which include a link back to your website. However, contrary to popular opinion guest blogging isn’t “dead”.

The correct way to run a guest blogging campaign is to think of this strategy as a means to generate new visitor traffic and leads – not as a tool to try to gain backlinks to push your website higher in the search results. If you do decide to invest in a guest blogging campaign, ensure that any links back to your website include the “rel=nofollow” tag inside of the link code to prevent Google from issuing you a penalty.

Myth #3: All You Need is Great Content

Many years ago the statement that “content is king” began to circulate in search engine optimization circles due to changes in Google’s messaging that all a website owner needs to do is publish quality content and the rest will happen automatically. As you already know if you’ve invested any time or resources in your blog – this isn’t true. There are many on-page and off-page optimization factors that require fine-tuning to ensure that your website is viewed positively by search engines.

Myth #4: Social Media Will Impact Your Website Rankings

Being active on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and others is very positive for your branding and can help you better engage with your customers. However, posting on these websites doesn’t have an appreciable impact on your website’s ranking in the search results.

Myth #5: Mobile SEO and Desktop SEO Are the Same

Take a second to load your company’s website on your mobile phone. Does it look the same and load at the same speed as it does when you load it on your laptop? Or do you have two separate websites – one for mobile visitors and another for desktop visitors? Whatever your strategy for serving content to those on smartphones and tablets, know that Google treats the mobile and desktop experiences differently and thus each requires its own search engine optimization strategy.

Myth #6: Google Authorship Will Help or Hurt Your SEO

Google recently discontinued authorship on August 28th, 2014. Google Authorship featured the ability to have a photo and a name show up underneath blog posts and other tagged content in the search results. Known as “Authorship”, this was intended to make the search results a bit more trustworthy in that a searcher can choose content that has a name and a face behind it. While Authorship photos and text can certainly affect your click-through rate in the search results, it will not help or hurt your actual ranking and has since been discontinued.

Myth #7: Local Businesses Can Use the Same Strategies as Other Websites

If you search for a business based on its location you may notice that Google serves a different set of search results than in other searches you perform. Businesses that operate locally require a different optimization strategy than those that sell to visitors from across the country or globally. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about our approach to local search engine optimization and how we can help.

Myth #8: Buying Google Ads Helps Your SEO

As the primary revenue source for nearly all search engines is paid advertisements – Google booked $50 billion in ad revenue in 2013 – there are some who believe that companies that pay for ads are offered better spots in the organic search results. While this myth is actually true for some foreign search engines, for Google, Bing and the other major North American search engines it has been debunked numerous times.

Myth #9: Spamming Can Help You Rank #1

In the hunt for SEO tactics that work quickly you may come across “black hat” vendors that aim to use automated spam strategies to build massive amounts of links to your websites with the promise that they will rank #1. As you can well imagine, spamming isn’t a strategy that works over the long term. Even if some short-term search ranking boost does occur, you’re just an algorithm update away from having your website severely punished.

Myth #10: SEO Can Be Handled by Anyone

The final myth that will bust today is that search engine optimization can be outsourced to any vendor. Poorly conducted SEO campaigns are the most toxic poison that can be applied to a website and have a high probability of earning you a search rankings penalty or a complete de-indexing of your entire website from the search results. When you choose a vendor to handle your SEO and inbound marketing, check with their references and see what they will guarantee to you in writing. If the pricing or guarantees seem too good to be true they probably are.

If you have a well-planned strategy and proper execution, search engine optimization and inbound marketing in general can be lucrative sources of organic visitor traffic and new business. If you are new to search engine optimization or if your efforts haven’t provided you with a significant return on your investment, get in touch. The inbound marketing specialists here at Riverbed Marketing are happy to consult with you to determine your goals and share how we can help accomplish them.

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