Users Not Tweaks: 3 Common SEO Myths Debunked

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Users Not Tweaks: 3 Common SEO Myths Debunked

Yesterday, The Verge announced that Bing soon will be following Google’s lead and ranking websites based on whether or not they are mobile-friendly:

It’s an important change that could have a dramatic impact on certain websites’ traffic; it could mean losing visitors if a website isn’t easy to use while mobile. But it also means that people visiting Bing—something that increasingly, and likely in some cases predominantly, occurs on mobile—will ultimately have a better experience.

Of course, the impact following Mobilegeddon will be less tumultuous since conscientious (and smart!) website owners who were not already mobile-friendly are moving to correct that.

Still, playing by the rules set by these search engine giants has become increasingly important, as their algorithms evaluate and rank the structure, quality, relevance, and interconnectedness of the websites they’re indexing.

But if you’ve been doing SEO all along, why be afraid? Because you may be going about it from the wrong angle.

Myth #1: SEO is all about pleasing Google.

Most businesses are concerned with algorithms, updates, and how to outsmart search engines. Their SEO amounts to nothing more than a prayer to Google’s crawlers, believing the search engine king will grant them prime search page territory that will attract valuable leads.

But this is not a strategy. These tactics don’t address the fact that customers are no longer clicks and conversions but valuable assets that form the life vest of your brand.

The goal of search engines is not to frighten and confound website owners—although they do that too, and pretty darn well. The goal is to provide a better search experience so that they stay in business and so we get what we need.

Part of what we do involves troubleshooting random tech issues, which means we type some pretty odd stuff into Google. Yet 90% of the time, the answer is on the first search results page. That other 10% of the time, however, can be annoying. By consistently tweaking their algorithms, search engines are trying to close that gap and truly serve the searcher better. And if website owners need to adjust their sites accordingly, well … it’s in the overall best interests of everyone!

One tried-and-true tactic to address SEO while meeting the needs of the user is to focus less on outsmarting the search engines and more on your customers. Adages like “their success is your success” and “happy customers make a happy business” are no longer solely feel-good sentiments acting as pretense for being your customer’s best friend.

By creating a relevant, content-rich website experience based around the true needs of your users, you attract and sustain loyal customers, giving your company one of the biggest competitive advantages in business and positioning your brand as an authority in the marketplace.

So that when they do find you, they want to stay with you.

Myth #2: SEO is about ranking for the #1 spot with specific keywords.

SEO is a high priority, but only when used as a reference point for users’ behavior and an anchor around which to orbit your content. If you’re still trying to rank #1 for a beloved keyword, stop now. There’s no doubt it sends good traffic, but input any keyword in vogue at the moment and you’ll see hundreds of long-tail keywords that do a better job.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, we can compare the average monthly searches for a high-ranking keyword with its long-tail cousins. The cousins, when added up, have more monthly searches than the highly sought after short-tail keyword.

Google Keyword Tool

But even with the long-tail keywords, you don’t actually need to rank for them. As long as your website seems relevant to the user’s needs, they will find you, and in fact you will be ranked higher as a result.

The keywords you set out to rank for, therefore, should be interwoven with relevant rich content that is consistently updated. Your website should link to other websites (ahem, hence the “Internet”) and should attract highly relevant users, not just anyone who stumbles past in a search. 

Myth #3: Simple SEO tweaks will get you fast results. 

This myth causes the most damage—to websites and expectations. When business owners are let down because they didn’t get Magic SEO Results right out of the gate, they stop believing in its importance.

SEO is not a fast track to success; rather, it’s a long-term strategy that helps get you there. Doing SEO only once isn’t enough. Traffic will eventually fade out on account of link degradation, evolving algorithms, and swift competition. SEO requires real effort and commitment towards making every page delivered to search engines unique and valuable.

Analytics data should be consistently monitored, but always with the idea of providing a holistic online marketing experience for your users. You must not focus solely on structuring the website correctly (although it does help to do that right from the get-go). You should also focus on inbound marketing efforts that will drive people to your website.

You may have noticed that Google Analytics tracks incoming traffic in several ways, not just traffic from organic search. That should be a pretty clear indication that they expect you to not just appeal to them, but to generate traffic from as many places as possible.

Google Analytics Acquisition

Matching your content with those needs in combination with making the website more discoverable with traditional SEO techniques will direct you toward positive, lasting results. 

We can help you achieve this. To mature your SEO strategy and start doing it right, contact us

Photo Credit: businessoutsourcingsolution via Compfight

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Sarah Williams

Founder & director of 816 New York and passionate about all things strategy.

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