Fact Versus Fiction – 7 Common Misconceptions About SEO


SEO is new and exciting, so people love to talk about it. Because it’s so new, though, there’s still a relative lack of knowledge about the practice overall, and that’s led to a good deal of misinformation around the internet. It takes continuous effort to keep up with ever-changing search engines, so the truth from five years ago might not even be accurate anymore. Separate fact from fiction by confronting seven of the biggest lies about SEO.

1 – SEO is Witchcraft

witch with spell book doing black magic
If an SEO agency spooks you by talking about their "magic" techniques, it's probably best to run away.

This one is rooted in truth. There’s no denying it– some SEO “experts” are snake oil salesmen. That said, we as a society haven’t sworn off all medical remedies just because snake oil turned out to be bogus, and there are real remedies out there. There’s no real barrier that prevents people from calling themselves “SEO gurus” and spreading misinformation, so it’s important to work with someone you trust. Choose the right partner, and it’s absolutely feasible to get great SEO results (more on this in point #7).

2 – You Should Stuff Your Keywords Everywhere

bloated SEO bubble coming out of binary code
Keyword density matters, but search engine algorithms can tell when keyword stuffing has made your work bloated.

Keyword stuffing used to work several years ago in Google’s infancy. Now that search engines have grown up, they’ve gotten a lot better at telling when people are faking it with their keywords. It’s still important to do keyword research, then come up with blog ideas that make sense for your targeted words and phrases. Once you start writing, though, the best bet is to just make every article as helpful and natural as possible. Create a good experience for your users, and trust the search engine algorithms to figure out what your content is about.

3 – Social Media Won’t Help

complete content marketing strategy depicted as cogs in a machine
The best content marketing machine shouldn't put too much pressure on any one component– use all the tools that are available to you.

The relationship between social media and SEO is complicated, but you might want to think twice about working with anyone who says there’s no connection between the two. Bing has said all along that they consider social media when they’re ranking sites, and there are rumblings that it’s becoming more important at Google. Even if Google doesn’t consider social media as a direct ranking signal, a strong social media presence helps with SEO in other ways.

4 – Content Is Everything

chess board with king on its side
Content may be king, but it won't get far all by itself.

There’s a good chance you could find the phrase “content is king” on this very website. This isn’t a retraction of that statement, but there’s also more to it. Your SEO efforts are likely to fall flat unless you develop a thoughtful content strategy. At the same time, great content won’t do much without technical SEO and link building. Even the best kings (and queens) still need guidance and additional resources from time to time.

5 – You Only Need to Address SEO Once

long road leading to a mountain
The road to success with SEO is a long one, and it's important to keep moving.

SEO is not a “one and done” solution. A site audit and period of intensive activity can definitely work wonders, but it takes continuous effort to stay on top. This is especially true if you want to rank high in search engine results for competitive keywords. If things aren’t going well, it’s definitely time to get to work. If your SEO efforts area already working, though, that doesn’t mean it’s time to take your foot off the gas. Don’t stop thinking about the future, and review your SEO strategy regularly to make sure it’s still on the right track.

6 – You Need a Long Contract

binding SEO contract with a lock on it
There's really no need to get locked into something. Let your SEO agency earn your business over time.

It definitely takes time to achieve SEO results. Most experts will tell you it typically takes around six months to see noticeable results from your work. That said, it’s probably best to be a little bit skeptical about any SEO firm that wants to lock you into long contracts of a year or more. Reliable SEO companies should be willing to earn your business on a continued basis, and you don’t want to end up stuck in a bad professional relationship. When you sign shorter contracts, it will make sure your agency is always trying to improve and their methods and get the best results possible.

7 – Results Are Guaranteed

Tommy Boy movie with quote about companies that make guarantees
Albeit a bit crude, Tommy Boy makes a point about guarantees that applies pretty well to some SEO agencies.

The best SEO strategies are always changing to keep up with updates to search engine algorithms. It’s something of a cat and mouse game, and it takes a lot of agility to maneuver through such a volatile landscape. Experienced SEO professionals will be able to use methods that have achieved proven success in the past, but beware of overstated promises. Even Google has publicly warned against working with SEOs who guarantee rankings:

Your prospective SEO should be able to give you realistic estimates of improvement, and an estimate of the work involved. If they guarantee you that their changes will give you first place in search results, find someone else.…No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google.

How to Choose the Right SEO Company

If you’re getting mixed signals, secretive answers, or any other kind of bad vibes from an SEO company, it’s probably best to walk away. Since SEO is such a long-term strategy, it’s important to work with someone who makes you feel comfortable. You might be tempted to save a few dollars by working with a mysterious new SEO company, but you’ll be questioning that decision the whole time you wait for results to materialize.

If you want to have a candid discussion about choosing an SEO agency, contact Buddy Gardner. It’s no fun to be on either side of a bad business relationship, so you can expect honest answers while we feel each other out. Alternatively, sign up for the mailing list below to get more information that will help you understand SEO strategies. The more you know, the easier it will be to pick a great partner.

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