How many times have you received those emails telling you that your website is not appearing on the first page of Google so you will never be found. Panic! They promise they will get you the top position in Google for your industry, so you hand over your money willingly for them to ‘fix’ this problem (often at either far too cheap or overly extortionate rates). However, nothing changes and you are still so far down the search rankings you wonder if they did anything at all. You have come to the conclusion that SEO is a big con and you won’t waste money again!
Well, if done incorrectly, spending all of your marketing budget on SEO can indeed be a waste of time. However, if done correctly Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can give a positive boost to your business, increasing your visibility to your target market and most importantly, providing revenue from your website in terms of actual sales or leads generated.
- We must be No. 1 on the first page of Google.
Firstly, doubt any SEO company that guarantees to get you the number one slot. There are no guarantees of this! Google themselves won’t even guarantee it. A more realistic aim is a position on the first page of Google, as high as possible within the top three results. These positions continue to gain the higher percentage of clicks. This doesn’t mean that if you are on other pages you won’t get any traffic either, it has been shown that those on the top of subsequent pages still get clicks, or if they include rich snippets such as author profile (those ones with a photograph). Of course, if the company you choose is reputable they will inevitably get you top positions for your important keywords in a focused and ethical way, as a result of hard work and determination. There are no quick fixes!
- Build as many links as possible.
The SEO landscape has changed, in 2011 Google released its Pandaalgorithm update which reduced rankings for low quality sites and those which copy content. This means that whist the number of links are still important for your website’s authority, you should focus on quality, not quantity, which is now the strategy that many agencies who provide digital marketing services are now adopting. You need links on relevant websites which lead back to the great content you have provided such as blog posts, lead generation offers and guest posts. If you focus on good quality content, the links will come naturally.
- Keyword density is important.
Not so much anymore. Another algorithm update released in 2012, known as Penguin, meant that it would also reduce the rank of websites that were seen to be ‘keyword stuffing’ or providing irrelevant links to outgoing content on your page. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use keywords within your website content, but include them within the natural flow of the text. Your keywords don’t need to be exact match either, as Google will intelligently pick them up when presenting relevant search results to the user. So, write a natural headline for your article, not one that’s awkwardly formed around a key phrase. Finally, contrary to some opinion, there is no ideal keyword density for your page. Just ensure they are included in your page title, headlines and at least once throughout the content.
- Geographic key phrases must be used for local SEO.
Ok, still fairly important and it won’t harm your site if you do, but remember Google and other search engines are capable of knowing where you are located (especially on a mobile device). They provide results these days specific to the user’s location. You should also make sure things like title tags, reviews and social media (especially Google+ Local) clearly state where you are located.
- SEO and Social Media are separate.
Not at all! The relationship between the SEO and Social Media are becoming increasingly combined and known as ‘social search’. If you provide great content the theory as above is that it will naturally be shared, and any social content that is connected to you will be prioritised in social search. This means anyone you are linked with on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. If they are social media influencers, even better. Some social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram even aid your quality link building efforts and are shown to increase traffic considerably. Google now includes social within its analytics program where you can see how many visitors have come to your website as a result of social search. If you have conversion tracking enabled you can even see how many of these social visitors have contributed to a sale. So, make sure you include some social media marketing in your digital strategy and you can’t go wrong!