The what and why of SEO: Mangling myths and finding facts
6 min read
11 July 2016
Some 93 per cent of online experiences begin with a search engine, while Google alone carries out more than 3.5bn searches daily. With that in mind, just how good is the search engine optimisation (SEO) for your firm’s website? If you’re unsure, it’s time to get up to speed.
SEO is the process by which we are able to produce and present our online content in a way which best fits this modern search landscape. An integrated SEO plan can ensure that your business is immediately positioned alongside its competitors and directly targeting its key consumer.
There are 3.42bn internet users today, accounting for 46 per cent of the global population. That’s a huge market expecting the best from your online presence, whether you’re a bricks and mortar retailer, a startup or shiny and established full-service digital agency.
Startups can easily seek advice from “black hat” sources with the best intentions and build high expectations that they will consistently rank on Google. However, this is not the case.
The world of SEO is a constantly shifting landscape, algorithms are updated, machine learning grows more powerful and, to stay relevant, the requirements for good practice must adapt and grow along with them.
Many of the misconceptions surrounding SEO are a direct result of the fast-paced nature of changes. These misconceptions are sometimes so pervasive that it can be difficult for an SEO newcomer to understand where the truth might lie.
In providing this guide to best practice SEO, we need to first tackle some of those misconceptions head on – continue on the next page where we bust common myths.
Google knows you’re “doing SEO” and punishes you for it
No, it doesn’t. The most recent substantial Google update, the rather friendly sounding Hummingbird, continues from predecessors towards the goal of better providing users with high-quality results that answer the need framed in their search query.
The idea of quality goes back to relevance and reputation. Good SEO is ensuring your website meets Google’s definition of quality, while providing the content to answer the needs of the searcher
Cramming in keywords will improve rankings
No, it won’t. Do you want to find a website about how to peel a mango that simply repeats the phrase over and over again? No.
You want content that meets your need and resolves your frustrating mango peeling conundrum. Search algorithms are smart, and they’re designed to find the relevant, high-quality site to resolve a user’s query.
Social media links directly help SEO
Sorry, they don’t. Links are indeed a vital part of good SEO best practice, but social media links from the likes of Twitter and Facebook do not directly contribute. Don’t discount them because of this however. What social links help to do is raise awareness of your digital presence, and may build an organic interaction as people return to your site at a later stage.
There’s a strong argument that social shares also help build the idea of reputation, rather like signals Google uses to establish authority. Using social media as your entire link building strategy will not provide the same direct results as good link building, but social media still has value building your brand organically and potentially adding to the idea of reputation and authority
Continue on the next page for the final SEO facts you should be aware of.
Any link will do
Sorry, not all links are born equal. In the dark days of so called “black hat SEO,” some practitioners would build entire websites of poor quality links, driving up search rankings with spammy inbound links.
Not only have search engine algorithms learned to recognise this poor practice, they actively now penalise websites which utilise it. Building natural, high-quality links is the way forward.
SEO is instant
Alas, it is not. It takes time to build up a positive search ranking. A huge part of SEO is building a positive digital reputation. Nobody expects to build a great reputation overnight. SEO best practice is about producing quality, relevant and respected content and building your brand online. You may not see immediate results, but you will see results.
We did that SEO thing already
SEO is not a one-time thing, it’s an ongoing, holistic approach to your online presence. SEO best practice is all about quality and relevance. We cannot emphasise this enough. To suggest you should only strive to be quality and relevant once wouldn’t be something you’d even consider in other aspects of your business.
Startups and SMEs alike have a huge amount to gain from a detailed, quality SEO plan. There are high prices to pay for startups that do not choose to invest in SEO as competitors, those within a similar industry and hold a similar concept will soon bypass your business.
Matt Sawyer is head of digital marketing at Datadial