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SEO Myths - What SEO isn’t

28th Jan 2020

We all know the stereotypes right?  Tradespeople; arrive late (if at all), make a mess, attempt to overcharge yah-de-yah.  But, I hope, we all recognise that that isn’t accurate in many or most cases. 

For those of us who work in the service (specifically digital) sector, we’re used to hearing generalisations about value, levels and quality of service.  As an agency who offers, amongst other things, a professional SEO service we often find ourselves speaking with potential customers who have received a poor service elsewhere which has left them not only disgruntled but with an ‘education’ in SEO which is wholly inaccurate.

Therefore, what follows here is a very brief education (or perhaps re-education) on what SEO isn’t.  And I say ‘isn’t’ precisely to break one or two myths around SEO for a varied audience, predominantly the lay-person, which are perpetuated by those providers in our industry who offer new customers the whole world, and deliver the garden shed... maybe… if you’re lucky.

So let’s begin...

SEO is a waste of time and money

Let’s get one thing straight here; SEO is a digital marketing specialism.  SEO is not web design or web development. SEO requires a deep understanding of search engine algorithms to be effective.  The provider must know and understand the current factors affecting search engine visibility.

SEO work carried out correctly actually works - that’s why you see the brands you expect to appear when you search for generic search terms.  Large companies spend huge amounts of money to ensure that they rank highly for these generic terms and receive the lion’s share of traffic. They utilise the ‘breaking eggs with atomic weapons’ approach.  

But don’t let this put you off, it’s not all bad news.  There are plenty of opportunities for smaller firms to rank for their services/products.  Providers need to understand the nature of the client’s business and its unique selling points.  What makes you different from the multi-nationals? You’ll find there’s an audience for this. Discuss your aims and ambitions in order for a strategy to be created to gain traffic for more granular search terms which more closely match your offering.

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SEO is unnecessary

Ok, maybe you don’t need SEO.  Maybe you have a small business, you’re at maximum capacity and have no intention of growing at this point.  That’s fine, hey, we’re not judging. Perhaps you’re one of those aforementioned tradespeople (you’re always on time though obviously); you gain customers almost entirely through word-of-mouth referral and some social sharing.  

If, however, you’re like many businesses and have stood back dumbfounded when your email account isn’t inundated and the phone isn’t ringing off the hook the day after your new pride-and-joy website went live… fear not, you’re not alone.

Long gone are the days when simply owning a website was a badge of honour.  Think of it this way; your newly launched website, let’s call it a needle, has just crash-landed into a death-star sized ball of other, identical needles.  Now ask a stranger to find your needle/website, without providing them with your web address or company name. Now let’s also say that being found on the internet is integral to your business plan… I think you get the picture.  And this is where SEO comes in; being found in search results, in a competitive sector, for your services and products.

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Just keywords, that’s all

The work of an SEO specialist is varied and a successful retainer will include the following; Technical, Content and Outreach.  After all, you can’t bake a great cake with flour alone; you need eggs, baking powder, sugar, margarine, icing and er, smarties (ok, maybe they’re only essential for me).

There is a misconception still to this day relating to Content that simply making sure that your website is loaded with keywords you wish to be found for that, well, “that’ll do”.  Ok, how do I say this? No. It won’t.

An essential part of a successful SEO is, of course, a keyword strategy.  An attempt to artificially increase keyword visibility will result in ‘keyword stuffing’ for which you will be penalised.  Essentially, Google is now so clever it can identify if your content has been written specifically to suit the algorithm or has been written for the user (and therefore really meets the current algorithm requirements).

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Final thoughts...

Ok, so this article could clearly have gone on longer and if you’ve made it this far, congratulations, your certificate is in the post.  But to conclude; a good provider should be able to provide free advice on the suitability and potential of SEO activity for your website.  Ask for an SEO audit - have a professional look under the bonnet (trunk for our American friends). This is often enlightening for the client regardless of whether they choose to go forward with the service or not.  

We all value our own services; you wouldn’t take your broken-down car to a dentist any more than you would have a bench joiner perform minor cosmetic surgery.  Speak to a professional and take it from there…

We haven’t got the time here to get into the nitty-gritty regarding the other essential SEO elements of Technical and Outreach; making sure the website is technically sound and creative pieces, link building and online brand building respectively.  However, the emphasis on each of these will depend very specifically upon the website itself and client’s aims, ambitions and budget.  

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