The world of search engine optimization is littered with commonly held misconceptions that may actually have a negative effect on your SEO efforts. Failing to understand the truths about search engine optimization can lead marketers to waste time investing in fruitless habits, make mistakes that could otherwise be avoided, or even fail to include important website qualities such as design and image inclusion. These 8 common misconceptions may help to improve your SEO efforts and, therefore, boost your web traffic.
All That Matters is the Search Engine Bots
One of the most common SEO misconceptions is also one of the most difficult to overcome. For too long, website marketing professionals have focused their efforts almost exclusively on search engine algorithms, crawlers, and other programmable bots. The reason for this focus is obvious: if a website is able to convince a search engine bigwig, like Google, that the content is valuable and informative, that website will start popping up more prominently on search engine results pages. Without a doubt, search engine prominence will increase web traffic. Writing only for the search engine bots, however, will do nothing to guarantee customer retention. Unless your website content is written with the consumer in mind, your increased traffic days will be fleeting and short-lived.
Images and Video have No SEO Value
Another commonly held misconception is that images and video have no SEO value. While it’s true that a Google bot or Yahoo crawler cannot sit and watch a video to evaluate the content or “look” at a picture to determine its relevance, there are ways to make this type of content effective as a search engine optimization strategy. Adding tags for images and video will provide clues to search engine bots regarding the nature of the content. Because big search engines are starting to recognize the power of visual content on a website, including images and video may actually be quite beneficial for SEO.
Website Appearance is Meaningless
Similar to the misconception about images and video is the misconception that the design of your site means nothing from an SEO standpoint. Design is powerful for two reasons. First, a well-organized website that leads customers, and bots, easily from one page to another will rank better with the search engines. Second, including high quality designs or templates, like a WordPress theme, in your website will appeal strongly to savvy consumers.
Keywords are Key
It’s time to stop focusing so heavily on keywords, keyword research, and keyword inclusion in the content you are generating for a website. Keyword inclusion should be a natural and organic process. When you write content that is relevant, your site will naturally be peppered with keywords that show search engine bots what the content is about. Many SEO “specialists” are working backward, however, and trying to trick search engine bots by dotting a piece of content with research keywords. More and more, this strategy is being perceived as a waste of time.
Adding a Sitemap is Always Necessary
Adding an XML sitemap to your website will assist with bot crawling and ensure that all the pages of content on your website are explored equally by the search engines. It may not be necessary, however. If your website is fairly basic in structure, like a simple blog, you may not need to invest time and resources creating an XML sitemap.
Tag Word Count is the Only Consideration
The word and character count in meta tags and title tags has long been touted as the main consideration for SEO professionals. One of the worst things to experience is an abbreviated or abrupty cut off title tag because of character counts that are too high. However, some SEO professionals are recognizing that title display is actually dependent on the visual width of the characters you select. If your title tag is in all caps, for example, fewer characters will be displayed because capital letters are wider than lowercase letters.
The Search Engines are Out to Punish Your Site
The search engines that are popularly used by consumers are not trying to punish you or your website by pushing it down in the search rankings. Google isn’t a cackling villain looking for websites on which to inflict suffering. Instead, these search engine algorithms have been meticulously designed to provide the best possible results to searching consumers. If your site isn’t ranking well, your website may not be the best in the industry.
SEO Practices are Here to Stay
Finally, one of the most dangerous misconceptions about search engine optimization is that SEO practices are here to stay. While SEO will likely always be a part of effective marketing, SEO practices themselves are constantly changing and adapting to new consumer preferences, new website tactics, and new search engine preferences and algorithm updates. Staying abreast of these changes is the only effective way to ensure that your SEO practices continue to be effective.