5 Most Common Misconceptions Small Businesses Have About SEO

Posted by on July 29, 2014 in SEO [ 0 Comments ]

5 Common SEO MisconceptionsSEO best practices change faster and more often than models at a fashion show. As a result, it’s difficult for small business owners to keep their SEO programs on track, and dangerous not to. At best, SEO campaigns based on misconceptions yield no results; at worst, they produce negative results – i.e., lowering organic search visibility.

Here are five of the most common SEO misconceptions.

Misconception #1: Rankings Matter

Rankings used to matter a lot. Now they don’t. Among the reasons:

  • Organic search results vary depending on the location of the user.
  • Organic search results vary depending on the search history of the user.
  • Organic search results vary depending on the type of search executed by the user – Web, Image, News, Videos, etc.

Reality Check: Instead of focusing on rankings, businesses should focus on the amount of qualified traffic and number of conversions. Far more than rankings, these metrics tell the tale of SEO effectiveness.

Related: How Many Keywords Should My Business Focus On?

Misconception #2: Guaranteed Results

As in any industry, SEO has its fair share of snake oil salesmen. SEO firms that promise top rankings or thousands of new site visitors continue to lure small businesses into their traps. In reality, SEO carries no guarantees:

  • Results depend on not only what you do, but also what competitors do and what Google does.
  • Magic formulas don’t exist. Any true SEO expert will tell you that successful campaigns take time, grow incrementally and require lots of effort and money.

Reality Check: Instead of looking for guarantees, businesses should develop long-term budgets and benchmarks for sustained SEO marketing. Expecting results with anything short of that is wishful thinking.

Misconception #3: Content Marketing Is a Magic Bullet

These days you can’t surf the Web without bumping into 1,000 articles about how content marketing is the secret weapon of SEO. Well, I’m a content marketer and here to tell you that on its own, content marketing is nearly worthless as an SEO activity. Why?

  • If a firm’s website isn’t properly optimized, its organic search visibility will be poor no matter how many hundreds of thousands of words it publishes.
  • If a firm’s keyword research is flawed, its content will generate the wrong type of traffic and produce no conversions.
  • If a firm botches its content marketing link profile (e.g., obtaining links from the wrong types of sites and using the wrong anchor text), results will be neutral or even negative.

Reality Check: Content marketing is a good way to enhance SEO if and only if it is accompanied by many other activities. And don’t forget: For content marketing to succeed, the content must be high quality. Anything less: neutral to negative impact on SEO.

Number #4: SEO Can Succeed on $500/Month

I’ve written elsewhere about why low-budget SEO campaigns fail, but the point is well worth repeating, even though small businesses don’t like to hear it. In brief, low-budget campaigns are usually doomed from the start because:

  • Small budgets cannot support a wide range of activities.
  • Small, narrowly focused programs lose steam over time.
  • Keyword research cannot be done thoroughly.
  • Content marketing is completely beyond the budget.
  • Providers of low-budget programs often engage in “black hat” tactics or lack the depth to provide consistent execution.

Reality Check: If your business isn’t prepared to invest at least $1,000 or $2,000 per month, SEO may not be the best Internet marketing option for you. Exceptions, however, do exist – so consult with a reputable SEO firm before passing judgment.

Number #5: It’s All About Google

There’s no doubt Google has a massive market share of search activity (over 67%).  And while focusing on Google for SEO makes perfect sense,  to do so at the expense of everything else is a mistake. Here are two big reasons why a more diversified strategy is called for:

  • Bing has established itself as a solid #2 with around 18% share. That’s a sizeable market in which to cultivate qualified traffic.
  • Mobile search is becoming a huge consideration now that mobile Internet access is overtaking PC access. While Google dominates mobile search (at the moment), the mobile SEO equation should also include options such as Facebook, YouTube and user-review sites.

Reality Check: Maximizing organic search visibility now means developing an active presence on Google and Bing and sites not commonly considered search platforms. The need for platform diversification, incidentally, is another reason why small SEO budgets need to expand.

Related: 10 Types of Content You Should Be Creating Now

Stay Alert

SEO best practices will continue to change; an article on this topic written a year from now will undoubtedly offer different suggestions. Small businesses can stay on top of SEO developments by doing their own research, or by partnering with a reputable SEO firm. Since most companies prosper by implementing a good system of checks and balances, the best approach to SEO may be a combination of both.

Author Bio: Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director for www.straightnorth.com, an SEO agency headquartered in Chicago.

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