You don’t have to provide search engine optimization services very long before you start seeing that many, if not most, people have a slew of misconceptions about SEO. Inspired by Lee Odden’s post on Five Myths About SEO I’ve created my own list of statements born out of misunderstandings about SEO as follows:
- “SEO means editing meta tags.”
- “So you work a lot at first, but then you can just relax after a few months, right?”
- “How long does it take to get my site optimized?”
- “Can we just put a bunch of white text on a white background?”
- “I’d like to do SEO but I don’t want our website to be ugly.”
1. “SEO means editing meta tags.” Most of the misconceptions about SEO have a basis in facts that are outdate. Yes, meta tags were once critical, about 7 years ago, kind of the way that horses were critical 200 years ago. Some meta tags are still useful, but they aren’t what they once were, and putting 50 keywords in a meta tag is going to hurt your site more than help it. True SEO involves literally hundreds of different techniques, some more effective than others, and there is no formula for success other than modify > wait > analyze > repeat. In other words, it’s an ongoing process of trial and error that leads to success.
2. “So you work a lot at first, but then you can just relax after a few months, right?” Yes, there is more work involved at first, but it’s not as though we spend 100 hourson a client’s website the first month and 1 hour every month thereafter. We might spend 100 hours the first month, 60 the next, 50 the next, 60 the next, 50 the next, and so on. We do whatever it takes, and it generally takes a lot more than just a few hours per month to get great results from an SEO campaign.
3. “How long does it take to get my site optimized?” When clients ask us this we can generally tell that they believe SEO is a one-time action. You optimize the site, and then it’s permanently optimized. Not so, my friend. SEO is somewhat like mowing your lawn. You do it, and then you do it again. If you don’t do it for an extended period of time, things don’t look as good. That isn’t to say that a one-time overhaul won’t produce some dramatically positive results, but results have a tendency to slide away without ongoing maintenance.
4. “Can we just put a bunch of white text on a white background?” No, this is bad stuff. This may have worked for a few months back in 1997 before search engines got wise to it. Don’t do this or you’ll reap the consequences when your site gets completely banned from Google.
5. “I’d like to do SEO but I don’t want our website to be ugly.” To have a site that ranks well doesn’t mean you need to have lots of text, no graphics, and no Flash. My firm’s previous website had a large Flash piece on the homepage, a navigation menu that was graphics, and the top 2/3 of the browser on any given page of the site was taken up by graphics rather than text, and yet it ranked quite well because of the other things we did. That said, it’s hard to optimize a 100% Flash website, and where possible using text links for navigation rather than graphics is better, but depending on a host of other factors the difference may be minimal. The point is, you don’t necessarily need to scrap your graphic rich website in order to do SEO.
Any other misconceptions, myths, or misunderstandings you’d like me to clear up?