It’s no secret the search engine optimization industry has been hit by a tidal wave of change the last couple of years. Google’s changes have forced practitioners to abandon their tried and true tactics in favor of others in order to drive results for their clients. While the tidal wave eliminated many of the old SEO techniques, it left periphery practitioners’ tactics unscathed. As a result, many search misnomers are pervasive in the online marketing world today. Below are 10 of the most common.
1. Rankings are indicative of successful SEO
Personalization based on browser history, geography, the social graph, being logged into search engine products and others have a major impact on what is actually displayed in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Just because something ranks number one for one person doesn’t mean it ranks number one for another. Rankings are actually a trailing indicator of good content marketing.
2. Number of inbound links is an SEO key performance indicator (KPI)
There was a time when this was an important KPI. However, the social graph becoming an algorithmic factor and Google Penguin have successfully eliminated the need to track the quantity of inbound links.
It’s a sign of manipulation and an algorithmic red flag if the link graph isn’t appropriately proportionate in size and breadth to the website’s social graph. Too many poor quality links without social proof is a recipe for search engine ostracization.
3. Ranking for fat-head vanity phrases is the name of the game
It might feel nice to an SEO’s ego to rank for a very popular and highly searched two-word phrase, but it’s a vanity exercise only. While some SEOs are targeting 20 or 50 fat-head keyword phrases, today’s SEO professionals are deploying aggressive content marketing campaigns that drive organic traffic from thousands of phrases – from the fat-head to the long tail.
4. SEO and content marketing are mutually exclusive
No longer can SEOs create, spin or curate content for the sake of keywords in the pursuit of rankings. Google’s Panda algorithm update has substantially squashed these tactics. Maximum visibility in the search engines today requires creating thoughtful, problem-solving or entertaining content that real people love, not sculpted keyword babble written to trick search engines.
Impactful and lasting SEO cannot be deployed without content marketing.
5. Exact match anchor text is good
Exact match inbound anchor text is a red flag that algorithm manipulation may be occurring. Exact match brand names are one thing, but 1200 inbound links with the exact same primary keyword phrase as anchor text is probably spam. SEO’s face a post-Penguin and EMD reality today – copious amounts of exact match anchor text is NOT good.
6. Content is a commodity
When content is treated like a commodity it lacks passion, persuasion and punch because it’s not about quality, but rather, quantity. It’s about getting the most words for the least amount of money, rather than helping people solve their problems.
Cheaply bought content published with the sole purpose of growing search engine visibility helps no one and will not be consumed or shared on social channels – negatively impacting search engine visibility.
7. Duplicate content is always bad
This has been the SEO’s mantra for years. However, Google states:
“In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved.”
The Internet is full of high quality sites that publish both original content and curated content on a regular basis. The curated content is duplicated from other websites, but isn’t published to manipulate the search engines. Often times, the curated content organically outperforms its original counterpart.
8. Conversions don’t matter to search engines
Most SEOs would agree that time on site matters to search engines. If someone arrives on a website and leaves right away what does it say about the quality of the content and user experience? Websites that find themselves in this position typically have poor search engine visibility.
A conversion on a website is recognition by the visitor of perceived value – the more conversions, the more perceived value, the more time spent on the site. These are the websites Google wants to serve up in its SERPs.
9. Organic search is the most efficient inbound channel
Efficiency is not measured via traffic, but rather conversion rates and cost per conversion. A consistent and frequent web publishing schedule realized through content marketing can easily drive referral conversion rates into the double digits.
Organic search for non-branded keyword phrases can drive lots of traffic, but conversion rates tend to hover around the one percent mark.
10. SEO is a math problem not a people problem
This is the pivot point that separates yesterday’s SEOs from today’s. In the past, SEO was a competition between an algorithm and a person or team. This scenario demanded people with the technical and math skills required to navigate an algorithm.
However, today the algorithms are so advanced that the time, money and effort required to battle them are better spent on helping real people solve their problems with thoughtful and amazing content. This ultimately leads to greater and more qualified organic traffic.
Don’t be misled by the pervasiveness of the old ways. The realization that SEO is a people problem, as opposed to a math problem, is the key to moving forward in this new search reality. Marketers should guard their budgets when approached with a search engine rankings proposition because winning at search today means winning at social media and content marketing first.
For help getting your content marketing program off the ground download this Guide to Enterprise Blog Post Optimization.
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