There’s a lot of guessing and speculating that goes on when we talk about SEO and search rankings. 10 different SEO experts might tell you 10 different things. How then, would you go about deciding who to listen to, and to distinguish fact from fiction? Essentially, when discussing website rankings with an SEO person, always keep in mind that there are over 200 ranking factors out there. So, if you talk to 10 different people, you might get very different perspectives. Yet, it is highly possible that all 10 are right; it’s just that they’re giving you different pieces of the whole puzzle. Without having a full grasp of the mechanics on how SEO works, the bits and pieces of information could easily branch away from the fact when retold several times, creating some of the so-called SEO Myths.
SEO is very similar to the story of the Blind Men and an Elephant. Each of the men felt different parts of the elephant and concluded differently, one who touched the elephant’s tail describes that the elephant is like a rope, while the other who felt the leg said the elephant was like a pillar, a pipe, a fan, a tree trunk and so on and so forth. While in fact none of them were wrong, yet not completely right either. To help you get started, I’ve handpicked a few of the factors commonly brought up in SEO talks for discussion here.
There’s some sort of secret strategy to get your website to rank.
Yes, there is but it’s not so much a secret. It's more of a custom solution that differs for every website. From the over 200 ranking factors, there is not a single combination that would work the same way on another website.
Getting a huge load of backlinks from press release syndication will rank my website.
Yes and no. If your website’s link profile shows to be naturally gaining visibility from various sources, then having a few press release syndication would be an added benefit. On the contrary, if you’re doing only press releases, then it could hurt the website from duplicate content and a homogeneous link profile.
I’ve done everything by the book, so I should rank #1.
Even if you have done everything by the book and optimized every single way Google has recommended, remember that you are competing for ‘rankings’ against billions of other websites and some factors you just simply cannot control such as domain age per se.
Meta tagging helps with my website’s rankings.
Meta tags help with how your search result appears and is presented to search users. A good Meta title and description should be optimized for higher click rates. As best practice, always ensure you have your Meta tags in place tough. It’s safe to assume that a well presented and structured website makes the job of search engines easier and hence makes it easier for the website to be featured in the search results as well.
Content marketing alone will help my website to rank.
Regardless of the recent hype on content marketing, content curation and how content is the way to go to naturally obtain backlinks, you cannot get away without technical SEO. A slow website just simply will not rank. Content marketing is a must but as a sole effort on its own, it won’t make the cut.
SEO has nothing to do with website usability.
The fact is: usability is SEO. Website usability is about site speed, link structure, discoverability of related content, browser compatibility and being mobile-friendly. Apparently, all of these are ranking factors as well. For instance, link structure is about designing how link juice would flows through your website pages.
SEM is the better option if you want to rank right away.
There is no guarantee with SEO. If anyone ever promises you rankings, be extra careful. You’ll find in Google’s support page some word of caution from the horse’s mouth about ranking promises. If you want to immediately see website traffic, the better option is to bid for those keywords in Adwords and/or Bing Ads.
SEO is about optimizing your website for rankings.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and entails everything you do to optimize for search ‘visibility’. Having your website/product reviewed on large community sites that ranks for valuable keywords is in fact SEO. There is a very thin line between SEO and community management.
You need to be a technical person to do SEO.
It’s highly beneficial to understand how websites work and having some technical background would help you better understand how search algorithms and spiders work, but it doesn’t mean you cannot do SEO if you’re not a technical person. A large chunk of SEO entails marketing creativity for the community management, content creation and link building aspects as well.
SEO experts know all the answers.
While SEO experts do know a lot more and are rather accurate when predicting how search algorithms would change in the future, fact is: exactly how the algorithms work are trade secrets. This is about insights on exactly how individual search algorithm works sorting through the huge amount of data, how many factors are being used and how much each factor matters. This is why SEO is so much like the story of the Blind Men and an Elephant.
Top image courtesy: uberflip.