At this point, we’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” That Wikipedia bio that says someone died? That news story about an alien invasion? That rumor about another celebrity divorce? You shouldn’t be so certain. (Well, that last one might be true.) The same goes for what you hear about SEO—you need to stay up-to-date on trends. And while not every strategy is perfect, as an SEO agency we’re here to make sure you don’t set up your project plan based on false assumptions.
Put on your myth-busting hat (a white one, of course) and let’s put these search engine optimization myths to bed, once and for all:
1. The more links, the better
Believe it or not, quantity does not defeat quality when it comes to links back to your site. Think about it this way: Would you rather have 100 bracelets from the dollar store or one from Tiffany’s? In a search engine’s eyes, low-quality site links are a major red flag—and they even have the ability to detrimentally affect your SEO statistics and rankings. As we head into a new year of search, shift your focus to 1) building relationships with high-quality sites and 2) creating a complete backlink profile, rather than just single links. When searching for reputable places to gain links, make sure to consider the site’s domain authority (DA) and spam score, as well as if the content aligns with your audience. If those markers don’t…errr…hit the mark, then move on to the next one.
If you change anything with your link-building strategy in 2018, change the way you connect with outlets. Solid relationships + aligned outlets = improved DA and keyword rankings.
2. Social media doesn’t affect SEO
While it doesn’t directly affect rankings, social media does have an impact on SEO and your company’s bottom line. Why? For one, when you post to social media, you create a backlink that brings traffic to your site. These visitors will then (hopefully) find an optimized landing page chock full of information they need. And when coupled with an exceptional user experience on your site, you’ll get even more traffic and potential conversions in the future. Sounds like a win, right?
Second, social media platforms are an additional way to create a community and connect with your audience. You can create locally-optimized posts (see #3 below) and high-quality, regular social content to increase brand awareness. A stronger social presence will lead to greater search visibility in general.
Your next steps: 1) Optimize your social media accounts by ensuring all profiles are up-to-date with contact information and business locations. 2) Craft a solid content plan—one that incorporates regular updates and blog posts—to keep your brand in the minds of consumers.
3. Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore
Umm…says who? Let’s back up:
72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source)
18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. (Source)
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. (Source)
Local search is highly targeted, timely, and a way for smaller businesses to compete with the national giants. For example, when users searches for “sushi” instead of receiving hits for places in another state, they’ll see places that are 5 or 10 miles from their location. So depending on your business size and model, your strategy will need to focus on the elements of local SEO, including NAP accuracy, Google My Business profiles, local citations, and more.
4. Images don’t require optimization
Here is a myth that needs to be busted, crumbled and defeated ASAP. Images should always be optimized for the following:
- Size: The bigger the image size, and the more images you have on your site, the slower your page loads. Search engines view this is a user experience hindrance and will penalize you for slow site speed. Optimize your images to a standard size and make sure to only upload photos under a certain size. (We recommend keeping photos below 70kb and using WordPress Smush if possible).
- Alt Tags: Since search engines can’t see images and interpret what they are, you need to be their eyes, ears, nose, touch—the whole shebang. That’s what alt tags do! In each alt tag, write in plain English and include any keywords that you’re optimizing the webpage for. Don’t keyword stuff (black hat alert).
Find images that align with your content and consider writing captions if it would make sense for the visitor.
5. It’s all about ranking
There is so much more to SEO than getting your website ranking for any number of keywords. The project strategy and plan you create should encompass multiple goals—like improving domain authority and increasing organic traffic and leads. Beyond your established goals, focus on enhancing user experience, optimizing content, and continually updating your site in order to provide the best and most accurate information to the visitor (AKA your target audience).
Though #numbersneverlie and search rankings are certainly a factor that show success, don’t let it be the almighty driving factor behind your SEO. Remember: SEO is about bringing quality organic traffic to your site (through targeted, strategic keyword rankings) and gaining leads from user-friendly, optimized landing pages. Leads and conversions matter the most, right?
With this newfound knowledge and game plan for SEO superstardom, 2018 will be the year you deliver the WOW experience to your customers—and the data proof to your boss.