This is the first guest post I`m hosting at this blog. As a special treat I bring you an article by SFC-based SEOCopywriting professional Gabriella Sannino. Ladies and gents, without further ado:
4 Myths of SEO – Shaken Not Stirred
You read about this myth and that myth, but what, exactly, is a myth? Especially when you consider the term here, in the context of an “SEO myth”. I’m quite baffled at how there can be so many…
A myth, according to the dictionary, is “a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.”
Phew. Not only is that a run-on sentence, but it also doesn’t quite fit the mold, although people do often treat SEO as something without a natural explanation. Why is it so difficult to understand that optimization is a discipline like any other? Marketing, branding, blogging, copywriting, and optimization: there is a right way and a wrong way.
Now, granted, some use a lot of hot air to describe something that can be told in one sentence or less. This often brings another definition into the fray: an unproved or false collective belief.
That fits much closer to how SEO myths can come into being. A truth is twisted or an outright falsehood is pushed, and it grows. It becomes a collective belief in the online world. It becomes an SEO Myth, like the ones below:
#1: Outing Companies is Okay
I’m just going to come out with this one. There’ve been a slew of companies being “outed” for shoddy optimization practices. I’m not sure why this has been happening with such fervor, but it most definitely has. However, there is no other industry that we’re aware of where it’s an accepted practice, so why is it okay in SEO?
The argument is, “Well, we want to take the high road.” Very good. So, then, take the high road, do your job, and do it well. If you see shoddy practices and want to speak up, why aren’t you speaking out about the optimization company performing the practices, instead of the clients?
Now, if someone asks you, that’s one thing. You can say, “In our professional opinion, this isn’t a practice we should be encouraging, and isn’t one we offer. You’ll have to go somewhere else for this and, no, we don’t have a referral.” If someone asks you about an optimization company and you have firsthand experience, you can say, “In my experience, this company…”
The only time we’ve ever spoken out against a company was when they hurt one of our clients before they came to us. One instance that comes to mind is a design company changing the “author” meta tags to their brand name. Not exactly a positive thing in my book, and, at that point, we had an obligation to the client to let them know what we saw.
#2: Buying Links is Okay
This takes us to link building with paid links (which is what a lot of companies were outed for). The practice of buying links isn’t necessarily bad, but it does depend on several factors, which is where the myth comes in. From the horse’s mouth (Google): “Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results.”
The problem isn’t buying links; the problem is how, and what you’re buying the links for. Here’s the real deal on buying links and link building:
When you hire someone to develop thousands of links for your site, you have to be careful how they plan to build those links. Links developed for ranking should be:
• Relevant to the page the link is on (i.e. if the page the link is on is about red widgets, it needs to link to a page on your site about widgets).
• Relevant to the page being linked to (i.e. if the link is about widgets, the page needs to be relevant to widgets).
• On a quality site/good source (i.e. a link on a porn site to your widgets, unless you’re running porn-based widgets, isn’t advisable).
• Not an obvious advertisement (i.e. not in the sidebar or footer, but in the actual content, such as a blog post).
If you’re developing links for advertising purposes, you can buy them straight out. However, it’s best to make sure they’re no followed, in order to decrease the risk of penalization.
#3: SEOs Are All Snake Oil
We have several clients that will whole-heartedly disagree with this. However, we have several potential clients that believe this myth. Why? Because they’ve been burned, so experience has taught them that SEO is a scam.
It’s not, anymore than insurance is a scam. Yet, insurance is an industry with a bad reputation, due to how easy it is to manipulate. SEO is much the same.
How do you make sure your chosen optimization company or professional SEO expert isn’t skewed? Well, there are a few warning signs, and a few steps you can take (longer blog later):
Step: Go to the industry experts, even if you can’t afford them. Let them know you’re considering such and such a company, and ask if they’ve heard anything negative about them. Many are willing to share what information they have with you, because we all want the industry to shine.
Step: Find non-big brand companies ranking high and ask them who they would recommend for optimization. This is a hit/miss type of checking, but worth the extra time. SEO is expensive; finding a legitimate company is well worth the time spent.
Warning sign: The optimizer tries to push high traffic, non-relevant words on you. You know how you want to represent your business. An optimizer is part marketer; they should be always be keeping your brand in mind, and know it’s not about traffic, but quality traffic.
Warning sign: Read the fine print. If it talks about adding a link back to their site, ditch them. This is free advertising for them, and “SEO Services by….” is a warning sign to the search engines that your site has been manipulated. A good SEO company doesn’t need to advertise on client sites.
#4: SEO is Dead
Yes, this rumor is still alive and kicking. You’d think the myth itself would have long died out, but it hasn’t. SEO isn’t dead; it isn’t even on its last legs. It does, however, have a shady reputation with a lot of people, thanks to the overwhelming idea that optimization and spam are the same thing.
They aren’t. Optimization is nothing more than an extension of Internet Marketing as a whole. Done correctly, it helps your site perform better for people first, and then search engines. It helps increase your click-through-rate (CTR) from the SERPs via marketable descriptions/title. It helps increase your conversion rate on the page and connect all the dots you have lying around with steel cables.
Yes, indeed. While it’s true that the practice of SEO is evolving, it is far from dead.
Let’s lay these myths to rest, once and for all. If you’re an optimizer, don’t act as if SEO is a voodoo ritual. If you’re a business owner who has hired a legitimate optimization company, share. The only way the myths will stop building is through transparency and ethical use of the skills we have.
Gabriella Sannino is an Italian firecracker. She grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. As a child, she spent time in Italy, Lebanon, Crete and Greece (among other places), pinning more and more languages to her profile wall. Among those Arabic, French and yes, the kraut language a.k.a. German, too. By the time she reached college age, she’d learned to speak five languages fluently, and understand a few more. I once saw her chatting to an Orangutang about Nietzsche, so communicating skills as well as will to convey any message in a friendly way are paramount to my dear friend.
Since its debut (2005) Level343 has shown to be a bustling, growing business. It was a monday morning when it opened its doors decided to conquer a market which was literally aching for professional hand holding when it comes to search engine friendly and yet informational content. Gabriella uses her real world experiences to help clients gain a foothold and keep it in the competitive online marketplace. She runs Level343 with an iron fist, quick wit and a notepad. Lists are her friend.