Many people know all the basic rules of SEO but are still making certain fundamental errors with SEO strategy and implementation, based on outdated online marketing principles.

Move away from these five overarching SEO myths and you’re much more likely to get results.

Myth #1: SEO should be left to the experts

SEO encompasses all of a business’s online activities, and should be tackled from the very start – something for both business owners and SEO companies to bear in mind.

Many business people feel unsettled and confused by SEO, so they hire an SEO company and expect them to get on with it. Some SEO companies are happy with this approach, and even deliberately foster an aura of mystery and complexity around themselves, believing they’ll then become indispensable because nobody understands what they do.

In the past, many got away with such tactics. But as search engines become more and more sophisticated, SEO increasingly needs to be engrained into the business mind-set as a whole. If the web designers, content creators, developers and usability and PR people aren’t communicating with their SEO department, you are not going to achieve the best possible rankings in the search engines.

Myth #2: When link building, always keyword optimise your anchor text

Historically, link building has been crucial to SEO success. That’s why companies researched and perfected their techniques, getting exactly the right keywords linking back to exactly the right pages.

Google’s much-publicised Penguin update changed all this, putting the SEO world into turmoil by making much of traditional, keyword-based link-building obsolete. Google now tends to ignore what it sees as unnatural linking, and occasionally penalises those websites with a less than natural-seeming linking profile by bumping them down (or off) their results pages.

While having relevant, high quality sites pointing to yours will still help you rank, you now need to make sure that the majority of your links are branded rather than keyword-optimised to stay in Google’s good books.

Myth #3: Social media doesn’t play a part in SEO

In the past, social media has often been seen as separate from SEO, and for a long time this approach was viable. But as time goes on, search engines are increasingly combining traditional SEO indicators with online mentions, reviews and general customer engagement in social, and rewarding businesses which are succeeding in these areas, as well.

While we cannot know exactly how these social recommendations are assessed by the algorithms, or how this will develop and change In the future, that doesn’t mean that social shouldn’t be a feature of your SEO strategy.

Now that social has become intrinsically linked with SEO, it pays to think about what kind of site you would want to rank if you were Google when factoring in social indicators. Would you want to reward active businesses who get involved with their customers? Businesses which make the effort to react to customers’ needs online?

Everything you do for your customers in social has the potential to influence how you’re seen by users and search engines alike, and this emphasis on social will only increase over time.

Myth #4: Online strategy should guide keyword research

In fact, your keyword research should come before you decide on an overall online strategy, as it should be fundamental to its development.

Most businesses have a pretty good idea of what they want to offer before they embark on marketing their services online. The majority have been doing business for years, and know exactly what they have to offer and who their customers are.

But unless you want to keep selling the same things to the same customers in the online environment, working out the precise nature of the online demand around your services must come before anything else.

Keyword research is the cornerstone of any online marketing strategy designed for real business growth. Use it as an afterthought and you’ll find yourself trying to undo a lot of your previous work, wishing you’d done the research right at the start.

Myth #5: Build your website to cater to your business needs

Brand voice is always important when you’re communicating online, and all marketing activity should be geared towards achieving your primary business goals. But if you’re looking for online conversions, your website itself needs to be built and maintained primarily to cater to your users’ needs.

A strong backbone of keyword research will make this a lot easier to accomplish, and provide a good starting point for working out and providing exactly what your user is looking for when they arrive at your website. Build pages which are designed carefully to meet your users’ needs, depending on which keyword they’ve typed into the search engine.

Do everything you can to convince your user they’ve arrived at the right place. This includes not over-egging the pudding with too much keyword repetition. Savvy users will recognise this as spammy and leave, and post-Panda, Google is far less likely to fall into that trap, either.

Andrew Atalla

Andrew Atalla


Andrew Atalla is founder of atom42.