Search engine optimization (SEO) is the refining of websites to make search engines rank them high on the SERP. It’s a popular strategy many digital marketers swear by. SEO aims to increase organic traffic and implement tactics that make browsing your website pleasant.
Is search engine optimization a waste of time? We say, “No, it’s not a waste of time.” However, some skeptics argue that SEO is an outdated practice overshadowed by pay-per-click advertising. Examining SEO’s core principles and benefits is crucial to settle their doubts.
This article will explore a few myths these skeptics hold about SEO. We will highlight the benefits your business will enjoy thanks to SEO. We will also mention a few challenges of SEO to give you a full picture of what’s in store if you choose to implement this marketing strategy.
Common Myths About SEO
It’s a common misconception that SEO is a waste of time. Many digital marketers don’t see the need to hire an expert or funnel resources into optimizing their SEO campaigns. Here are a few myths in the digital advertising world about SEO.
SEO is a one-time task
In reality, SEO never ends. To succeed, you must always monitor and optimize your website and adapt to regular algorithm and industry changes.
SEO brings instant results
If you’re expecting overnight success, SEO isn’t for you. It takes a long time to build credibility and brand authority. The road is long, but the results are worth it.
Keyword stuffing works
There was some truth to this myth in the past. Stuffing web pages with keywords was an effective SEO practice until 2013 when Google introduced an update dubbed “Hummingbird.”
Nowadays, Google considers lists keyword stuffing as a tactic to manipulate search engines in its spam policies. Google will rank your website lower or not rank it at all if you try to use keywords unnaturally.
SEO is only about rankings
While ranking high in search engine results is essential, SEO is not solely about rankings. SEO’s ultimate goal is to bring organic traffic to your website and convert that traffic into enthusiastic customers.
Backlinks are the only important factor
Backlinks (links from other websites to yours) are crucial to SEO because they tell search engines your website is a credible authority. However, relying on backlinks and ignoring other SEO factors will nullify all your strenuous efforts.
SEO is all about tricking search engines
Some digital marketers think their SEO strategies need “black hat” tactics to achieve higher rankings. However, search engines are constantly evolving to figure out these tactics and penalize websites that use them.
Factors that guarantee SEO’s success
SEO hinges on the optimization of a few factors. These elements ensure your site is friendly to people and search engines. They make it easy for web crawlers to index your site and determine your relevance to search queries. Here are four factors that determine the success of your SEO strategy.
1. Quality web content
SEO only works when your content answers search queries. Even the best-crafted websites cannot hack this strategy if their content is irrelevant.
Quality content not only answers people’s questions, it also provides new insights. Let’s look at some ways quality content brings your SEO strategy success.
Engaging content entices people to spend more time on your website and visit other site pages. Doing so reduces your bounce rates and increases dwell time. Google considers these metrics when determining search results to show to its users. If the search engine determines people love engaging with your content, it will place your website higher on the SERP.
A significant benefit of quality content is that more website owners want to show it to their audiences. Craft engaging and informative content to secure backlinks. We’ll explain this concept a little later on.
People who find your content valuable will share it on social media. Your website will get an influx of referral traffic. Increased traffic signals to search engines that your website is relevant. As a result, you will rank higher on the SERP.
Quality content has keywords that help search engines determine your website is relevant to search engines. However, use keywords naturally and avoid keyword stuffing. Google considers this a spamming tactic and will penalize your website by ranking it low.
The featured snippet is a coveted position on the SERP that every SEO expert dreams of occupying. This snippet is the short blurb of text that appears at the top of search results to answer a query quickly. It also shows underneath each question in the “People Also Ask” section.
Google picks a snippet of the most relevant information to feature. These snippets enjoy 8.6% of clicks on the SERP. Creating quality content boosts your chances of Google choosing your website significantly.
Quality content establishes your website as a reliable source of information. People consider your brand as an expert. Increased brand authority translates into more traffic and, thus, higher search ranking.
2. Proper website structure
Search crawlers depend on a website’s structure to determine if people will enjoy their experience. A cluttered website makes it harder for them to navigate and index your site, and you rank lower. We’ll give you some quick ways to ensure your site is logical and well-organized.
Use descriptive URLs
Your site URL should sound sensible when read out of context. Create URLs that include relevant keywords and avoid using random strings of characters.
Your website should be as easy to move through as possible. When people don’t know where to go, their fears, uncertainties, and doubts rise (FUD). A sound navigation system is consistent and straightforward.
Use header tags
Header tags provide a hierarchy that helps search engines understand the flow of content on your web pages. Remember to include your keywords in these header tags to signal their relevance to search crawlers.
Use internal linking
Do you want crawlers and people to spend the most time they can on your website? Direct them to other pages within your site. Ensure you link related pages using descriptive anchor text. Internal links also distribute authority throughout your website.
3. Link building
Backlinking is a critical part of any successful SEO strategy. Backlinks are links to your website that appear on other websites. They inform search engines of your site’s authority and ensure you rank higher.
Develop a strong link profile through the following tactics.
- Guest posting
- Influencer collaborations
- Content promotion
- Creating linkable assets.
With over 60% of the internet’s population going online using their phones, mobile-friendliness is vital now more than ever. Use responsive design elements that adapt to different screen sizes. Doing so makes your website load as you intended on phones with smaller screens.
Google has a mobile-friendly test that tells whether people will enjoy scrolling your website on their phones.
Almost everyone uses a touchscreen phone, so ensure that buttons and links have enough spacing to make it easy to tap with a finger. Avoid using small or closely packed elements that make people may click accidentally. Implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP) to make your website load fast.
Benefits of SEO
This section will dispel any beliefs you have of SEO being a waste of time. We will explain five benefits your marketing strategy will enjoy if you optimize the factors we highlighted.
1. Increased organic traffic
Digital marketing exists to get your brand before many people’s eyes. What better way to do that than to appear as the first search result? You attract more visitors when you publish quality content that answers people’s questions directly. These visitors will also share your content on their social media, and other SEO experts will link to you on their websites.
Unlike paid advertising, you don’t need a significant initial investment to set up an SEO strategy. Once you optimize your website enough to rank high, you can generate traffic without spending any more on advertising.
However, if you don’t have the skills or time to monitor and tweak your SEO campaigns, you can hire an SEO professional or agency. Doing so would cost you more.
3. Competitive advantage
Many brands are embracing digital advertising. Most of them, however, focus on paid advertising, such as Google Ads. Through SEO, you can outrank them for specific keywords. Ranking above your competitors lets you capture a larger market share.
4. Increased credibility
A successful SEO strategy aims to put you among the first five search results. People trust top-ranking websites and associate them with higher credibility. Additionally, when people find your website through organic search results, they consider it a credible source. That’s because people trust Google’s ability to determine relevance and quality.
5. Long-term results
Unlike paid advertising, SEO isn’t bound by time. Once your web page ranks well for a particular keyword, it will attract organic traffic for a long time.
You need to monitor your metrics to ensure you enjoy this longevity constantly. Constant monitoring ensures your web pages are harder to surpass on the SERP.
6. Targeted traffic
SEO lets you create content for specific audiences. How do you get their attention? By ranking high on their SERP.
Optimizing your website for local search queries can bring targeted traffic from your geographic area if you’re a local business. Local SEO techniques include:
- Creating location-specific landing pages.
- Creating Google My Business listings.
- Obtaining positive customer reviews.
- Listing your business on online directories.
- Creating local content.
7. Measurable results
Many SEO metrics track and measure your campaign’s performance. These analytics let you make informed decisions to optimize your strategy. Are you curious about these metrics? Here are a few you should keep your eye on.
- Organic Traffic. This metric is one of the most significant in SEO. Increased organic traffic indicates that your website attracts more visitors from search engines.
- Return on Investment (ROI). This metric analyzes the financial impact of your optimization efforts. ROI compares your revenue to the costs invested in SEO. It tells you the profitability of your SEO campaigns.
- Bounce Rate. This metric represents the percentage of people who leave your website without interacting with your content. A high bounce rate shows that people don’t find your content relevant or your website isn’t pleasant to scroll through.
- Conversion Rate. This metric tells you how well your SEO efforts entice people to perform actions such as purchasing, signing up, or downloading.
Challenges and limitations of SEO
Like other digital marketing strategies, SEO doesn’t exist without challenges. SEO is subject to trends affecting search engines and the market. Here are four pitfalls to prepare for.
1. Constant algorithm changes
To improve its search model, Google frequently updates its algorithm, which affects rankings. The search engine also updates to curb any spamming tricks some marketers use to trick their way into higher rankings.
Every update means the algorithm has to re-evaluate content quality, site structure, and SEO metrics. You must stay updated on the latest changes to adjust your strategies. Refine the core factors affecting SEO; your website’s ranking will stand firm against these updates.
2. Lack of control over search engines
Despite your best efforts, you don’t have control over how search engines interpret and rank your website. This lack of control is frustrating because it doesn’t let you map out a timeline for you to achieve any results.
Luckily, you can couple SEO with PPC to get around this challenge. You can enjoy instant results with PPC while optimizing your SEO campaign.
3. Intense competition
The digital landscape is competitive, and many businesses invest in SEO to stay ahead. Standing out from the crowd requires extensive research, strategic planning, branding, and continuous optimization.
4. Technical complexity
SEO involves technical aspects such as website structure, speed, and mobile optimization. Dealing with technical issues, implementing website changes, and ensuring compatibility with search engine requirements is challenging. You’d have to hire an SEO expert to handle these technical aspects.
There are compelling reasons to believe SEO is a good use of time. Search engines will be many people’s go-to for information, products, and services for a long time. That makes SEO an essential part of digital marketing. Although SEO is complex and takes a while to show results, it offers long-term benefits.
SEO increases your organic traffic and brand credibility. By optimizing your website and creating quality content, you gain a competitive advantage and attract your targeted audience. The strategy has many metrics to track your campaign’s success and inform your decisions.
While SEO may pose challenges and require continuous adaptation, it is far from wasting your business’ time.