Search engine optimization isn’t magic, but it does inspire plenty of myths. Bigcommerce partner Coalition Technologies recently stopped by our office to chat about SEO. During the Lunch and Learn, founder Joel Gross and director Jordan Brannon busted some common misconceptions that distract merchants from what really matters. How many of these misguided beliefs are you investing in?

Myth: SEO is dead

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of SEO’s death has been greatly exaggerated. SEO isn’t dead so much as it’s grown and evolved. In fact, search engine traffic topped 3 TRILLION searches in 2013, which represents a 20% year-over-year increase. What is dead is black hat SEO, the practice of bad content and links designed strictly to game better results, and Mark Twain. At this point, the reports of his death are not exaggerated.

Myth: SEO is cheap and easy

Nope. SEO is not cheap nor is it easy. It’s a competitive sport. It’s also a journey, not a destination. You’re not writing content in a vacuum or building an effective network in pursuit of a stopping point. Instead, it’s an ongoing process in which you’re competing with thousands of other businesses in your niche.

Myth: Get more links!

No. NO. Don’t get more links, get better links. A large link profile is nowhere near as impressive as a strong link profile. Think of links as job references. If you list your mom, your electrician, a dude with a sweet van, your babysitter, your favorite high school teacher, that guy that helped you push your car that time you broke down in Omaha, all of your Facebook friends, your grandma’s weird new boyfriend who likes to compare gout with his friends and a dogcatcher, you have just compiled a long list, but it’s not too impressive. It’s actually kind of weird and embarrassing. If, on the other hand, you list Mark Zuckerberg, Josh Burdick and the Pope, you have a short but amazing list. A link profile is the same. Go for quality and relevance, not quantity and gout-grandpa.

Myth: Your goal is to rank

Wrong. Your goal is to make money. If your testing shows that a number three spot generates the same ROI as a number one spot, but costs $10,000 and 200 hours less per year, take the number three and move on.

Myth: PPC won’t help SEO

In a sense, that’s true. Buying ads on Google or Bing won’t affect your organic ranking. What it will do though is dramatically increase your audience so you can quickly amass a sample group for SEO activities like A/B testing and organic link building.

Myth: SEO = social in 2014

Also no. Like we discussed with PPC, SEO is not directly tied to social, but it can benefit from it. Social is another way to increase your sample size, spread your brand and encourage quality links.

Myth: SEO works for everyone

This is not actually true either. SEO is a great set of tools and methods with the ability to capture and funnel existing interest. It does not guarantee that anyone is interested. SEO isn’t a bandaid for a poor product or bad business model.

Myth: SEO comes after design

SEO is actually best when it’s kept in mind throughout the entire design process. Effective content curation, better accessibility practices and proper informational architecture are all key components for strong SEO. If these are ignored during the design stage, you may have to retrofit an existing site. If you don’t have time to do it right, you probably don’t have time to do it twice.

Myth: Algorithms drive SEO practices

Incorrect. We’re probably all familiar with Panda, Penguin, Top-Heavy, Hummingbird, Phantom and dozens of other names, both nefarious and benign. When an engine releases an algorithm update, it’s basically an amendment to the rules and a way to refine the search engine results page. A good SEO team stays on top of current issues and trends, and is ultimately better positioned to predict algorithm changes before they arrive.

Photo by yosuke muroya

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  • Abigail Abi

    Excellent Post!!!!! Its very useful to seo marketing

  • Abigail Abi

    Abigail:Amazing!!!SEO myths busted by e-commerce experts..

  • Andrew Agnello

    Google automatically ignoring bad links would encourage more bad link building. Many sites would keep getting as many links as they can, as there would be no consequences. Encouraging sites to throw everything at the wall and seeing what sticks isn’t going to improve anything.

  • Yeah, I knew the point that Josh was making. I just think that the myth needs to be re-worded in a way that makes it sound like reacting to algorithm changes is like chasing your tail. The fact is, as white hat as we all would like to say we are and have been, there were some major game changers the past couple of years that had ALL SEOs reacting instead of staying ahead of that huge rolling ball. Even the whitest of white hatters never thought that a website would be punished for a link – just that the link wasn’t worth going after in the first place. It’s a HUGE mistake by Google and because of it, they will be forever trying to catch their own tail. They should have simply ignored the bad links and the notion of negative SEO would never have become a reality. Or, at worst, they could have penalized the sites that were allowing themselves to be used for comment spam, forum spam and the article spam. In all actuality, those are the places with the bad content and the places where those spammy links pointed may very well have excellent content. You have absolute control over what appears on your own website and not necessarily what points to your website.

  • Good catch Scott :) I think the idea is a single algorithm or algo change shouldn’t drive your SEO strategy. If you are following best practices and creating great content, rather than chasing some loophole in Hummingbird that will probably close in the next year or two, you’ll actually be building something with lasting value. If you do tap an agency, they should know that these loopholes aren’t longterm solutions and will have a more holistic view of where search is heading. Basically, don’t focus on the algo, focus on the content.

  • I would only have to argue with the last point – “Myth: Algorithms Drive SEO Practices.” If this wasn’t true, neither would be your statement, “A good SEO team stays on top of current issues and trends, and is ultimately better positioned to predict algorithm changes before they arrive.”

  • bfkr

    Great ! Thank you ^^

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