Myth #1: Paying for ads on Google and Bing will help my website rank higher in the organic search results.
This is perhaps one of the most egregious myths out there about online marketing. If an agency or consultant tells you this to try to earn your digital marketing business, run the other way — fast!
This myth has been around since the earliest days of SEO and PPC but remains untrue. The various search engine advertising platforms (most notably Google AdWords and Bing Ads) are completely separate from the organic search results and have no bearing on the organic rankings.
Organic SEO is not a “pay-to-play” system. You simply have to put in the hard work to help your website rank organically.
Now, that’s not to say paid ads and organic search results don’t have a symbiotic relationship. Studies have found that websites with both a paid ad and an organic listing on page one of the same search results page experience a boost in click-through rates and conversion rates.
Myth #2: Bing is a waste of time. Everyone uses Google now.
Google has earned the business and loyalty of a majority of online searchers, but that’s not enough to completely discount Bing and other search engines from the equation.
In April 2017, Net Market Share reported Google to hold over 77% of the global desktop search market. Bing and Yahoo combine to make up nearly 13% of the remaining market share.
While Google’s search audience is certainly larger, it doesn’t encapsulate every search engine user.
Bing can give you access to a unique set of users through both paid and organic search. Bing’s users tend to be a bit older than Google’s (35+ years of age), less tech-savvy, and more blue collar. Bing also has a larger share among Windows product users.
In addition to its audience differentiators, there are some other benefits to advertising with Bing Ads, including lower costs (up to 50–70%), fewer competitors, and niche opportunities. Bing Ads also powers 51% of Yahoo’s desktop ads through their pay-per-click advertising platform, Gemini, giving your ads additional exposure on that search engine as well.
Myth #3: Links aren’t important anymore after Penguin. Now all I have to do is optimize my website and watch my rankings rise!
If you aren’t familiar with Google’s 2012 algorithm update, Penguin, it essentially detected websites with “spammy” backlinks either purchased or obtained through elaborate link networks and penalized them in the form of ranking drops, or in some cases, total removal from the search results.
Instead of devaluing backlinks as part of the search engine ranking algorithm, Penguin actually made links more important, specifically high-quality links. More on links in the next myth.
SEO is not a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it tactic. Successful search engine optimization certainly requires thoughtful and thorough key phrase research and website optimization, but also involves ongoing link building campaigns, content creation, outreach efforts, content syndication, social interactions, website improvements, and more.
As many of us like to say: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. If your website is in a niche where it can rank well after website optimization alone, you will still need ongoing SEO efforts to maintain your rankings amid increasing competition and algorithm changes.
Myth #4: All links are the same to Google. I just need to build as many links as possible and my organic rankings will improve.
As mentioned above, the Penguin algorithm update severely devalued purchased links, link networks, and overall low-quality links, sending a major warning to SEOs using black-hat link building tactics.
Today, it’s high-quality backlinks that will help your website’s organic rankings. As a rule of thumb, if you can create the link yourself, it’s probably not the best quality. However, if a link is editorially or naturally given to you, it’s a better sign of quality. Google wants to see that other websites are linking to your site because they’ve deemed it a valuable resource.
This emphasis on link quality over link quantity puts even more importance on an integrated online marketing strategy where off-page SEO works together with on-page SEO, website user experience, public relations, content marketing, and more.
Myth #5: (Not provided) took away my keyword data from Google Analytics, so I can’t do SEO effectively.
It’s true, Google through a big wrench in the SEO process for online marketers when they replaced keyword search data in Google Analytics with (not provided) in 2011.
Those who did proclaim the “death of SEO” in 2011 — and continue to publish those kinds of posts today — have been proven wrong. Online marketers are resilient, and those who’ve stayed committed to SEO have found alternative resources for search analytics.
Google Search Console (a must-have for any website manager or SEO) is an invaluable resource for website optimization and search analytics. Google AdWords advertisers can also see the exact queries used for any search that served an ad impression from their account, which can be utilized for your SEO knowledge as well.
Myth #6: Social media can’t help with SEO, so I shouldn’t bother being active on social channels.
The correlation between social media and organic search engine rankings is a tricky topic. While Google does not explicitly state that social media activity is part of their search algorithm, there are several benefits to being active on social media that reach beyond SEO.
- Social media is a smart move for any business, even B2B. Having social media profiles legitimizes your brand and adds another layer of online visibility. At a minimum, you should create profiles on the major social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and claim your user names and custom URLs. This way, if you want to be more active on social media later, you will have the profiles you need.
- Social media can be a big driver of website traffic. Strong website traffic and engagement metrics (time on site, bounce rate, page views, etc.) have been correlated with organic rankings. If you can find an interested audience on social media, you can boost your website traffic stats.
- You never know what Google will include in their algorithms in the future. In 2011, Google featured Google+ Authorship photos in their organic results, which had a direct impact on organic click-through rates. And in 2015, Google created a deal with Twitter to crawl their data and feature Tweets in the search results. The possibility for tighter alignment between Google and social media platforms is there.
Social media now offer strong pay-per-click advertising platforms with wide reach and precision targeting. If organic social posting and networking aren’t for you, you may want to experiment with the variety of social ad formats available through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
With an assortment of apps and plug-ins available, it’s now easier than ever to manage, monitor and share on your social media accounts. I recommend starting with the social channel where your audience is already active. Master one channel before moving on to another to avoid spreading your efforts too thin.
Myth #7: My website visitors aren’t converting. SEO/PPC/social media/etc. must not work for my business.
When companies don’t see immediate results from an online marketing campaign, it can be easy for them to write off the campaign as ineffective.
“We tried it for a month and it doesn’t work. On to the next idea.”
This mindset can be detrimental to any online marketing campaign, whether it’s SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing, or others. If your online campaign isn’t driving conversions, there are several variables you need to explore before throwing in the towel, including:
- Are your tracking codes setup properly?
- Do you have dedicated, optimized landing pages?
- Is your website optimized for mobile devices?
- Are you A/B testing?
- Do you have the right messaging?
- Are you targeting the right audience?
Are You Up for the Challenge?
Online marketing can be a tough discipline to master. It requires a historical understanding of the technology and guidelines that have shaped the current landscape, along with ongoing research and education to stay at the forefront of the constant developments.
If you don’t have the time to personally stay up-to-date with online marketing while running your various campaigns, be sure the person you put in charge of your online visibility does.