Written by: leslieFMC Austin, Texas
Bats can’t see in the dark. Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyesight. If you swallow gum, it stays in your tummy for seven years…
These are just a few of the myths you’ve probably heard more than once in your lifetime, and they all have one thing in common: they’re untrue. False. For every one of these old wive’s tales, there’s a new Search Engine Marketing or Social Media Marketing myth to match it. In fact, much of what you’ve heard, or think you know about Search Engine Optimization and Social Media, may be founded on bogus information.
First, let’s go ahead and debunk a few of the most common SEO myths:
Myth 1: Google’s Search Engine Market Share is Growing
Truth: Although they’ve had their ups and downs, Google’s market share in February of 2012 (66.4) is nearly identical to their all-time high in December of 2010 (66.6). However, even though Google’s market share appears to have leveled off, it is important to note that Google has faced increasing competition from BING and has so far escaped with no loss in market share. Google remains the dominant search engine player.
Myth 2: Gimme More, More, More
Truth: Less can often be more when it comes to SEO. There are some schools of thought that suggest pushing for more content, more keywords, more backlinks, but in the world of SEO, fresher content, targeted keywords and high-quality backlinks are more powerful than tons of stale content with poor keyword saturation and low-end links. With every new search engine algorithm change, the objective is the same: reward searchers with more relevant content by ranking websites higher for quality content and links. You will likely be penalized for the ‘more, more, more’ mentality if your keywords aren’t integrated naturally into your fresh website content or if you pay for thousands of junk links. Buyer beware.
You build a mean birdhouse, change your own oil and grow fresh basil in your backyard. In the office you’re know as the “hands-on” business owner, a regular Renaissance man or woman. Surely you can do your own SEO, right?
Myth 3: DIY SEO
Truth: Well sure, if you’re willing to forego a personal life and give up your hobbies to spend workdays learning the latest SEO techniques and sleepless nights implementing them, then maybe you’ll see some incremental improvements in your search engine rankings. Or maybe you won’t. There are so many factors changing on a weekly basis that it’s almost impossible for one person to keep up with these updates and test how they may impact a single website.
For the same reason you take your car to a skilled mechanic or get your teeth filled by a certified dentist, you may want to consider hiring a professional to handle your SEM. Sure, you could hire a friend who seems enthusiastic enough to manage your internet marketing, but it will prove to be a large, time-consuming task, and one that can rarely be handled effectively by one person. In fact, doing your own SEO or having your buddy manage your SEO may be more detrimental than beneficial.
Now step right up! We got all the SEO you need right here! All you have to do is toss the ring around this little milk jug!
Myth 4: One & Done or Drive-by SEO
Truth: You may have received offers to manage your SEO or SEM for anywhere from $50 – $399, or maybe you have had companies claim to get your website to be ranked #1 in only a week or a month. As a general rule of thumb, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Natural link building and quality SEO takes time and man hours. When it comes to SEO, it‘s good to be skeptical.
Think of how many hours of work are built into the price quote any company gives you. $50 – $399 a month is usually a small enough amount of money that a business owner may not notice it is gone or question the return on the investment. If you take one of these offers, know that you may go months without seeing any results. A lot of companies that claim to do SEO throw some keywords on your website and disappear, ultimately damaging your authority within search.
Ranking #1 in a very short period of time also sounds very enticing, but in reality this practice probably will not leave you ranked well for things you want to be found for. Highly competitive keywords can take months or years of optimization to reach to top position. Usually promises like this are only filled by having your company rank in the #1 position for a very obscure keyword no one searches for, that may not pertain to your business in any way.
Final word: All websites need SEO to send the right signals to search engines. Even if you are a large, well-known brand, search engines may not be able to find you for important keywords that are not brand-affiliated. In other words, if we did not properly execute good SEO on our own website, we would likely be found in searches for our name “FindMyCompany,” but Google and BING probably won’t know to show our website in the results for “Austin website development” or “search engine marketing Houston.”
Social Media is still in it’s infancy compared to SEO, so the myths are flying around fast and furious like yucky baby food. Let’s tackle a few common myths about Social Media marketing:
Myth 5: Twitter is for Serious Promotion – Facebook is for Photos and LOL Cats
Truth: Whatever early momentum Twitter had as a platform for business promotion has since reversed in Facebook’s favor. And yes, there are a lot of LOL cats and photos of your employees that you may not want to see on Facebook, but it is also becoming more of a venue for advertising your business and building brand awareness.
Facebook business pages are the perfect way to be social in a professional, visually-engaging manner, while also advertising your services, flexing your industry-expert muscles, and networking with Likes. You can speak directly to your brand champions and customers in a casual manner and customize your page to match your business’s brand specifications. It also doesn’t hurt that Facebook produces one of the strongest social signals to search engines. Your business’s Facebook page may be ranked higher in search engines than your own website, because of the internet authority Facebook wields.
Additionally, Facebook has launched its own Advertising platform. Like Google AdWords, you can pay per click, but unlike Google’s keyword-centric platform, Facebook lets businesses take advantage of their all-knowing database of user information. Instead of only tying Ads to specific keywords, Facebook Ads can be targeted geographically, demographically (based on age, gender, marital status, etc.) and/or psychographically (based on user interests). Some of the most detailed targeting specifications are only available on the social media network, once know for LOL cats and bar photos. Cheers.
But hey, what about those other guys? I heard Google even has its own social network now.
Myth 6: I Only Need Facebook
Truth: Facebook is important, don’t get me wrong, but as SEO isn’t the entire piece of the SEM pie, Facebook is not the entire social media component of SEM. Search engines get social signals from many platforms. A Facebook page for your business is important and ranks highly in search. Having lots of “likes” on your page also tells Google and BING that your page is deemed socially pertinent by other people.
However, there are other social signals that rank highly in search engines – Twitter, Google+ business and personal pages, and LinkedIn corporate and personal profiles, and Google +1s. All of these elements tell Google and BING that your company is relevant and real and has a strong, complete web presence. Link your company’s website to all of these platforms, and your own website will likely get a boost in rankings as well. Take the time to include these social signals on your website’s home page and interact often. It will pay off.
You may still believe that you should wait an hour after you eat to get in the pool, or maybe you are certain that if you eat enough carrots it won’t matter how close you sit to the TV, but for the sake of your business and your success within search, please forget about these SEO and social media myths. Your website will thank you.
Mythbusters © Discovery Channel