You can only rank high in search engine results if you play the search engine optimization (SEO) game. Unfortunately, though, it seems like SEO “rules” change in the same amount of time it takes you to click refresh on your browser.
Many website owners are still trying to follow old SEO guidelines that could hurt them in the long run. Let’s take a closer look at five widely-repeated “rules” for SEO and the problems they present.
Rule #1: Content Cures All
As search engines become more advanced, they move toward reading websites like a human user rather than focusing exclusively on keywords. This means, in order to rank well, a website needs relevant, well-written content that either interests or educates readers. A website that doesn’t create new content-or one that posts shallow, keyword-stuffed content-won’t be rewarded in search results. As a result, many marketers have adopted the saying, “Content is king.”
Why It’s Wrong
While it’s true that having strong content on your website is extremely important, it’s short-sighted to believe that creating content is the only thing necessary for ranking well. There are two major problems with letting this idea dictate your SEO strategy.
First, people often take the “content is king” mantra to mean that they should create content as often as possible regardless of quality. But the truth is that quality will always trump quantity where content is concerned. Posting every day (when you have nothing new or relevant to say) doesn’t make you any more appealing to readers, which means you won’t be appealing to search engines either.
Second, every aspect of your website affects SEO, which means it all deserves your attention. Think of content as the quarterback for your website-hugely important and highly visible, but without teammates (like web design and local listings) and a good coach (sitemap), you’ll never have a winning season.
Rule #2: It’s What’s Inside That Counts
There are people who say web design isn’t what matters when you’re trying to optimize your site for search engines. Some claim that good content is the bottom line, and some think that the design of a website just doesn’t affect the way a site ranks. Neither is true.
Why It’s Wrong
Readers want websites that look good and are easy to navigate. If your site is confusing or unappealing, you’re likely to lose visitors as soon as you get them, which is a big indication to search engines that your site isn’t giving users what they want. If you neglect to consider user experience, it will show, and search engines will take note.
It’s also important to consider how your site displays on mobile. When users search for something from a mobile device, search engines provide them with mobile-friendly sites over those that aren’t. In other words, it won’t matter how pretty your design is or how great your content is if they don’t translate to mobile device use.
Rule #3: Paid Advertising is the Golden Ticket
It’s a common belief that paying search engines to host ads will be repaid with a higher ranking on said search engine.
Why It’s Wrong
A well-run pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can definitely bring new users to your site because paid results appear above organic results on the first page of search engine results. If your website is well-designed and packed with good stuff, it’s possible to pick up repeat visitors from paid advertising. However, paying to be placed on the front page doesn’t improve your organic placement in the results at all. Only a website that’s optimized for organic search (content, design, etc.) is going to do that.