SEO is the cornerstone of online marketing. It determines the amount and the quality of your organic traffic, and can drive the cost of your PPC advertising up or down. However, common misconceptions about SEO practice can often lead to business owners excluding SEO from their digital marketing strategy. Vetoing such a vital tool and overlooking a valuable traffic channel can be extremely detrimental to the bottom line of any business. If you’re guilty of sighing whenever SEO is mentioned by your marketing team, we’ve included 8 common SEO misconceptions to challenge your thinking.
1) Value can’t be tracked
SEO results are a little trickier to pin down than some other forms of online marketing. However, it certainly can be tracked. Plug & Play use acquisition cost modeling to attribute organic conversions and events to marketing spend so you can see your return on investment for each pound spent on SEO.
2) It takes too long
Many businesses put off SEO work because the results are less immediate than those that can be produced from channels such as PPC or Email Marketing. This is completely understandable and these channels should certainly play a role in most marketing strategies. However, we’d encourage all businesses to give SEO a shot. Set small and manageable milestones as you go using SMART goals (ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). Focus goals around what will make a material difference to your business. For example, would you rather gain one large client or lots of smaller value clients? Is there an area of your business that would particularly benefit from driving traffic to? Which service and products offer the highest margin? By setting regular achievable SMART goals, you’ll see incremental progress and cumulatively, you’ll notice a material difference in your organic traffic by this time next year.
3) It happens overnight
The opposite side of the coin from #2, but equally as prevalent. Getting a website to rank well in Google requires a lot of time and persistence and a common misconception is that a website can go from 0 to hero overnight. Although there are some cases where this is possible, assuming that your business is running in a moderately competitive market and your website has an average domain authority, you need to be prepared to invest in the long term lead generation of your business.
4) SEO is expensive
Truthfully, SEO can require a chunk of capital, particularly if you’ve not undertaken any work before. This investment tends to be front loaded, meaning that many businesses often calculate the costs over a short term period before the work has taken effect. However, the effect of SEO can be felt for years after an initial piece of work is done. As such, the return on investment isn’t as simple or as immediate as PPC and as such, ROI should be calculated over a longer period of time. For example, you wouldn’t attribute the cost of a new website to just the quarter that it was built in, but would consider the impact to the business as a result over the next 3 years. SEO is just the same! The real question here is whether you can afford not to improve your organic rankings when many of your competitors will be.
5) SEO isn’t relevant anymore
SEO has transformed over the past few years and I think we can all agree that it looks nothing like it did a decade ago. However, so long as search engines use algorithms to calculate ranking positions, SEO is very much alive. Google in particular can seem like a slippery fish to grasp, continually evolving their algorithm and declaring very little. What Google are very transparent about are their intentions: providing users with more relevant and accessible content. Changes over the past couple of years have focused on improving the user experience and reducing the impact of optimisation work on websites that shouldn’t be on the first page of Google. The algorithm is getting smarter and can now see through some common industry tricks that were used not too long ago. SEO is now about producing quality websites and copy that are worth ranking rather than trying to trick Google. This actually opens up the market for smaller businesses who previously couldn’t compete with larger websites and larger marketing budgets. The fairer and more user friendly Google ranking algorithm now means that a smaller website can outrank an established website if they provide good quality and well optimised content.
6) I’ve already done SEO
So this is a tricky one. As mentioned in point #4, SEO work can positively impact a website for years to come. The question here is how long ago did you optimise your website and how well was it done? If your SEO work took place a number of years ago and hasn’t been looked at since, it may very well even be working against you at this point, with many once widely accepted techniques now considered to be ‘black hat’. Reviewing your site regularly and in line with algorithm changes will ensure that you are always aware of the digital marketing landscape and can plan accordingly. As a marketeer, I’d argue that SEO work is never ‘done’ and although it can be done in spits and spurts, the best SEO work is continuous.
7) There are no guarantees
This is often said in SEO as though it is a given. However, the truth is that there are no guarantees in any form of marketing. What we have is an archive of tried and tested methods across a breadth of different industries and a scientific method of measurement. We use past experiences to educate us on the best methods to deploy in different situations and to estimate the anticipated impact.
8) It’s too complicated
As with anything in the online world, the continual innovation can be hard to to keep up with, particularly when you are a time strapped business owner or a marketeer who needs to gain approval for budgets and has a calendar full of other campaigns to look after. If there isn’t any space in your work day to read about the latest algorithm updates and commit to undertaking and measuring the effects of SEO, we’d recommend consulting an agency. Whether this is to create an SEO strategy for your internal marketing team to implement, or to take care of everything SEO from the word go, please don’t overlook a crucial marketing channel and source of revenue.
If you’re interested in finding out more about SEO and how it can benefit your business, Plug & Play Design are here to help.